Christians had many heated arguments and even fisticuffs during the first millennium about how to speak correctly and believe correctly about God’s revelation of himself to humankind as one God in Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The subject is huge. Most members of the clergy have reference books on their shelves to follow the centuries-long debates. Among the many, many reasons I don’t feel free to alter the liturgical prayers of the Church is that these texts keep us from making mistakes about God and about our relationship with him.
The theological debates about how we Christians would speak about God were shaped by a different age. The language that comes down to us has never been able to limit the mystery of God and the Church does not claim that it does that. Trinitarian language is the revealed and agreed language that Christians may use to address, proclaim and understand God with confidence. Despite the hundreds and hundreds of Christian denominations, the confession of the one true God as Trinity of Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, defines the boundaries of what most Christians would call the Christian community.
The Holy Trinity won me over as a child and the dogmatic definitions (see the Prayer Book pages 864-865) have never really been a problem. I wonder to what extent my devotion to the Trinity originated in the writing of the tune Nicaea by John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876) for the text Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! by Reginald Heber (1763-1826), a hymn I have sung all my life There are a number of hymns that really are hard to sing which Episcopalians belt out without complaint. One of these hard hymns is sung in every Episcopal parish I have ever been in on Trinity Sunday, I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity.
This Easter Season has brought me a renewed awareness of the unity of the gift of the Spirit with the Lord’s resurrection. The Easter Season could just as well be named the Season of the Holy Spirit – because the Holy Spirit is the Easter gift of life to the disciples. It is because of the personal presence of the Holy Spirit that the disciples are able to share God’s Good News and God’s life with others. Again, it’s not the Season after Pentecost that is about the work of the Spirit; it’s the Easter Season.
God’s presence transforms human lives one person at a time. God takes us where we are and leads us into new paths – a neurologist might say, new brain paths. Our brains really can learn new ways of thinking and doing. The old paths are still there (and perhaps this explains why we remain hypersensitive to old ways and even sins until we die and are given a new body by God). But, again, God leads us into new paths of righteousness. God is truly present in our world and in our lives. May the Holy Trinity guard and keep and guide us always. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Charles, Philip, Tom, Doreen, Steve, Gilbert, Robert, Jason, Robert, Gloria, Harold, Matthew, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Brenden, Jonathan, Jeffrey, Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, Colin, Christina, David, Nestor, Freddie, Matthew and Bennett . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 6: 1959 Grace Frisby Conklin, 1966 Dudley Harrison Briggs; June 8: 1967 Mary E. Longley, 1998 Anthony Guarino; June 9: 1952 Roy Whitson Lay; June 10: 1963 Kenneth Wilmot, 1970 Florence B. Crouch.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Psalm 29, Isaiah 6:1-8, Revelation 4:1-11, John 16:5-15. . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, June 5, by Father Gerth . . . On Sunday, June 6, the Rector will be celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass and officiant for Solemn Evensong at 5:00 PM. Father Beddingfield will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass . . . The preacher for Solemn Evensong will be the Reverend Clayton L. Morris, Liturgical Officer for the Episcopal Church.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to the Rochester family for the lovely reception for the parish community after the Solemn Mass on Pentecost . . . The Taste of Times Square is one of the really good festivals in the church neighborhood. There will be booths from fifty Times Square restaurants. It’s Monday, June 14, beginning at 5:00 PM on 46th Street from Broadway to Ninth Avenue. May we suggest Evening Prayer and Mass at 6:00 PM before you go? Come and support our church neighborhood! . . . Attendance last Sunday 269.
LITURGY IN ORDINARY TIME . . . The Season after Pentecost began this year on Monday, May 31. It will conclude on Saturday, November 27, the Eve of the First Sunday of Advent. At Saint Mary’s on ordinary Sundays and weekdays that are not Major Feasts the Confession of Sin is said during Mass. Except when there is a commemoration, the liturgical color of this season is green. Our practice at Saint Mary’s is to use Eucharistic Prayer A (Prayer Book, page 361) for all Masses during this time of the year. On Fridays that are not Feasts of our Lord, special acts of discipline and self-denial help us to keep in mind the Lord’s crucifixion and our commitment to him in our daily lives. There are always a number of special feasts during the summer months of this season. The First Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday, the Second is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Last Sunday after Pentecost, November 21, 2004, is the Feast of Christ the King. This year the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the fifteenth day of August, falls on a Sunday. And only when Assumption falls on Sunday can we have a Procession through Times Square on this feast. (It really is impossible to do it on the evening of any other day of the week because of the number of people and vehicles in our area.) July is a quiet month, liturgically speaking. The only Sung and Solemn Masses are on Sundays. But in June there are three 6:00 PM Sung Masses. This year the Feast of the Sacred Heart is Friday, June 18. The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is Thursday, June 24. The Feast of Saint Peter & Saint Paul is Tuesday, June 29. Friday, August 6, is the Feast of the Transfiguration. These Masses are just a little longer than the 10:00 AM Sung Mass on Sunday mornings, but they are always over in one hour. The round of daily prayer continues. In an ordinary summer week there are thirty-five scheduled services at Saint Mary’s. This is possible because of your prayers, presence and gifts of support to Saint Mary’s. S.G.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Fughetta super ‘Wir gläuben all an einem Gott’, BWV 681 and the postlude is another setting of Wir gläuben, BWV 680, both by J. S. Bach. The chorale (hymn) on which both of these settings are based is a metrical version of the Nicene Creed, frequently sung in German churches during Bach’s time. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Sarum Mass, Opus 66 by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). This Mass in modern (Rite II) language was written in 1972 for the Southern Cathedrals Festival, an event sung by the combined choirs of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals. It is only one of many important contributions by Leighton to 20th century Church music (another was heard on Ascension Day, his Missa brevis, Opus 50). The motet at Communion is Libera nos, salva nos by John Sheppard (c. 1515-1559/60). Written for the composer’s choir at Magdalen College, Oxford, it employs stunning, spacious 7-part polyphony (SSAATTB) typical of Sheppard’s Late English Renaissance style (on the eve of the Reformation). The Solemn Te Deum is sung to Benjamin Britten’s (1913-1976) Festival Te Deum, Op. 32. Considered one of the finest pieces of 20th century liturgical music, Britten’s setting is comprised of three major sections. In the first section, the choir primarily sings a chant-like melody in unison, accompanied by steady organ chords. The second section, beginning at “Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ,” is robust, exciting and demands much of singers and organist. The final section is marked by a beautiful treble (soprano) solo and ends quietly after a rousing climax at “O Lord, in thee have I trusted” . . . Please come at 4:40 for our final organ recital of the season, played by Mr. Dale F. Bonenberger, a parishioner and talented organist. The recital features works of Pachelbel, Bach, Haydn, Walford Davies and Peeters. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Trinity Sunday
Wednesday Columba, Abbot of Iona, 597
Thursday Ephrem of Edessa, Syria, Deacon, 373
Eve of Saint Barnabas the Apostle 6:00 PM
Friday Saint Barnabas the Apostle Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.