From Father Beddingfield: Worshiping with our Eyes
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” Just before he speaks these words in Matthew 13, Jesus quotes Isaiah’s prophecy regarding those who don’t perceive the things of God. Their hearts are dull, their ears heavy and their eyes are closed. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see.” Jesus encourages his disciples to keep looking that they might see more deeply. They will see still greater things. They will see God.
People of faith have struggled to see God since the very beginning. Especially since receiving the Second Commandment, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image . . . you shall not bow down to them or serve them,” there have been questions and disagreements over how to picture God or how we might use our eyes to worship. Muslims have taken the commandment literally and images are not allowed. Jews and Christians have varied in their interpretations. We know that early Christians worshiped God with their eyes. The frescoes in Roman catacombs show one of the earliest images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Christians looked for God through architecture, images and particularly in the veneration of icons. Especially in the 8th and 9th centuries, Christians argued over whether images were appropriate. While some churches would split over this question, the writings of the Syrian theologian John of Damascus helped to articulate what would become the predominant Catholic view: John understood the Incarnation as giving permission to seek God with our senses:
In former times God, who is without form or body, could never be depicted. But now when God is seen in the flesh conversing with humankind, I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter; I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take his abode in matter; who worked out my salvation through matter. Do not despise matter, for it is not despicable. God has made nothing despicable.
It was after all, God the Creator who each day after creation, “saw that it was good.”
The Protestant Reformation brought a new wave of question and conflict around images. Churches and cathedrals were often stripped of ornamentation, sometimes for economic gain and sometimes for religious fervor. The Catholic renewal of the 1800s revived a love of image and color, shape and form and the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin was built as a powerful witness to this tradition in the Episcopal Church.
Since 1868 worship at Saint Mary’s has involved the whole person. Here we use our bodies to worship. The senses are called upon and are even sometimes overloaded. But whether it is through the shadows, through the clouds of incense, through the stained glass or through the statues, Saint Mary’s helps us to worship God with our eyes.
The Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s is a new effort that seeks to help us look more deeply and to worship God with our eyes more fully. The first exhibition, Fabric of Faith, comes down this weekend. It has already served as a catalyst for vestment conservation and has helped us to see a part of our local history in an accessible and interesting way. This Sunday, June 27, a new exhibition opens featuring the work of Patricia Miranda, an artist whose contemporary work is inspired and informed by the tradition of icons. Ms. Miranda will return in November to lead a two-day workshop on icon painting. Look for the brochure and calendar for the Visual Arts Program or see the website for more information on upcoming exhibitions and lectures.
May we be blessed with eyes to see one another more clearly and to see and appreciate our surroundings more deeply. May we grow in our ability to worship God with our hearts and minds and even with our eyes. John Beddingfield
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Ellenanne, May, Philip, Peter, Charles, Judy, Mary, Tom, Kara, Mark, Steve, Gilbert, Matthew, Robert, Gloria, Margaret, Jason, Harold, Bart, Hugh, Margaret, Marion, 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 for the repose of the soul of Katherine . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 26: 1985 Kenneth Mealy.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . Psalm 63:5-11, 1 Kings 19:8-10, 19-21, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, June 26 only from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM by Father Beddingfield. There will be no Noonday Office nor Mass at 12:15 PM because of the Nuptial Mass to be held at 1:00 PM . . . On Sunday, June 27, the Rector will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass and the 5:20 PM Mass… Father Beddingfield will be the celebrant and preacher at the 10:00 AM Mass and the 11:00 Solemn Mass.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Geoffrey Dunstan Williams of Princeton, New Jersey and Emilie Suzanne Ball of Brooklyn, New York. If any of you know just cause why they many not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. J.B.
WELCOME THE REVEREND MATTHEW MEAD . . . After being married on June 5 and spending a honeymoon in Italy, Matthew and Nicole Mead are now in residence in the fifth floor curate’s apartment of the Parish House. On July 1 Matthew will begin as curate at Saint Mary’s and his title will be Curate: Assistant for Liturgy & Education. [Father Beddingfield’s title is Curate: Assistant for Parish Life & Outreach.] Matthew graduated from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University in May, magna cum laude and brings many gifts to his new position at Saint Mary’s. May of you already know Matthew and Nicole, but I look forward to the wider parish getting to know them as well. I am extremely proud to have Matthew join the parish clergy and look forward to his ministry. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: Tuesday, June 29, is the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. There will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . Plan to stay for coffee hour after Mass this Sunday to see the new exhibition in Saint Joseph’s Hall and welcome the artist, Patricia Miranda . . . Clare Nesmith is working on organizing some of the old vestments that have been kept in the church basement. If you can spare some old bed sheets, please bring them to the parish office or to the sacristy . . . Flowers are needed for August 1, 8 and the 22nd. If you are interested in giving them, please contact Sandra Schubert at email@example.com . . . Attendance last Sunday 217…Sacred Heart attendance 78.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On most Sundays during the summer a cantor from our choir sings the Gregorian chant propers of the Mass and a piece for solo voice during the ministration of Holy Communion. The congregation sings the Mass ordinary . . . On Sunday, July 4, a group of Choral Scholars from the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, England will sing at the Solemn Mass. Plan to come on this holiday weekend to hear this superb ensemble (from a choir internationally famous for its wonderful recordings). They will sing Missa ‘Congratulamini mihi’ and the motet Ave virgo sanctissima by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). This truly is not to be missed! . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Vater unser im Himmelreich (I) by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). Mr. Joe Chappel, bass-baritone, is our soloist. Mr. Chappel is an alumnus of the Eastman School of Music and may be heard regularly as a soloist in the distinguished Bach cantata series at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York. Mr. Chappel is a frequent soloist in opera productions and sings with Early Music New York, in addition to other New York professional choirs. The aria sung during Communion is Quia fecit mihi magna from Magnificat, BWV 243 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Placare Christe servulis from Le Tombeau de Titelouze, Opus 38 by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). Robert McCormick
LOOKING FOR SOME SUMMER READING? . . . Why not rediscover or begin to read the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins? For three Wednesday nights in September, our parishioner Rebecca Weiner will lead us in a study and discussion of the poetry and life of Hopkins. Rebecca is a professor of literature at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. A good place to begin is with the Dover Thrift Edition (1995), God’s Grandeur and Other Poems.
MEMBERSHIP NOTES . . . Please welcome our newest church member. We have recently received baptismal records for Guy Strobel. Guy is an actor and singer and all-around artist from the neighborhood who has worshiped with us for some time. It is a real joy to welcome him formally to the Saint Mary’s family.
DIOCESAN PRIDE EVENTS . . . The New York City Gay Pride Parade is this Sunday, June 27. Groups and individuals who wish to march with the Diocese of New York should meet around 1:00 PM on 54th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Once again this year, the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields will host a special Evensong at 6:30 PM. The Right Reverend Catherine Roskam will be the officiant. If you wish to get a seat, you should be in line outside the church by 5:45 PM. A reception follows in the Church’s garden. Saint Luke’s is located at 487 Hudson Street, just south of Christopher Street.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202
Eve of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles
Tuesday Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles
Friday Weekday 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.