I finally got to the greenmarket in Union Square a few Saturdays ago. I didn’t buy much – eggs (just a half-dozen, no notes to my physician, please), potatoes, zucchini and garlic. It’s still early in the season for a lot of things. I don’t know where the potatoes were from but they were freshly dug. I had almost forgotten how good new potatoes can taste. Even more, I really had forgotten how good zucchini can be – yes, zucchini, that was the real surprise.
I admit that I can’t tell the difference between eggs from the greenmarket and ordinary grocery store eggs – except the yolks have more color. But there are some products that really are different. Tomatoes that have been grown outside, picked ripe and never refrigerated have taste that no grocery store tomato has. And all of those elements have to be there – especially the no-refrigeration element – for that vegetable to have the depth and flavor.
Not everyone can taste the difference between fresh and grocery store vegetables. There are some tastes and flavors I don’t particularly like. I know I don’t like the strong taste of game. I don’t usually like uncooked fish – except for oysters on the half shell. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a vegetable I don’t like except for beet greens.
I was part of a generation of children whose parents thought it was in their interests to try to make their children eat many things the children didn’t want to eat. It’s hard for me now to think I ever didn’t like green peas. Sometimes with children taste is a matter of willfulness (a lingering dislike of canned green peas remains). But I’ve come to suspect that our biology changes over the years in ways that affect what we like to eat. Why does a baby one day decide not to eat the strained spinach he or she has been slurping down for months? Why do raw oysters taste so good one day that the first dozen is not enough? I think our biology frames our spiritual and emotional lives. Surely the inevitable changes of our biology over time opens spiritual and emotional opportunities for us.
Of course, I often walk by the open doors of the church on 47th Street where on warm days I smell the lingering scent of incense. Perhaps, not surprisingly, it’s in the off moments of walking, rushing, by the open 47th Street doors that the faint smell has its greatest impact on me, greater than during solemn liturgies in the church. This subtle smell can transport my soul to the presence of God.
Our common life at Saint Mary’s is very, very rich. I know it does not always speak to everyone who enters. But it speaks to many, many of us. There is an integrity and richness to our liturgical life that distinguishes us from the crowd. At some level, of course, a Mass is a Mass is a Mass. But one offered in a beautiful church, with unbelievably good music and with loving care, can take what is already extraordinary, eucharistic food, and bring it even closer to being the heavenly banquet.
I suspect that sometimes you and I may forget how really good ordinary worship at Saint Mary’s is. We should not. And we should not forget that it is possible only because it is done primarily for us and for those who are not yet here. The moment we forget about the newcomer or the sojourner, we have lost our way as a Christian community. The moment anyone cares more about the way a priest holds his hands during the service than the way we receive a guest, we risk losing our way as a Christian community.
Please assume that anyone who walks through our door is being called by God to come in. Please assume that God is calling you to welcome them. Please assume that every Sunday is an opportunity to rejoice in God’s gifts and to give him thanks with prayer and offering. There is a spiritual delight to welcoming others and to giving to others that gives meaning to our lives. This delight is Christ himself. Again, Saint Mary’s is here because the richness of worship is not just for us. It is also for those God is sending here. It is this particular richness that brings us in union with God and each other in this place. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Peter, Charles, Mamie, 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, and for the repose of the soul of Doña Clara . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 11: 1981 Pelham St. George Bissell; July 15: 1986 Peter A.J. McGrane, 1989 Allen C. Satterfield, 1989 Robert Fox Davis.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . Psalm 25:3-9, Deuteronomy 30:9-14, Colossians 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-30 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 10 by Father Beddingfield . . . On Sunday, July 11, Father Mead will preach at the 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM Masses. At 11:00 AM we are honored to welcome back as preacher the Reverend Dr. Paul F. Bradshaw, priest vicar, Westminster Abbey, London. Father Bradshaw is a professor of liturgics at the University of Notre Dame and a leading liturgical scholar in the Anglican Communion. He currently serves as director of undergraduate studies of Notre Dame’s London program. Father is a priest of the Diocese of Northern Indiana. He was with us for the Epiphany and it is a great honor to have him with us again . . . The Reverend James Ross Smith will be celebrant and preacher for the Sunday evening Mass.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Beddingfield will be on vacation from July 11 until August 7. While Father is away, Father Smith will be taking the Sunday evening and Monday Masses for which the Rector is especially thankful! . . . The Women and Spirituality group will meet on Tuesday, July 13 at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance last Sunday 199.
WOMEN’S DAY AWAY . . . On Saturday, September 25, 2004 the women of Saint Mary’s will spend a day away exploring Benedictine spirituality with Clare Nesmith, our senior seminarian. Plan on being a part of this time and bring a friend. Stay tuned for details. Also, if you have suggestions for the planning of the day please let Clare know. She is at Saint Mary’s on Mondays and Wednesdays during the summer.
NEW TO SAINT MARY’S? . . . New to the Episcopal Church? Via Media is coming to Saint Mary’s this fall. On a series of Monday nights newcomers and those wishing to explore what it means to be a Christian in the Anglican tradition will gather for dessert, a DVD presentation on a particular aspect of the faith and a small group discussion of the topic. Look for more information to follow and check the church website for details over the summer.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Psalm-Prelude, Opus 32/2 by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). It is based upon Psalm 37:11, “But the meek-spirited shall possess the earth, and shall be refreshed in the multitude of peace.” This beautiful tone poem for organ clearly shows Howells’ contemplation and perception of the text. The postlude is Hymne d’Actions de grâce “Te Deum,” Opus 5/3 by Jean Langlais (1907-1991). A loud and crashing essay for full organ, it is based upon the Solemn Tone plainsong setting of Te Deum laudamus. Our soloist is Ms. Ruth Cunningham, soprano. Ms. Cunningham, a regular member of our choir, is a distinguished and versatile musician. For ten years she was a member of the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble Anonymous 4. She also is an accomplished pianist, flutist and medieval harpist. Currently, she is a practitioner in “sound healing,” using her skill at improvisation to connect people to the healing and spiritual power of music. Ms. Cunningham will use her unique skill in vocal improvisation (something everyone should hear!) this Sunday. Two of the minor propers, the Alleluia and verse and Communion antiphon, will be improvised. The anthem at Communion is a setting of I heard the voice of Jesus say by Ms. Cunningham. It will utilize improvisation in addition to a melody that she has composed. Robert McCormick
SUMMER AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The rectory parlor has an invaluable collection of service bulletins from the nineteenth century until the present day. For a lot of Saint Mary’s history things really shut down during the summer months. Not only was the choir gone but there was no Solemn Mass at 10:45 AM (for decades the main service time) because there were not enough servers and priests available. During the rectorate of Father Donald Garfield (1965-1978) Saint Mary’s abandoned its historic summer schedule and Solemn Mass every Sunday became the norm. This is even easier now with the reform of the liturgy in the last part of the last century. One can do a solemn liturgy with one priest. (I suspect one reason there were no solemn Masses during the summer under Father Grieg Taber (1939-1964) was that the three parish priests each took a month of vacation during the summer – and in those days only priests could be “sacred ministers” during the liturgy at Saint Mary’s. And in those days, again I suspect, only regular Saint Mary clergy were ever at the altar as celebrant, deacon and subdeacon.) Thanks to the arrival of Father Mead, the regular help of Mother Sullivan and Father Montgomery and emergency assistance provided by Father Smith, we have enough clergy to maintain clergy coverage for our worship schedule. We do need help at the moment with altar servers, especially at the 10:00 AM Sunday Mass. Several people serve regularly at weekday Masses, but more are needed and welcome. It’s so very, very important that we maintain one of our oldest parish traditions of laity and not just the clergy serving at the altar! If you are interested in helping please speak with Father Matt Mead or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, The Reverend Matthew Mead, curates,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.