Three times a week I try to jog in Central Park. Occasionally there are witnesses to this; I have been spotted more than I wish. I’m almost used to being recognized by people – something I didn’t think would be so common when I first moved here. Frankly, a couple of years ago I thought I would be giving up on jogging. Then, I discovered the bridle path in Central Park. My knees love it. And as long as I don’t push them too much, it seems as if I’m going to continue to be able jog for some years to come.
The bridle path links up with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. If you haven’t seen the new fence around the reservoir, you are in for a treat. The old one was really bad, a cheap chain link number. The new one looks as if it belongs there and will really look good at home once it weathers a bit. It’s tall enough to keep people out, and unlike the last one, most adults can see over it. There are more than a few places around the reservoir where the view is just spectacular.
The bridle path is not without its challenges for its users. A jogger probably needs to keep an almost constant eye on the path. I did get to help stop a runaway horse one day – it was coming at a gallop and the rider was yelling, “Grab the reigns.” I did and the horse stopped in its tracks. (I felt totally classically chivalrous in that moment.) And then there are the bike riders, most of whom don’t realize that the bridle path is not the place for them. And although the bridle path isn’t directional, the reservoir path (much narrower) is.
All the signs around the reservoir that state the rules for using the path are not located in places anyone is going to see them when coming onto the path. So for almost all of the reservoir path, one gets on the path without seeing a sign that points out the direction (counterclockwise) but in word and symbol states, “No bicycles, No Dogs, No Carriages.” Again, it is a somewhat narrow and busy path in Central Park –and the signs serve a genuinely useful purpose. Why aren’t they put in places to be useful?
There are lots of lessons, large and small, in life that can only be learned from personal trial and error. But there are lots of things that we can learn from each other, from books and just from observing life. When we get spiritually “stuck” I think we should have some confidence that there are signs for us to read, signs to guide us along the paths of our lives.
It seemed to me too often as a child that I was growing up in a world where everyone seemed to know the rules and I didn’t. Not only did I not know the rules, but everyone thought that I did or expected that I should. This is true to some degree for all of us. As much as some unkind people in every age of my life have tried to shame me, I’ve learned to be pretty comfortable with what I know and what I don’t know – and I try to be quick in admitting it. And I’m still trying to look for signs in life that will guide me. I just wish there were more signs in my life that were better placed than the signs around the reservoir. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Samuel who is hospitalized, for Paul, 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 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 30: 1986 Elizabeth Collins.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 18:20-33, Psalm 138, Colossians 2:6-15, Luke 11:1-13 . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, July 24 . . . On Sunday, July 25, The Rector will preach at the 10:00 AM and at the 11:00 AM. Father Mead will preach at the 9:00 AM and 5:20 PM Masses. The Reverend James Ross Smith will be celebrant for the Sunday evening Mass . . . The Feast of Saint James the Apostle is observed this week on Monday, July 26.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many, many thanks to the Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, Presiding Bishop's Deputy Officer of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, who was celebrant and preacher for Solemn Mass last Sunday. Bishop, it is always an honor and privilege to have you here with us! . . . As we go to press, Samuel Harvey is a patient at Harlem Hospital. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Congratulations to our sexton Wilfredo Zapata and Dennise Castro, whose daughter Kaylee Madison was born on Saturday, July 17 . . . Second quarter pledge statements are ready to be mailed this week. Your gifts and prayers keep our doors open! . . . Reminder: Father Beddingfield continues on vacation through August 7 . . . Many thanks to all who have helped with coffee hour and who have served as ushers this summer! . . . Attendance last Sunday: 183.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . I again thank Mr. Robert P. McDermitt, associate organist, for playing the Solemn Mass in my absence . . . The prelude before Mass is Pièce d’orgue, BWV 572 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and the postlude is Bach’s Fuge G-dur, BWV 541. Our soloist is Mr. Geoffrey D. Williams, countertenor and baritone. Some have noted that this seems to be an unusual talent; while Mr. Williams is without question especially gifted, the combination of baritone and countertenor is not a particularly unusual one. The baritone range is the natural singing range of most countertenors, but they have a specially trained and “reinforced” falsetto or “head voice” that enables them to sing in a high range. Mr. Williams is only atypical in that he is equally proficient in both types of singing. We wish him and his new wife, Emilie, well as they prepare to move to Washington, DC. They both have been regular and treasured members of our choir and we will miss them greatly. Thankfully for us, Mr. Williams will be our soloist again later in the summer and both of them plan to rejoin the choir for “special occasions,” beginning with our observance of the Assumption next month! The anthem at Communion is O Maria, O felix puerpera, a 13th century French conductus. Conductus is a type of monophonic song (consisting of one voice part) with a metrical text. Though they are not chant, they originally were for liturgical use (similar to a sequence). Later on, however, the term became associated with any sacred or secular metrical Latin song. Robert McCormick
REMINDER 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.
HELP SAINT MARY’S GROW . . . Join Father Beddingfield and others at the Magnetic Church Conference on Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. This conference helps us look at every aspect of our ministry and helps us see more clearly how we might begin to convey the good news of Saint Mary’s in a more powerful way. To learn more about the concept of the Magnetic Church see www.magnetic-church.com. Pencil the dates in your calendar and sign up by contacting Sandra Schubert via email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEREMONIES . . . Several years ago one of our Sunday guests was a Roman Catholic liturgist who observed the Sunday morning Masses. It was so interesting to hear his perspective on what he saw. He is a priest. He is an academic. His doctorate is in liturgics. He had been in parish ministry. He was amazed by the devotion and reverence he observed. I remember as we talked being more than a little proud of what he had seen. He could tell that people were prayerful. He could tell that people cared about the Mass. Surely our building and our traditions help to dispose all of us to God’s presence among us. It never occurred to me to ask if he observed a similar sense of reverence by us towards each other.
There is a limited vocabulary in the New Testament for those who believe and follow Christ. We are called “Christians” – and I remind you that the word “Christ” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word “Messiah” which means “anointed” (literally, “greased”). We are called “disciples,” students. We are called members of his Body. We are called sisters and brothers. That’s about it.
Since the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian ceremonial has been more than a little hierarchical. Anglican bishops continued to live in palaces even after the Reformation. Roman Catholics genuflected when they approached their bishops. During the liturgy, one always genuflected or bowed to persons of higher rank. Some of this ceremonial tradition lives at Saint Mary’s. I like bowing before a bishop. I like showing signs not of dependency but of respect, devotion and relationship. I also like bowing to servers and to the congregation – and in the past that simply wasn’t done by priests except in rare moments across the liturgical year.
I think you and I need signs to remind us of the value and dignity of every person. I think you and I need particular signs to remind us that the Body of Christ reposes not just in tabernacles but in each other and in people outside the doors of our churches. Our Anglo-catholic tradition has long known that reverence for Christ is more than reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Yes, a smile, a word, a touch from one Christian to another might well be in God’s eyes the most important ceremony of Mass. How we respond to people outside our assembly may be the most important thing of all. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Saint James, Apostle (transferred)
Tuesday William Reed Huntington, Priest, 1909
Thursday Mary and Martha of Bethany
Friday William Wilberforce, Abolitionist, 1833 Abstinence
Saturday Ignatius of Loyola, Priest and Monastic, 1556
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.