The Angelus

Volume 6, Number 42

From Father Beddingfield: What music should we choose?

There is a radio program called Marketplace that discusses financial news and stories relating to the economy.  In the segment called “doing the numbers” it reports on the day’s activity on the stock market and major economic indicators.  The background music for this report depends on the mood of the day.  If the market is up and the economy robust, the music played is “We’re in the money.”  If the indicators are bad and the outlook is poor, one hears the more melancholy “Stormy weather.”

It is almost stewardship season at Saint Mary’s, when we ask members and friends to make a financial pledge for the upcoming year.  This is not a special offering.  It is different from a feast day gift.  A pledge is a tangible expression of faith in the program and mission of this parish.  A pledge makes the operating budget of the church operate.  It is the muscle that makes possible the music.  It is the power of the wallet that supports the words of our prayers.  Pledging makes the church possible. 

As we begin to contemplate whether our faith has any financial consequences, whether we really believe in the vision and ministry of Saint Mary’s and whether we are willing to give sacrificially, what music should be playing in the background? 

As of today, we have 194 members in good standing.  We are grateful for our additional neighbors, national friends, music friends and visitors, but as a parish, we are small.  In 2004 we had 122 pledges amounting to around $235,000.   The budget is right at $1.2 million.  Even though we received some income in addition to pledged giving the drawdown from the endowment for this year is close to $750,000.  Unacceptable.  Unsustainable.  Stormy weather.

We can do better, friends.  The Bible suggests we tithe, that is, we give a tenth of our income back to God.  It is the substance of our individual prayers as to whether this is one tenth of our gross income, our net income, or our total family income.  It is also for our own prayers as to whether the entire tenth goes to our parish or whether we divide it among a number of charitable options. 

Let’s pretend the average income of a Saint Mary’s parishioner is $30,000 a year (which is well below the average in this parish.)  If 200 parishioners tithed, that would be $600,000.   It doesn’t solve everything, but it moves us in the right direction.   Commitment like that makes the music change.

When I think about Saint Mary’s and a community of people who are willing to give generously, I tend to imagine background music more on the scale of a Gloria from a Mass by Howells.  I imagine a congregational base that tithes ($600,000) and a national base that gives about as much as they might for a museum membership or a decent ticket on Broadway (say $100 a year – 1280 people in our database right now, that yields another $128,000.)  I imagine our making a hundred or so new friends who value Saint Mary’s as much they value cable television (an average of $50 a month = another $60,000 a year.)  I imagine fifty people who are willing to pay for the extraordinary music they hear on Sundays and at major feasts ($500 a year would be less than some might pay for a series subscription to a major opera or orchestra.  This would yield $25,000).  I imagine a young adult base of another fifty people who value Saint Mary’s as much as a year’s membership at a gym ($800 X 50 =$40,000).   And I imagine occasion gifts, capital gifts and a bequest or two.  Gloria in excelsis Deo.

I pray about and dream about lots of people who love the Lord Jesus Christ and are committed to the way in which Saint Mary’s seeks to bring people to Christ.  I want a nursery and a vibrant children’s ministry.  I want a program with aging adults.  I want mission projects in West Midtown, in the Bronx and with the migrant workers in New York State.  I want mission teams going to Central America and Africa, learning and serving and helping.  I want a yearly Saint Mary’s preaching conference.  I want a yearly Saint Mary’s liturgical conference.  I want a series of lectures on business and ethics and a businessperson/youth money-management mentoring program.  I want a counseling service and a visiting nurse service.  I want a loud, faithful, joyful witness for the risen Christ in Times Square. 

Do you hear the music?  Let’s turn up the volume.  Let’s give faithfully and sacrificially.  Let’s grow Saint Mary’s.  John Beddingfield


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Bob who is hospitalized, and for Penn, Donna, George, Samuel, Paul, Peter, Charles, Mary, Mark, Steve, Gilbert, Matthew, Robert, Gloria, Margaret, Jason, Harold, Bart, Hugh, Margaret, Marion, Rick, Gene, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Bruce, Paul, 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 Howard . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 21: 1976 Harold E. Pim; September 23: 1969 Rosie Matilda Flemister Erwin.


LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Amos 8:4-12, Psalm 138, 1 Timothy 2:1-8, Luke 16:1-13 . . . On Saturday, September 18 there will be no 12:15 Mass and confessions are heard by appointment only . . . Matthew Mead is to be ordained priest on Saturday, September 18, at 10:30 AM at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.  He will serve as celebrant and preacher at the Eucharist for the first time Sunday, September 19, at 11:00 AM.  On Sunday, September 19, the Rector will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 5:20 PM Mass.  At 9:00 AM we welcome home our seminarian Ryan Lesh who will the preacher for that Mass.


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Penelope Byham of New York City and Michael Allen of New York City.  If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it.  This is the first time of asking.  S.G.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Please plan to stay after Mass this Sunday for the coffee hour in honor of the ordination of Father Mead . . . Penelope Byham and Michael Allen wish to invite the entire parish to their wedding at Saint Mary’s on Friday, October 1, 2004 at 7:30 PM.  The reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Robert McCormick will play an organ recital at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral this Sunday, September 19 at 4:45 PM . . . Flowers are needed for September 26 and October 10.  If you are interested in providing them, please call or e-mail Sandra Schubert in the parish office . . . New to Saint Mary’s?  Look for the Via Media mailing this week and join us on Monday nights in October and November . . . Attendance for September 11 services 338, Attendance last Sunday 216, Attendance on Holy Cross Day 143.


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the Mass setting, motet, hymns and organ postlude were chosen by Father Mead for the occasion of his first offering of the Holy Eucharist . . . The prelude before Mass is Cantilène improvisée, an improvisation by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939), reconstructed by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986).  The postlude is a favorite of many, including Father Mead: Toccata from Symphonie V, Opus 42/5 by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Saeculorum Amen’ by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599).  The motet at Communion is Guerrero’s famed and beloved setting of an antiphon of Our Lady, Ave Virgo sanctissima . . . Look soon for the mailing regarding the 2004-2005 series of Concerts at Saint Mary’s.  Mark 7:30 PM on Thursday, November 18 on your calendars now!  The choir of Saint Mary’s offers music in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Tallis, Cornysh, Mendelssohn, Tavener and others.  Robert McCormick


SAINT MARY’S PARISHIONERS OUT ALL NIGHT . . . On Monday night, five of us from Saint Mary’s joined about 50 other volunteers to do a census of homeless people in the area served by Common Ground’s Street to Home initiative (23rd to 59th Streets, Sixth Avenue to the Hudson River).  Done twice a year, this count gives Common Ground and a collection of social service organizations working with homeless people the data it needs to define the extent of homelessness.  Prepared by the outreach workers on how to engage the people we found (important warning:  don’t wake them up!), my team of three people covered the territory surrounding our church (49th to 44th Streets, Sixth to Ninth Avenues) and found more than 20 people.  Some of our observations:  no one sleeping in the streets between Eighth and Ninth; most people sleeping in the most brightly lit, public spaces, probably for safety; Black, White and Hispanic pretty evenly divided; mostly people alone and mostly men, but for a couple sleeping in the U.S. Trust passageway near Saint Mary’s.  Most of the people we saw were sleeping – except for one woman.  Perhaps 30, tiny, blonde, crumpled against a Seventh Avenue storefront with a hand lettered sign explaining her need for food, a woman who gave her name as Lauren told us she has been homeless for four months and that she wasn’t sure she wanted help.  We recorded her presence and moved on, but she will not move out of my mind.  From that one encounter, I know I will count again and will want to contribute my time and energy to Jacob’s Tents, the new and ongoing Saint Mary’s ministry with the homeless.  MaryJane Boland


GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS CLASS CONTINUES . . . Rebecca Weiner’s class on the poetry and life of Hopkins continues this Wednesday evening, September 22 at 7:00 PM.  The class meets in Saint Benedict’s Study.  If you come after the class begins, remember to enter from 46th Street and press the doorbell on the right side of the entry hall for Saint Benedict’s Study.


COMING NEXT WEEK . . . How much does it cost to keep Saint Mary’s open during the week?  Is it worth it and who benefits?


The Calendar of the Week

Sunday                The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Monday                     John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, and his Companions, Martyrs, 1871 

                                    Eve of Saint Matthew’s Day 6:20 PM

Tuesday                    Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Wednesday               Weekday

Thursday                  Weekday

Friday                        Weekday                                                                       Abstinence

Saturday                   Sergius, Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392



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.