Saints and Souls
Almost all Episcopal parishes will celebrate Sunday, November 7, as “All Saints’ Sunday.” The Prayer Book allows this provided there is also an observance on All Saints’ Day, November 1. Sadly, almost everywhere the transfer occurs and November 1 is mostly ignored. There are lots of reasons for this. It simply takes an extraordinary commitment for any Christian to organize his or her life around the life of his church community. I suspect it always has.
That commitment does come from the members and friends of Saint Mary’s. You may be interested to know that when I was called as rector, appended to the formal letter was a list of services and feast days it was expected that I would provide across the course of the year. There was nothing very much about the other tasks I would do during an average week. It’s one of countless testimonies to the priority of worship in this Christian community.
Everyone receives gifts from God, but not all recognize the gift or the giver. Two weeks ago the Gospel was Luke’s account of the Lord healing ten lepers, only one of whom returned to him to give thanks. Something about Christian worship has taken hold of the community that forms Saint Mary’s, in New York and elsewhere. And so many make it possible for what we do to be the very best it can be. It’s not just our church musicians, staff, clergy and volunteers. It really is the whole Saint Mary’s community – local and national – whose commitment makes this possible.
On Monday, November 1, at 6:00 PM there will be Solemn Pontifical Mass. Our guest preacher is the Right Reverend Michael Marshall, honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of London and an old friend of Saint Mary’s. Our celebrant will be our own Vicar Bishop, the Right Reverend E. Don Taylor. The Right Reverend Andrew St. John, interim rector of Holy Trinity Church, New York City, will be with us as a concelebrant. The Reverend Canon John Andrew, rector emeritus of Saint Thomas Church, will also be with the parish clergy in choir. There will be great music and many visitors. Personally speaking, this is the Mass when my single favorite hymn, “For all the saints, who from their labors rest,” is sung. Of course, the most important event of a Mass is never a hymn. All Saint’s is one of the days when the Episcopal Church celebrates Holy Baptism. The focus of our liturgy this year will be the baptism of one adult and four children, the Lord Jesus dying and rising in our midst in those who are called to faith.
It’s so easy for us human beings to be confused about what is important, in small and in large things. This is the nature of human life as it moves towards its end in God. It shouldn’t surprise any of us that the most important thing, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is that hardest to keep in front of our eyes. In the quiet center of our souls we remain people of faith and surrender. We cannot be sure.
Whenever there are baptisms I urge as many of the assembly as possible to come forward to the area in front of the pews (and even the chancel!) so that they can see the rite in its fullness, to see the water poured in which we are “buried with Christ in his death”, “share in his resurrection”, and are “reborn by the Holy Spirit” (Prayer Book, page 306). Baptism is the Easter event. I believe that when we look for it in others we renew and strengthen our own faith in who we are, the Body of Christ.
At Saint Mary’s, the remembrance of our own beloved departed takes five days, All Souls’ Day itself and four more ordinary weekdays. The Solemn Mass on Tuesday, November 2, is hauntingly beautiful. It’s one of the few liturgies of the year where there are no announcements. At the end of the service, the servers and clergy process to the Lady Chapel for the Blessing of the Vault, where the ashes of the departed repose. There are so many reasons to come to church on All Souls’ Day, but in our country this year it is Election Day. With respect, Mass at Saint Mary’s will keep a lot of things in perspective.
Finally, in just a few days, members and friends will be receiving a letter from our Trustees asking for a pledge for 2005. Many people write us and tell us how much they appreciate our being an open church in Times Square. After solemn masses, we invariably receive emails and letters expressing gratitude for the opportunity for liturgical worship. I often receive notes from people across the country who wish they had a parish where Masses were offered on great feasts. Saint Mary’s is going to need greater gifts next year to continue its work. I invite you to make your gratitude known in pledging and giving generously to Saint Mary’s in 2005. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Rick who is hospitalized, and for Pamela, Charles, Gloria, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Margaret, Jason, Bart, Hugh, Marion, Christine 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; and for the repose of the soul of Adele . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 31: David Hessing; November 1: 1997 Mark Hamilton; November 2: 1957 Elsinore Janmott, 1958 C.Y. Wong, 1960 Mabel Amelia Hoover, 1970 John Arthur Schwartz, 1973 Howard Montague Smith, 1973 Doris White, 1976 Winona Clare Peterson, 1982 Robert William Kennedy, 1983 Marie Anne Andokian, 1987, Clasine A. Van De Geer.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 1:1-10-20, Psalm 32:1-8, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Luke 19:1-10 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 30 by Father Gerth and on Saturday, November 6, by Father Mead . . . On Sunday, October 30, the Father Mead is celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Said Mass. The Rector is celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. Our preacher at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM is Dr. R. William Franklin, candidate for Holy Orders in the Diocese of New York from our parish and associate for Adult Christian Education, Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Because of All Saints’ and All Souls’ the Monday evening Via Media class and the Tuesday evening Bible Study will not meet this week . . . WEDNESDAY: “Feed my Sheep” is the title of the November class led by the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York. The class will explore John 21 and its implications for the Church (Saint Benedict’s Study 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM) . . . Attendance last Sunday 305.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Sung Mass, played by Robert McDermitt, the voluntaries are movements from Suite gothique, Opus 25 by Léon Boëllman (1862-1897) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Processional in D by David N. Johnson (1922-1987) and the postlude is Carillon (1949) by Herbert Murrill (1909-1952). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa super ‘Ich stund an einem Morgen’ by Jacob Handl (1550-1591). Handl (also known as Jacobus Gallus) was a Roman Catholic composer who spent most of his life working in and Austria and Bohemia. His output, mostly sacred and including 20 Masses, is marked by influences from both the Netherlands and Venetian styles of the day. The motet at Communion is Handl’s In Nomine Iesu . . . The organ recital at 4:40 is played by Providence Jeeyoon Choi . . . On All Saints’ Day, the recital at 5:30 is played by John Stansell of Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and includes works of Pinkham and Barber . . . At the Solemn Mass, the choir sings Missa Cantuariensis, Opus 59 by the English composer Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986). Rubbra, who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1948, is perhaps best known for instrumental works, especially his 11 symphonies. This Mass, a setting in English, was written in 1945 for the choir of Canterbury Cathedral, while the composer was still an Anglican. The anthem at Communion is O how glorious is the Kingdom by Basil Harwood (1859-1949) . . . On All Souls’ Day, the choir sings Francisco Guerrero’s (1528-1599) Missa pro defunctis of 1582, a setting of stunning simplicity and unearthly beauty for four part male choir (ATTB) . . . Congratulations to Ana Hernández, a member of our choir and well-known singer of chant (of all kinds, not just Gregorian!) and polyphony, whose book The Sacred Art of Chant: Preparing to Practice has recently been published by SkyLight Paths. It may be purchased on the publisher’s website, www.skylightpaths.com.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Monday All Saints’ Day
Tuesday All Souls’ Day
Wednesday Parish Requiem (A-G from the All Souls’ Day list)
Thursday Parish Requiem (H-M from the All Souls’ Day list)
Friday Parish Requiem (N-R from the All Souls’ Day list) Abstinence
Saturday Parish Requiem (S-Z from the All Souls’ Day list)
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, The Reverend Matthew Mead, curates,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend James Ross Smith,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.