The Great Liturgical Parish
Saint Mary’s is not always easy to describe. Through its history many have tried. One phrase often used was “The Cathedral of Anglo-catholicism.” That was good. Saint Mary’s has since its inception been a leading parish in the Episcopal Church. What goes on here has mattered for others. I can attest that I have followed Saint Mary’s since my seminary days at Nashotah House. I never visited the parish until I came here to interview for my current position. Again, Saint Mary’s common life has mattered for Episcopal Christians throughout our country (and not a few abroad). I believe Saint Mary’s will be even more important in the next few decades.
Saint Mary’s is not, however, a cathedral. It never has been. A cathedral is the church of the diocesan bishop. In Christian history, it is the principal church of a city. Additional parish churches came to be organized in larger cities very early on because in communities of any size not everyone could fit into even one large church for Mass. Saint Mary’s is an urban parish where the great rites of the Christian community are celebrated and lived out.
There are many reasons why this congregation has a large role in the history of the Episcopal Church. Two important reasons - its location in the largest city in the United States and its building, a superior liturgical space built in an era when churches were designed for congregations to listen to clergy and choirs perform services on their behalf. Saint Mary’s is the great liturgical parish of the Episcopal Church.
The great liturgical tradition in the simplest terms is the living gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the tradition that understands that the greatest sign of God’s love for humankind is life itself that each human being has. The tradition believes that God has revealed his purpose for all people in his Son Jesus Christ, whom he raised from the dead. The great tradition judges and transforms all it touches. It’s a tradition that rejoices in the treasures of Christianity. We seek to bring out of God’s gifts to us the best of what is old and of what is new.
Great worship, like great holiness, requires commitment, sacrifice and grace. There are so many signs of new life at Saint Mary’s right now. I have great confidence that we will find ways to manage the financial challenges 2005 is going to bring. We are blessed with some really outstanding lay leadership in the parish. When asked, members of the local and national community have over and over again made their personal commitment to Saint Mary’s a sacrificial one. I don’t think any reader of this newsletter does not know that the parish needs substantial increases in giving across 2005 to continue to be the great liturgical parish of the Episcopal Church.
A young man once asked Jesus what he needed to do. Jesus answered him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21b). He didn’t like Jesus’ answer. He went away. Jesus approached another man very differently. He didn’t tell him what he should give. His name was Zacchaeus. Jesus simply went to his house and ate with him. Saint Luke records, “Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost’” (Luke 19:8-10).
There is something very special here on West 46th Street. For me and for many of you, Saint Mary’s is a place where we encounter something like the merchant in my own favorite of Jesus’ parables. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). I ask you to join me in giving to Saint Mary’s in an extraordinary way in 2005 in thanksgiving for the blessings and mission of this holy place. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Mary, Rick, 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 Joni . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 15: 1959 Irene Helen Williams, 1972 Wallace Charles Taylor, 1973 Estelle Moore, 1983 Ralph Burus Smith, 1997 Noel J. Blackman; November 19: 1990 Beryl Ermine Whittle.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Malachi 3:13—4:2a, 5-6, Psalm 98:5-10, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19 . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 13, at 11:30 AM by Father Smith and at 4:00 PM by Father Gerth and on Saturday, November 20 by Father Beddingfield . . . On Sunday, November 14, at the 9:00 AM Mass, Father Gerth is celebrant. The preacher is our seminarian Clare Nesmith. Father Beddingfield is celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass. The Presiding Bishop is celebrant and preacher at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. Our preacher at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM is the Reverend Allen Shin, former curate at Saint Mary’s now honorary assistant priest at All Saints Margaret Street, London.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . On MONDAY Via Media continues in Saint Joseph’s Hall from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM . . . On TUESDAY The Reverend Anne Richards will lead “Toward God” a class on prayer from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM . . . On WEDNESDAY Bishop Grein’s class, “Feed my Sheep” continues in Saint Benedict’s Study from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The 228th Annual Convention of the Diocese of New York will be held Friday and Saturday, November 12 and 13, at the Westchester Marriott Hotel in Tarrytown, New York. Rick Miranda is the lay delegate of Saint Mary’s to the convention . . . Pledge cards are on the way! The devil has tried to slow down our printer, but perhaps God will use this delay to help the faithful consider more deeply their commitment to Saint Mary’s! . . . Welcome our newest church member. Last week we baptized Alisha Aviles and this week we have received the transfer of membership for her great-uncle, J. Bailey Morgan, who most people know simply as Morgan. It’s great to have Morgan as an official Saint Marian . . . Attendance last Sunday. 227.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Sung Mass, played by Robert McDermitt, the voluntaries are by Rheinberger and Mendelssohn . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Andante F-dur, KV 616 (für eine kleine Orgelwalze) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). This delightful piece is one of three pieces written not for a traditional organ but for a mechanical or barrel organ (something like a “player piano”), an instrument popular at the time. The postlude is an improvisation on ‘Munich’ (the final hymn at Mass). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa quarti toni by the Spanish master Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). One of his best-known Masses, this setting is named for the mode (something like the precursor to our modern day major and minor keys) in which it’s set: the fourth mode, or so-called “hypophrygian.” The motet at Communion is Peccantem me quotidie by Philippe de Monte (1521-1603) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 is played by Anthony Pinel of Saint Peter’s Church, Morristown, New Jersey . . . The choir of the Church of the Nativity, Huntsville, Alabama sings this Sunday for Evensong & Benediction (yes, they’re coming all this way to sing at Saint Mary’s!). The music includes Evening Service in D by George Dyson (1883-1964), Through the day thy love has spared us by Philip Moore (b. 1943) and music for Benediction by Malcolm Archer (b. 1952). The organist and choirmaster is Jason Abel . . . The concert by Saint Mary’s choir is next Thursday, November 18 at 7:30 PM. It features music composed in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Tallis, Cornysh and others. Tickets may be ordered by phoning 212.869.5830, extension 25 or by printing and mailing the form, with a check, found at www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys. Robert McCormick
HOW DOES ONE TALK TO THE HOMELESS? . . . On Sunday, November 14 at 1:00 PM (or just a little after) in Saint Benedict’s Study we will have an orientation and training meeting for those who are interested in learning more about this program with the homeless around Saint Mary’s.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093
Wednesday Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, 1200
Thursday Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, 680
Friday Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, 1231 Abstinence
Saturday Edmund, King of East Anglia, 870
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.