The Angelus

Volume 7, Number 13

From the Rector: Lent at Saint Mary’s

Lent has begun.  There are no flowers in the church.  The liturgical color is purple.  You will hear the organ played only to sustain singing.  No lesser feasts are observed and the only major feasts that fall during Lent this calendar year are the Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle, February 24, and the Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19.  On the Fourth Sunday in Lent, commonly known as Rose Sunday, this year March 6, there is relaxation of this discipline.  That Sunday flowers will be on the altar, the vestments will be rose colored and there is restrained use of the organ.

Lent is the season when the Church prepares to celebrate Holy Baptism and the other rites of Christian initiation at Easter.  Lent has come to be an important time for Christians and Christian communities to renew their commitment to Christ.  This year the gospels of the season are all about preparing people to die and rise in Christ.  In my opinion it’s the best year of the three-year cycle of lessons for Lent.

I love the integrity of Lent at Saint Mary’s.  It balances the richness of the rest of the year.  It’s just so great to have the opportunity to worship in a community that has this tradition.  It’s not just another Sunday or season.  It’s Lent and it really does change our common life and the way lots of people in our community live and give.  Lent is a time of conversion and mission.

But Lent is not without its own humor.  No wise Christian in love will neglect the observance of Saint Valentine’s Day.  It would be silly not to enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day in New York City, or in most any American town for that matter unless one is a little too prideful of one’s Scot heritage.  It’s also good for us to remember that the origin of “Rose Sunday” in Lent is a pretty recent development and has a non-liturgical origin.  There is no mention of the use of rose vestments before the Protestant Reformation.  The customs now associated with the Fourth Sunday in Lent have to do with the arrival of spring (flowers in the markets!) and associated civic ceremonies.  Of course they make sense now if there is integrity to our common life the rest of Lent, indeed, the rest of the year.

Personal Lenten disciplines will be familiar to many but not all.  Let me recount a few of them that are customary.  First, Christian worship is the beginning.  Nothing is more important than the Sunday Masses for sustaining our Lenten journeys.  Many make it a rule to attend a weekday service in addition to a Sunday service during Lent.  Stations of the Cross here on Fridays is a wonderful devotion for the season.  Second, Lent is a natural time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment or at one of the regularly scheduled times.  Third, we are invited to simplify our diets during Lent.  During Lent it is customary not to eat meat on Fridays.  Fourth, we are encouraged to give something up or take something on as a special spiritual discipline.  The Prayer Book phrases it this way, “the weekdays of Lent” . . . “are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial” (see page 17).

This First Sunday in Lent the Gospel is Matthew’s account of the temptation of Jesus after his baptism.  The first reading is most of the second creation story from Genesis.  A reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans comments on Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin.  The liturgy reminds us that the New Testament word for repentance literally means to turn in a new direction.  The liturgy will ask us, as individuals and as a community, whether we can allow our lives to be changed by Christ (language for repentance I like very much and that I heard from the Reverend Donald Bolen, a Roman Catholic priest who serves at the Vatican on the staff of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity).  Saint Mary’s is a living witness that lives can be changed by the Lord.  I hope your heart and mine can be open in new ways to the work of the Lord.  Stephen Gerth


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Debbie, Ruth, June, William, Jenny, Rick, Jane, Brian, John, Deborah, May, Tanya, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest, Charles, priest, Gene, priest and George, bishop; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Bruce, Brenden, Jeffrey, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Derrick and Christina . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 15: 1967 Nina Gay Dolan, 1973 Dorothy McCormack, 1978 Raymond Carrington; February 16: 1955 Mary Bretman; February 17: 1983 Helen Petersen Harrison.


LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17,25-3:7, Psalm 51:1-13, Romans 5:12-21, Matthew 4:1-11 . . . Father Mead will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass . . . The Rector will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses . . . Father Beddingfield will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, February 12, Father Gerth will hear confessions and on Saturday, February 19, Father Beddingfield will hear confessions.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Beddingfield’s class on basic Christianity and introduction to the Episcopal Church continues on Monday nights.  Monday Night Basics meets in Saint Benedict’s Study from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM . . . Father Mead’s Tuesday night Bible Study meets from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study.  Join the class this week for a continuing study through the Gospel of John . . . The Visual Arts Program present a new exhibition, “Praxis and Apatheia: Drawings by Noel Hennelly.”  An opening reception follows Solemn Evensong & Benediction on February 13 . . . This Thursday, February 17, Father Smith presents “A History of Anglican Vestments.”  This overview of the history of liturgical vesture, (rumored to feature live models!) will be in Saint Joseph’s Hall from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  A $10 suggested donation helps to insure the quality of future presentations by the Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s . . . Many thanks to all who helped on Ash Wednesday.  We estimate that over 2000 were welcomed . . . Attendance last Sunday 238, Ash Wednesday Mass Attendance 439.


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . With Lent comes a greatly restricted use of the organ.  This is chiefly noticeable in the lack of organ voluntaries (preludes and postludes), the lack of organ improvisation to cover liturgical action (entrance music, interludes, etc.) and a restrained manner of hymn accompaniment.  These restrictions are eased somewhat on the Fourth Sunday in Lent and the Procession on Palm Sunday, but it will not be until the Great Vigil of Easter that our organ will once again sound in its fullness . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Tertii toni by Costanzo Porta (1528/29-1601).  A student of Adrian Willaert and an important figure in the Italian Renaissance, Porta was celebrated as one of the finest composers and teachers in his day; he was roughly contemporary with Palestrina.  This Mass, one of the composer’s fifteen (known for their clear setting of the text) is based upon Cipriano de Rore’s madrigal Come havran fin.  The motet at Communion is Tristis est anima mea by Jackson Hill (b. 1941).  Dr. Hill is professor of music at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and wrote this piece as one of Three Motets in 1977 for Louise Basbas and her choir at Corpus Christi Church, New York.  Robert McCormick 


STEPHEN THARP IN RECITAL . . . The recital previously to be performed at Saint Mary’s by McNeil Robinson now will be played by Stephen Tharp, an internationally renowned organ recitalist.  This recital is on Sunday, February 20 at 7:30 PM, as a part of the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists Presidents’ Day Conference.  The all-French program includes works of Vierne, Guilmant, Cochereau and Duruflé.  The event is open to the public and tickets may be purchased at the door.  For further information, please see


A PHOTOGRAPHIC PILGRIMAGE TO SANTIAGO . . . Since the beginning of the Christian era the faithful have made prayerful journeys to the holy places of the Christian world.  The Pilgrimage to Santiago is one of the oldest of these.  “A Photographic Pilgrimage to Santiago” is a three-part series led by Nancy Mead, who has completed the pilgrimage to Santiago three times (most recently in the fall of 2004).  Journey with Mrs. Mead as she leads us along the various pilgrimage routes to Santiago on Wednesday nights, February 16, February 23 and March 2 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.


MISSION NOTES . . . On Sundays, February 20 and March 6, join others for “High Worship and High Hopes:  Anglo-Catholicism and Social Change,” a discussion based on the writing of those who have seen the close connection between worship and social outreach . . . On Monday night, February 28 from 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM, help with the Winter Count of the Homeless.  Join others from Saint Mary’s and many others from the neighborhood to help Common Ground Community as we count the homeless population in West Midtown.  RSVP to Father Beddingfield or at

The Calendar of the Week

Sunday              The First Sunday in Lent

Monday                     Weekday of Lent

Tuesday                     Weekday of Lent

Wednesday               Weekday of Lent

Thursday                  Weekday of Lent

Friday                        Weekday of Lent                                             Lenten Friday Abstinence

Saturday                   Weekday of Lent



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, assisting priests,

The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.