From the Rector: Unlocking Holy Week
There’s a wonderful Saturday morning class on March 5 on Holy Week (read on in this issue for details). Father Beddingfield, Robert McCormick and Robert McDermitt will be leading the class. I commend it to you. There will be a chance to learn about the great rites, to ask questions and to rehearse some of the chants that we only do once a year.
Some people visit Saint Mary’s and see change. That’s a good thing. A great clergy friend of Saint Mary’s who has known the parish for over fifty years recently remarked to me with deep appreciation how none of the important stuff about the place has changed at all since he first knew the parish as a teenager. That’s great too. Both are true.
In the most recent issue of the Anglican Theological Review, the Reverend Richard G. Leggett, now a priest of the Church of Canada, quotes a passage from Saint Ambrose explaining one Holy Week practice that differed in Milan from the practice of the Church in Rome. It seems that in the fourth century, feet were washed in Milan but not in Rome. Here at Saint Mary’s most of the Holy Week traditions are those that are most widely used. But I confess that we make some concessions to local circumstances and some to my pastoral judgment.
One thing we do that is unusual is that we celebrate the entire Good Friday liturgy twice, once at 12:30 PM and once at 6:00 PM. It simply means more people can be present for the great service of the day. Good Friday isn’t a holiday for most people in New York. More people come through the church at 12:30 PM but those who come at 6:00 PM are usually able to stay for the entire liturgy. The choir is here for both services; we use the same bulletin for both services.
More important are two other changes I have made since my first year as rector. The congregation is invited to participate in the Washing of Feet during the Maundy Thursday liturgy:
When Jesus had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:12-17
The other change is more radical but springs from the same pastoral and theological concerns. On Palm Sunday and on Good Friday the congregation sings the part of Jesus himself when the passion is proclaimed.
The baptized are the Body of Christ. We are not Jesus Christ. We do not save ourselves. Christ did that by his death, resurrection and ascension. But we are part of his mystical Body. We are by baptism the sons and daughters of the One Jesus taught us to call “Father.” Christians assemble to be the Body of Christ. We do not need to practice for the role of Peter or of the crowd that cried out for Jesus to be crucified. I believe our sense of union with Jesus Christ himself, through his gift, through his grace, is the great gift the liturgy offers us as we continue our own journey to death and resurrection in Jesus. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Patrick who is hospitalized, for Eileen, Virginia, Mary, Ruth, William, Jane, Thomas, Brian, Deborah, May, Tanya, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Jeffrey, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina, and for the repose of the souls of John and Robert . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 26: 1994 Milledge Polo Mosley; March 4: 1989 Timothy Francis Meyers.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . John Allen Gable, a long-time friend of Saint Mary’s, died on February 18. Mr. Gable was executive director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. A Requiem Mass will be offered on February 24 at Christ Church, Oyster Bay. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95:6-11, Romans 5:1-11, John 5:26-42 . . . Father Beddingfield 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 Montgomery will be the officiant and Father Mead will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, February 26, Father Mead will hear confessions and on Saturday, March 5, Father Beddingfield will hear confessions.
LENTEN DISCIPLINE . . . The weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are meatless.
CLERGY NOTES . . . We are delighted to learn that the Reverend Allen Shin has accepted the position of chaplain at Keble College, Oxford. Several years ago, Father Shin served as assistant priest and as curate at Saint Mary’s. Most recently, while working on a D.Phil. degree on Nestorius, he has served as honorary assistant priest at All Saints Margaret Street, London. He takes up his new position on April 1 . . . We are delighted to learn that the Right Reverend Andrew St. John, an assisting bishop in the Diocese of New York, will become vicar of the Church of the Transfiguration, New York, on March 1. Bishop St. John has been serving as interim rector at Holy Trinity Church, New York City. We are very happy he will be our near neighbor for the next three years.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to all who continue to help with Stations of the Cross on Friday night . . . The final meeting of the season for Monday Night Basics meets in Saint Benedict’s Study from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM . . . Father Mead’s Tuesday Night Bible Study continues on March 1 . . . A Photographic Pilgrimage to Santiago with Mrs. Nancy Mead concludes on Wednesday, March 2. It is offered from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Because of the Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 6, the next High Hopes and High Worship class will meet on Sunday, March 20 . . . Father Beddingfield will be the preacher for the Wednesday Lenten Series at Trinity Church Wall Street at Noon on March 2 . . . Attendance last Sunday 258.
BREAK THE FAST AND LEARN ABOUT THE LORD’S SUPPER . . . The Book of Common Prayer refers to the Holy Eucharist as “the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord's Day and other major Feasts.” Do you have any questions about the Holy Eucharist? Now you have a time and a place to ask them! Join Father Mead for a bite of breakfast in Saint Joseph’s Hall while we discuss the Holy Eucharist. This class will be offered twice: once in Lent and once in Eastertide, on Saturday, March 12, 2005 and Saturday, April 23, 2005, 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa de feria by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). This four-voice setting is a paraphrase Mass from 1570 (it quotes a plainsong theme) and was intended for use on an ordinary weekday (feria); therefore it has no setting of Gloria in excelsis Deo or Credo (texts not appointed for use on ordinary weekdays). On Sundays at Saint Mary’s, the congregation invariably sings the Creed (usually to plainsong Credo I) and, of course, Gloria is not sung in Lent, so this seems an appropriate choice as a setting. The motet at Communion is Palestrina’s plaintive setting of Psalm 137, Super flumina Babylonis. Palestrina makes some use of text painting (a musical gesture he used with restraint in his sacred music) in this motet at “suspendibus” – “we hung [our harps] up . . . in the midst of that land.” Robert McCormick
NEXT SATURDAY: A LENTEN LOOK AHEAD . . . Join us Saturday, March 5 from 9:30 AM to Noon. Does Holy Week catch you off guard? Is the congregational chant difficult for you, or do the hymns seem new every year? We will learn about the history of the liturgy and practice some of the music for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third 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.