From the Rector: Holy Week I
Christian worship emerged as Jesus’ followers gathered, first in fear, then in faith after his death and resurrection. There has not been a day since that first Good Friday when Christians did not gather as a community and for worship. God’s Word still calls people to faith, to community and to worship.
What we would call daily and weekly worship have been part of the pattern of Christian worship since the beginning. For many reasons Sunday worship became the primary and regular focus of Christians. And it is this original Sunday pattern that still shapes what we call the Christian year.
In the English language the great feast of the resurrection is called “Easter.” As beloved as that word has become, it is unfortunate for a lot of reasons. In most languages Easter is known by a variation of the Hebrew word “Passover.” Our Christian English word for this is “Pasch.” Few of us use this for Easter. More of us recognize the phrase “Paschal feast.”
Passover is one of the great feasts of the Jewish religion. It celebrates the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. The record of the Exodus is read every year during Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday we always proclaim the sacrifice of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-14a), the sight of whose blood prevents the Lord from killing the Hebrews. At the Easter Vigil the account of Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-15:1) must always be read. The Church has always identified the Lord himself with Israel’s sacrifice and deliverance. It is Jesus’ blood that brings deliverance to all people. It is the Lord who delivers us from the slavery of sin and brings us to the land of promise. As the Hebrews were delivered by the waters of the Red Sea, we are delivered through the waters of baptism. These comments only begin to touch on the richness of the Paschal feast.
Christians believe Jesus died and rose from the dead. This is our Passover, our Paschal Mystery. This is Easter. Proclaiming and living this mystery is Christianity. The Church does this weekly and daily when its members gather. The greatest gathering of all happens yearly on Easter Eve. In darkness fire is kindled and as the assembly of the baptized begin to see the new light, the presiding minister proclaims:
Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.
Nowhere is this gathering celebrated with more joy and with more integrity than here in our parish church. This year, Easter Eve is March 26. This service, which we Episcopalians call “The Great Vigil of Easter,” begins at 7:00 PM. Our celebrant and preacher is the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York. He will be assisted by your parish clergy, one newly ordained deacon, Ryan Lesh, and two great clergy friends of Saint Mary’s, our former curate, the Reverend Allen Shin, and the Reverend Louis Weil, James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Again, this is the principal service of the Christian year.
Good Friday as we know it has only been celebrated on Friday since the fourth century. Before this, the Church’s main celebrations were always on Sundays. So the first original liturgy of the Passion was always the Sunday before. In the fourth century, as a liturgy of the Lord’s Supper emerged for Thursday and a liturgy of the Passion developed for Friday, a liturgy of the Palms was celebrated on the Sunday before Easter. For centuries the Church has celebrated two liturgies joined together at Masses on the Sunday before Easter (the Liturgy of the Palms and the Mass of the Passion). Here’s the current title for the day: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.
At Saint Mary’s there is no 10:00 AM liturgy on Palm Sunday. There is simply not enough time to do three Masses at our regular hours of 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Our solution is to do a Blessing of the Palms and Sung Mass at 9:00 AM and Blessing of the Palms, Procession through Times Square and Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. For me, the 11:00 AM service on Palm Sunday, more than any other service of the year, typifies our role as an urban liturgical parish. The Blessing of the Palms is done with all the great traditional chants and with all of the solemnity of this parish’s tradition. Then the assembly, all members loaded with palms, heads for Times Square. We pass out palms to people. We return to the church for the Solemn Mass of the Passion.
Please note that on Palm Sunday and Easter Day Sunday Evensong takes on a special importance. On Palm Sunday we welcome as preacher at Evensong the Reverend Canon John Andrew, rector emeritus, Saint Thomas Church, New York City and on Easter Day Father Weil will preach at Solemn Paschal Evensong, the special form of Evensong for the greatest Sunday of the year. The Chamber Singers of DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana will sing for Evensong on Palm Sunday, and on Easter Day, our parish choir sings music of Howells and Dupré.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week our schedule changes. Morning Prayer is at 7:40 AM and Mass is said at 8:00 AM. The noontime schedule remains unchanged. Evensong at 6:00 PM is the only evening service on these days. Needless to say, the Masses and Offices for all of Holy Week have a power quite unlike any of the other services of the year. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Charlton, Patrick, Eileen, John, 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; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 15: 1969 Peter Chan; March 18: 1947 Howard Noble Place, 1965 Mary Louise Barreaux.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS of Marriage between the Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery of Brooklyn and Diane France Louise Vassiliki Eliopoulos of Brooklyn. If any of you knows 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.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 6:16-23, John 11:1-44 . . . 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 Beddingfield will preach at Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . On Saturday, March 12, Father Mead will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, March 19, Father Montgomery will hear confessions at 11:30 AM and the Rector will hear confessions at 4 PM.
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.
ORDINATION OF DEACONS . . . On Saturday, March 19, Saint Joseph’s Day, two members of Saint Mary’s, R. William Franklin and Ryan E. Lesh, will be ordained deacon at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The service is at 10:30 AM. A reception at the Cathedral follows. All members of the parish community are invited.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . March 18 at 7:00 PM will be the final Stations of the Cross for Lent 2005. Please join us! . . . Father Mead’s class, “Break the Fast and Learn about the Lord’s Supper,” will be held on Saturday, March 12, at 10:30 AM . . . Fr. Mead’s Bible study on the Gospel of John continues Tuesday, March 15, at 7:00 PM . . . Saint Mary’s Guild and Saint Vincent’s Guild Alert: Those not attending the diocesan ordinations will begin work on Saturday, March 19, at 10:00 AM. The rehearsal for the 11:00 AM Palm Sunday liturgy will be at 3:00 PM . . . Attendance last Sunday 294.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Praeparate corda vestra’ by Stefano Bernardi (c. 1585-1636). The text on which this mass is based, 1 Samuel 7:3, (“ . . . prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines”) seems an appropriate admonition as we “prepare our hearts” for Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum. Bernardi was for a time maestro di capella of the Church of Madonna dei Monti in Rome; he later held a similar position at the Cathedral in Verona and became a Doctor of Law in 1627. This mass, which comes from a collection published in 1615, is in a relatively straightforward style reminiscent of Palestrina’s simpler works. The motet at Communion is Ecce vidimus eum, one of the Tenebrae Responsories as set by the eminent and cosmopolitan master Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594). Robert McCormick
A CORRECTION . . . The organ recital at Saint Mary’s this Thursday, March 10, previously announced as being held at 7:30 PM, will take place at 8:00 PM. Jason Roberts will play works of Bach, McNeil Robinson, and Vierne’s Symphonie III. R.M.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth 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
Eve of Saint Joseph’s Day 6:00 PM
Saturday Saint Joseph’s Day
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.