From the Rector: Amazing Easter
So much goes into making Holy Week special at Saint Mary’s that I hardly know where to begin. There’s an old expression about rules of life: We don’t keep the rule; the rule keeps us. In a real sense, we don’t keep Holy Week at Saint Mary’s. Holy Week keeps us. The worship of the Church is the living gospel. Over and over again, the worship of the Church united us to Christ in his death and resurrection and sent us forth as individuals and as a community to serve others. It was an amazing Holy Week at SMV.
I only get in trouble when I try to name people to thank them. I will tell you that attendance for the week, Palm Sunday through Easter Day, was 2,546. Last year the number was 2,048. For the record, Easter was just about as early as it can be this year and the weather was bad. There was no outdoor procession on Palm Sunday. It rained on and off through the week. And it was great every day.
Not only were there larger congregations this year for every service but we had a lot of clergy with us. What an honor for us to have our retired bishop, the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein with us for the principal liturgies of the Easter Triduum. Ryan Lesh had been ordained deacon on Saint Joseph’s Day, Saturday, March 19. Father Lesh was with us for all of Holy Week and gave himself entirely and beautifully to the substantial role of the deacon of the liturgy all through the week. Our good friend the Reverend Louis Weil, Hodges-Haines Professor of Liturgics, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, was also here for the week. Father Weil preached at Solemn Paschal Evensong on Easter Day. The Reverend Canon John Andrew, rector emeritus, Saint Thomas Church, New York City, preached at Solemn Evensong on Palm Sunday. Our assisting priests, Father Ian Montgomery and Father Jay Smith were with us through the week. And because his new position as chaplain of Keble College, Oxford required a new visa, our former curate, the Reverend Allen Shin, and his wife Clara Mun were here too. Our former intern, Andrew Kraebel also assisted as one of the servers. It added so much to our celebrations to have so many members of the clergy with us.
Music, flowers, hospitality, ushers, servers, brass polishers, vestment ironers, a fresh supply of our own incense and indeed the whole parish community stepped up again and again to make the worship the best it can be and to welcome so many as Christ himself.
It is always a privilege to celebrate Holy Baptism and the other rites of Christian initiation. The best time for Baptism is always the Easter Vigil. It was a privilege to witness the Easter event occur in our midst as Christ called Judith Diane Francesca Rickman to die and rise with him in Holy Baptism. Alma Delia Rivera was received into this Communion and Terry Richard Carlson, Dexter Marlon Phillip and Andrew Smith reaffirmed their baptismal vows.
I don’t know all of the final numbers for the offerings for the week but I know it was substantially more than last year. The Maundy Thursday offering was over $2,300.00 and all of this will go to the mission of San Juan Bautista, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
A lot of my time during the week is spent with our curates and with the members of Saint Vincent’s Guild. It is such a privilege and so much fun to work with my clergy colleagues and our altar servers. I’m sure the congregations all week could sense the welcoming Christian fellowship that was serving them at the altar. There were lots of rehearsals, and many, many details. But it was holy – and fun – to be here to serve.
At Saint Mary’s Easter is celebrated for the full fifty days of the season. There are lots of alleluias and Easter hymns through Pentecost, the last day of Eastertide. The paschal candle burns all day on Sundays and the greater festivals, this year, Annunciation (Monday, April 4) and Ascension Day (Thursday, May 5). The parish clergy do not sit for confessions on Saturday in Easter Week, this year, April 2. (We resume the regular Saturday schedule on April 9.)
During Eastertide our readings for Sunday and weekday Masses come principally from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel according to John. Your parish clergy will try to stay close to these gospels in particular in our sermons and homilies as we reflect on how we perceive the gospel to be lived out among us. We will also be trying to hear anew the Lord calling us to the new place in our lives he wants for us, the deeper conversion of our lives, the conversion that sustains our faith.
I thank the Lord and you for the gift of an amazing Easter at Saint Mary’s. And I pray we will continue to be open to the amazing things the Lord is doing among us this year. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Damon, Charlton, Patrick, Eileen, John, Virginia, Mary, Ruth, William, Jane, Thomas, Brian, Deborah, May, 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, and the repose of the soul of Phil.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 4: 1987 Clara D. Lewis, 1992 Thelma Bradford Ingersoll; April 5: 1964 Harold Bosworth Libbey; April 8: 1964 Grieg Taber, priest & rector, 1996 Donald Lathrop Garfield, priest & rector.
ABOUT THE LITURGY . . . The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated this year on Monday, April 4. There will be a Sung Mass at 12:00 PM and a Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. Father Beddingfield will be celebrant and preacher at noon and the Rector will be celebrant and preacher at 6:00 PM. At 5:30 PM Robert McCormick will play at a recital (see Notes on Music). When March 25 falls during Holy Week, as it did this year, Annunciation is transferred to Monday of the Second Week of Easter . . . Friday abstinence is entirely dispensed during the fifty days of Easter . . . The confession of sin is omitted at all Masses during the great fifty days.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Jane Daniels Lear is home from Mount Sinai Hospital. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Father Mead’s class on John’s Gospel resumes on Tuesday, April 5, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . We note that two of our departed rectors will be remembered this week at all Masses. Father Taber was rector when he died on April 8 in 1964. Father Garfield was retired when he died on April 8 in 1996 . . . Attendance last Week: Monday in Holy Week 94, Tuesday in Holy Week 99, Wednesday in Holy Week 56, Maundy Thursday 284, Good Friday 548, Easter 1031.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn, BWV 630 and the postlude is Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625, both by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Méditation and the postlude is Final, both from Symphonie I, Opus 13/1 by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis in D, Opus 63 by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), often considered the greatest English composer since Henry Purcell. He made many contributions to Church music, and this setting for 3-part treble choir was written in 1959 for the boys of the Westminster Cathedral Choir, London. Britten was greatly impressed by the robust “continental” sound made by the boys of this Roman Catholic choir, then conducted by George Malcolm, and was inspired to compose for them. The motet at Communion is a modern adaptation by Philip Ledger of Christo resurgenti by François Couperin (1668-1733) . . . The recital at 4:40 this week features Rebecca Fasanello, soprano and Marie Dalby, viola da gamba, playing works of Hidalgo, Lassus and Hildegard . . . On the Annunciation, the recital at 5:30 is played by the music director and features works of Bach, Tournemire and improvisation . . . At the Solemn Mass that evening, the setting of the ordinary is Missa ‘Congratulamini mihi’ by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599), one of the greatest Spanish composers of the late Renaissance period. A bright and joyful “parody mass” dating from 1566, it is for 5-part choir and is based upon an Easter motet by the Franco-Flemish composer Thomas Crecquillon (between c. 1480 & c. 1500-1557). The music abundantly captures the exuberant nature of the text Congratulamini mihi (from John 20, Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Lord). The motet at Communion is Tomás Luis de Victoria’s (1548-1611) resplendent work for double choir addressing Our Lady, Regina coeli. Robert McCormick
NEW ICON EXHIBITION . . . For one more week, through April 9, the Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s presents “Sacred Art, Sacred Breath.” The exhibition consists of icons that were written by participants in the icon workshop led by Patricia Miranda last November at Saint Mary’s.
HANDMAIDEN OR MOTHER OF GOD? THE VIRGIN MARY IN PROTESTANT THEOLOGY . . . On Monday nights, April 18 to May 16, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Taught by Father Beddingfield, this class will explore attitudes toward the Virgin Mary arising from scripture, tradition, creeds, popular devotion and theological reflection. The class is offered through the Center for Christian Studies at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and will take place at 7 West 55th Street. For information on registration and suggested readings see www.christianstudies.org.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday of Easter
Monday The Annunciation of Our Lord
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday William Augustus Muhlenberg, Priest, 1877 No Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
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.