From the Rector: Looking Ahead at Worship
During my first year in New York more than a few people helped me to get settled here. Each person moving here learns a lot on his or her own, of course. But words of hope and encouragement are very welcome as are words of advice. Because of the pace of work here, time with friends is very precious. A really wise person also told me that one has to work really hard in New York during the summer, or the fall is a disaster. That may not be true for every organization or business but it is certainly true for an active church like Saint Mary’s.
The liturgical life of the parish doesn’t really slow down. A few services are said instead of being sung during the summer months. We add a Sunday evening Mass. There are no feast days that rank a Sung or Solemn Mass apart from the regular Sunday Masses in July. This is not true of June, August and September.
As we go to press this week, our music director Robert McCormick is putting the final touches on the music schedule through Epiphany, January 6, 2006. I can tell you that Friday night, August 5, our main service for the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, (see Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36) will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. Father Beddingfield will be celebrant and preacher.
Many may be surprised to learn that the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, has been observed when it fell on a weekday at Saint Mary’s with a solemn celebration of Mass only since 1972. Before then, it seems only to have been celebrated with said Masses, except when it fell on a Sunday.
Part of the reason for this change is bound up with Father Donald Garfield’s work with the Standing Liturgical Commission on “The Calendar” for what would become our new Prayer Book. The Episcopal Church wasn’t ready in 1970 for a Feast of the Assumption. But it could move forward with a “Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ” on the same day most Christians celebrate, respectively, the Assumption (Roman Catholics) or the Dormition (Orthodox) of Our Lady. The Prayer Book collect for August 15 begins, “O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son” (page 243).
In 1971, Assumption fell on a Sunday. In 1972, it was a Monday and it was celebrated with an evening Mass with the full choir. I believe this was the first time this happened and that this has been the custom here ever since. Since I’ve been rector we have had a procession through Times Square when the feast falls on Sunday. This won’t be possible this year – and if you doubt that, please stand on the corner of 46th Street and Seventh Avenue any night of the week at 6:00 PM. I really love the public witness of processions and I look forward to them annually on Palm Sunday and Corpus Christi.
As always, the music will be very special. There will be more than enough church at 6:00 PM – I promise. The full parish choir will sing. The Brother Lawrence Guild always offers a special reception afterwards. It will be warm – please dress comfortably. And please bring someone who needs to go to church or who needs to know about Saint Mary’s with you. There is no reason the church should not be full, even on an August evening.
September brings one weekday Solemn Mass. Holy Cross Day is Wednesday, September 14. I am absolutely delighted to be able to tell you that our Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, will be with us at 6:00 PM as celebrant and preacher. Again, this is another night when the church should be full in honor of Our Lord and in support of our Episcopal Church and our own parish – a place where prayer has united people even when the issues of the day have tried to separate us from each other.
The Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of the Church and a great friend of Saint Mary’s, will be with us on Labor Day weekend to preach at the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and to be celebrant and preacher at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. Thursday, September 29, is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. Our guest celebrant for the 6:00 PM Sung Mass will be the Right Reverend Arthur B. Williams, interim director, Ethnic Congregational Development at the Episcopal Church Center. Bishop Williams served as suffragan bishop of Ohio from 1986 to 2003.
Many of you know the Reverend R. William Franklin, who has been serving as an assisting deacon this summer at Saint Mary’s. Bill was a member of the parish and a member of the Board of Trustees that called me to be rector. His work in the Church continued in New Haven and in Boston. He returned to Saint Mary’s canonically to enter the ordination process of the Diocese of New York. Bill will be ordained priest on Saturday, September 17, at the Cathedral. His first celebration of the Eucharist will be the Solemn Mass on Sunday, September 18.
This article is called “Looking Ahead: Worship” because there is a lot more going on at Saint Mary’s right now as we plan for fall. There are groups working on stewardship, property development, our concert series, children’s ministries, adult education and overseas missions among other things. I don’t have to look far for Angelus material! But as I look to the future I want you to know that I believe nothing is more important than the worship of Almighty God. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Patty who is gravely ill, and for Donna, Lloyd, Mikhail, Deborah, Anita, Erika, Rosemary, Rich, Lou, Michelle, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Virginia, Tony, Ibo, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Joseph, Timothy, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Derrick, Christina and Barbara . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 8: 1963 Charles Augustus Edgar.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Jonah 2:1-9, Psalm 78:14-25, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:22-33 . . . Father Mead will be the celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM and the 5:20 PM Masses . . . Father Gerth will be the celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass . . . On Saturday, August 6, Father Smith will hear confessions. On Saturday, August 13, Father Gerth will hear confessions.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele, Opus 122/5 by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). The postlude is Präludium und Fuge g-moll by Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697). The cantor this Sunday is Mr. Michael Ryan-Wenger, tenor. Mr. Ryan-Wenger is a member of the famed men’s vocal ensemble Lionheart and is also an accomplished choral conductor and composer. At Communion, the anthem is an improvised arrangement of the African-American spiritual Wade in the water. Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . . Saint Vincent’s Guild: You know it’s coming. Saturday, August 13, will be a workday to prepare the sacristy and church for Assumption. We will be working from 10:00 AM to early afternoon. Please meet in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . A prayer group from a law firm in our neighborhood is meeting twice a week in Saint Benedict’s Study. We are delighted to welcome them . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Tuesday, August 16, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance Last Sunday 233.
A GIFT FOR BILL . . . A friend of Saint Mary’s who is also a friend of the Reverend Bill Franklin suggested that a he and a number of people would like to contribute towards a special gift for Bill for his ordination. A set of white vestments was suggested and Bill is delighted. Our vestment maker, Patrick Boylan, is going to make up the set. If you would like to contribute to this gift, please make your check payable to Saint Mary’s and mark it for “Franklin Ordination.” S.G.
THE ART TO HELPING THE HOMELESS . . . In 1992 Ronald Casanova, formerly a homeless artist and community organizer, formed a group called Artists for a Better America. The group uses art with homeless persons and the poor to improve self-esteem, change myths about poor people, raise funds and improve quality of life. Through the end of August, Saint Mary’s will be collecting the following: small canvases, gesso, paintbrushes, paints (acrylic and oil), small notebooks and journals, drawing pads, pencils, and as Mr. Casanova puts it, “just about anything else you all may think of.” You may leave things in the bin in Saint Joseph’s Hall or may also write a check to Saint Mary’s (note on your check, “art supplies”). Mr. Casanova will be the speaker at one of our Mission Mondays this fall.
HONDURAS MISSION INFORMATION NIGHT: Monday, September 26 . . . Join Rebecca Weiner, Noel Hennelly, Father Beddingfield and others who went to Honduras last year for an evening of learning and looking forward. We will begin to plan for our 2006 mission. Join us at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields for snacks, stories and information on a trip than can change your life.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Dominic, Priest and Friar, 1221
Wednesday Laurence, Deacon, and Martyr at Rome, 258
Thursday Clare, Abbess at Assisi, 1253
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, 1667
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 R. William Franklin, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.