From the Rector: Heavenly Father
Because of the leadership role of the presider, a celebrant’s voice often booms out at Saint Mary’s. It’s a big building and some leadership is usually required to encourage participation and to make sure people hear. I want to tell you about something that happened the last time I was celebrant for Solemn Mass. Something happened that reminded me that my role in worship is to be a servant of the assembly.
Standing alone at the altar for the postcommunion prayer, I began to lead it in the usual way. I am facing the altar – and for newsletter readers who do not know Saint Mary’s, this means I am looking at the altar, not the congregation. I let the music from the postcommunion hymn recede. I took a deep breath and said in a strong voice, “Let us pray. Eternal God …” The congregation then joined in with what seemed to be one united voice, “heavenly Father.” At that moment, I was no longer leading or presiding. The congregation was praying forcefully. As the prayer continued, its words felt full of power and meaning. And I sensed I had been privileged really to be in my role as servant of the assembly. I was just one other member of that assembly. My voice was entirely subsumed in the prayer of the congregation. Whenever this happens – and it happens with some regularity – I take it as a moment of grace and as a sign that we are getting something right here at Saint Mary’s.
This season of Lent provides you and me with another opportunity for growing into the relationship with God and with each other that God has given us. I wonder how we as individuals and as a community can hear in a fresh way God’s call to be his sons and daughters – for us to be sister, mother, father and brother to each other.
The ordinary liturgy of the Church has tremendous power to invite us into a deeper relationship with God and with each other. The liturgy has the power to help unlock the imagination of our hearts and minds. At every age of our lives it is possible for God to do something new – surely this is one of the greatest messages of the Bible (think Abraham and Sarah in Genesis and Simeon and Anna in Luke).
Last night, Ash Wednesday, I was on duty in the Mercy Chapel during the Solemn Mass. Father Beddingfield was celebrant and preacher, assisted by Father Mead and Father Smith. At a very few points in the liturgy when there were none seeking ashes (which is why I was on duty in the Mercy Chapel – for those unfamiliar with New York you would be amazed at the extent to which New York Christians want ashes), I was able to observe the Mass. And, I confess, at a couple of points I stopped the “ashing” to look (during the entrance) or to listen (during parts of the Allegri Miserere). There is something very spiritually helpful to the silence of Lent. There are chants. There are hymns. There is almost no organ – and no “traveling” music. Time is different during Lent. The Church uses all of its resources – including the space of silence – to help us to prepare to celebrate Easter.
We do have one series of special services during Lent, Stations of the Cross, on Fridays at 7:00 PM. I invite you especially to make a point of coming this Friday, March 10, because the Bishop of New York, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, will be here to lead the service. It’s a very simple, but powerful service of prayer and meditation on the Stations. It lasts about 40 minutes, and I hope you will attend.
Please mark your calendars also for Friday evening, March 24. It has been the custom since Father Garfield’s rectorate for certain greater festivals to be observed on their eve when they fall on Saturday. March 25, the Annunciation of our Lord Jesus Christ, is one of those feasts. It means that on Friday evening at 6:00 PM Solemn Mass will be offered. There will be a great deal of music – plenty of organ! – and a very non-Lenten reception following. I am delighted that the Reverend James B. Lemler, director of mission, the Episcopal Church, will be our guest preacher. Father Lemler was most recently dean of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He is a graduate of Nashotah House and served as rector of Trinity Church, Indianapolis, before his call to Seabury. It will be a great honor for us to have him with us on the Annunciation.
Confessions are heard on Saturdays at Saint Mary’s through Lent and by appointment. Masses and Offices are said daily, world without end. Remember Stations on Friday evenings. Remember the silent richness of Lent. Pray that we may become more Christ-like and serve the Lord with new gladness this year. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Thomas, George, Loretta, Consuelo, Roy, Henry, Clare, Jan, Ida, Brian, Mary, Michael, MaryAnne, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Virginia, William, Mary, Ana, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Rich, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 9: 1951 Lenore H. Hibbard, 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen; March 10: 1962 John S. Jarvis Beach, 1989 Marion Campbell, Jr.; March 11: 1994 Virginia Greene.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As part of “Wales Week in New York” we are honored to have the Bishop of St. Davids with us to preach on Sunday, March 5. The Right Reverend Carl N. Cooper became bishop of St. Davids in 2002 and it will be a pleasure to welcome him to Saint Mary’s on Sunday . . . George Blackshire has been released from Long Island College Hospital and is now at Cobble Hill Nursing Home, Brooklyn. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers . . . Seventeen Saint Marians will be on retreat this weekend at the Convent of the Sisters of Saint John Baptist in Mendham, New Jersey . . . Anglican Women’s Empowerment invites you to Transform Vision Into Action – a celebration of the 50th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women – on Saturday, March 4, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine . . .
Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 4, by Father Mead and on Saturday, March 11, by Father Gerth . . . A New Exhibition: On March 5 the Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s introduces “Places of Light: Metaphor of a Spiritual Journey,” recent work of photographer Krystyna Sanderson. Join us at coffee hour following Solemn Mass this Sunday for a special reception. Ms. Sanderson will also be signing her book, Light at Ground Zero: St. Paul’s Chapel after 9/11 . . . The Spirituality and Reading Group meets on Sunday, March 19 at 1:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. The group will read Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor . . . Enormous thanks to those who helped usher and guide people on Ash Wednesday. We know that we had at least 2500 people come through the building, since we gave out that many Lenten Schedule cards. We had almost 200 more people attend Mass this year than in 2005 . . . Attendance Last Sunday 257, Attendance at Mass on Ash Wednesday 617.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . During Lent the organ is played only as necessary to sustain the singing (with the exception of the feast of the Annunciation and, to a lesser extent, the Fourth Sunday in Lent). This is chiefly noticeable in the lack of organ voluntaries (preludes and postludes), the absence of organ improvisation to cover liturgical action (entrance music, interludes and so forth) and a restrained manner of hymn accompaniment. The setting of the Mass ordinary today is Missa Quarti toni by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). Spanish by birth, Victoria, one of the greatest composers of the late Renaissance, lived and worked for many years in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1575 by the last surviving English Roman Catholic bishop. One of the composer’s best-known masses, this setting is named for the mode (the precursor to our modern day major and minor keys) in which it’s set: the fourth mode, or so-called “hypophrygian.” The motet at Communion is Victoria’s Versa est in luctum . . . Sunday organ recitals are suspended during Lent and return on Easter Day. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study will begin a Lenten class on the Exodus this week at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. This class will read through the book of Exodus and other parts of the Pentateuch to get an overview of the Exodus and how it helped shape Jewish and Christian identity . . . Sunday School meets on Sundays at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . On Sundays in Lent, at 1:00 PM in the Mission House (2nd Floor), the Reverend Peter R. Powell will lead a Bible Study on the Book of Jeremiah. The class will discuss what prophecy is, what it means to have a call, and how to complain to God . . . On Mondays in Lent, at 7:00 PM at the Center for Christian Studies at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, Father Beddingfield will lead a class on the Theology and Spirituality of the Cross. This class will explore theologies of the cross beginning with images in scripture and building upon the classic theologies of the atonement put forth by Anselm, Abelard and others. To learn more or register for the course see http://www.christianstudies.org or pick up one of the booklets in the back of the church . . . On Wednesdays in Lent (March 8, 15, 22, 29) join Father Mead and Father Jonathan Erdman, curate at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, as we enjoy The Simpsons in Lent! We will watch two episodes each week and have discussion around religious themes in the popular cartoon. This get-together is designed for young adults and those who are young at heart. Our first show-and-discuss on “Homer the Heretic” and “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment” will be Wednesday, March 8 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
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
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass,
6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung. At 7:00 PM on Fridays in Lent we offer Stations of the Cross.
Saturday: 11:30 AM Confessions, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 4:00 PM Confessions, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass