From the Rector: An Exercise of Lent
Several years ago I was in Rome and I had one of those conversations that all of us have from time to time, a conversation that really did change the way I think about things. I had just met a Roman Catholic pastor, from Philadelphia, I believe, but I don’t remember his name and we met only briefly. We were each waiting for a mutual acquaintance, a liturgist, to return. I think I was coming and the priest from Philadelphia was leaving.
This pastor was very gracious, yet he brought to the conversation a little defensiveness and a little bit of “inquisition.” He wanted to talk about the Anglican understanding of the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord. For him as a Roman Catholic, the Lord’s Presence was connected with the Bread and the Wine. For him, it is the role of the celebrant to stand in the place of Christ for the assembly. This is what priests are for. I am very comfortable in speaking about the Eucharistic Presence in the Bread and Wine. I am uncomfortable speaking of a priest standing in the place of Christ. So we got into it a little.
For Anglicans, the congregation, the assembly of the Baptized, is the Body of Christ. That pastor believed that when he said during Mass, “This is my Body,” he was acting in the place of Christ. He was sure that the bread became the Body of Christ. The presence of the assembly of the Baptized was not essential to the Eucharistic Presence for him. I put the question about the assembly to him this way, “Who are these people?” He wasn’t quite sure that they were the Body of Christ as fully as the Bread and the Wine.
There is a long-standing history of thinking and writing in Christian theology that the Eucharist is something performed by the priest on behalf of the assembly. Generally, in this theology, the priest stands at the altar in the place of Christ, offering the sacrifice that Christ offered, offering the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ to the Father through the power of the Spirit for all. The question remains, “Who are these people?” It’s a question I have been trying to answer and live into more profoundly since that day in Rome.
We have begun seriously to prepare for Holy Week in the parish office. As I write, the bulletins for all of the Passion Sunday services are on my desk for another review. The review is not about inventing any new rites for Holy Week. First, it’s simply about proofreading. The parish does not employ professional editors and proofreaders, but we try very hard to get our service bulletins right. Second, we are not trying to do anything new. And this is perhaps the most important thing of all: We are simply trying to think about how we can live more deeply into the great rites of Christian worship.
I think most adult Christians experience at some point in their journey in Christ a profound sense that Christ died “for me” – a very personal and particular moment of conversion from sin to grace. I think most adult Christians also experience a profound sense of Christ’s love “for me.” If you are on the “Way” – a name the Christian community first used at the time Saul was persecuting Jesus’ followers (Acts 9:1-2) – you should be aware that it is normative for Christian men and women to experience times of intense spiritual awareness of sin and of love. There are other moments, too. Other milestones on the Way are to know other Christians as brother and sister, to hear the Lord as Word when the Gospel is proclaimed, to see a coffin and know Christ has died and is risen in the person whose mortal body lies dead but whose soul has risen in glory. “Who are these people?”
At Morning Prayer the Church is reading the last chapters of Genesis (see page 953 of the Prayer Book). This week we are hearing the story of Joseph. As I write, Potiphar’s wife has just managed to get him sent to prison. I look forward to entering Exodus in a couple of weeks when we will hear, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (1:8), and then the story of Moses will begin. All of the sins of humanity seem to make it into the biblical narrative. The human family could not get it right. Christ is making a new family. Christ knows who we are. He called us his brother and sister and mother and father (Mark 3:33-35). He called us friend (John 13:13-15).
A Lenten Exercise from yours truly: search on the University of Michigan Bible site for the Revised Standard Version www.hti.umich.edu/r/rsv/ for the word “love.” Look at the entries for the four Gospels. Think about whom Jesus loved, whom Jesus told people to love and whom you and I love and do not love. Along the way, you may find yourself dropping, as I have dropped, Eucharistic thinking that doesn’t know who God’s people are. It seems to me that Christ died for us to be truly in the right eternal relationship with the Father and with each other. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Gabriela, Brendan, Peter, Joan, 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, Gary, priest, 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 12: 1961 Muriel Iola Dorothy Blaine; March 15: 1969 Peter Chan; March 18: 1947 Howard Noble Place, 1965 Mary Louise Barreaux.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Petre ego pro te rogavi’ by Alonso Lobo (c. 1555-1617). Lobo was an important Spanish composer of the generation following Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599), whom he served as assistant at Seville Cathedral. Many years later he was Guerrero’s successor there. This setting, published in a 1602 book of masses, is based upon a motet of Guerrero. Lobo’s music often is favorably compared to that of Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), the best-known Spanish composer of the late Renaissance. The motet at Communion is Christe, adoramus te by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: Stations of the Cross on Friday at 7:00 PM. Bishop Sisk is officiant . . . associate organist Robert McDermitt will play for Solemn Evensong again this Sunday evening. Last Sunday, Robert McCormick played a prelude recital at Trinity Church, Princeton before Evensong. This Sunday, March 12, he plays a recital at Christ Church, New Brunswick . . . Father Mead will be on vacation Monday, March 13, through Saturday, March 18. The Rector will be on jury duty beginning Monday, March 13. Many thanks to Father Smith for his help with Masses this week! . . . Attendance Last Sunday 284.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study will not meet this week, Tuesday, March 14. We will resume our class on the Exodus on Tuesday, March 21, 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 continues his class on the Theology and Spirituality of the Cross . . . On Wednesdays in Lent (March 15, 22, 29), join Father Mead and Father Jonathan Erdman, curate, 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 the 20s/30s crowd and those who are young at heart. Our second show-and-discuss on “She of Little Faith” and “The Last Temptation of Homer” will be Wednesday, March 15 at 7:00 PM at Saint Thomas (1 West 53rd Street).
GET INVOLVED WITH THE HOMELESS . . . On Sunday, March 19 from 3:30 PM to 4:45 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall, we will talk about a new opportunity to extend friendship and help build community with the homeless. Ecclesia Ministries New York hopes to offer weekly an outdoor Eucharist on Sunday afternoons in Battery Park. Various churches will be responsible for one Sunday a month: this will involve three things: 1) a small team of volunteers to do outreach at some point during the week before the Sunday, 2) a few people who can come to Saint Mary’s and prepare bag lunches for those who worship on Sunday afternoon and 3) a few people who can go to Battery Park on Sunday afternoon, be a part of the outdoor congregation and help facilitate the meal. Several of us at Saint Mary’s think we can do this, but we need a few more committed people. Come and have tea with us on Sunday and learn more about this opportunity for outreach and community.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second 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