From the Rector: Definitions
Broadly speaking, it is correct to say there are two basic theological approaches to Baptism in the New Testament. One approach associates it with the death and resurrection of Jesus. One associates it with new birth. These approaches are complementary and neither approach by itself describes completely the mystery of Baptism. What is going on in any our lives and in the lives of all people, baptized and unbaptized, is the work of the Holy Spirit. At our best, in the words of Aidan Kavanagh, the Christian community baptizes because it recognizes the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people and perceives that people are led to live out this work as members of the Church.
Before I went to seminary, priests I knew suggested that I sing in a parish choir. One of the choir directors for whom I sang spent a lot of time working on our diction. The sung word is heard in a way that is distinct from the spoken word. She wanted the way we pronounced words while singing to be easily understood. A friend in Indiana used to drill me over and over about the importance of the way the weekly newsletter would be read by others or how my words were understood. She wanted me to write and speak so that the point I was trying to make would be heard clearly.
I do worry about recognizing the work of the Spirit in my life and in the lives of others. I think it is worth the effort to try to learn new skills and dispositions that may help us better discern the work of God. In a real sense, this is what Sacraments – the outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual realities – do. They encourage and sustain us in our awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
Since the Reformation, Anglicans have generally spoken of two “Sacraments” of the gospel, Baptism and the Eucharist, and five “Sacramental Rites,” Confirmation, Marriage, Unction, Penance and Ordination. Roman Catholics have insisted that there aren’t two and five as mentioned but seven “Sacraments.” If one has ever seen a program for the coronation of an English sovereign, one might recall that for a time in medieval Europe, coronation was considered by some an eighth Sacrament. A few Christian traditions have been uncomfortable even using the word “Sacrament.” The Southern Baptist tradition in which I was reared spoke of “ordinances.” The Lord’s Supper in a Baptist congregation is rather different than Solemn Mass at Saint Mary’s. But the service would contain singing, a reading from Scripture (not as much as we do), a sermon (longer than ours), prayer, bread (usually a cracker designed not to look like a host but which tastes exactly like a host), and unfermented grape juice, which Jesus probably drank during harvest but not at the Last Supper. I think it would be fair to say that Christians through most of Christian history would perceive a Solemn Mass at Saint Mary’s as more universally the custom of the Church. I would want to insist that the Lord’s presence among us is real whenever people call on his name.
One of the seminal works in opening the Church’s awareness of the broad nature of God’s presence was Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with God by Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. And for those who want to do some serious reading, it’s in print and I think it’s worth reading today.
Our Anglican tradition at its best invites us to be gracious about God’s work in others and within our own community. This tradition does not make it into the headlines. It generally doesn’t attract viewers to television shows or readers to newspapers, but it is real nonetheless. I hope I can be a person who doesn’t try to define God too narrowly, but spends more energy on my heart and soul trying to see his work as broadly and as gently as possible. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Brendan, Peter, Joan, Thomas, George, Loretta, Consuelo, Roy, 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, Gary, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick, and for the repose of the soul of William . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 20: 1954 Karl Irving Bennett; March 22: 1971 Mary E. Fargher; March 24: 1952 Ida Mary Steifel.
SCHEDULE NOTES . . . As is our custom, when a greater festival falls on a Saturday, our principal celebration is on the eve. March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. Solemn Mass will be celebrated on Friday, March 24, at 6:00 PM. Our guest preacher is the Reverend James B. Lemler, director of mission of the Episcopal Church. The Mass ordinary will be Messe ‘Cum jubilo’, Opus 11, by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986). The choir will also sing Ave Maria (Angelus Domini) by Franz Biebl (1906-2001). Robert McCormick will play works of Vierne, Bach and Böhm at a recital at 5:30 PM. A festive reception will follow in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Father Beddingfield will hear confessions on Saturday, March 18; Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, March 25. (Stations of the Cross will resume on Friday, March 31, at 7:00 PM).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be held on Sunday, March 26, at 12:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Many long-time parishioners will want the news that Father Gary Lawler, rector, Saint Anne’s Church, Morrison, Illinois, and former curate here at Saint Mary’s, was seriously injured in an automobile accident. Please keep him in your prayers . . . As we go to press, George Blackshire continues at Cobble Hill Nursing Home. He expects to move to a new apartment very soon . . . The Rector will be at a course, Leadership in Ministry, from Sunday evening, March 19, through Wednesday, March 22. Father Gerth returns to the parish office on Thursday, March 23 . . . Attendance last Sunday 315, Stations 78.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa a quattro voci ‘In illo tempore’, a setting by an unknown composer that was attributed at one time to Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). (Monteverdi did, in fact, compose a Missa ‘In illo tempore’ for six voices, a piece our choir will sing on Ascension Day.) This setting for four voices (sections, or soprano, alto, tenor and bass) is composed in a style known as stile antico, which at the time this mass was written was a decidedly old-fashioned compositional idiom. The motet at Communion is Tristis est anima mea by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594) . . . The Duruflé Messe ‘Cum jubilo’ is based upon the plainsong mass of the same name (the setting appointed for Marian feasts), this stunning work is similar in concept to Duruflé’s famed Requiem. It is set, however, for unison men’s voices and organ, and the demanding vocal line requires the singers to utilize both the lowest and highest portions of their ranges. Duruflé, the celebrated French organist and composer, did not leave a large compositional output (widely attributed to his tendencies toward perfectionism), but among his works are some of the twentieth century’s most beloved pieces of Church music. Robert McCormick
McNEIL ROBINSON IN RECITAL . . . Saint Mary’s former organist and music director will play a recital in the church this coming Tuesday, March 21 at 7:30 PM. The program, jointly sponsored by the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, will feature fourteen improvised meditations on the Stations of the Cross. Mr. Robinson is recognized internationally as one of this country’s finest organists and improvisers. His improvisations on the organ of Saint Mary’s during his time here are legendary among organists and others alike. Tickets are $25 ($15 for students, and free for members of the New York AGO), and are available this Sunday at coffee hour from MaryJane Boland, by calling 212.869.5830, ext. 25, or at the door. R.M.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study meets 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 22, 29), join Father Mead and Father Jonathan Erdman, curate, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, as we enjoy The Simpsons in Lent!
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 Third Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent
Eve of the Annunciation 6:00 PM
Saturday The Annunciation
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. Because of our observance of Annunciation Eve, Stations of the Cross will not be offered on March 24.
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