From the Rector: Holy Week Primer
Holy Week is a rich layering of Christian tradition in which you and I can rejoice in so many ways. During this time we try very hard to let the tradition of the Church speak clearly to us so that we can enter as individuals and as a community more deeply into the mystery of Christ.
If you are interested in the history of the rites, how they evolve over the centuries, Marion Hatchett’s Commentary on the American Prayer Book is a good place to start. A history of the evolution of the Holy Week calendar alone could occupy this newsletter for weeks. Far more useful, in my opinion, is to be present for the great liturgies of the week and to enter into them.
There are two primary insights that shape my understanding of the week. First, Easter is not the occasion for Baptism. Baptism is the Easter event, Jesus Christ still dying and rising among us. Second, the rites of Holy Week call us to enter them as the Body of Christ. We have a new identity. We are not Saint Peter or the soldiers who nail Jesus to the cross. The crowd that called out for Jesus to be crucified is dead. You and I are members of Christ’s living Body. This is perhaps the most important insight of John’s Gospel, the last to be written.
Christians very early adopted Sunday, the day of resurrection, as their day to come together. Once a special Sunday emerges to celebrate the resurrection, the Sunday we Episcopalians call Easter Day, the Sunday before this became the time to observe Jesus’ death. We call this Sunday before Easter “The Sunday of the Passion.” To this day, this pattern is maintained. Most of the liturgy on the Sunday before Easter is what we could call the “original Good Friday.”
In the fourth century, when the Christian community took possession of Jerusalem new rites began to emerge. Over the centuries a liturgy to commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem would come to us as the Liturgy of the Palms and be attached to the Mass on the Sunday of the Passion. At this time also the new rites to commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection appear, again in Jerusalem.
Christians repeat daily in worship, “On the third day he rose again.” What are those “Three Days?” Christians still reckon time on their most sacred days the way Jesus as a Jew did, from sunset to sunset. The Easter Triduum (“Three Days”) is called Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day.
On the first of these days, reckoned beginning at sunset on Thursday, Jesus eats with his disciples for the last time. In John’s Gospel he washes their feet and commands them to love one another. In the dark of the night he is arrested. In the morning of this day he is tried. By afternoon he is dead. Before the day ends, his body is buried. On the second day, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, the tomb is sealed. On the morning of the third day, Mary Magdalene and the other women will find the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene is the first to meet the risen Lord. She is the first herald of the resurrection. This third day, again, begins at sunset on Saturday and ends with sunset on Sunday.
Let’s get the names out of the way. Despite the primary emphasis of the day on the Passion (that is, Jesus’ death), the Sunday before Easter Day is usually called “Palm Sunday.” For us the “Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper” is celebrated on “Maundy Thursday” – “maundy” being a corruption of “mandatum”, the Latin word for “command.” God only knows why we call the second day of the Triduum “good” or the Sunday of the Resurrection “Easter.” English is commonly said to be the only language where the name for this Sunday doesn’t derive from the Hebrew word for “Passover.”
Daily there are opportunities at Saint Mary’s for worship. We observe our usual schedule on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week.
Now, I want to give you a list of the principal liturgies of the week. These are the ones that really matter and I hope it will be possible for you to attend all of them. On Sunday, April 9, the 11:00 AM Mass. On Thursday, April 13, the 6:00 PM Mass. On Friday, April 14, either celebration of the day (they are identical), 12:30 PM or 6:00 PM. On Saturday, April 15, the Great Vigil of Easter is at 7:00 PM. If you attend the Vigil, you are more than welcome to attend one of the morning Masses on Easter Day, but if you have to choose between Easter morning Mass and Easter Evensong, and, again, if you have been at the Vigil, choose to attend Easter Day form of Evensong at 5:00 PM. We had 196 people here for this last year. It’s really great.
There are graces every year for individuals and communities that give themselves to Christ during this special time. There is much here that can convert, renew and strengthen us to live our lives. God loves us and his world eternally. The greatest traditions of Christian worship have a gospel power because in them, like the Scriptures which were written our worship, we encounter Christ himself. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Eve, Judi, Brendan, Peter, Joan, Thomas, George, Loretta, Consuelo, Roy, 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; 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 . . . 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 Lothrop Garfield, priest & rector.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Stations of the Cross will be offered on Friday, March 31, and on Friday, April 7 at 7:00 PM . . . Our guest preacher on Sunday night, April 2, at Evensong will be our former curate the Reverend Allen Shin, chaplain, Keble College, Oxford. Please come to hear and greet him! . . . Many thanks to all who helped with the liturgy and the reception on the Eve of the Annunciation . . . Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, April 1. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, April 8 . . . Father Beddingfield was guest preacher on Saturday, March 25, for the installation of the Reverend Terrence P. Gleason as rector of Saint Stephen’s Church, Middlebury, Vermont . . . Father Beddingfield will be on vacation March 29 through April 4 . . . The Blessing of Palms will be offered at the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday, April 8, at 5:20 PM . . . Attendance last Sunday 373, Annunciation 250.
PLAN FOR THE EASTER VIGIL . . . If you wish to be received, confirmed or baptized at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 15, please speak with one of the priests as soon as possible. There is still time to coordinate your participation . . . Do you have your bells? At the Easter Acclamation, bells are rung throughout the church while the lamps and candles in the church are lighted. If you don’t have bells, visit the Saint Mary’s Gift Shop between now and Easter.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Thursday, March 30 at 8:00 PM, Isabelle Demers, a graduate student at the Juilliard School, will play her degree recital (including works of Duruflé and Reger). All are invited and admission is free . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd (1543-1623). Byrd was a recalcitrant Roman Catholic in protestant Elizabethan England. In spite of the political difficulties he faced due to his faith, his career flourished because of his protection by the Queen, a great admirer of Byrd’s music. The composer was a distinguished gentleman of her Chapel Royal, which at that time was the greatest honor a musician in England could receive. Much of his Latin music, however, was written for clandestine Catholic liturgies in private homes (including this work, among his most tender and beautiful), and therefore has a somewhat intimate character. The motet at Communion is Byrd’s beloved Ave verum corpus . . . At Solemn Evensong, we welcome the choir of Eltham College, London, England, who will sing works of Gibbons and Duruflé. Eltham College is an independent day school (high school) known for its superb music program. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . Sunday School for children meets on Sundays at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study. Saint Mary’s offers a Bible-based Sunday School; please join us! . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study meets on Tuesday, March 28, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. We are reading Exodus and other parts of the Pentateuch to get an overview of the Exodus and how it helped shape Jewish and Christian identity . . . On Sundays in Lent, at 1:00 PM in the Mission House (2nd Floor), the Reverend Peter R. Powell will lead the final 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.
HELP POLISH BRASS & STRIP PALMS . . . All are welcome to help with preparations for Palm Sunday and Holy Week on Saturday, April 8, 2006. We begin at 10:00 AM. If you have any questions, please speak with Father Mead or Sean Cassidy.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent
Saturday Weekday of Lent
Eve of the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
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. On Fridays in Lent we offer Stations of the Cross at 7:00 PM..
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