From the Rector: Holy Week and Easter
I want to thank all who have already been working and will be working over the next week to make Holy Week at Saint Mary’s possible. I want to thank volunteers and staff, along with members and friends near and far, whose prayers and gifts help make it all possible. As is our custom, our doors are open daily and the ordinary and the great rites of the Church year are celebrated with an integrity and richness that reflects our commitment to Christ. We take nothing for granted at Saint Mary’s when it comes to worship. I hope this means we are growing into a people who take nothing for granted when it comes to love for all. Love was in fact Christ’s greatest commandment to us who call him Lord.
There is no week of the year when it is more clear that Christianity is a public and communal religion. Even when it was illegal to be a Christian in the first centuries after the Lord’s crucifixion, his death and resurrection were proclaimed to others. The Church grew. Even in eras when Christianity in its various forms retreated into a religion of personal piety, the liturgical tradition never entirely forgot that the baptized are the Body of Christ. Few congregations give more powerful expression to the public and communal shape of Christianity than Saint Mary’s, Times Square.
The Passion, the gospel account of Jesus’ death and burial, is offered twice during Holy Week. During the Mass on Palm Sunday this year it is from Mark. On Good Friday, this and every year, it is from John. At Saint Mary’s the Passion is sung and the congregation takes the part of Jesus. This is not traditional, but it is intentional on my part. You and I were baptized to be the Body of Christ. We are not the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross. They are dead. Although one of us will take the role of Pilate, Pilate is dead. You and I are truly the Body of Christ. And the liturgy here will call you and me to celebrate this present and eternal reality.
If you are new to Saint Mary’s, I invite you especially to be here for the 11:00 AM Mass on Palm Sunday. The gospel account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem will take on new meaning as you hand palms to those who want them in Times Square. The liturgy of the palms concludes with the congregation back in the church singing what for the Church is a new hymn, Ride on! Ride on in majesty! The text is nineteenth century, the tune twentieth century. While you sing, fix your eyes on the great crucifix on the rood beam above the chancel. Iohann Kirchmayer’s beam and figure of the Crucified reigning from the cross is one of the great artistic expressions of the Passion. It confirms powerfully the poetry of Henry Hart Milman’s hymn text. It is on and from the cross that the Son of God, in the words of the hymn, takes his power and reigns.
The Easter Triduum begins at sunset on Thursday in Holy Week. The liturgy of the day is offered at 6:00 PM. I suspect there will be people here on Maundy Thursday who have never washed another person’s feet, much less done so in public. It is a shockingly intimate gesture, but so is Jesus’ command for us to do this and his command to love one another. And of course that’s the point of it.
On Good Friday the liturgy is offered twice, at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM. It is the same service with the same music (the same bulletin!). We do it twice because not all of us are free to leave work on Good Friday for two hours. It is one of the great days of worship of the year and it is awesome here.
On Easter Eve the Great Vigil of Easter begins at 7:00 PM. The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will be with us as preacher and celebrant. This is the principal liturgy of the year. It’s simply the best. An Easter reception follows the Vigil.
Easter Day we keep our usual schedule. Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. There are Masses at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. The distinctive liturgy of the day is Solemn Paschal Evensong at 5:00 PM. The full parish choir sings at 11:00 AM and at 5:00 PM on Easter Day. Evensong includes a solemn procession to the font. During Benediction Luke’s account of the disciples encountering Christ on the road to Emmaus on the evening of the first Easter Day is read. It’s not to be missed.
Those who have never experienced the Easter Triduum need not worry about what everything means. The mystery of redemption is as awesome a mystery as the creation of life itself. I invite you to come and give yourself to the rites. You will be renewed by the Holy Spirit through Holy Week and Easter worship. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for May who is hospitalized, for Gabriela, Eve, Judi, Brendan, Peter, Joan, Thomas, George, Loretta, Consuelo, Roy, Jan, Ida, Brian, Mary, MaryAnne, Ray, Betty Ann, Deborah, Virginia, William, Mary, Ana, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Rich, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Thomas, priest, Laurence, priest, Gary, 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, and for the repose of the soul of Frederick, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 10: 1993 Edna Isabelle Matthews Craig; April 12: 1975 Violet Carolyn Cadney; April 13: 1958 Earle W. Stevenson, 1992 George Edward Mueller.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Stations of the Cross will be offered on Friday, April 7 at 7:00 PM . . . Reminder: There is no 10:00 AM Mass on Palm Sunday . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, April 8. Confessions will also be heard on Good Friday by all of the priests following the liturgies of the day . . . 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 . . . Fathers Beddingfield, Mead and Smith will attend the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral on Tuesday, April 11, at 10:30 AM. The Rector will be here for the Noon services this day. Everyone who can attend is invited to the Cathedral for this Mass at which the Bishop blesses the oil of Chrism for the Church to use at the Easter Vigil and through the year. Please note this year that this Mass is at 10:30 AM, not 11:00 AM as in previous years . . . Sunday School does not meet again until April 23 . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Flannery O’Connor. The next meeting, on Sunday, April 23, will discuss O’Connor’s short stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Everything that Rises Must Converge . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study does not meet again until Tuesday, April 25, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. We will be reading the Acts of the Apostles throughout Eastertide . . . Attendance last Sunday 432.
MAUNDY THURSDAY OFFERING . . . The offering of the Church on Maundy Thursday is entirely for the poor. Again this year, the Board of Trustees has designated our offerings for our mission to the Church of San Juan Evangelista, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A very generous offering is most appropriate for this night.
PLAN FOR THE EASTER VIGIL . . . 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.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary (on this day, only Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are sung) is Missa dorica, Opus 15 by Hermann Schroeder (1904-1984). A German composer, Schroeder was organist of the cathedral in Trier and, at various points in his career, on the faculties of the Cologne Musikhochschule, Bonn University and the University of Cologne. Schroeder’s infrequently heard but distinguished compositional output includes a great deal of liturgical music, including over twenty masses. As a Roman Catholic composer, Schroeder significantly raised the profile of music in his Church. This setting, an early work, dates from 1932 and is mostly in the Dorian mode (something like the precursor to our modern day musical keys), as the title indicates. It has been in the repertory of the Saint Mary’s choir since not long after it was written, though it has not been sung here in some time . . . On Maundy Thursday, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Chichester Mass (1974/1979) by William Albright (1944-1998). Albright, who until his death was professor of organ at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, wrote this setting for the choir of Chichester Cathedral on the occasion of the Cathedral’s 900th anniversary. It is a brilliant piece for unaccompanied choir filled with great contrasts, from the intensely exciting Hosanna to the deeply calm and peaceful Agnus Dei . . . On Good Friday, during the Veneration of the Cross, the choir sings a modern setting of the Reproaches by John Sanders (1933-2003). Sanders was for many years director of music of England’s Gloucester Cathedral, and his setting of this powerful text, particularly “Answer me,” eloquently expresses the profound intensity of the words. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Monday Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Holy Week
Thursday Maundy Thursday
Friday Good Friday
Saturday Easter Eve
Passion (Palm) Sunday Masses: Saturday 5:20 PM, Sunday 9:00 AM & 11:00 AM. On Passion Sunday Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. Solemn Evensong & Benediction is at 5:00 PM.
The parish observes its regular schedule of Masses and Offices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week.
On Maundy Thursday, Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. The liturgy of the day is at 6:00 PM.
On Good Friday, Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. The liturgy of the day is offered at 12:30 PM and 6:00 PM.
On Easter Eve, the Great Vigil of Easter is at 7:00 PM.