From the Rector: Easter Graces
The Easter Triduum unfolded with many graces – as it always seems to. The quiet and purposeful work during the day on Maundy Thursday gave way to the power of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The profound solemnity of the washing of feet and of the procession to the altar of repose set the evening apart from the rest of the year. My only note for next year is to set out more chairs for the washing of feet – for the past seven years four have been enough. I think next year there will need to be eight. The simplicity of the decoration of the Mercy Chapel gave a special focus to the beautiful urn – a memorial to our seventh rector, Donald Lathrop Garfield – in which the Sacrament is reposed.
Here at Saint Mary’s the stripping of the altar begins with the parish clergy removing the hangings from the high altar and then washing the altar table with wine and water. The clergy leave and our altar servers complete the work of removing all of the ornaments and movable furnishings in the chancel. All of us carry out the washing and stripping in a straightforward yet unhurried way. During this I am always reminded of one question and answer from the Catechism, “What is prayer? Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.”
Good Friday is the day when it is easiest for me to get it wrong. The liturgy is unique in many respects. I confess that among the reasons I don’t resist us offering the entire liturgy twice is that it is so much easier for me as celebrant the second time that I really do relax and enter into the prayer of the liturgy as a member of the assembly, not just one of its servants.
At the 12:30 PM service the veneration of the cross took a long time. I wondered aloud to my colleagues whether we should have more crosses next year and how we might do it. One suggested that people really weren’t interested in kissing the side crosses of the thieves. Point taken. One cross for veneration at Saint Mary’s. And it will simply take the time it takes.
The Sabbath from sunset on Good Friday until the sunset on Easter Eve is liturgically a day of rest. Morning Prayer, sung on Saturday morning, is not much of a liturgy compared to everything else we do during the Triduum. But this is not a Sabbath of rest from labor of a religious sort. As on “Palm Saturday” there was an army of volunteers here all day to prepare for the Great Vigil of Easter and the services of Easter Day. Often it is fun to be a Christian – and among the emotions that were full and real here during the Triduum, the sense of joy and fun was visible, almost palpable, in those who were here to work or to pray.
It was a great privilege for us to have our retired bishop, the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, with us as celebrant and preacher for the Vigil. His sermon on Mark’s account of the resurrection sent me to my library before bed to get out a book on New Testament Greek in order to rework some details for my own sermon on Sunday morning. Of course, the bishop had gotten it right. Public thanks to you, Bishop. Easter morning unfolded wonderfully. Easter Day ended with the quiet riches of Paschal Evensong & Benediction.
The altar is still full of flowers and candles. During Easter Week and until the end of Evensong on the Second Sunday of Easter, the paschal candle is lit, and on Sundays and holy days throughout the season. The rich smells of incense, flowers and beeswax fill the corners of the church. It’s easy to remember the great choral and organ music our parish musicians have offered us. I hope our Easter faith will reveal itself and God’s plan for our community in new ways as the celebration continues. Finally, thank you. I cannot begin to express thanks to this congregation, to Bishop Grein, to all of our friends throughout the nation and to my colleagues on our parish staff for the privilege of serving as rector. I am never more proud to be here than at Easter. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Judi, Brendan, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, Betty Ann, Deborah, Virginia, William, Mary, Gilbert, 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 . . . April 23: 1993 Claude Cecil Morris; April 25: 1999 Helen Kingman; April 27: 1953 Hugh M. Smallwood, 1994 Frances Flagg.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Ethan John Rosenblatt of Brooklyn, New York, and Elizabeth Robin Nolan of Brooklyn, New York. If any of you can show just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. J.R.S.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Pictures from Palm Sunday and Easter have been posted in the photo gallery on the web page . . . It’s great to have George Blackshire back at church! After almost a lifetime in Brooklyn, he is now a resident in Battery Park. George, welcome to the city! . . .Please keep her in your prayers . . . Many thanks to members of Saint Mary’s Guild and the Saint Vincent’s Guild for their help polishing all of the brass and stripping palms for Palm Sunday. The unofficial count of those helping out was 44 people! Thanks also to all (there are too many to name individually) who prepared the church for all of the services throughout Holy Week and Easter. The effort of so many people to make the church such a beautiful sight is truly a testament to the love this parish has for our Lord . . . Movie Night is back and better than ever! On Friday, April 28 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall we will watch Richard III, staring Sir Ian McKellen on the big screen. Join us for the flick, food, foamy beverages and fun. The flick and the fun are free but the food and the foams are not: please bring a few dollars to help cover the cost . . . Attendance Maundy Thursday 260, Good Friday 484, Easter 1074.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the voluntaries, respectively, are Cantilène and Allegro maestoso from Symphonie III, Opus 28 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Morus (1983) by Elliot Z. Levine (b. 1948). Mr. Levine, an active New York composer and singer, is a former member of our choir, though he still sings here on occasion when he is able. This elegant and straightforward liturgical work was composed for the choir of the Church of St. Thomas More, New York (hence its name). The anthem at Communion is O sing joyfully by Adrian Batten (1591-1637) . . . The recital at 4:40 is played by parishioner Dale Bonenberger . . . Errata: Two weeks ago in this space, late composer William Albright was incorrectly identified as a former member of the organ faculty of the Eastman School of Music. He was, in fact, a member of the composition faculty of the University of Michigan . . . On Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 PM, there is an organ recital by the music director of works of Marchand and Vierne, and improvisation. Tickets will be available this Sunday following the Solemn Mass. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . Sunday School meets on Sundays at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study meets on Tuesday, April 25, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. This class will read through the Book of the Acts of the Apostles . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The next meeting, on Sunday, May 21, will discuss The Cost of Discipleship.
EASTERTIDE . . . In its first centuries the Church seems to have adopted an Easter Season of fifty days from its Jewish heritage where a “week of weeks” – that is, fifty days – is observed beginning with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. By the end of the fourth century, a separate feast to commemorate the Ascension begins to emerge on the fortieth day. Eastertide for most of Christian history has been a season of forty days. The liturgical reforms of the 1960s among a wide consensus of Western Christians restored the earlier practice. The Ascension is observed by the Episcopal Church as a major feast on the fortieth day. Thus, it is always the Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter. But the ascension of our Lord is actually proclaimed on Good Friday during John’s Passion. (In John, Jesus ascends to heaven directly from the cross after handing over his Spirit to his friends.) The Church calendar is not really as rigid as many might like it to be.
The Episcopal Church strengthens the character of the season in a number of ways liturgically. We use the great Easter dismissal with its alleluias through Pentecost. For a number of years our congregation has continued to sing at Solemn Mass the special Easter hymn, Christians, to the Paschal victim, before the gospel until Pentecost (which has its own special hymn appointed to be sung before the gospel, Come, thou Holy Spirit, come). Fridays are not to be observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion – as is the custom on the ordinary Fridays of the rest of the year. “Alleluia,” that is, “Praise to the Lord,” is added to several acclamations during Eastertide. The readings for Pentecost, the last day of Eastertide, include Luke’s account of the descent of the Spirit on the fiftieth day and John’s account of the second gift of the Spirit to his friends on the first Easter Day. It is also one of the great days of the year for Christian baptism and we hope to celebrate several that day. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Eve of Saint Mark the Evangelist
Tuesday Saint Mark the Evangelist
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No Abstinence in Eastertide
Saturday Catherine of Siena, 1380
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.
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