From Father Beddingfield: Living into Generosity
Almost every weekend people in Central Park are raising money. At the end of April several of our parishioners participated in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Last weekend others were a part of the Revlon Run/Walk for Women to fight women’s cancers. Next Saturday is the Healthy Kidney Run, and on Sunday is the AIDS Walk/Run, in which a whole team from Saint Mary’s will be participating. The various cycling, running, rowing, swimming and walking events continue through the summer, not to mention the CROP Walk for Hunger, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and others in the fall. How do we determine what to support? What does faithful generosity look like?
People respond in different ways. One friend of mine simply writes a check for five dollars to any cause that requests money. If you were to ask her for five dollars, she would write you a check, too. Her giving is automatic. Another acquaintance gives almost nothing to church or anyone else; believing that fundraising never reaches its source but only goes to administrative overhead. It seems to me that neither of these responses is made from a very deep experience of Christian faith.
A part of determining how to respond to requests for money has to do with asking ourselves why we should respond. We respond out of faith in Jesus Christ who lived a generous life: giving, sharing, offering and sacrificing. We are called to follow him in this life, to share ourselves and to share our gifts.
The first reason we give money is because it makes us feel good. Too often we’re embarrassed about the self-serving motives of charity. This embarrassment slows us down and often masks a kind of false humility. We could wonder and worry about motives for ever, but it remains a simple fact that it feels good to give. I remember talking about stewardship a while back with the Right Reverend Richard Grein, XIV Bishop of New York. Bishop Grein said, “when it comes to stewardship, I simply ask people one question: When have you ever seen a generous person who wasn’t happy?” The bishop is right. Whether we are rich or poor or somewhere in-between, generosity leads to joy.
We also give because it helps other people. It may be hard to see how $5, $20 or even $100 can help AIDS research (though there are many who can explain exactly how). But it is easy to see how the person who is walking or running or biking for a cause is encouraged by our gift. This person has begun an act of self-offering and our money and prayers encourage that action. Our money not only contributes to the cause, it also contributes toward building a person’s character and that person’s formation for mission. Some have asked why our parish might support certain causes or missions over others. The answer is simple: because people have come forward with energy and intention around these particular efforts. We have a mission to Honduras because interests and connections have coincided there. We have an AIDS Walk team this year because several people thought there should be one and they have coordinated the effort. We are organizing to be a part of Ecclesia Ministries because a handful of people feel called to this ministry with the homeless. Mission develops from people who follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and gather others around them.
Finally, our giving—whether to church or to a good cause—glorifies God. So often when Jesus explains the kingdom of God, he uses the image of something that begins small and grows beyond all recognition. The kingdom of God is grown by small things like mustard seeds and particles of yeast. But the kingdom of God in our day is also grown by small things like dollars and sponsor forms, tired feet and bottles of water, and prayers that God’s healing might reach all who are in need.
Being generous takes practice. It often means learning to discern, to weigh several goods among others and being prayerful about our choices. Yet, living generously is a faithful response to a generous God. May God guide our giving, equip us to grow the kingdom, answer our prayers and help us live into generosity. John Beddingfield
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Judi, Ethan, John, Brendan, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, Betty Ann, Deborah, Virginia, Mary, William, Ana, Gilbert, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick; and for the repose of the souls of Jane and Douglas, Priest & Religious . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 15: 1981 James Thomas Gordon; May 16: 1960 Minnie Packard Rounds, 1992 John Francis Arnold; May 18: 1949 Don Patterson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Susan Miranda’s grandmother, Jane Murphy, died on May 9. Please pray for her, for Susan and for all who mourn . . . The Reverend Douglas Brown, OHC, prior of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, died on May 5. Brother Douglas was a valued friend and advisor to many in the diocese and beyond. He was an earthy saint who combined a wicked wit and a sharp tongue with a profound love for our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church. Please pray for him, the brothers of the Order of the Holy Cross and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 13, by Father Mead and on Saturday, May 20, by Father Beddingfield.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Robert McCormick is to play a recital on Friday, May 19, at 7:30 PM at the Pine Street Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania . . . Father Beddingfield will be attending the Leadership in Ministry seminar in Boston from Monday, May 15, through Wednesday, May 17 . . . Movie Night in May will be on Friday, May 19 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. This month we will watch the movie, “Luther,” made in 2003 about the early life of Martin Luther, with Joseph Fiennes, Peter Ustinov and others. Join us for the flick, food, beverages and fun . . . The Rector is on vacation through Tuesday, May 16. He will return to the parish office on Wednesday, May 17 . . . Attendance last Sunday 346.
CELEBRATE WITH BISHOP GREIN . . . The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will be the celebrant and preacher at Saint Mary’s for the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM on Sunday, May 21, 2006. The occasion marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of his consecration to the episcopacy.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag, BWV 629 and Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Saraband for the morning of Easter from Six Pieces (1940) by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis F-dur, Opus 117 by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901). Rheinberger, an important composer and teacher of the German Romantic period, is known especially for his organ and sacred choral music. This work, composed in 1880, was written over a span of a mere five hours – clearly efficiency was among Rheinberger’s skills. His aesthetic and style is in many ways similar to the great Johannes Brahms (both men wrote music in a classical disposition, as opposed to the freer and “wilder” music of composers such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner). The motet at Communion is the beloved Ave Maria of Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) . . . The recital at 4:40 is played by Terence J. Flanagan, organist of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . Sunday School for children meets on Sundays at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study meets on Tuesday, May 16, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. This class continues with its study of the Acts of the Apostles. We will read chapters 19 through 26 . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. At the next meeting, on Sunday, May 21, we will discuss The Cost of Discipleship. All are welcome to attend the discussion.
SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM . . . There is still time to join the team of walkers from Saint Mary’s for the AIDS Walk on Sunday, May 21. Our Saint Marian team will be attending the Saturday Vigil Mass on May 20 and walking on Sunday morning. For more details contact MaryJane Boland at firstname.lastname@example.org or Andrew Smith at email@example.com. Contributions can be made online at www.aidswalk.net/newyork and select the Saint Mary the Virgin team.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988 No Abstinence in Eastertide
Saturday Alcuin, Deacon, and Abbot of Tours, 804
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