From the Rector: Advent and Christmas at Saint Mary’s
One of the many grace-filled movements of the Church’s life was the development of an annual cycle of worship that focuses us on the events of Christ’s life. We do very few “theme” days in the great tradition. Salvation in Christ is always more than an idea. It is rooted in the life of Christ, his living and dying as the Word made flesh. He was born. He lived. He was crucified. He rose. He reigns in heaven. For us Christians, these are not ideas. His death was not an idea. It was a bloody and evil cross. His resurrection is the central event of history.
Advent is the beginning of the Church’s year. It’s always the four Sundays before December 25; Western Christian set the celebration of Christ’s birth by the early fourth century in the City of Rome. December 25 is the first day of the twelve days of Christmas.
Advent is also a special time for us as a local parish community. Our parish has always observed December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as its patronal feast. As I write, it is the one hundred tenth anniversary of the first service in this building. It’s fair to say that the Episcopal Church was changed on that day in 1895 when the doors were opened and this temple began to be filled with smoke for the first time. Today this parish and its building continue as witnesses to the power of worship to bring souls to know Christ and to serve others in his name.
Because December 8 has always been such an important date for us, the actual anniversary of the consecration of the church has been downplayed for much of our history. We are going to do something about that this year. On Monday, December 12, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, bishop of New York, will be with us to be celebrant for the 6:20 PM Mass and to meet with our Board of Trustees that evening. I hope many who can will join us to be with our Bishop as he offers a Mass of Thanksgiving for this place that has meant so much.
Christmas Day is a Sunday this year. Advent is as long as it can be. On Saturday morning, December 24, the last office of Advent, Morning Prayer, will be said at 8:30 AM. The last Mass of Advent will be offered at 9:00 AM. Decorating of the church for Christmas will then commence.
This year at 5:00 PM there will be a Sung Mass of the Nativity. I will be the celebrant and preacher. This is a new service for us and we think it may meet a need for many. I expect this service to last about seventy minutes. The parish choir will sing a short setting of the Mass. The hymns at the Mass will be “O come, all ye faithful,” “Silent night” and “Hark! the herald angels sing.” There will be Christmas music at 4:40 PM.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church will be with us as celebrant and preacher for the 11:00 PM Mass. It is his last Christmas as presiding bishop and we are honored that he is able to be with us. This service includes the chanting of the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ – a beautiful text from the Middle Ages that centers Christ’s birth according to a traditional reckoning of human history – and a procession of an image of the Christ Child to the crèche. Stational prayers are offered at the crèche and under the rood as the ministers of the assembly move to the high altar for the Mass.
On Christmas Day we will hold one service, Solemn Mass and Procession to the Crèche at 11:00 AM. Father Beddingfield will be celebrant and preacher. This is one of the most beloved Masses of the year at Saint Mary’s. During the final hymn, the congregation follows the procession of ministers to the crèche. There, the Angelus is said before the dismissal is given. There’s not a dry eye in the house.
Many things make this time of the year special – and for many of us, it can be hard too. No matter what our pasts have been or challenges we face today and in the future, the worship of the Church invites us to center our hearts and minds and souls in worship. In worship God takes us to a place where our faith is renewed and where our souls are fed. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Clair, Jan, Josephine, Ida, Brian, Emil, Naila, Mary, Michael, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Joseph, Timothy, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie and Derrick.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 10: 2001 Helena M. Handy; December 11: 1962 Carol Elizabeth M. Irwin Hollister; December 12: 1961 Jeanette Bolton, 1962 Martha R. Townroe; December 14: 1952 Amy Florence Nicholas, 1997 Edward David Miller; December 15: 1989 Mrs. Lorel D. Brownell Britt; December 16: 1959 Emily Cooper Campbell, 1996 Viola Douglas.
CONFESSIONS will be heard on Saturday, December 10 by Father Beddingfield and on Saturday, December 17 by Father Gerth.
HELP HONDURAS THIS CHRISTMAS . . . You can sponsor a season of Sunday school for a child (providing supplies, biblical materials and a snack) for $25, provide for a bunch of cinder blocks with $50, supply a family with water for six months for $75 and provide one year’s worth of hot meals for a child for $100. Gifts can be purchased in the Saint Mary’s Gift Shop and by e-mailing Father Beddingfield at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have already received a very generous challenge grant of $1,000 toward the hot meal program—let’s match that and more!
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Freu dich sehr, meine Seele from Choralvorspiele zu Liedern des Dänischen Gesanbuchs by Anton Heiller (1923-1979). This tune is found in the Hymnal 1982 as Hymn 67. The postlude is Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Nunca fué pena mayor’ by Francisco de Peñalosa (c. 1470-1528). Perhaps Spain’s most important composer of the generation preceding Cristóbal de Morales, Peñalosa worked at a time when Spanish Church music became greatly influenced by the international “Flemish” style. In addition, his career certainly was aided by Spain’s prominence in the international arena at that time. A renowned singer, he was a member of the Papal Chapel choir after leaving Seville for Rome in 1517. When the Seville Cathedral chapter fervently and repeatedly demanded his return, the Pope himself interceded on Peñalosa’s behalf. This relatively brief setting (one of the composer’s six masses) is based upon a villancico (a type of Spanish song) by the Flemish composer Johannes Urrede. The motet at Communion is Canite tuba by Sebastián de Vivanco (c. 1551-1622) . . . The recital at 4:40 is by Anthony Pinel of St. Peter’s Church, Morristown, New Jersey. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN FORMATION IN ADVENT . . . At 10:00 AM on Sundays, Dec. 11 & 18, on the 2nd Floor of the Mission House, the Reverend James Ross Smith will lead The Incarnation in New Testament and Patristic Thought. Join Father Smith and explore one of the fundamental questions of Christian theology: what is the role of Christ’s humanity in God’s plan of salvation? This class meets . . . At 1:00 PM on the same Sundays, also on the 2nd Floor of the Mission House, the Reverend Peter R. Powell will lead an Introduction to the Gospel according to Mark. Begin the new liturgical year by learning the basics of Saint Mark’s Gospel . . . At 7:00 PM on Tuesdays (Dec. 13 & 20) in Saint Benedict’s Study, Father Mead leads the Birth of the Messiah.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Special thanks to Howard Christian for doing the flowers for Immaculate Conception . . . Brother Emil Denworth is now at Park Terrace Care Center in Rego Park. Please keep him in your prayers . . . The Holy Family has returned. The Christmas crèche figurines have been restored and gifts to help offset the cost are most welcome . . . The “O Antiphons” – from which the verses of “O come, O come Emmanuel” are taken are used with the Song of Mary at Evening Prayer beginning December 16 . . . Attendance last Sunday 279.
BRING YOUR LUNCH AND VISIT WITH SISTER DEBORAH FRANCIS, CSJB . . . Beginning December 7, 2005 each Wednesday after the Sung Mass, Saint Joseph’s Hall will be open for those who would like to bring their lunches and eat there. Sister Deborah Francis comes to us on Wednesdays from the Convent of St. John the Baptist in Mendham, New Jersey. She enjoys meeting people and making new friends. This is not a class, nor a formal program, no agenda, just eating together.
SPIRITUALITY AND READING GROUP . . . On Sunday, December 18 the group meets in Saint Benedict’s Study to continue discussing Henri Nouwen’s Seeds of Hope, particularly focusing on chapters 3 and 4. In January the group will meet on the fourth Sunday of the month, January 22, and will discuss Peace in the Post-Christian Era by Thomas Merton.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday of Advent
Monday The Anniversary Of The Dedication Of The Church
Tuesday Lucy, Virgin and Martyr, c. 304
Wednesday Advent Weekday
Thursday Advent Weekday
Friday Advent Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Advent Weekday
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