From the Rector: The Importance of Christ
“Father, you have a real church,” one of our parish’s English clergy friends of Saint Mary’s said to me not so very long ago when he was visiting New York. He was admiring more than the architecture and furnishings of Saint Mary’s – which are easy to “read” and to admire. Saint Mary’s is a living and active witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lives are being changed here and elsewhere because of the ministry of this parish. But there are other legitimate ways of being and doing church. Neither of us would ever say there weren’t lots of real churches around, Protestant, Orthodox or Roman. We’re Anglicans; we just don’t think that way.
Our friend’s remark came to mind as I picked up the newspaper and found the Roman Church in the headlines yet again this week. Last week the Roman leadership brought their 1962 Roman Missal back. This week, these leaders also reminded Orthodox Christians that the Orthodox were “wounded” by their rejection of papal rule. Protestant Christians were reminded that they weren’t members of a real “church.” Did you know that we Anglicans and other Protestants are only members of “ecclesial communities” and not members of “real churches”? To top it all off, just before I started work on this newsletter someone sent me a recent photograph of the Pope’s secretaries. It seems not only the 1962 Roman Missal is back but so are the lace rochets with red ribbons at the neck that went along with them. It’s all a bit too much.
I did a summer internship in 1981 during seminary at a Jesuit hospital outside of Chicago. All but two of the interns that summer were members of Roman religious orders. I remember how spooked all of them were by one of the religious who was also an intern but who had been a superior in her order. She was no longer a superior; she hadn’t been their superior. But authority spooked them. A question I often get from members of the Roman Church is how Episcopalians are different from Roman Catholics. These days I direct most people to the Internet. But when there’s time, the quick answer is, “We have no pope.” In a more extended conversation I speak about history, authority and how we Anglicans tend to teach the mystery of our faith instead of attempting to define it. When we Anglicans try to be dogmatic we’re not very good at it; it’s just not the way we do things.
It’s hard to know what’s going on in Roman world. Why would Roman Church leaders choose to be at once so defensive about who they are and so offensive to people they occasionally recognize as sisters and brothers in Christ? It would probably not be helpful for me to think too much about the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee, which comes to mind. Perhaps it would be better for me to me wonder too about what logs may be in our own eyes as Episcopalians, and about logs in my own eyes.
There was nothing neat about the Anglican Reformation. It was born in the sin, politics and warfare of sixteenth and seventeenth century Britain. Anglicanism did not spring unrelated to what was going on in the rest of Western and Eastern Europe. Yet from the political and religious struggles of the British people a reformed Christianity emerged with a breadth, integrity and generosity that continues to commend itself as a home with room for many.
Anglicanism is not without its struggles today. We have been in the news over including people and will continue to be in the news. But it is a struggle that is being carried on largely by people willing to bear differences in charity, who want to find a way to move forward together.
When we are at our best, marked by God’s grace, it is clear we Episcopal Christians are primarily about Christ and that it is him we proclaim and honor. I want Christ’s truth, his love, his forgiveness and his welcome to be visible and living in our lives as individuals and as a parish community. I want it always to be clear that knowing Christ and learning to follow his commandments is the work we are called to do. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Henry and Thomas, priest, who are hospitalized, Pamela, Joan, Hilyard, Charles, Virginia, Daisy, Joseph, Marcia, Ana, Kevin, Gert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, William, Eve, Virginia, Mary, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Steve, Fahad, Sean, David, Barron, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Christopher and Timothy; and for the repose of the soul of William . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 15: 1986 Peter A.J. McGrane, 1989 Allen C. Satterfield, 1989 Robert Fox Davis; July 21: 1963 Frederick Webb Ross.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Sundays Child Care during the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and 11:00 AM Solemn Mass will be available all summer long. The Nursery is located next to the Sacristy (down the hallway from Saint Joseph’s Hall) . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 14, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, July 21, by Father Beddingfield . . . We welcome back Father Beddingfield from vacation this Sunday, July 15. Now, it’s Father Mead’s turn. He will be on vacation through Saturday, August 11 . . . Flowers for Sundays and feast days are needed for July 22 and the 29 and most of August. E-mail Sandra at email@example.com or fill out our flower donation form online at http://www.stmvirgin.org/article32741.htm . . . The Saint Mary’s Guild will next meet on Saturday, August 4 at the 12:10 PM Mass . . . Attendance Independence Day 116, Last Sunday 243.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Mr. Robert McDermitt, associate organist, plays for the Solemn Mass this Sunday. The prelude before Mass is Prelude in G major (1837) by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). The postlude is Allegro maestoso e vivace from Mendelssohn’s Sonata No. 2 in C minor, Opus 65/2. The cantor is Ms. Mellissa Hughes, soprano. The music during Communion is Benedictus qui venit from Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (Kleine Orgelmesse, Hob. XXI:7) by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Robert McCormick
JULIAN OF NORWICH: A SUMMER SAMPLING . . . Join Father Beddingfield on Sundays July 22 and 29, following the Solemn Mass for a discussion of the life and theology of the 14th century anchoress known as Julian of Norwich. Julian is often portrayed sentimentally as one who loves cats, offers homey spiritual advice and assures us that “all shall be well.” Too easily overlooked is her nuance of Anselm’s view of the atonement, her experience of the Holy Trinity, her understanding of sin and salvation, and her own spirituality which takes seriously the reality of evil. On two Sunday afternoons we’ll look at Julian’s historical and religious context, her theology and her writings. If you'd like to read ahead, read any version of Julian's Showings, sometimes entitled Revelations of Divine Love. A preferred version is Julian of Norwich’s Showings.
THE PHILHARMONIC IN CENTRAL PARK . . . On Tuesday, July 17th at 8:00 PM the New York Philharmonic is playing in Central Park. A group of Saint Marians is planning to enjoy the music with a picnic (bring what you like and to share). If you are interested in going, please contact Julie Gillis (Redsailup@aol.com) who is organizing the event or simply come to the church that evening and head up to the park with a group who will gather at the 6:20 PM Mass.
JULY COLLECTS . . . “Collect” is the Prayer Book term for prayer of the day. The four collects that are used in July are especially good. You can read them all beginning at the bottom of page 230 in the Prayer Book. This past week we’ve had a prayer that summarizes much about how we are to live our lives as members of Christ’s Body – that we are to keep God’s commandments by loving him and our neighbors. The prayer takes us past the rules to the heart of the matter.
This week the prayer will be for us to know and understand what we ought to do and to have God’s grace and power to act. It captures so much of the ordinary struggle of our lives in relationship with others. What is the right thing to say or do? May God help us to know and then have the courage to do what we believe he is showing us to be right.
Next week, we are invited to remember our weakness and dependence on God and to be thankful for the mercies of his blessings which come to us before we ask.
The prayer for the last Sunday of the month is about trusting in God through the changes and chances of this mortal life. It’s one that has given strength to Anglicans since the first Prayer Book was published in 1549.
I suspect priests have been commending the collects of the Prayer Book to people since the very first book was published. It’s still good. There’s nothing wrong with responding to God in our own words, but the words of our common prayer are also helpful for our private devotions. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836.
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Mass. 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.
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.