From Father Smith: Anglican Identity
Anyone who spends any time at all at Saint Mary’s soon discovers that we take baptism pretty seriously. Led by the Rector, we are enthusiastic advocates of the rediscovery of the foundational importance of baptism to the life of the Church. For us, baptism is essential, life-giving, joyous, awe-inspiring: “dying and rising with Christ,” new life, new creation, reception into the “household of God,” becoming a “member of the Body of Christ,” gaining a share in Christ’s “eternal priesthood,” seeing holy oil glistening on the new Christian’s forehead as she is “sealed by the Holy Spirit.” These are the big themes. They go to the heart of the matter. It can still send shivers up and down the spine to hear the bishop say, “You are marked as Christ’s own forever.” Forever. Makes you stop and think.
Because of baptism’s importance at Saint Mary’s, one seldom hears much talk about baptism as the sacrament that turns you into an Anglican. Baptism’s importance tends to put denominationalism into perspective. Still, come All Saints’ Day, November 1, we will, God willing, have candidates not only for baptism, but also for confirmation, reception and reaffirmation; and, while The Book of Common Prayer makes it clear that those rites are secondary, like branches that grow from, and are nourished by, baptism’s deep roots, that does not mean that they are unimportant or insignificant. I myself have never forgotten the day in 1983 when the bishop laid his hand on my head and said, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion.”
Last week, I took a train out of Penn Station and traveled up the Hudson Valley to Albany and on to Utica, where I met my brother and his family. We then drove on to the Adirondacks for a few days of vacation. I love that train ride – Empire Service, New York to Niagara Falls (always sit on the left-hand side of the wagon to get the best view of the beautiful, mighty Hudson.) As I traveled north last week, past West Point (a crucial site in the nation’s struggle for independence) and Hyde Park (home of those faithful Episcopalians, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt), I thought of New York’s fascinating history, fascinating, in part, because it is a religious history: colonial New York’s unusual religious diversity; the French Jesuits martyred in upstate Auriesville; the nineteenth-century evangelical revivals that gave New York State its reputation, as “the Burnt-over District”; Palmyra, home of Mormon founder Joseph Smith; the Oneida Community, dedicated to perfectionism, Christian communitarianism, and, most notoriously, the rejection of exclusivity within marriage; and New York State, home of John Henry Hobart, third Bishop of New York (1816–1830).
Hobart, one of the founders of the General Theological Seminary, helped plant churches throughout the state; and he did everything he could to articulate and defend a traditional, high-church understanding of the Church over Roman Catholicism and the individualism and fleeting enthusiasms of nineteenth-century Protestant evangelicalism. Hobart never tired of defending the importance of the sacraments and the importance of bishops as the critical link to the teachings and traditions of the early Church. For Hobart, the Church was too important to be demoted to a mere department of the state as in England or to the status of a “sect,” a mere conduit for personal “salvation,” as in American evangelicalism (at least as Hobart saw it).
I recently read an article written by a British Anglican that appeared in The Tablet, a Roman Catholic weekly published in the United Kingdom. The author, Theo Hobson, argues in his essay that much of Anglicanism’s current difficulties, even its weaknesses, arise from its timidity and reticence. He believes that Anglicans no longer dare to say out loud that our understanding of the gospel is a pretty good thing, indeed, even a superior sort of thing. Haunted by accusations of triumphalism, elitism and the legacies of colonialism and class distinctions, Anglicans, Hobson argues, like to portray their Church as a rather nice and not-too-demanding option among many other equally nice and lovely options – “wouldn’t want to offend anyone, don’t you know.”
Father Mead has designed a curriculum for Christian Formation here at Saint Mary’s that invites us to take a look at the foundational elements of the Christian faith. That curriculum will also give us the opportunity to consider the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them” (BCP, p. 526), and to articulate all of that is a remarkably good thing.
The Episcopal Church commemorates John Henry Hobart annually on September 12. James Ross Smith
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Fred, Gert, Steven, Henry, Pamela, Joan, Hilyard, Charles, Virginia, Daisy, Joseph, Marcia, Ana, Kevin, Gloria, Ray, Tony, William, Eve, Virginia, Mary, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, Bruce, priest, Thomas, priest, Henry, priest, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Steve, Patrick, Brenden and Christopher . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 3: 1965 Carol Jean Kearins; September 5: 1964 Joseph Henry Schuman; September 6: 1989 Martha McKelveen Jones; September 8: 1952 Gwendolyn Eugenia Sands, 1989 Ruth M. Hinckley.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Church celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday, September 8. Our principal celebration, Sung Mass, will occur on the Eve of the feast, on Friday, September 7, at 6:00 PM. The celebration will continue on Saturday at 12:10 PM with Said Mass . . . On Sundays throughout the summer child care during the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and 11:00 AM Solemn Mass is available. The nursery is located next to the sacristy (down the hallway from Saint Joseph’s Hall) . . . If you are interested in serving on Sundays or during the week please speak to Father Mead. We are always looking for new servers . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, September 8, by Father Gerth and Saturday, September 15, by Father Smith . . . Attendance last Sunday 240.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude before Mass today is Prelude in G by William H. Harris (1883-1973). The postlude is an improvisation on ‘Thaxted’. The cantor is Ms. Ruth Cunningham, soprano, and the music at Communion is Hildegard of Bingen’s (1098-1179) O virtus Sapientiae. Robert McCormick
LOOKING AHEAD . . . The liturgical calendar has a few highlights in the coming weeks . . . On Thursday, September 13, we begin our celebration of the Feast of the Holy Cross with Solemn Evensong at 6:00 PM. On Friday, September 14, we continue to celebrate the Feast with a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM and our principal service, a Solemn Mass, at 6:00 PM. This liturgy will include the opportunity to venerate a Relic of the True Cross . . . On Friday, September 28, we celebrate the Eve of the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels (also known as Michaelmas) with a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. In addition, we offer a said Mass at 12:10 PM on Saturday, September 29.
MARIAN HYMN SING & OKTOBERFEST . . . You may have heard of Oktoberfest, the annual Bavarian celebration of German food, beer, people, and singing. This October at Saint Mary’s we’re doing something similar. Join a very jovial group of Saint Marians for a Marian Hymn Sing and Oktoberfest in Saint Joseph’s Hall (and the organ loft!) on Saturday, October 13, at 6:00 PM. German-style beverages and organ accompaniment will be provided. The rest is pot-luck with a German theme. We hope you can join us! R.M. and M.M.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION IN SEPTEMBER . . . The Wednesday Night Dinner & Bible Study resumes this fall on Wednesday, September 12. We will study Saint Paul’s life and writings . . . The Introduction to Christianity Series begins on Sunday, September 9, following Solemn Mass. The series begins with How to Buy and Use a Bible, led by Father Mead. Then, on Sundays, September 16, 23 and 30, Father Smith will lead a three-part class on Church History . . . Sister Laura Katharine is leading a Quiet Day on Saturday, September 15. M.M.
SAINT MARY’S GUILD MEETS SEPTEMBER 1. . . The Saint Mary’s Guild will meet this Saturday, September 1, at the 12:10 PM Mass in the church and then move to Saint Benedict’s Study for lunch. After lunch the Guild will clean the parish altar vessels and make necessary repairs to parish vestments. If you are interested in joining the Saint Mary’s Guild, please speak to Sister Laura Katharine or Sister Deborah Francis, or simply come to one of the monthly meetings. Sister Laura Katharine
SEPTEMBER 8, THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY: “We shall in fact lose nothing of our hold on the unique work of our Lord because we recognize that His Blessed Mother’s association with it implies a certain preparation on her part, a certain uniqueness of privilege. There is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus; and all who come to God, come through Him. But they come also in the unity of the Body of many members and of many offices. And the office of her who in God’s providence was called to be the Mother of the Incarnate is surely as unique as is her vocation. She surely is entitled to receive from us the deep affection of our hearts and the highest honor that may be given to any creature.” The Reverend J. G. H. Barry, D.D., third Rector of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, in Our Lady Saint Mary (New York, 1922), pp. 54-55.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Labor Day – Federal Holiday Schedule
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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.