From the Rector: Crosses
When a friend was in town a couple of weeks ago we walked down Ninth Avenue from Forty-seventh Street to the World Trade Center. I don’t go to that site very often. And I don’t think I had been down there since the cross made of steel girders that was found in the wreckage of September 11, 2001 had been moved from its original site to the Church Street façade of Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. I know the cross had to be moved for construction – and one can only imagine the tiresome lawsuits that would have been engendered by a “Christian” religious symbol remaining in its earlier place. I’m glad the cross is still nearby, less than a block away, within sight of where the towers stood. Words cannot begin to encompass all that that cross speaks.
This Tuesday, September 11, 2007, our Masses will be for the victims of September 11, 2001. The black frontal, the same one that we put on our altar just after the attack, will be on our altar all day. The same Masses will be offered. The 12:10 Mass will be sung. The 6:20 PM Mass will be said. It is a day to proclaim our love and our faith in Christ.
The first great churches in Jerusalem were built while Constantine was emperor at the beginning of the fourth century. (Remember, it was illegal to be a Christian in the Roman world before Constantine’s Edict of Milan, proclaimed in A.D. 313.) September 14, A.D. 335 was the date of the consecration of these first churches. At the time men and women believed that the cross of Jesus was found. Since the fourth century, a commemoration of the Holy Cross has spread through the Christian world.
In the Episcopal Church, Holy Cross Day is a “Feast of our Lord.” Our celebration begins with Solemn Evensong on the Eve of Holy Cross Day, Thursday, September 13, at 6:00 PM. On Friday, September 14, Morning Prayer will be sung at 8:30 AM, and the 12:10 Mass will be sung. Solemn Mass will be offered at 6:00 PM. A recital precedes the service at 5:30 PM. At the end of Evensong on Thursday night and at the conclusion of both Friday Masses a Relic of the True Cross may be venerated. A reception follows the Solemn Mass on Friday evening.
The cross is one of our great symbols. It speaks of death and sacrifice, of life and love. It is such a familiar symbol that most of the time I look at crosses without immediate awareness or emotion. But when the grace of the symbol breaks through my thoughts, that grace is as powerful as words or the touch of love can be. I don’t know how many crosses there are in Saint Mary’s but I think it is fair to say there are more images of the cross than any other single symbol.
The cross at the rear of the nave, which is probably venerated more often than any other, has been there since the end of World War II. It was given in thanksgiving for the safe return of parishioners from service in the armed forces during that war. The Stations of the Cross (without their columned frames) were placed in the first church on West 45th Street in 1893 and were moved here when this building was constructed. As a frequent celebrant at Saint Mary’s high altar, I am very familiar with the crucifix there, given as a memorial for Philip Kissam, who died in 1895. But if one looks up towards the ceiling – and the architecture of the building makes it impossible not to look up – the great cross in the church is on the rood beam above the chancel. It was given in 1912 and painted in 1920. From this cross the Crucified reigns.
On Palm Sunday at the conclusion of the Solemn Mass and during Evensong we sing perhaps the greatest hymn to the cross, The royal banners forward go (Hymn 162, The Hymnal 1982). If I had to pick one single verse of the hymn, my choice would be the second verse:
Fulfilled is all that David told in true prophetic song of old;
how God the nations’ King should be, for God is reigning from the tree.
There was something very powerful about our church’s crosses and about our common prayer in this place the week of September 11, 2001. That year, September 11 was also a Tuesday. The annual celebration of Holy Cross Day helped many of us face the tragedy that had come. I invite you to be here this week, this year, for our commemorations on September 11 and on Holy Cross Day. I invite you to be here to recall and celebrate the mystery of Christ’s life and love. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for James, Doreen, Fred, Gert, Henry, Joan, Charles, Virginia, Daisy, Joseph, Marcia, Ana, Kevin, Gloria, Tony, William, Eve, Mary, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, Lara, Jim, Luis, John, priest; Thomas, priest; Henry, priest; Bruce, priest; and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Steve, Patrick, Brendan, Christopher and Marc; and for the repose of the souls of George, Hilyard and Ray.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . George Klett, Barbara Klett’s stepson, died on Wednesday evening, September 5. Please pray for him, for Jack and Barbara, and for all who mourn. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Sundays 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 315.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele, Opus 122/5 by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). The postlude is Präludium g-moll by Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697). The cantor is Ms. Karen Wapner, mezzo-soprano. The music at Communion is Bringt her dem Herren from Kleine geistliche Konzerte I, SWV 283 by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) . . . Music at the Solemn Mass on Holy Cross Day will be sung by New York Polyphony, a small early music ensemble. The service is preceded by a choral recital at 5:30 PM . . . The fall choral music schedule is online at www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys. Robert McCormick
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Reminder: Sung Mass, Friday, September 7, at 6:00 PM for the Eve of the Nativity of Saint Mary the Virgin . . . Tuesday, September 11, Requiem Masses: 12:10 PM Sung Mass, 6:20 PM Said Mass . . . Thursday, September 13, Eve of Holy Cross Day: Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Friday, September 14, Holy Cross Day: 9:30 AM Sung Morning Prayer, 12:10 PM Sung Mass, 6:00 PM Solemn Mass . . . Friday, September 28, Eve of Saint Michael and All Angels: 6:00 PM Sung Mass.
SOLEMN EVESONG & BENEDICTION RESUMES SOON . . . Mark you calendars! On Sunday October 7, weekly Solemn Evensong & Benediction resumes at 5:00 PM. Each service is preceded by an organ recital by a visiting organist at 4:40 PM. This fall Sunday Evensong & Benediction will be followed by a reception with refreshments in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
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 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 series on Church History . . . Sister Laura Katharine is leading a Quiet Day on Saturday, September 15. M.M.
WHY STUDY THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY? . . . In the Church History series (September 16, 23 and 30) we will consider the following themes: sacred texts, community, authority, sacrament and ritual, diversity and conflict, and culture, trying to looking at how things have changed for Christians over time. Fear not: the classes won’t focus much on dates, names or heresies! The series has two main goals: to see how the past has shaped the present, and to think about how our knowledge of the past helps us to understand our commitments and our communities, our beliefs, questions, and doubts, our life in Christ, and our common mission. J.R.S.
THINKING ABOUT SOME SERIOUS BIBLE STUDY THIS FALL? A few copies of Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament and N. T. Wright’s Paul: In Fresh Perspective are on order and will be on sale in the Gift Shop. If you planning on attending Father Mead’s Wednesday night Bible Study this fall, which focuses on Saint Paul, his life and writings, these books
might be of interest to you.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Parish Requiem: The Victims of September 11, 2001
Wednesday John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, 1830
Thursday Cyprian of Carthage, Bishop of Carthage, 258
Eve of Holy Cross Day
Friday Holy Cross Day
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.