From the Rector: Corpus Christi
In the high Middle Ages the Mass became a sacrifice and not a meal. Looking back, it seems almost impossible that any Christian community could learn to experience the Mass primarily as something other than a sacred banquet – an action that necessarily implies eating and drinking. But the Church in those days acquired what Peter and the others did not have in the Acts of the Apostles: silver, gold and political power. As a consequence, the Church almost lost the Lord’s Supper.
Some of you may know that there is a rule in the Prayer Book that the celebrant at the Eucharist is to receive Communion and then “deliver it to the people” (see page 365). Anglo-catholics used to be taught that the priest’s communion completed the sacrifice offered by the priest. In this way of thinking, the people were not really necessary, but observers at an offering made on their behalf. This is nonsense. Priests do have a particular role of service for the community they serve, but their communion is not more important than the communion of anyone else in the room. The priest’s communion does not “complete” the sacrifice. The rule about the celebrant’s communion was to make sure that someone always eats. That’s the point: eating and drinking the Body and Blood of the Lord.
Why do we have that rule? It was made to correct an abuse that was happening in the Church. Masses were being said where no one was receiving Communion, not even the priest. Even in the so-called Dark Ages those at the top knew the Mass was in the first place a Supper. No one eating and drinking was wrong.
If you read the instructions in this section of the Prayer Book closely, you will find that the celebrant in our rite isn’t required to talk to himself or herself before receiving Communion. When I am the celebrant and it is time for me to receive communion I simply eat and drink. I try not to form any words in my mind. As simply as I can I eat the Bread and drink the Wine. There is nothing wrong with any of the sentences of ministration and the communicant’s “Amen.” It’s a wonderful prayer in itself. Yet the rite gives me the chance to be clear that the given dominical sign is the focus of it all, not words, not gestures, and certainly not me as celebrant.
This Sunday, the Second Sunday after Pentecost, Saint Mary’s observes as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, usually called by its Latin name, Corpus Christi. The Solemn Mass is the last major choral Mass of the spring. The parish choir will sing next on Assumption, August 15, and return for the fall on the first Sunday in October.
At the 11:00 AM Mass this Sunday the liturgy begins with Mass, continues with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament through Times Square and concludes with Eucharistic Benediction, when we return to the church. Along with Palm Sunday, it is one of the two services of the year when we make our presence known in the square during the liturgy.
Just as Palm Sunday is filled with opportunities for witness, the procession of the Sacrament – accompanied by the singing of “Amazing grace” – is a powerful Christian witness. The sound of our brass players really does echo around Times Square. Of the many good things about the hymn “Amazing grace,” perhaps the best is that everyone knows it’s a Christian song.
I believe in Christ’s Body, his Eucharistic Body and Blood, and in his ecclesial Body, the assembly of the baptized. I believe in the Church, even though the Lord himself didn’t organize it. His friends did, the ones to whom Jesus gave his Spirit. The Lord had more faith in them than they did in him. I hope the Lord continues to have faith in us today, even when our own faith in him may be less than his in us. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Daniel who is hospitalized, Michelle, Gypsy, Suyeko, Ray, Isa, Joy, Christine, Danny, Ann, William, John, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, 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 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 22: 1958 Rachel Reed Todd, 1967 Edith Kellock Brown; June 24: 1993 William Ray Kirby.
CONFESSIONS . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, June 17, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, June 24, by Father Beddingfield.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday evening summer schedule starts this Sunday, June 18 . . . The Feast of the Sacred Heart and the Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist fall on the same day this year, Friday, June 23. Sacred Heart will be observed at 12:10 PM. As is our custom, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM on Friday, June 23 for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Mass for Saint John the Baptist’s Day will also be offered on Saturday, June 24, at 12:10 PM.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Robin Clive Landis of New York City and Sarah Whittingham Barrett of New York City. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the third time of asking. S.G
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Daniel Craig is now at Hackensack University Medical Center for evaluation and treatment. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Movie Night in June will follow the Sung Mass for the eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on Friday, June 23 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Since June is so often the month for weddings, we’ll watch the original version of Father of the Bride (1950) with Elizabeth Taylor, Spencer Tracy and others. It may be hot, so dress comfortably and join us for food, beverages and fun . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The next meeting, on Sunday, July 23, will continue with its discussion of The Cost of Discipleship and will also begin to discuss Letters and Papers from Prison . . . Robert McCormick will play a recital on Friday, June 16, at 8:00 PM at Kingston Presbyterian Church, Kingston, New Jersey . . . Father Mead will be on vacation June 22 through July 5 . . . Looking ahead: There will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM on Thursday, June 29, the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles . . . Attendance Last Sunday 440.
PORTRAITS OF OUR LADY . . . The Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s presents a new exhibition in Saint Joseph’s Hall, through September 2. “Portraits of Our Lady” focuses on the many faces of Marian statuary and artwork throughout Saint Mary’s. Erwin de Leon’s photographs zoom in on various statues, carvings, bas reliefs and stained glass. Look at the photographs and then try to see if you know where the image is located in the church. (Hint: Though the pictures are the same scale, not all of the images are as large as one might think.)
FLOWERS NEEDED . . . Flowers are needed for the high altar for all Sundays in July and August. The cost to donate them is $200.00. They may be given with a memorial intention or thanksgiving that is included in the Sunday bulletin. If you wish to donate them, please e-mail or call Sandra Schubert in the parish office, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-869-5830, ext. 10. Or you can donate online by visiting the Parish Clergy and Staff page and clicking on the link - Reserve Flowers for Sunday and Feast days/Special Services.
CHILD CARE & SUNDAY SCHOOL. . . Child care is offered from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM each Sunday and during Solemn Masses celebrated during the week. Sunday School is offered October through May from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM. Please contact Father Mead for more information.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, we are delighted to welcome Mr. McNeil Robinson II, former music director of Saint Mary’s, who will conduct the choir and play the organ. Mr. Robinson served Saint Mary’s for twenty years, first as organist and then as music director. The music-making during his tenure here was legendary, and it will be a distinct pleasure to have him back in the choir gallery. Since 1982, he has served Park Avenue Christian Church as music director. He is also a renowned composer and chairman of the organ department at the Manhattan School of Music. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mr. Robinson’s (b. 1943) Missa brevis, composed in 1996 for the New York City national convention of the American Guild of Organists. This work, neo-classic in style, is for organ, choir and mezzo-soprano solo. The soloist is Ms. Melanie Sonnenberg. The choral prelude before Mass is Kyrie eleison from Mr. Robinson’s Missa brevis. The postlude is an improvisation by Mr. Robinson. Music at Communion and before the Exposition are motets by Mr. Robinson and Elliot Z. Levine (b. 1948), a New York composer who sang in Saint Mary’s choir during Mr. Robinson’s time here. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
Thursday Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304
Friday Sacred Heart 12:10 PM
Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist 6:00 PM
Saturday The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Said 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. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung. The Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is observed with Sung Mass on Friday, June 23, at 6:00 PM.
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