From the Rector: Value of Respect
As we begin a new choir season on October 1, with the special richness of our Solemn Mass on Sunday mornings and the majestic simplicity of Solemn Evensong on Sunday nights, I’ve been thinking about the values that shape our common life. Today I want to write about three in particular: respect for the assembly, respect for the rite and respect for ministries. In a few weeks I plan to write about three more: respect for formation, respect for mission, and respect for spiritual life. All are values that I think help to define and shape our parish community.
Respect for the Assembly: Some years ago I attended a wedding and heard a sermon which the preacher addressed entirely to the couple. The congregation, of course, could hear the homily. Often preachers address a couple directly from the pulpit during the course of the sermon. But this was the first time I heard a preacher speak directly to the couple and act as if no others were present. I wasn’t sure then why I didn’t like it. I think I know now. It was not respectful of the assembly. It’s not inappropriate to address a couple at a wedding Mass or confirmands at a confirmation Mass. But the congregation comes first, even at a wedding, a baptism, a funeral, or a service of ordination. If a preacher is doing a good job being a servant of the assembly, then it’s easy to find a place for the particular concerns of a special day.
I repeat here what you have read in this space before and heard from our pulpit, “All members of the congregation should experience their presence in the assembly as essential to the assembly.” All are members of Christ’s Body. All are important. All are welcome. As much as the tradition places an enormous emphasis on the role of the ordained in worship, I hope it is clear from the way the clergy here serve that we know we are servants of the assembly, never its surrogates, its substitutes.
Respect for the Rite: We don’t make it up at Saint Mary’s as we go along. Our worship is clearly Prayer Book worship in the great tradition of the Church. If one wants to understand why we add a couple of extra “The Lord be with you” salutations to the service, remember that our standard liturgy is a solemn Mass. An extra greeting before the Gospel or dismissal gives a minister a chance to get the tone right. It’s fundamentally practical, as any member of the clergy here (or any member of the congregation who has heard one of us sing too high or too low at the beginning of something) will attest. Respect for the rite also means knowledge and continuing study of Christian worship. It is astonishing that in a denomination where most newcomers are evangelized by the traditions and experience of Prayer Book worship, most members of the clergy have never studied the subject with someone who has a degree in the subject. Worship and sacramental theology remain minor subjects in all of our Episcopal seminaries. Saint Mary’s, however, is a community where there is an expectation that the clergy will know and continue to study these subjects. Respect for the rite means more than study. It means discipline. Our preachers don’t add prayers in sermons. We already have prayers in the rite. As much as I would like to add the phrase “glorious and ever blessed Virgin Mary” to the Eucharistic prayer we are using now (Prayer A), I never have and never will. The Eucharistic prayer is the principal creedal proclamation of the rite. I don’t have the right to improve it!
Respect for Ministries: Yours truly happens to like reading the lessons at worship. I take my turn at the Daily Office with the other members of the clergy and with lay persons who attend, as the reading of lessons in our tradition at the Office is for laypersons and for members of the clergy alike. However, I get to do this at Mass only when there is no one in the assembly who is a reader. I confess I would be happy to read the lessons all of the time. But I don’t. It’s not my role. The ministers of the assembly are those who have the gifts the assembly needs. When you see a priest or deacon at Saint Mary’s doing something usually done by a layperson, it’s only because we are filling in – and praying that the Lord will send forth more to serve! Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Dorothy, Carolyn, Andrew, Audrey, Harold, Robert, Gloria, John, Ray, Sandra, Grace, Tony, Joy, Christine, Danny, Ann, William, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, Deborah, Virginia, Mary, William, Ana, Gilbert, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Hilary, Thomas, priest, Louis, priest, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick, and for the repose of the soul of Millard . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 2: 1961 Beatrice Irwin Packington, 1985 Herbert Eric Schmidt; October 7: 1962 Stephen Waterman Mason, 1965 Josephine Barreaux.
FAITHFUL SIMPLICITY . . . The parish choir returns to the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass on the first Sunday in October. It is the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost according to the Church calendar and we will observe it accordingly. This is a change and I want those who may be especially interested to know about it. Since 1931, the first Sunday in October has been celebrated as the parish’s feast of the dedication of the church building. In 1931 this was in a real sense an ecumenical decision, as the then existing calendar rules of the Roman Church provided for this commemoration. Yet the first service in our building was celebrated on December 8, 1895, and the church was consecrated on December 12, 1895 by the Bishop of New York. From 1896 through 1930, the parish celebrated December 8 as our patronal feast and as our feast of dedication. Over the past few years the direction of the parish has been to move toward faithful simplicity. We will of course continue to observe our patronal feast on December 8 with great solemnity. Annually on December 12 we will observe the dedication of the church with a special Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. S.G.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele, BWV 654 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is the third setting of Vater unser im Himmelreich by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). Today marks the return of our full choir, and we are delighted to welcome them back. The choir sings on Sundays and greater festivals and fast days through Corpus Christi, June 10. The setting of Asperges me, a change from the customary plainsong, is by Michael Haydn (1737-1806). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis D-dur, KV 194 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). This setting, among Mozart’s most charming, was composed in 1774 when the composer was 18. He was, at the time, konzertmeister for the prince-archbishop in Salzburg. The motet at Communion is Beati quorum via from Three Motets, Opus 38 by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) . . . Our pre-Evensong organ recital series commences again this Sunday. The recital at 4:40 is played by Mr. Brian P. Harlow, currently interim minister of music at First United Church of Christ, Milford, Connecticut. Robert McCormick
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: Bach at Saint Peter’s on Saturday, September 30: Parishioner James Preiss plays at 3:30 PM and Robert McCormick plays at 4:45 PM . . . a group of Saint Marians, led by Richard Theilmann, are taking a trip to the Brooklyn Brewery on Saturday, October 7. If you would like to join us, please RSVP to email@example.com . . . Flowers are really needed for Sundays in October and November. Please contact the parish office if you would like to give flowers . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, September 30, and on Saturday, October 7, by Father Beddingfield . . . Attendance last Sunday 288.
MILESTONE AT SAINT MARY’S: CLERGY BABY SHOWER . . . The only rector of our parish who has been married was the first rector, the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown. He and Mrs. Brown had two sons. Father Matthew and Nicole Mead’s child will be the first child born in the parish since the 1870s. You are invited to Saint Joseph’s Hall after Evensong on Sunday, October 15, for a baby shower for the Meads. We invite all the members of the community to join in the celebration. We welcome your presence, your contribution of food or refreshment, your baby gift, or your contribution to a group gift. To RSVP and for more details, please call the parish office or, if you are online visit www.stmvirgin.org/article11539c204698.htm.
THE FRICK BELLINI OF ST. FRANCIS AND HIS CANTICLE TO THE SUN . . . On Monday, October 2, at 7:00 PM the Visual Arts Program presents Dr. Pamela Tudor-Craig, Lady Wedgwood. Dr. Tudor-Craig is especially known for her series on the BBC, “The Secret Life of Paintings.” Refreshments will be served at the lecture. Please join us. For more information, see the Visual Arts section of the website.
SAINT MARY’S INCLUDED IN NATIONAL ONLINE EXHIBITION . . . The Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s is included in an online exhibition by ECVA, the Episcopal Church & the Visual Arts Program. Go to http://www.ecva.org/exhibition/visio_divina/visio_divina_exh.html and click the image of Our Lady or the title, “Visual Arts Exhibition & Lecture.” In order to view the presentation, one needs to have Adobe Flash Player 9 or download it from the site.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION THIS FALL . . . Sunday School for children resumes on October 1 at 10:00 AM . . . For details on the following upcoming events please visit the adult education section of our parish website or pick up one of the bright red booklets in the church. This week. Revised Common Lectionary: Sunday, October 1 at 1:00 PM . . . Tuesday Night Bible Study on Genesis: begins this week at 7:00 PM . . . Being Neighborly: Living into a Theology of Mission: continues Wednesdays at 7:00 PM at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church . . . Anglican Communion and Ecumenical Issues: Sunday, October 8 at 1:00 PM . . . From Inspiration to Illumination: An Introduction to the Saint John’s Bible: Tuesday, October 10 at 7:00 PM.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Wednesday Francis of Assisi, Friar, 1226
Friday William Tyndale, Priest, 1536 Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
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