From the Rector: Trinity Traditional
There are more than a few folks in the wider Church who have gotten it into their heads that there’s something inadequate, wrong or outdated with the Christian name for the Three Persons of the Trinity, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Our Church continues to authorize service materials that have a not-so-subtle purpose of replacing ordinary Trinitarian language in worship under the rubric of “enriching” and “expanding” our language about God. When traveling, one never knows for sure in whose name one may be blessed.
Very legitimate theological issues have been and are being raised by feminist theologians and others about how we speak about God – and there’s more work to do to address these issues. The Church, in fact, has hidden and distorted the role of women over the centuries, time and time again. Even the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with its inclusiveness agenda perpetuates many problems (and creates even more). The work of feminist theologians in particular is helping us to understand the truth about the history of the Church in a new way. There is more than a little “make believe” quality – to borrow a phrase from my predecessor – to much of the ordinary historical Christian consciousness.
That being said, I think I now have a new insight as to why the particular issue of expansive language bothers me. As I said in the pulpit at Solemn Mass last Sunday, as a pastor I know many people whose childhoods were so horrible that they hardly made it through. Along the way, though, they heard and learned of a “heavenly Father.” This knowledge, this language, made the difference for them. I suspect that for many who grew up in the sphere of the Roman Church, the motherhood of Mary functioned in the same way. There is a word of hope in the Trinity, in our memory of God and the saints. This word itself doesn’t resolve every problem of memory, cruelty or abuse, but bespeaks, again, hope.
Intellectually, I usually don’t mind going to new places. The gospel words about being willing to take out of our treasure what is old and what is new speak to me, encourage me. But just as I expect my physician to know what is best from the past and today to the extent that he or she can, I expect my Church to do the same.
I’m beginning to think that the process of developing new liturgical materials for our Church is fundamentally flawed. The Church doesn’t need trial materials or experimental rites. We need to fix our Church constitution so that it is much, much harder to authorize rites for trial use. And God knows we don’t need any more weekday commemorations of saints or ordinary Christians. Instead, we need good theological studies. For example, in a collection of essays published by the Standing Liturgical Commission in 1994, the Reverend Ralph N. McMichael raised a number of questions about the particular function of Trinitarian language in Eucharistic prayers. Instead of the Church pursuing questions like this, we’ve just gone ahead with trial rites. And these are serious questions.
Another way of posing the question Father McMichael raised is to ask whether the Church would attempt to authorize baptisms with alternative language. If not, why does the Church feel free for the principal prayer of Sunday worship, the Eucharistic prayer, to avoid ordinary Trinitarian language for God?
I intend to continue to study and read as I much as I can. I want to understand how the Church can move forward and I want to be a loyal part of the movement. With respect, however, I don’t want to feel like I’m a subject in a liturgical experiment for which I did not volunteer. Let’s hope our Church starts to sort out the theology of our Book of Common Prayer before we begin to alter it. 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; 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 . . . October 9: 1971 Roger Rolt-Wheeler, 1987 Barbara L. Coates; October 15: 1957 Lynda Beatrice Roberts, 1971 Florence F. Scheftel, 1987 Harold Polit.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . 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 . . . On Sunday, October 8, at 4:00 PM Father Beddingfield will be the preacher at Evensong at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue . . . Tuesday Night Bible Study does not meet this week on Tuesday, October 10. It resumes on Tuesday, October 17 . . . As we go to press, plans for the renovation of the fifth floor of the Mission House for the Community of St. John Baptist are at the city building department awaiting approval . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 7, by Father Beddingfield and on Saturday, October 14, by Father Gerth . . . The Rector will be out of town Monday, October 9, through Wednesday, October 11 . . . Attendance last Sunday 337.
LECTURE ON THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION & ECUMENICAL ISSUES . . . The Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations of the Episcopal Church, will offer a lecture on Anglican Communion and ecumenical issues (inside and outside the Communion) following Solemn Mass this Sunday, October 8, in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
INTRODUCTION TO THE SAINT JOHN’S BIBLE . . . The Saint John’s Bible, a handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by Saint John’s University in Minnesota and the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey, is on tour throughout North America in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The prophets portion of the Bible is on exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City now through November 26, 2006. On Tuesday, October 10, at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall, Mr. Timothy Ternes, director of public programming and educational outreach for the Saint John’s Bible will offer an introduction to the project. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the Saint John’s Bible before or after seeing the exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on ‘Foundation’ (How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord) and the postlude an improvisation on ‘Nun danket alle Gott’ (Now thank we all our God). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Le bien que j’ay’ by Claude Goudimel (c. 1514-1572). This setting, a parody mass, is based upon a chanson (a secular polyphonic song) of the same name by Jacques Arcadelt (1505-1568). The French Goudimel is perhaps best known for his metrical (hymn-like) psalm settings that found great use in the Reformed tradition. He was once believed to have been Palestrina’s teacher, but this is now known not to be so. His output includes numerous masses, motets and chansons. The motet at Communion is Laudate Dominum by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 is played this Sunday by talented young organist John Walthausen, Jr., who is a sophomore at the Browning School, New York, and a parishioner at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. Robert McCormick
BABY SHOWER . . . All are invited to Saint Joseph’s Hall after Evensong on Sunday, October 15, for a baby shower for Matthew and Nicole Mead. 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 visit www.stmvirgin.org/article11539c204698.htm.
MOVIE NIGHT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Join us in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Friday, October 20 at 7:00 PM, following Evening Prayer and Mass. We will watch Franco Zeffirelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon, which focuses on the early years of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Food and beverages are provided for every movie night; we ask a few extra dollars to cover the cost.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Robert, Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, 1253
(Columbus Day – Federal Holiday Schedule)
Wednesday Philip, Deacon and Martyr
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Samuel I. J. Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai, 1906
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