From the Rector: Transfiguration
Since the current Prayer Book was adopted, the gospel for the final Sunday before Lent is always an account of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, or Luke 9:28-36). Prayer Book Studies 19 (1970), done in preparation for the present book, notes that this “serves as a significant link between the revelation of the Lord’s glory and in his Passion. It is thus made both a climax of “epiphany” and a preparation for his “exodus” (page 26).
In recent years, the Last Sunday after the Epiphany has been a convenient Sunday in the ongoing life of this parish for the celebration of Holy Baptism. This year, Father Mead and Nicole Mead’s son, Liam DeCoursy Mead, will be baptized. As at every baptism of a child, the Church will recognize through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism the life, love and faith that parents have already given to a child. It will be a happy day and there are rumors in the office of a festive reception following the Mass. But, there’s more.
Sunday and Holy Baptism are not the only moments of “transfiguration” for us and the wider Church this week. The First Day of Lent is Wednesday, February 21. (For the record, Easter Day is not “early” this year. It will be April 8, 2007. Easter will be early next year, when it will be on March 23, 2008.) Ash Wednesday is the day of the year when more people come to Saint Mary’s than any other. Those new to the Church in New York will be amazed, as I was, by the enormous number of persons who present themselves to receive ashes. In addition to Masses at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM, the Imposition of Ashes is offered continuously in one or more of the chapels of the church from7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
The celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on Ash Wednesday at 6:00 PM will be the Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church. As we go to press, Bishop Epting is with our Presiding Bishop at a meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania. I think I say on behalf of the parish that we are glad Bishop Epting is with our Presiding Bishop and we will be delighted to have him home and with us next week.
Beginning on Friday, February 23, and continuing every Friday in Lent, Stations of the Cross is offered at Saint Mary’s at 7:00 PM. The traditional service lasts about forty minutes. It is especially powerful at Saint Mary’s because the design of our church allows the congregation to move with the clergy and servers in procession from station to station. The Stations at Saint Mary’s allows us to view the church (and our lives) from very different angles and at a very different pace from what is usual. The service lasts about 45 minutes and is a wonderful way to bring friends to church during Lent.
Questions of Lenten disciplines arise every year. My first Ash Wednesday as a priest I worked so much and ate so little that I was worthless for two days afterwards. Since then I eat enough to work but not enough not to be hungry. It is a day of fasting. When I was at Nashotah House the fast was broken on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday in the middle of the afternoon – and on Good Friday with hot cross buns with lots of butter. Remember, we are Episcopalians. Our tradition expects us to take personal responsibility for making decisions about our spiritual disciplines.
The forty days of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. In addition, by long Christian tradition, members of the Church do not eat flesh meats on the Fridays of Lent or on the two fast days of the Church year, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
The gospel for Ash Wednesday is always an admonition to fast and pray in secret – and not to show our fasting to others by outward signs. The ashes received on Ash Wednesday are not about the First Day of Lent as much as they are about what we are committing ourselves to do during Lent in our relationship to the Lord and to others. Lent is an invitation and preparation to Easter. It is also an invitation to transfiguration. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Barbara who is gravely ill, for Daniel, Liz, Suzanne, Charles, Brian, Ana, José, Gert, Harold, Robert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, Joy, William, Gabriela, Eve, Virginia, Mary, William, Gilbert, Rick, Arnaldo, deacon, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Barron, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy and Dennis, and for the repose of the soul of William . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 19: 1958 Harry Osmond; February 20: 1985 Theresa Anne Furlong; February 23: 1999 George Everston Dix.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Rector’s stepfather, William Knoeller, died on Wednesday, February 14, as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in which Father Gerth’s mother, Barbara Knoeller, also was gravely injured. As we go to press, the Rector is with his family in Maryland (where William died) and Virginia (where his mother was taken to the regional trauma center at Fairfax Hospital). Please pray for the repose of the soul of William, for Barbara, and for all who mourn.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Monday, February 19, is a federal holiday in observance of Washington’s Birthday. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The only services of the day will be the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Mass at 12:10 PM . . . Extra ushers for Ash Wednesday are always appreciated to help greet and direct our many visitors. If you have some spare time, simply come and find one of the ushers, who will help you get an usher tag and get you started . . . The Spirituality and Reading Group will meet on February 18 at 1:00 PM to discuss The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 17, by Father Beddingfield and on Saturday, February 24, by Father Gerth . . . Attendance last Sunday 292.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on Urbs beata Ierusalem and the postlude an improvisation on ‘Hyfrydol’. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe en style ancien (1952) by Jean Langlais (1907-1991), the French composer and organist who was blind from a young age. February 15 was the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. Langlais’ music, while unmistakably a product of the twentieth century, often has a certain “ancient” sound, in part due to modally-inflected harmonies. The motet at Communion is O salutaris Hostia by Jehan Alain (1911-1940). Alain was a brilliant French composer whose life was tragically cut short in a motorcycle accident during World War II . . . The recital at 4:40 PM, the final one before Easter Day, is played by Paul J. Murray. Be certain to enjoy the organ music during the recital and at each service throughout the day – a large part of our parish-wide Lenten discipline is greatly restrained use of the organ . . . On Ash Wednesday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘In die tribulationis’ by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594). At the Imposition of Ashes, the choir sings Miserere mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), the famous setting of Psalm 51 that for years exclusively was performed on Good Friday at the Vatican (the score was kept secret). The version we know today, however, including the notoriously high soprano part, largely comes from ornamentation added in the nineteenth century. The motet at Communion is Emendemus in melius by William Byrd (1543-1623). Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday evening Bible Study resumes on February 28 with a study on the Last Supper . . . Father Beddingfield’s class, Anglo-catholics & Mission: the Good, the Strange and the Holy, concludes on Sunday, February 18, after the Solemn Mass . . .
On Sunday, February 25, join the Reverend Louis Weil for The Rites of Holy Week. On this First Sunday of Lent, Father Weil will speak about the particular character and meaning of the rites of Holy Week. The presentation will discuss how this week developed in the Christian calendar and will focus on how the week’s liturgical rites, especially the Triduum Sacrum (Three Great Days), culminate the Church’s celebration of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. Father Weil is a great friend of Saint Mary’s and is the Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgy at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California . . . On Sunday, March 4, the Planned Giving Committee presents Wills & Bequests, a presentation by the Reverend Richard Sloan, Stewardship Officer of the Diocese of New York.
LEARN ABOUT EPISCOPAL RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT . . . On March 11, following Solemn Mass, Mr. Erwin de Leon will discuss the ministry and programs of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Learn how ERD’s international programs work towards fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals embraced by the Church. Find out how you can participate and support this work. Erwin is a parishioner at Saint Mary’s and works as interim church relations officer at ERD . . . Copies of Essentials: Lenten Meditations on Necessity and Abundance are available free of charge in the Saint Mary’s Gift Shop.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday Weekday – Washington’s Birthday: Federal Holiday Schedule
Wednesday The First Day of Lent Fast & Lenten Abstinence
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Eve of Saint Matthias’ Day
Saturday Saint Matthias the Apostle
Please see the newsletter for the special schedule for Ash Wednesday and for Fridays of Lent.
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. On all Fridays of Lent, Stations of the Cross 7:00 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