From the Rector: More than Ashes and Palms
A casual observer of Christian practice in New York City probably would need to be forgiven for thinking that ashes and palms are important elements of Christian religion. More people go into churches in our city on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday than they do on Christmas Day and Easter Day. Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday are both connected in significant ways to the most important Sundays of the year. But Christianity is not about palms or ashes. It’s about Jesus’ death and resurrection, which the Church celebrates every Sunday of the year.
“Sabbath” rhythm is fundamental for Christians as it has been for God’s people since the creation of the world, and since the giving of the Law to Moses. The Christian “Sabbath” is the day of resurrection, Sunday. As important as many other observances of the Church year, like Christmas Day, have become, it is the Sunday pattern that remains fundamental for Christians. Sundays came first; they still come first for us at Saint Mary’s.
Holy Week is the name we give to the week that begins with a Sunday celebration of Jesus’ death and ends with a Sunday celebration of his resurrection. It always happens at the time of the first full moon after the beginning of spring. These two Sundays are called by Episcopalians “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday” and “The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day.”
The Church continues to resist the alteration of this Sunday pattern even in Holy Week. Some may be surprised to learn that Good Friday has never been considered a “day of obligation” – when Christians must be present. The Sunday of the Passion, like all Sundays, is fundamental. Since the fourth century special services of devotion for Holy Week have developed one of which, the palm liturgy, has attached itself to a Sunday Mass. But these services, again, are in addition to the Sunday pattern, not substitutes for it. I’m not opposed to responding to the needs of the crowds of people who present themselves for ashes and palms. Quite the contrary: I’m in favor of it. Those who come on these days don’t need to hear from me that their practice isn’t up to standard. Perhaps what they need to know is the witness of those who seek to do the work of Christ in the world.
After living much of my life in the upper Midwest, I almost never complain about winter in New York City – where the sun usually shines even on the coldest days of the year. One of my other rules is never to complain about the date of Easter as long as it falls in April. I’m very aware at the moment that Easter 2008 is March 23. That being said, “March Madness” for yours truly is preparation for Holy Week, which begins on April 1, along with Stations of the Cross every Friday in Lent, and the Feast of the Annunciation, this year on Monday, March 26. It’s great that we have the opportunity to keep these celebrations with so much integrity. We treasure Holy Week here. And yes, I think you and I should be in church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. But the foundation on which everything rests for Christians is Sunday. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Andy, Drew, Barbara, Virginia, Selina, Daisy, Chandra, Michael, Charles, Brian, Ana, Kevin, Gert, Harold, Robert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, William, Gabriela, Eve, Virginia, Mary, William, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Sean, David, Barron, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher and Timothy, and for the repose of the soul of Stuart . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 26: 1966 Frances Duckworth Young; March 29: 1964 Robert Edward Cerra, 1997 Brice Linville; March 30: 1968 Mabel Helen Arends.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Clark Mitchell’s grandfather, Stuart Fikes, died on Saturday, March 17. Please pray Stuart, for Clark and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . On Sunday, March 25, at Solemn Evensong & Benediction, our guest preacher will be the Reverend Richard Sloan, stewardship officer of the Diocese of New York . . . On Monday, March 26, the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated. Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. The 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Solemn Mass is celebrated at 6:00 PM, preceded by an organ recital at 5:30. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . On Passion Sunday, April 1, there is no 10:00 AM Mass. (There’s not enough time between services to have any Masses one after another on the hour on this day!) . . . On Monday, April 2, Solemn Evensong will be sung at 6:00 PM by the choir of Eton College, Windsor, England. There will be no evening celebration of the Mass this night . . . On Maundy Thursday, April 5, there is no 12:10 PM Mass. The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated at 6:00 PM. A watch before the Blessed Sacrament is kept through the night in the Mercy Chapel. (A sign-up sheet is posted in Saint Joseph’s Hall and a security guard is on duty through the night) . . . All members of the congregation are invited to participate in the Washing of Feet (by having one’s feet washed and then washing the feet of the next person). Dress accordingly . . . On Good Friday, April 6, the liturgy for the Celebration of the Passion is offered twice (for the pastoral needs of the parish community) at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM . . . Remember to bring a hand bell to the Great Vigil of Easter, our principal Easter service, celebrated on Saturday, April 7, at 7:00 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember: Stations of the Cross, Fridays in Lent, 7:00 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 24, by Father Mead and on Saturday, March 31, by Father Beddingfield . . . Father Mead’s Wednesday Night Bible Study continues to study the Last Supper throughout Lent . . . Ms. Rebecca Weiner and the Reverend Thomas Heard will lead a class on the Diaconate on Sunday, March 25, following Solemn Mass . . . On Saturday, March 31, at 10:00 AM members of the Saint Vincent’s Guild (our altar servers) and the Saint Mary’s Guild (our altar guild) will strip palms for Palm Sunday and polish all of the parish brass for Holy Week and Eastertide. All are welcome to attend and help. If you are interested in joining either guild, please come and sign up . . . The Reading Group is meeting Sunday, March 25 after the service and will be reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini . . . Join the Flower Guild on Maundy Thursday, April 5, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and on Easter Eve, April 7, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, to help prepare the church for the Easter Triduum. If you are interested in helping, or have any questions, please see Dale Bonenberger or MaryJane Boland . . . Attendance last Sunday 332.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Praeparate corda vestra’ by Stefano Bernardi (c. 1585-1636). An Italian composer, Bernardi worked for a time in Rome and later lived in Salzburg, where he composed a large-scale Te Deum for the consecration of that city’s cathedral. The text on which this mass is based, 1 Samuel 7:3, (“ . . . prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines”) seems an appropriate admonition as we “prepare our hearts” for Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum. This mass comes from a collection published in 1615. The motet at Communion is O Domine Iesu Christe by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) . . . On the feast of the Annunciation, the recital at 5:30 PM is played by Robert McCormick and Chad Kelly. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Salve intemerata’ by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585). Tallis reached his compositional maturity just as the English Reformation was about to take place, when the style of church music changed greatly and became much simpler. This setting, based upon a Votive Antiphon, a lengthy motet addressed to Mary, was composed on the eve of the Reformation when his works still showed great influence from earlier, florid, large-scale works of such composers as Robert Fayrfax, William Cornysh and Nicholas Ludford. In this piece Tallis made abundant use of melismas (long musical phrases sung on one syllable), one of the most distinctive characteristics of English Renaissance polyphony. Robert McCormick
ANNUAL MEETING ADDITIONS . . . Yours truly always manages to forget something! My usual practice in recognizing people during the meeting is to follow the reports of the various groups and guilds. Because the Saint Vincent’s Guild report was included in Father Mead’s report, I forgot to thank the servers and readers – mistake! – and because there was no report from the Brother Lawrence Guild I managed to forget to thank those who were actually providing the reception as the meeting was going on. Careful notes have been made for next year! I’d like to think that the members of these guilds – and everyone who volunteers at Saint Mary’s – already know how much the entire community appreciate their efforts. We do! S.G.
AT ITS MEETING ON MARCH 19 the Board of Trustees heard plans to formalize a stewardship committee, and what progress is being made on a new Personnel Handbook for the parish. The ministries of the nuns, who have recently moved into the Mission House, were discussed and additional uses for the space in the Mission House were considered. All reports were received with thanks. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 23. Susan Miranda, Secretary
VISUAL ARTS EXHIBITION . . . The exhibit begins March 25 and presents Santos y Cielo: Photographs by Luis Carle. The exhibit is composed of two distinct series. The first, in which Carle has photographed clouds against a background of brilliant blue sky, stresses dramatic, free-form shapes and patterns. The second series shows plaster saints, wrapped in plastic bags and ready for sale. The statues’ solidity and weight is in contrast with the lightness of the clouds. Please visit the Visual Arts Page for more information.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday in Lent
Monday The Annunciation of Our Lord
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday 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