From the Rector: Death and Resurrection
Easter Day begins this year on Saturday, April 7, at sunset. As the Prayer Book says, “In darkness fire is kindled . . .” Very quickly, fire begins to light the faces of all who are near. Then the celebrant says to the assembly, “Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.”
Nothing is new but everything is new at the Easter Triduum. There are no unfamiliar hymns, no unfamiliar readings, no new ceremonies – but it is all new. God calls us together to worship him. Easter celebrates the foundational Christian belief: Jesus died and is risen. I ask you to help me make this real for ourselves and for everyone the Lord may bring to us to share in our parish community’s celebrations.
At some point in all of our lives we shall face the death of those we love and know, as well as our own deaths. In my mind I clearly separate devotional Christianity with Christian faith. Devotional practices can help us in our journey in faith, but they are not a substitute for faith in the risen Lord.
Do the dead live in Christ? What do you believe when you look at a body in a coffin? What do you believe when you hear the dirt falling on a coffin in a grave? Do you believe that you matter to God? And if you never have a day when to you the words of a father to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24), have not been yours, there will be such a day.
I confess that sometimes I have a hard time remembering that Christians gather at Mass to eat a meal. But that’s what the disciples did with the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room, and that’s what two disciples on the road to Emmaus did when Jesus walked with them and stayed with them. Above all else, the Eucharist is about eating and drinking. This is what we come together to do.
It’s hard to imagine how it ever became the case that the Easter Eucharist became a “duty” or a “day of obligation” for Christians. It could only become that after ordinary Christians had entirely forgotten that the Mass was a meal where they were invited to eat and drink, and to share in what they were, the Body of Christ.
Some of you will know of the great joy of this year’s Palm Sunday celebrations and especially of our Solemn Mass and Procession through Times Square. The procession in particular was glorious this year, even though the weather threatened rain. At one point, Deacon Tom Heard and I, at the very end of the procession, were on the east side of Seventh Avenue between Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth Streets and the front of the procession was opposite to us on the other side of the square. It was glorious. (You can view pictures of the day at http://www.stmvirgin.org/photogallery.)
I received many, many wonderful comments about the procession (and about the joy of passing out palms to people in the square, even to cab drivers who were honking at us – not for stopping traffic but asking for palms). I do not recall any comment about what is for me the most striking element of our liturgy on Palm Sunday, the congregation taking the role of Jesus in the passion. Palms are holy, useful and fun, but entirely secondary.
I write on the morning of Maundy Thursday. Tonight, on Good Friday, and at Easter we gather to do many things. I hope our hearts, minds and souls will let as many of us as possible be for ourselves and others Christ’s Body. You and I live in Christ and he lives in us.
After Lazarus died, Thomas urged his fellow disciples to follow Jesus to Lazarus’ tomb so that they might die with him (John 11:16). The Church invites us to the Easter Triduum so we can do more than die with Jesus. We come together to rise with him. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Aaron, Drew, 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 . . . April 8: 1964 Grieg Taber, priest & rector, 1996 Donald Lothrop Garfield, priest & rector, April 10: 1993 Edna Isabelle Matthews Craig; April 12: 1975 Violet Carolyn Cadney; April 13: 1958 Earle W. Stevenson, 1992 George Edward Mueller.
A NOTE FROM THE RECTOR . . . I want to let the parish community know that my mother, Barbara Knoeller, has been moved from Inova Fairfax Hospital to a nursing home in Fairfax to continue her recovery and rehabilitation. Thank you so much for your prayers. I can’t begin to tell you how much your concern and understanding has meant to me. S.G.
BRING A BELL & OTHER LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Easter Vigil is celebrated beginning at 7:00 PM on Saturday, April 7. Bring a hand bell for the great noise. (Even if you have never been here, don’t be shy; trust your rector on this one.) Dessert, champagne, punch and wine are served after the vigil in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Yes, coffee hour follows the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Easter Day Masses . . . Yes, you may received Easter Communion at the Vigil and again on Easter Day. (Just as you may receive Christmas Communion on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day) . . . As is our custom (and that of the great liturgical tradition), Easter Day Evensong includes a special procession to the font and a sprinkling of the assembly with baptismal water . . . During Easter Week the Paschal Candle burns all day . . . The parish clergy do not sit for confessions on Saturday in Easter Week except by appointment.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish office is closed on Easter Monday. The church is open and the regular Offices and Masses are prayed . . . Sandra Schubert will be on vacation this week, Monday, April 9, through Friday, April 13. Beth Mahaffey will be in the parish office on Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM . . . Many thanks to all who have helped with Holy Week preparations! . . . Many thanks to Chuck Carson for our the design of advertisements in The New York Times for Holy Week and Easter . . . It was great to have a large group of teenagers and their formation leaders with us on Palm Sunday for the Solemn Mass. The group was from Bruton Parish Church and from Saint Martin’s Church in Williamsburg, Virginia . . . Father Mead’s Wednesday Night Bible Study on the Maccabees begins on April 18. The class follows the evening Mass and meets in Saint Joseph’s Study . . . Attendance last Sunday 534.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . At the Easter Vigil, the setting is Communion Service in E (“Collegium Regale”) by Harold Darke (1888-1976). An English composer and organist, Darke was organist of Saint Michael’s Church, Cornhill, London for 50 years. He was acting organist of King’s College, Cambridge during the Second World War, substituting for Boris Ord. In place of Agnus Dei, traditionally not sung at the Vigil, the anthem at the fraction is Christ our Passover by Mason Martens (1933-1991). Martens worshiped regularly at Saint Mary’s, and composed this piece in 1970 to be sung in this church on the occasion of the first visit to the parish of the Right Reverend Paul Moore, Jr., at the time bishop coadjutor of New York. The anthem at Communion is Ye choirs of new Jerusalem by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) . . . At the Easter Day Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa octo vocum by Hans Leo Hassler (1512-1562), a setting for double choir. Though he was Protestant, Hassler, a student in Venice of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586), wrote a good amount of Latin music for Roman Catholic liturgy (in addition to madrigals, keyboard music and instrumental music). The motet at Communion is John Taverner’s (c. 1490-1545) breathtaking first setting of the Easter Responsory Dum transisset Sabbatum. Voluntaries are by Vierne and Widor . . . The full choir sings for Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM. An organ recital at 4:30 PM (note the special time) precedes the service, played by Robert McDermitt and Chad Kelly. The recital features works of Marchand, Bach and Mendelssohn. The choral music at the service includes Evening Service in D by A. Herbert Brewer (1865-1928), McCormick’s 2006 setting of O salutaris Hostia, and Tantum ergo, Opus 18/1 by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). Robert McCormick
ROBERT McCORMICK AND RUTH CUNNINGHAM IN CONCERT . . . Mark your calendars: on Monday, April 23 at 8:00 PM, Robert McCormick and Ruth Cunningham, soprano, will present a program of music for Eastertide, mostly improvised. Ms. Cunningham, a member of our choir and formerly a member of Anonymous 4, is often heard during Solemn Masses chanting her own version of the Latin propers. This concert provides an opportunity to hear her in a more extended setting, along with several works for organ. Admission is free.
JOIN OR SUPPORT THE SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM . . . Saint Mary’s team will walk again this year on Saturday, May 19, and on Sunday, May 20, and we would love you to join us on one or both of those days. If you can’t walk with us, please donate to our walk. To learn more, pick up an information sheet at church or contact MaryJane Boland (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mary Robison (email@example.com). Our goal is to have 25 walkers from Saint Mary’s and to raise $15,000.00 for the fight against AIDS.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Monday Monday in Easter Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Easter Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Easter Week
Thursday Thursday in Easter Week
Friday Friday in Easter Week No Abstinence
Saturday Saturday in Easter Week
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.
Saturday in Easter Week: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. Please note: The clergy do not hear confessions on Saturday in Easter Week except by appointment.