From the Rector: Lent Is Upon Us
Father Mead sent Father Smith and me an e-mail earlier this week to remind us that this Sunday’s lessons were those appointed for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, not the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. The First Day of Lent this year is February 6.
A season of preparation for Easter emerged in the first centuries in the expanding Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean world. From the beginning, Lent was a time of preparation for Easter baptisms. It was also a time for Christians to renew their relationship with God and with each other. Penitence, fasting and prayer are spiritual tools used for both purposes. Although their shape has changed over the centuries, these traditional disciplines continue. But before we can get to this historic Lent, you and I have another mission, another ministry: Ash Wednesday in New York City.
For reasons that have everything to do with the Church maintaining Latin for worship long after people could understand it, a private experience of Christian religion became normative and still shapes the practice of Christianity for most Western Christians. One extreme local example is the way in which Ash Wednesday has become the day of the year in New York when more people will go to church than at any other time. If our experience at Saint Mary’s is typical, the vast majority of people will go to church not to participate in the Eucharist but to have ashes imposed as a minister says, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” We prepare for 2,500 people. Trinity Church, Wall Street, if I recall correctly, prepares for 15,000. I recall reading in the Times a profile of the new rector of Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, who had just taken up his post in time to minister to the 25,000 who were expected there on Ash Wednesday.
We offer the imposition of ashes from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We are busy all day. We have four Masses on Ash Wednesday:, 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM. The 12:10 PM Mass is a Sung Mass, the 6:00 PM a Solemn Mass.
Father Smith is assisting Saint Raphael’s Guild (our parish ushers group) with organizing their all-day ministry. Of course we need extra help from people who don’t ordinarily serve as ushers! Please contact him or speak to George Handy if you would like to help during the day. We’ve learned through the years that we need different numbers of people on duty throughout the day.
There will be more time to write about Lent. This newsletter contains announcements about Christian Education during this season, about Stations of the Cross and about Lenten spiritual disciplines. I want to close simply by quoting a seasonal text from Mass that we use on all the weekdays of Lent and all but one of the Sundays, “You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast; that, fervent in prayer and in works of mercy, and renewed by your Word and Sacraments, they may come to the fullness of grace which you have prepared for those who love you” (Prayer Book, page 379).
I hope you may be able to be here for Mass on Ash Wednesday. I hope many will be able to assist on the First Day of Lent. And I hope that all of us may be aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives daily and with fresh joy as we look toward Easter, the Paschal feast. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Bob, Samuel, Joan, David, Alison, Doreen, Terry, Mary, Jane, José, Gert, Ana, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Robert, priest, Carl, priest, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the soul of Elizabeth . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 2: 1985 Walter Phelps Warren, John Doy Woods; February 3: 1983 Van Buren Chaney; February 5: 1964 Joseph Alexander Ellis Steele, 1993 Gerald Dennis Bergstrom; February 7: 1954 John H. Von Runneau.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Rector is in Chicago until early Sunday afternoon, February 3, for the consecration of Jeffery Lee as bishop of Chicago. He will preach at Evensong on Sunday . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 2, by Father Mead and on Saturday, February 9, by Father Gerth . . . Saint Mary’s 4th Annual Super Bowl party will be held following Evensong on Sunday, February 3, 2008. The party is a pot-luck centered around Father Mead’s Abusive Chili. We will watch the game in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . On Sunday, February 3, at 10:00 AM, the Sisters will lead a class on Holy Unction & Healing . . . On the First Sunday in Lent, February 10, at 10:00 AM, Father Mead will lead a class on Confession . . . The Reverend Peter Powell will lead a four-part class on the Gospel According to Matthew at 10:00 AM on the remaining Sundays in Lent . . . Father Mead’s Bible Study will resume on Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 PM . . . Mark your calendars: The Lenten Quiet Day will be Saturday, February 23; the Saint Mary’s Parish Retreat at Mendham Convent will be Friday, May 16, through Sunday, May 18. For more information please speak to one of the Sisters . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 428.
LENTEN DISCIPLINE & DAYS OF FASTING . . . The weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are also observed by abstinence from flesh meats. The Sundays in Lent are not observed as days of discipline and self-denial . . . Every year the Church observes two days, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, where adult Christians in good health reduce the quantity and quality of food for a good portion of the day. Flesh meats are not eaten. The tradition does not apply to those whose labor requires them to eat to work. And the point is never to eat so little as to make oneself sick. The point is to hunger physically as a reminder of our need for God’s forgiveness, presence and love in our lives. When I was at Nashotah House Seminary, the fast was broken on these days by the community in the middle of the afternoon with hot cross buns, lots of butter and cold milk. Cereal and fruit were always available for those who needed something to eat earlier in the day. A simple but complete meatless supper (and one without dessert) was served in the evening. I recommend this practice of my seminary when I was a student as an outline that can guide anyone’s personal rule. S.G.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS . . . At 7:00 PM every Friday in Lent, the parish offers Stations of the Cross. The service, also known as the Way of the Cross or Via Crucis, is a devotion that most likely finds its roots in the practice of early Christian pilgrims who visited popular sites of the Passion events in Jerusalem. As early as the fifth century, Christians began replicating the pilgrims’ tour in their own churches: the monastery of San Stefano at Bologna features a group of connected chapels intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem. After the Jerusalem shrines were entrusted to the Franciscans in 1352, local versions began to appear in Europe with great frequency. The number of stations has varied wildly. Depending on whom you asked over the past 600 years the “correct” number of stations was set at twelve, fourteen, nineteen, twenty-five, thirty-one or thirty-seven. Likewise, the events depicted have varied: Christians today might be surprised that there have been as many as Seven Falls of Jesus and that a visit to the Blessed Virgin’s school was a crucial stop along the Way of the Cross. The current format of fourteen was fixed in 1731. The particular sequence we use today dates from about 200 years ago and likely owes at least as much to pious devotion manuals as to attempt to replicate the Jerusalem shrines. No matter what form the Way has taken, it has become a cherished devotion for many Christians around the world. The form we use is taken from The Book of Occasional Services. Almost all of the material is from Holy Scripture. Matthew Mead
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on Urbs beata Ierusalem, the Postcommunion hymn, and the postlude is an improvisation on Hyfrydol, the Offertory hymn. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Communion Service in F 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. The anthem at Communion is Holy is the true light by William H. Harris (1883-1973) . . . The recital at 4:40 PM is by Ernest Lehrer . . . Saint Mary’s new volunteer choir sings for the first time at Evensong & Benediction. The setting of Phos hilaron and Magnificat are sung by the choir. All interested persons are invited to join the choir; all that’s required is the ability to sing on pitch and a willingness to learn (although music-reading skills are very useful). The choir rehearses each Sunday afternoon from 3:00-4:30, and will sing for Evensong at least once a month through May . . . The Offertory hymn at both morning Masses is Alleluia! sing to Jesus (tune: Hyfrydol). The text by William Chatterton Dix was first matched with the familiar Welsh tune Hyfrydol in The Hymnal 1940. The text addresses the kingship of Christ, the Eucharist and other themes. It is usually sung at Saint Mary’s on the Sunday before Lent to give the congregation the chance to sing and enjoy the word “alleluia” in abundance before Lent begins . . . On Ash Wednesday, February 6, 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 setting of the Mass ordinary (of which Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are sung) is Allegri’s Missa Che fa oggi il mio sole. The motet at Communion is Claudio Monteverdi’s (1567-1643) Christe, adoramus te. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday Cornelius the Centurion
Tuesday The Martyrs of Japan, 1597
Wednesday The First Day of Lent Strict Fast & Abstinence
Thursday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Christian Education, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Evensong & Benediction
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. Stations of the Cross, Fridays in Lent, 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.