From the Rector: Gospels of Lent
When I was first ordained, I served at a parish where I was the most junior of five full-time priests. All of the others were senior men. One topic that often came up was their joy and delight in preaching through the then new three-year lectionary. The old Prayer Book used just under 17% of the gospel texts in its annual cycle. The new Prayer Book uses just over 71% of the gospel texts in its three-year cycle. There is no season when the importance of the new lectionary is more apparent than Lent in the first year of the three-year Sunday Mass cycle. We have five gospel “home runs”, or, if you will, five Super Bowl victories.
The First Sunday in Lent we hear Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness. When Jesus can bear with the Devil no longer, he dismisses him with the words, “Begone, Satan.” The rest of the Sunday gospels in Lent are from John. On the Second Sunday we hear of the encounter of Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus, a member of the leadership of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, comes to Jesus at night, out of the darkness into the light, which for John and for us is Jesus himself. Nicodemus does not understand Jesus’ words about the need to be born again. He goes away, leaving the light and returning to darkness.
On the Third Sunday we hear of Jesus meeting the Samaritan Woman at the Well. The Fourth Sunday is the healing of the Man Born Blind. The final Sunday in Lent is the Raising of Lazarus. I suggest that the meaning of Lent is not found in the ashes of Ash Wednesday but in you and me as we try to hear afresh the Word of God and to let it lead us into the light.
The Prayer Book provides two “prefaces” for the Eucharistic Prayer in Lent – a preface is the technical name for a variable text in the Eucharistic Prayer. The first option we use only on the First Sunday in Lent:
Through Jesus Christ our Lord;
who was tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin.
By his grace we are able to triumph over every evil,
and to live no longer for ourselves alone,
but for him who died for us and rose again.
For the rest of Lent we use what I think is one of the best prefaces of the new book:
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.
Jesus himself invited those who heard him to repent of their sins and their old ways of living and then to turn and follow him. It is an invitation that is still made by Jesus to all people. The awareness of sin, being convicted of our own sinfulness, and the desire to repent may bring up strong emotions in us, but repentance for Christians is an act not a feeling. In Matthew’s account of Satan’s temptation of Jesus, Jesus chooses to reject Satan’s offers. The gospel this Sunday invites us to make the same choice. Our focus on the work of the Lord only becomes clearer as we journey to Easter. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Andrew, Linda, Polly, Jerry, Bob, Concetta, Joan, David, Allison, Doreen, Terry, Mary, Jane, Gert, Ana, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Robert, priest, Carl, priest, and Charles, priest; 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 souls of José, Palmira and John . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 15: 1967 Nina Gay Dolan, 1973 Dorothy McCormack, 1978 Carrington Raymond; February 16: 1955 Mary Bretman; February 17: 1983 Helen Petersen Harrington.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: Stations of the Cross is offered every Friday in Lent at 7:00 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 9, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, February 16, by Father Smith . . . Father Mead is on vacation beginning Monday, February 11; he returns to the office on Wednesday, February 20 . . . Many thanks to all who helped on Ash Wednesday! . . . Book Sale: A variety of used books, both fiction and non-fiction, are on sale in the Gift Shop at drastically reduced prices. All proceeds will go to Father Smith’s Emergency Fund, which is used exclusively to help the poor and those with special needs . . . Attendance: Presentation 159, Last Sunday: 323, Ash Wednesday 463.
THE 2008 PLEDGE CAMPAIGN . . . Saint Mary’s is growing, the community is thriving and our mission is clear, but our financial future is a matter of serious concern. We have established a realistic five-year plan that will lead Saint Mary’s toward a balanced budget and a healthy fiscal future. Right now, our focus is on the first year goal of the plan. We are asking all of our members and friends to help us meet our goal of financial stability. We ask you to make as generous a financial commitment as you can for 2008. Even if you usually donate regularly, we ask that you fill in an amount on a pledge card so that we can plan our budget appropriately. We have so far avoided the types of drastic cuts that other nearby parishes have had to make, such as reducing our worship schedule, closing our doors during the week, and cutting staff, but cannot continue to do so without major increases in our revenue flow. Our goal for 2008 is to raise $550,000.00 by pledged income. As of today, $498,497.00 has been pledged. We are 90.6% of the way. We need your help to reach our goal. The Board of Trustees
CHRISTIAN FORMATION & SPIRITUALITY . . . 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. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis before Easter to RSVP. . . NOTE: Centering Prayer is moving from Thursdays at 7:00 PM to Sundays following Solemn Mass. Matthew Mead
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.
“LET ALL GUESTS WHO ARRIVE BE RECEIVED AS CHRIST” . . . Things you can do to welcome our guests and visitors: be friendly, but sensitive. Some guests are shy and some are nervous or uncertain. Be helpful: make sure that visitors have bulletins or Prayer Books. Ask a visitor if he or she would like to go to Coffee Hour and show them how to get to Saint Joseph’s Hall. If you think a guest might have difficulty going up to the rail and might like to have Communion brought to him or her, notify an usher, who will inform the clergy or the master of ceremonies. Ask a visitor if he or she would like to be on our mailing list and receive our newsletter; if the answer is yes, provide a card to fill out (the cards are on the tables in the back of the church and in Saint Joseph’s Hall); introduce a visitor to one of the folks who go to lunch after Coffee Hour or bring them to lunch with you. Don’t just talk to people like yourself. Take a risk: you may be more extroverted than you think! J.R.S.
THE LUNCH BUNCH . . . Most Sundays, a group of Saint Marians go to lunch together after the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM, and the larger and more diverse the group, the more fun we have. All are welcome. Visitors and first-timers are especially welcome. Look for Marie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or MaryJane (email@example.com) in Saint Joseph’s Hall or for anyone wearing a nametag with a blue ribbon. We leave for lunch a little after 1:00 PM.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . During Lent the organ is played only as necessary to sustain the singing (with the exception of the feast of the Annunciation, when it occurs during Lent, and, to a lesser extent, the Fourth Sunday in Lent). There are no organ voluntaries (preludes and postludes), no organ improvisation to cover liturgical action, and there is very little hymn accompaniment. This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa syllabica (1977/1996) by Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). Pärt, whose stark and powerful music has achieved great popularity worldwide, has composed since 1976 in a style he named tintinnabuli (“little bells”). Tintinnabulation, the practice of considering two simultaneous voices as one line (one voice part moves in a stepwise motion, the other outlines notes of the triad in leaps), is what gives Pärt’s music its inimitable sound. The sparseness of this piece echoes the starkness of our Lenten liturgy. The anthem at Communion is Christus factus est by McNeil Robinson (b. 1943), composed in 1979 when Robinson was music director at Saint Mary’s . . . Sunday afternoon organ recitals resume during Eastertide. Robert McCormick
CELEBRATE OUR ORGAN AND OLIVIER MESSIAEN . . . On Sunday, February 17, at 8:00 PM, Dr. Clyde Holloway, Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Organ, Rice University, Houston, Texas, plays a recital of Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) and César Franck (1822-1890) on Saint Mary’s Aeolian-Skinner organ. This recital is sponsored by the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Messiaen’s birth. Dr. Holloway, one of the most distinguished artists in the organ profession today, studied extensively with Messiaen and is one of the foremost interpreters of his works. This event also celebrates the 75th anniversary of the dedication of our organ, which with its French tonal colors is ideally suited for the music of Franck and Messiaen. For further information, please see www.nycago.org. R.M.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The First Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Tuesday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Wednesday Weekday of Lent 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.