From the Rector: Christian Sunday
Sunday worship has been normative for Christians since the time of the apostles. Sunday worship sets apart Christianity and Christians at all times and in all places. Almost always, this gathering for worship is the Eucharist, a meal. Sunday is the day when Christians break Bread and share the Cup.
For most of the Christian era, church and sometimes political leaders have tried to compel or coerce people to come to Mass on Sundays. I think this largely misses the point. Some of the bizarre expressions of Christianity today stem from rule-based notions of faithfulness. There are, of course, many good reasons why Christians gather on Sundays, not to mention the command of our Lord, “Do this.” Sunday worship is fundamental; it defines Christianity and Christianity defines Sunday worship.
The most famous and influential book on worship written by an Anglican in the twentieth century was The Shape of the Liturgy by Gregory Dix. Much of his work and many of his principal conclusions have proved to be wrong, largely because of errors in methodology. Yet Dix’s simple words about what a young Jew did at table with his friends on the night before he died – and his ruminations on the numberless ways and countless range of circumstances in which Christians have gathered to “Do this” are among the most moving words ever written on the Mass. He knew and believed that Jesus could “take hold” of a person’s life at table and “work with it.”
The Oxford Movement, the catholic revival in the Church of England, is dated from July 14, 1833, when John Keble preached a sermon at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Oxford, called, “The National Apostasy.” The British government of the day was planning to reorganize the Anglican Church in Ireland and to reduce the number of its dioceses. Keble believed it was wrong for the Church to be subject to the government in this way. But the stirrings that produced this point of departure were already in evidence in the independent Scottish Episcopal Church and in what was called the “High Church” tradition in seventeenth-century England. At Easter in 1804, only four persons are recorded as having received Holy Communion at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. Many Christians for over a thousand years knew there was a problem because people came to Mass, but could not understand the liturgy and did not want to eat the Supper of the Lord.
Our parish was founded in the wake of the Oxford Movement by a young priest, Thomas McKee Brown, who was on fire with devotion to Jesus Christ and to the Eucharist. He strived to make the Sunday Mass the most important time of the week. He begged and borrowed to make sure this parish had the best music, the best priests, the best of everything, so that people could join together in the worship of God. We have few of Father Brown’s writings, but everything about the church he built says the Sunday Eucharist matters and the people here matter. Lots of things go into making up a Christian’s life, but what defines our lives as Christians is that we gather to eat at the Lord’s Supper. Ours is a public faith, a shared faith, a shared cup, a shared meal.
It is Jesus Christ in a real sense who invites us to come together to eat and to remember him. The day Christians do this is Sunday. What makes Sunday particularly Christian is not a lot of rules about what people can or cannot do or should or should not do. What makes Sunday Christian is, as Dix observed (The Shape of the Liturgy, page 744), “. . . one could fill many pages with the reason why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei – the holy common people of God.” Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Rosalie who is gravely ill, for Katherine, for John, Alexandra, David, Polly, Jerry, Andrew, Linda, Petrit, Hazel, Nadia, Katie, Samuel, Joan, Brooke, David, Allison, Doreen, Terry, Mary, Jane, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Robert, priest, Carl, priest, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the souls of Ana, Concetta and José . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 17: 1983 Helen Petersen Harrington; February 19: 1958 Harry Osmond; February 20: 1985 Theresa Anne Furlong; February 23: 1999 George Everston Dix.
THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE CONGREGATION will be held on Sunday, March 2, at 12:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The congregation meets to receive reports from parish organizations, staff and clergy about the state and work of the community and to elect our delegates to the 2008 Diocesan Convention.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION OR RECEPTION? . . . For one to become a “member” of Saint Mary’s, we simply need to record the fact of one’s baptism; but if you would like to make your membership special in a more formal way, the Easter Vigil on March 22, is a wonderful way to do that. Bishop Griswold will be with us to baptize, to confirm and to receive those from other Christian churches. If you are interested, please speak with Father Smith. If you wish to be baptized at the Easter Vigil (and there is no better time to do it!), please speak to Father Smith.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2008 . . . This week, pledges for 2008 passed the $500,000 mark for the first time ever at Saint Mary's, which puts us at nearly 92% of our goal. Thanks so much to all of you who have pledged! We still haven't heard back from everyone, however, so if you haven't pledged yet, please do so as soon as you can. If you've misplaced your pledge card, please call the church office or stop by the website and pledge online. We're getting very close to meeting our target in this vital campaign.
SUNDAYS IN LENT: INTRODUCTION TO MATTHEW . . . The Reverend Dr. Peter R. Powell will lead the adult class for four Sundays beginning this week. Father Powell has been president of the Interfaith Housing Association of Westport, Connecticut, since 1989. He holds degrees from four universities and has served parishes in Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. Father Powell has also served as a teaching fellow at the Princeton Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor at the Virginia Theological Seminary. The class meets in the Mission House from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Monday, February 18, is Presidents’ Day. The parish office will be closed. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The Noonday Office is prayed at 12:00 PM and Mass is celebrated at 12:10 PM . . . Father Mead returns to the parish office on Wednesday, February 20 . . . Father Mead’s Bible Study will resume on Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 PM . . . Reminder: Stations of the Cross is offered every Friday in Lent at 7:00 PM . . . Mark your calendars: The Lenten Quiet Day will be Saturday, February 23 . . . Attendance: Stations 48, Last Sunday 274.
FASTING FOR FRIENDS . . . We invite you to think about giving up one or two meals a week, saving that money and then contributing what you have saved to the Maundy Thursday Offering on March 20. The offering will go to support the work and ministries of the Church of San Juan Evangelista in Villanueva, Honduras.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Plainsong Mass for a mean by John Sheppard (c. 1515-1559/60). Sheppard, along with such composers as Thomas Tallis and Christopher Tye, was among the English musicians whose careers spanned the Reformation and the resulting changes in liturgical practice. His sacred output includes Latin and English music. This mass is relatively simple in style; its name reflects the use of plainsong (Gregorian chant) in alternation with polyphony, as well as the low range of the highest voice. In Sheppard’s time the “treble” part in a choral work was the very highest (soprano is a rough modern equivalent) and the “mean” part was slightly lower (somewhat equivalent to mezzo-soprano). In this piece the mean is the highest voice. The motet at Communion is Sheppard’s In manus tuas . . . The Offertory hymn at both morning Masses, The God of Abraham praise (tune: Leoni), has an interesting history. The English text, a paraphrase of the twelfth century Jewish Yigdal (Jewish articles of faith later put into verse), was written by Thomas Olivers, who heard the original text sung to this tune at London’s Great Synagogue. His new text, while inspired by its Jewish origin, was explicitly Christian and consisted originally of twelve stanzas. (We also sing Leoni to a more literal translation of the Yigdal, Praise to the living God) . . . Our new volunteer choir sings this Sunday at Evensong & Benediction. They will sing choral settings of O salutaris Hostia and Tantum ergo. Robert McCormick
CELEBRATE OUR ORGAN THIS SUNDAY EVENING . . . This 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 Second Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent: Federal Holiday Schedule 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, 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.