From the Rector: Grace Period
As we go to press, the parish staff is pretty deeply into preparation for Holy Week. Bulletins are in production. An enormous amount of work is done beforehand, so that when Holy Week comes, we can move into the richness of the rites without being distracted by details. Larger questions about the basic shape and approach to the week were settled here a long time ago. Holy Week matters at Saint Mary’s.
Saint Mary’s building is liturgical space. As much as it is used daily for individual prayer, it was designed to be a place for corporate prayer in all its many forms. A good space for corporate prayer welcomes individual prayer as well. But you and I should not be confused about the priority of common prayer. Restoring corporate prayer was one of the chief aims of the Protestant Reformation, and, with respect, the Second Vatican Council. It’s still very much a work in progress. I think that Saint Mary’s continues in the forefront of this work.
Many of you know I attended the ordination of the new bishop of Chicago at the beginning of February. I remember only one moment in the service when it felt like the 2,500 or more people who were there were united in an act of worship: the singing of the final, and familiar, hymn, Alleluia! sing to Jesus. It was an instructive moment me. It reminded me that in the tradition at its best, liturgy is primarily about worship by the congregation. The first rector and lay leaders of this parish viewed congregational worship as Saint Mary’s foundational mission.
During Holy Week the Church’s liturgy especially invites us into common prayer. The rites, ceremonies, texts and music are all familiar. They change very, very little from year to year. And because they change little, they can function for us as invitation to common prayer in a way that the unfamiliar almost never can. Common prayer can change our love, our lives.
In John’s gospel only, Jesus calls his disciples friends. Matthew, Mark and Luke each quote something that becomes known to us as Jesus’ summary of the law, “Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Prayer Book, page 324.) But it is only in John that Jesus specifically commands his friends to love one another. It is not easy to be friends. It is not easy to love. As preparations begin for Holy Week, friendship and love for one another should be on your list and mine of things to work on. The last weeks of Lent are a kind of grace period for us. The more time and love that we bring to Holy Week, the more God can use it to draw us closer to him and to each other. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Alan, David, Katherine, Robyn, Doreen, Joan, Brooke, Allison, Theresa, David, John, Alexandra, Terry, Mary, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Carl, PRIEST, and Charles, PRIEST; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the soul of William . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 4: 1989 Timothy Francis Meyers; March 9: 1951 Lenore H. Hibbard, 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen.
THE ANNUAL MEETING of the congregation will be held this Sunday, March 2, in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Solemn Mass. Reports of the Board of Trustees, parish organizations and clergy and staff will be presented. The congregation will elect two delegates and two alternates to serve as our representatives in the convention of the Diocese of New York. In recent years the meeting has lasted just over thirty minutes. Copies of the annual report will be available online, after the meeting, to members of the parish who are not able to attend.
COMING EVENTS . . . The Gospel According to Matthew led by the Reverend Peter Powell, Sundays, March 2, 9 & 16 at 10:00 AM in the Mission House . . . The Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh, vicar, Christ Church, Red Hook, New York, and former parishioner at Saint Mary’s, will preach at Evensong & Benediction, Sunday, March 2, at 5:00 PM . . . Dinner & Bible Study on the Letters of Paul to the Ephesians, Timothy and Titus, Wednesdays, March 5 & 12 . . . Daylight Savings begins at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 9 . . . Holy Week begins on Passion Sunday, March 16; the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold will celebrate and preach at the principal services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, March 20 – March 22; Supper for Acolytes, Readers and Staff, Saturday, March 22, 5:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Easter Sunday is March 23, the Rector will celebrate and preach at Sung Mass, Solemn Mass and Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction . . . Liturgical Hymnody led by Mr. Robert McCormick, Sunday, March 30. . . The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori will celebrate and preach at Solemn Pontifical Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation, Tuesday, April 1, 6:00 PM . . . Learn about the Lives & Thoughts of Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, the leaders of the Oxford Movement, and Dr. Joseph G. H. Barry at 10:00 AM, Sundays in April . . . Dinner & Bible Study on the Letter to the Hebrews, Wednesdays in April and May . . . Ascension Day, Thursday, May 1 . . . The Parish Retreat at the Community of Saint John Baptist in Mendham, New Jersey, Friday, May 16, to Sunday, May 18 . . . AIDS Walk 2008 on Sunday, May 18 . . . Organ Recital by Robert McCormick, with special guest Ruth Cunningham, soprano, on Monday, May 19, at 8:00 PM.
SUNG MASS EVERY SUNDAY . . . Have you been to the new and improved Sung Mass on Sunday mornings? The music at the service features an ordinary (Kyrie or Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei) sung by the congregation, a Psalm sung to simplified Anglican Chant, and two hymns, one at the preparation of the gifts, and one following the ministration of Communion. Outside of Lent there is also an organ prelude and postlude. The service is just under one hour and is followed by Coffee Hour and Christian Education. Child care is offered beginning at 8:45 AM every Sunday. If you haven’t been to the new Sung Mass yet, please give it a try.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . We have received pledges for 2008 amounting to $508,000.00, just 7% short of our goal for the year (this is the largest dollar figure ever achieved in the history of the parish). 62 people who did not pledge for 2007 have pledged so far for 2008. This is an impressive and inspiring statistic. If you have not made a pledge yet, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Help us to achieve our goal of $550,000.00 for 2008. Please speak to Father Smith, Steven Heffner, or MaryJane Boland if you have questions or if you need a pledge card; and thanks to all who have already made pledges! J.R.S.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Powell’s resumes this Sunday, March 2, at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House . . . The Bishop of New York has given his permission for the Reverend Lee Peyton to serve as an assisting deacon at Saint Mary’s. Father Peyton was ordained to the transitional diaconate on December 21, 2007, at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis. He is spending one term at the General Theological Seminary, having previously studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Lee is a professor of civil engineering at the University of Missouri in Columbia. We welcome him to Saint Mary’s . . . There’s still time to prepare for Baptism, Confirmation or Reception at the Great Vigil of Easter. Please speak to Father Smith . . . Attendance: Stations 34, Last Sunday 269.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTREACH . . . We invite you to think about giving up one or two meals a week during Lent, 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 . . . The Food Pantry at the Church of the Ascension, New York City, is experiencing a shortfall in funding. The pantry fed some 7,000 people in 2007, and expects to serve an even greater number of people this year. Due to rising costs and a decrease in funding, Ascension is trying to raise around $15,000.00 in 2008 to meet their expected deficit. If you think you might be able to help with a donation, however small, please contact Father Smith or write to the Reverend Mark Hummell, 12 West 11th Street, New York, NY 10011.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On the Fourth Sunday in Lent, the restrictions on organ playing are lessened slightly . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe en style ancien (1952) by Jean Langlais (1907-1991), the French composer and organist who was blind from a young age. Langlais’s music, while unmistakably a product of the twentieth century, often has a certain “ancient” sound, in part due to modally-inflected harmonies. This work, inspired by Renaissance polyphony, captures that effect particularly strongly. The motet at Communion is Pater noster, a setting of the Lord’s Prayer by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). Stravinsky, who was born in Russia and lived in New York for many years, was one of the twentieth century’s most important composers, whose works span a wide variety of styles. This motet was originally in Russian, but is perhaps best known in the composer’s later Latin version. The postlude is Psalm Prelude, Set 1 No. 2 (Opus 32), by Herbert Howells (1892-1983), based upon Psalm 37:11 . . . One of the hymns for Sunday morning is among the most popular hymns worldwide: Amazing grace! how sweet the sound (tune: New Britain). The text is by John Newton, who once had been a slave-ship captain, and it expresses the author’s marvel at God’s redeeming grace. We sing it because of its connection to Sunday’s gospel of the Man Born Blind: “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see” . . . Saint Mary’s new volunteer choir sings this Sunday for Evensong & Benediction, and the music includes a French fauxbourdon setting of the canticles. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth 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, 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.