From the Rector: Sundays and Triduum
By the middle of the second century Easter was being celebrated with enough variation for the Christian community to have a fight over the Sunday it was to be celebrated. Sunday seems to have emerged as the weekly day for Christian worship well before the end of the first century. It is the day Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the central confession of the Christian faith. The first Christians were also Jewish and they brought to what came to be regarded by them and by others as their new faith a sense of a cycle of festivals through the year, mostly connected to the cycle of the earth’s seasons. Christian festivals would be associated with the events of Jesus’ life, most especially, his death and resurrection.
The Calendar in our Prayer Book calls the Sunday before Easter, “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.” Easter is called, “The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day.” Once a specific Sunday in the spring emerges as a special day to celebrate the resurrection, the Sunday before emerges as a specific Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ death. This fundamental pattern seems to have endured now for almost two thousand years. Forget the palms for a moment. The Sunday before Easter is the original celebration of the passion, to use later language, the original Good Friday. Sunday is fundamental to Christian observance and celebration.
By the end of the first century, being a Christian can be considered a capital crime in the Roman Empire. Terrible persecutions under the Roman government of Christian men, women and children would continue on and off until the death of the emperor Diocletian in A.D. 311. By then, the Church was established throughout the Roman world. The next emperor Constantine would issue the edict of Milan in 313 that would give the Church new legal status. In 325, he ordered the bishop of Jerusalem to begin building the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And it was in Jerusalem that another layer of observances for the week bounded by the Sunday of the Passion and the Sunday of the Resurrection emerged.
By the end of the fourth century, on the afternoon of the Sunday of the Passion, the Church gathered outside Jerusalem and entered with prayers and psalms, in remembrance of Jesus’ triumphal entry. By then also, in addition to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, great basilicas had been constructed at what was believed to be the site of the Last Supper and the site of Calvary. Liturgies emerged to commemorate all of the events of the last days of Jesus’ earthly life, again it was believed, on the sites where Jesus himself had been. Although there would be many elaborations and variations, what becomes the Liturgy of the Palms would become attached to the Mass of the Passion on the Sunday of the Passion. The events of the last three days would become the “Easter Triduum” [ Easter Three Days].
The Three Days are counted as Jewish Christians would have reckoned time, from sunset to sunset. Thus, the first day of the Triduum begins at sunset on Thursday and ends at sunset on Friday, the first day. The second day begins on Friday at sunset and ends on Saturday at sunset, a second day. The third day, the day of resurrection, begins on Saturday at sunset and ends on Sunday at sunset. These are the Three Days, the Triduum.
The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is the first celebration of the Triduum on the day we call in our Prayer Book tradition “Maundy Thursday.” The service is at 6:00 PM. On Good Friday, the liturgy of the day is offered twice, once at 12:30 PM and once at 6:00 PM. The services are identical. The liturgy is offered twice simply because so many cannot get away from work in our day. The first service of the resurrection is the Great Vigil of Easter which we celebrate on Easter Eve at 7:00 PM.
Most of you know by now that the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for the liturgy on Maundy Thursday, for the 12:30 PM liturgy on Good Friday and the Great Vigil of Easter. (Yours truly has the evening liturgy on Good Friday.) I invite you to give yourself to the liturgies of the Easter Triduum especially this year with the presence of Bishop Griswold. If you have never experienced Palm Sunday or the Easter Triduum at Saint Mary’s, I want you to know that far more important than the details of the services is the experience of the rites. Come with an open heart and an open mind and be fed by the rites. We can talk about their meaning for years to come as our lives in Christ continue to unfold. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Julie, Jeff, Phineas, Alan, David, Katherine, Robyn, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Theresa, 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 souls of Joan and Mary . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 9: 1951 Lenore H. Hibbard, 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen. March 11: 1994 Virginia Greene. March 12: 1961 Muriel Iola Dorothy Blaine. March 15: 1969 Peter Chan.
COMING EVENTS . . . The Gospel According to Matthew led by the Reverend Peter Powell, Sundays, March 9 & 16 at 10:00 AM in the Mission House . . . Dinner & Bible Study on the Letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus, Wednesday, March 12, at 7:00 PM . . . Daylight Savings Time 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 . . . Easter Day is March 23. The Rector will celebrate and preach at Sung Mass, Solemn Mass and Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction. Father Smith will preach at the 10:00 AM Mass . . . 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 at 7:00 PM . . . 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 . . . Sunday, May 18, Trinity Sunday, Solemn Evensong and Benediction: This is the last Evensong until the autumn . . . Organ Recital by Robert McCormick, with special guest Ruth Cunningham, soprano, on Monday, May 19, at 8:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 25, 11:00 AM: The Body & Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi: Solemn Mass, Procession & Benediction. Our guest preacher will be the Reverend Alan Moses, vicar, All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London . . . Sunday, May 25, summer schedule begins: Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM, Said Mass at 5:20 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to members of the new parish Evensong Choir who sang last Sunday night. Seventeen members were present and their offering made for a very special liturgy. This choir sings again on Sunday, April 6 . . . Many thanks to the volunteers who helped the parish staff with the Easter offering mailing . . . We have received a baptismal certificate for Renate Brand and have recorded her name in the parish registers. We are very happy that Renate is now, officially, a member of Saint Mary’s. Please congratulate her and welcome her to the parish . . . There’s still time to prepare for Baptism, Confirmation or Reception at the Great Vigil of Easter. Please speak to Father Smith . . . Attendance: Stations 29, Last Sunday 328.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTREACH . . . AIDS Walk 2008: The AIDS Walk is Sunday, May 18, and Saint Mary's team will walk for the third year in a row. Many of us will walk on Saturday in order to be in church on Trinity Sunday, May 18. To learn how to participate, pick up an information sheet at church, at http://www.stmvirgin.org/missionandoutreach/article75898c723730.htm, or contact the parish team coordinator, MaryJane Boland (email@example.com). Our goal is to have thirty walkers from Saint Mary's and to raise at least $20,000.00 for the fight against AIDS . . . Fasting for Friends: 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.
DO YOU DO VOLUNTEER WORK? . . . Father Smith would be interested in hearing about it. He is compiling a list of Saint Marians who volunteer their time away from the parish: what they do and where they do it.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the ordinary is Missa brevis (1965-66) by William Walton. This mass, written for the Choir of Coventry Cathedral, is for unaccompanied choir, with the exception of Gloria in excelsis Deo (which is not sung during Lent). The music achieves an overall mysterious effect through Walton’s unique harmonic language and voicing, though it becomes exuberant at “Hosanna in excelsis.” Walton, a versatile composer who wrote in many genres, was an important part of England’s musical establishment during his life, chronologically between Vaughan Williams and Britten. The motet at Communion is Drop, drop, slow tears by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988) . . . Saint Mary’s is one of a handful of parishes where the Nicene Creed, or Credo, is sung at each Solemn Mass by the congregation. (While most of the choral settings of the Mass we offer include a Credo, there are overwhelming theological reasons for congregational singing of this portion of the ordinary.) There are six chant settings of Credo in common usage; we use an English adaptation from The Hymnal 1982 of Credo I by Bruce Ford, a friend of Saint Mary’s. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth 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.