From the Rector: Unexpected Learning
I found myself back on an MRI scanning table last week. I hadn’t had an MRI since 1995, when I was seriously ill with what turned out to be a brain abscess. This MRI was to make sure there was no infection in the tissues around one of my ears. I’m not sure that without my history I would have agreed to the procedure, but with my history, I didn’t object. The MRI is an easy test, as these things go. Everything is fine; my body is just getting older. As I lay there for the exam, it was easy to relax – despite the noise of the magnets. I found myself very, very thankful for life – and for modern medicine.
I also found my body, yes my physical body, remembering something that it had learned in 1995. While I was so seriously ill then – and for almost a week no one was sure what was wrong with me, – I was able absolutely to manage my emotional reactivity. A calm, rational acceptance simply took over. It was more than emotion. It had a physical component. I was aware of a kind of complete union of mind and body.
It took about two months for the abscess to heal completely – “brain waves are unremarkable asleep or awake” were the magic words that released me from treatment. Of course it was months before anything bothered me. Serious illness, many will attest, has a way of helping us human beings become less anxious about little things. Lying in the MRI machine on Tuesday, I recalled the physical sense of this emotional strength. My body was telling me, reminding me, of where I had been before. I could not help but wonder when I will find myself needing to call on this reserve again. I want it to be there when I need it. With respect, I think God is present in our lives like this too. He really is there all the time.
There are times in our lives when we can be intensely aware of God’s presence and God’s call to us as human beings to know him, to love him and to serve him. I think it is fair to say that Anglican spirituality generally has a broad sense of God’s ongoing presence in human lives. The Good News we proclaim is not that we’ve come to help God be present where he has been absent, but that we help people begin to know that God has been with them and will be with them always.
I’ve been reading Mary Chloe’s book God Dwells with Us: Temple Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel. She’s a New Testament scholar, teaching at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. She suggests that Israel came to have a sacred time, the Sabbath, and a sacred place, the temple in Jerusalem that witnessed to the continuing presence of God. A sense of sacred time and sacred place certainly continues to shape Christianity. But our Christian Sundays, churches, places of pilgrimage and rites point us to God’s continuing presence with us. I think we are closer to reality when our lives and our worship help us to recall this. God himself is the source of our life, and it is he who gives us the gift of faith to know him and to grow in relationship to him and each other in this world and the world to come. I hope I will want always to welcome the learning about God and myself that comes my way. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Norah, Storey, Guy, Diane, Pedro, Joe, Mark, Mara, David, Ovidiu, Robyn, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Terry, Mary, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Carl, priest, Charles, priest, and Robert, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Katharine, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the soul of Annaliese . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 13: 1958 Earle W. Stevenson, 1992 George Edward Mueller; April 19: 1997 Gudrun Lagergren.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday, April 13, Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., teaches “Saint Francis and Saint Clare,” the second of our Sunday morning series for April. The class is held in the Mission House at 10:00 AM . . . The Book Sale to support Father Smith’s discretionary fund resumes this Sunday after the Solemn Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Father Mead’s Bible Study meets on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM in the Mission House for dinner and study. The class is reading the Letter to the Hebrews. Please join us! . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, April 12. Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, April 19.
COMING EVENTS . . . On Sunday, April 20, Jed Fox speaks on “Keble, Pusey, Newman & the Oxford Movement” in the Adult Class at 10:00 AM . . . Ascension Day is Thursday, May 1 . . . AIDS Walk 2008 is on Sunday, May 18 . . . On Sunday, May 18, Trinity Sunday, we offer our final Solemn Evensong & Benediction 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, Corpus Christi, our guest preacher for the Solemn Mass 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 those who have made donations to “The Arrow Archive Project.” You were very generous; we have the money we need, and we are proceeding! . . . The Rector will be away at a Leadership in Ministry course from Sunday evening, April 13, until Wednesday afternoon, April 16 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 328.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Fuge über den Namen BACH, Opus 60/3, by Robert Schumann (1810-1856). The postlude is Loben den Herren mit Pauken und Zimbeln schön (from Opus 101) by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Misericordias Domini, Opus 192, by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901). Rheinberger, an important composer and teacher of the German Romantic period, is known especially for his organ and sacred choral music. His aesthetic and style is in many ways similar to the great Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), composer of today’s Communion anthem (both men wrote music in a classical disposition, as opposed to the more free and “wilder” music of composers such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner). The anthem is How lovely is thy dwelling-place from Ein deutsches Requiem, Opus 45, by Brahms . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM is played by John P. Buckel . . . The choir of Christ Church, Bronxville, New York, sings music of Stanford, Purcell and Duruflé this Sunday at Evensong & Benediction . . . The offertory hymn at the Sung Mass and Solemn Mass is a favorite Easter hymn, The strife is o’er, the battle done (tune: Victory). The music comes from the Gloria Patri of a choral Magnificat by Palestrina. It was adapted for use as a hymn tune by William H. Monk. The text, originally in Latin, was translated by Francis Pott, published in 1861, and included (with adaptations) in that year’s edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern. Robert McCormick
“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. Greet a visitor and ask if he or she would like to go to Coffee Hour and show that person 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! You may actually be good at this! J.R.S.
OUTREACH OPPORTUNITY . . . The Seamen’s Church Institute is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that began in the 1840s. Trained chaplains and ship visitors provide social and pastoral services to seafarers entering the port of New York and New Jersey, visiting nearly 3,000 vessels each year. One of the ministries that the Institute undertakes is enlisting volunteers to knit scarves, caps, helmets(!), vests, socks and “other useful items” for mariners from around the world, many of whom are from the world’s tropical zones and are, therefore, ill-prepared for winter weather. Last year, some 4,000 volunteers from all 50 states made hand-knit gift items for the Institute’s “Christmas at Sea” program. Go to http://www.seamenschurch.org/484.asp to find out more about the program. The Institute’s website gives detailed information (and patterns!) about how and what to knit. Please tell Father Smith if you have decided to volunteer for this project.
PRESIDING BISHOPS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . I didn’t get the record quite right two weeks ago when I wrote that the Presiding Bishop would be the third presiding bishop to be at Saint Mary’s. (Many thanks to Father Barry Swain, rector, Church of the Resurrection, New York City, and to Dick Leitsch, our own archivist, for helping to set the record straight.) Dick is still looking into things, but at the moment, it seems the first presiding bishop to be celebrant and preacher for us was the Most Reverend John Maury Allin. He was here for our patronal feast in 1974, just a few months after he became presiding bishop. Bishop Allin would still be presiding bishop in 1983 when Saint Mary’s was host for a sesquicentennial anniversary of the Oxford Movement, not, as I reported, the Most Reverend Edmond Lee Browning. Bishop Allin was celebrant for this sesquicentennial celebration at Saint Mary’s. Bishop Browning was presiding bishop in 1995, when the parish celebrated the centennial anniversary of its second and present church home. He was celebrant for that service. Bishop Frank Griswold was here many times as celebrant and preacher during his tenure as presiding bishop. I hope Bishop Jefferts Schori also will be able to be with us many times in the years to come. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No Abstinence
Saturday Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury & Martyr, 1012
Eve of the Fifth Sunday of Easter
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 Solemn 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. 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.