From the Rector: Requirements
When I served in Louisiana I knew a retired priest who had come over to the United States years before from the Church of Ireland. I once interviewed for a position he had held. He was remembered in that small Louisiana town for many good things, but he was also remembered because he had refused to give out ashes on Ash Wednesday. Matthew’s gospel says very plainly that we are not to do this, and it was done in his day in the Church of Ireland. I also remember a priest in Louisiana originally from the evangelical wing of the Church of England. He simply would not pray for the dead – because it’s not mentioned explicitly in the Bible. This is something American Anglicans and the vast majority of Anglicans around the world do not understand. Most of us believe that death does not end our love and care for those we know and death does not end their love and care for us.
Both of these priests were good pastors, or their parishes would not have put up with them, cared for and supported them. For whatever reason they reached boundaries in their work where pastoral reality was trumped by their theological convictions. That’s something that continues to give me pause. Our tradition is pretty broad. I know I have some boundaries, places where theology is probably more ideology than it should be. But I also know it’s possible to be together as a family and for everyone not to have to agree with everyone else. I want to be very careful and caring when I draw boundary lines in my life.
My Roman Catholic grandparents’ house had a collection of Marian pictures and statues. Rosaries were not too hard to find in that house either. Being reared as a Baptist, however, the whole subject was distant from the very christocentric view of salvation I imbibed from an early age. Jesus mattered, and so did the Holy Trinity. Very little else did. One was respectful about one’s grandparents’ denomination, and they were respectful of mine.
It’s hard to reconstruct one’s childhood. When the brain reaches the ability to think in the abstract – around age eleven to twelve – and as adolescence sets in, childhood perceptions and memories get lost in the reality of a cortex that will continue to grow and change through the teenage years. However, like the basic, emotional pattern of our lives – which doesn’t change very much as we grow – the basic patterns of our early religious experiences endure. When I confront things that seem to be different, especially in religion, I confess I don’t always access easily the tolerance in my background. But as much as Jesus is there, so is a confidence in the breadth of God’s love and purpose for humankind.
I’m profoundly happy that several accidents of my life meant that I would end up being an Episcopalian. Being an Anglican has helped me live with increasing integrity. It certainly hasn’t begun to solve all the ordinary and extraordinary problems of simply being a human being. But, more often these days, I find myself wanting to embrace the gift of life on its own terms – an Anglican perspective that creation is fundamentally good – than to try to impose a theology that is removed from reality. There are many, many ways life can be holy. Among the best summaries is from the Book of Micah, “He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8).
This Sunday, the first Sunday in May, as the Solemn Mass moves to its conclusion, we will have prayers at the Lady Shrine for the Virgin Mary. That Church of Ireland priest would not have liked this; I’m not sure the guy from England would have managed to sit through Mass in our building – he didn’t do statues either as I recall. I think we are in a time when clarity about what we believe as Christians and as Anglican Christians is important, and we are in a time when kindness and justice and mercy should characterize the way we speak as individuals of faith and as a community of faith. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Philip, Hector, Mary Katherine, America, Sam, Ovidiu, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Bill, Eugene, Joe, Pedro, Terry, Mary, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Carl, PRIEST, Gerald, PRIEST, and Charles, PRIEST; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Katharine, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 4: 1995 Alexandrina Patricia Hunte; May 5: 1965 Elizabeth Perrigo.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Christian Formation: On Sunday, May 4, parishioner Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will teach a class entitled “Saint Mary in Poetry” in the Adult Class at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. Rebecca teaches English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is also a postulant for ordination to the permanent diaconate . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, May 3. Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, May 10.
COMING EVENTS . . . John Alexander Christopher Sewell, son of prospective member David Sewell and Alexandra Mitrakos Sewell, is to be baptized at the Solemn Mass on the Day of Pentecost, May 11, 2008. John Alexander was born on February 5, 2008. Alexandra and David, accompanied by John Alexander and their daughter Anna, have worshipped with us on a number of occasions in recent months. Please keep the Sewell family in your prayers and be sure to introduce yourselves to them on Pentecost . . . Saturday, May 17, and Sunday, May 18: AIDS Walk 2008 . . . 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 . . . The end-of-year party for the parish Guilds (servers, readers, altar guild, ushers, etc.) will be on Father Mead’s roof following Solemn Mass on Corpus Christi . . . Sunday, May 25, summer schedule begins: Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM, Said Mass at 5:20 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Visual Arts Program “in color & b&w” now on display in Saint Joseph’s Hall featuring John Peñuelas and J-F Vergel will continue until May 30th. Please visit the visual arts page at www.stmvirgin.org. Father Smith will be on vacation Friday, May 2, through and including Saturday, May 10 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 360.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2008 . . . Our complex of buildings is well over a hundred years old. As a parish, we are committed to the regular maintenance of the resources handed down to us by our ancestors in the faith. We are careful about how and when we undertake certain projects; however, we do not believe in simply “deferring” maintenance until a “date uncertain.” It is, of course, extremely costly to maintain our buildings, but it is well worth doing so. They make all that we do possible. The Finance Office tells us that so far this year our plumbing bills amount to $17,000; in 2007 we spent $85,548 on expenses related to the plumbing in our buildings. If you have not made a pledge for 2008, we invite you to do so. If you have questions, please contact MaryJane Boland (email@example.com) or Father Jay Smith. J.R.S.
AIDS WALK 2008 . . . You still have time to support your parish’s Team! As of Tuesday, April 29, twenty-two Saint Marians and their friends have registered to participate in this year’s AIDS Walk. So far the Saint Mary’s team has raised 37.8% of its $20,000 goal. Individual team members do not contact their fellow parishioners for contributions. Rather, they prefer to ask their fellow Saint Marians to support their parish team as a whole. You can support your parish’s team and the fight against HIV and AIDS by visiting the AIDS Walk website and making a donation online or by writing a check. In order to donate online, go to the AIDS Walk website (http://www.aidswalk.net/newyork), click the Team Info link on the left-hand side of the home page, scroll down and click on “2008 Registered Teams,” and then look for “Saint Mary the Virgin.” For more information about making a contribution, sponsoring the team, or joining the team as a walker, please contact MaryJane Boland (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS . . . In the calendar of the church, we commemorate Saint Gregory Nazianzus on Friday, May 9. Gregory (329-89) was a friend of his contemporaries, Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa. Gregory Nazianzus was for a time patriarch of Constantinople. He was known during his life as a great preacher. He is remembered, especially in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, as one of the church’s greatest theologians. In an oration delivered on Easter Day 362 Gregory described the Christian life in this way, “Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become “gods” for his sake, since he, for us, became human. He assumed the worse that he might give us the better. He became poor that we through his poverty might be rich. He took upon him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty. He came down that we might be exalted. He was tempted that we might conquer. He was dishonored that he might glorify us. He died that he might save us. He ascended that he might draw to himself us, who were lying low in the fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to him who gave himself a ransom and a reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake everything that he became for us.”
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Chorale Prelude on ‘Llanfair’ (1995) by McNeil Robinson (b. 1943). The postlude is Heut’ triumphieret Gottes Sohn, BWV 630, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Ascendens Christus in altum by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). The Spanish Victoria, one of the greatest musicians of the late Renaissance, lived and worked for many years in Rome, though he is recognized as Spain’s finest composer of that period. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1575 by the last surviving English Roman Catholic bishop. This ebullient setting for five-part choir, a parody mass, is based upon his motet of the same name for Ascension Day, sung during Communion . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM is played by the music director . . . The Evensong Choir sings plainsong and a Nunc dimittis by Walmisley at Evensong & Benediction this Sunday. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Dame Julian of Norwich, 1417
Friday Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople, 389 No Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday
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, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 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.