From the Rector: Pentecost & the Unity of Eastertide
When I begin to reflect on or write about the calendar of the Christian Church, it is important for me to remember that before there was an Easter, a Christmas, a Pentecost or anything else, there was Sunday. Sunday is the original, weekly celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is easy to lose sight of the meaning and importance of Sunday for lots of reasons. But without knowing Sunday as the weekly celebration of Christ’s dying and rising, Christian practice and faith can be overwhelmed by secondary things – the outward signs of ashes and palms come to mind.
The Sunday of the Resurrection, that is, Easter Day, was the first particular celebration to emerge in the Church’s life, probably before the end of the first century. In the next decades, the Sunday before Easter Day became the Sunday of the Passion. Again, this happened long before Jesus had a “birthday.” Is Christmas important? Absolutely. But its meaning arises out of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The birth of Jesus does not explain Jesus’ death and resurrection; his death and resurrection explains his birth.
Sunday explains Christmas and all other feasts of our Lord, again, including Easter. Sunday comes first. And if I am reading Adolf Adam’s The Liturgical Year (The Liturgical Press, 1981) correctly, sometime before AD 150, and long before there was a Maundy Thursday, a Good Friday or an Ascension Day, it seems there was an Easter Season of fifty days, Quinquagesima in Latin, Pentekostē in Greek. For Christians of the early second century, Pentecost wasn’t a day as much as it was the season.
In the Jewish calendar, Shavuot is the harvest festival observed fifty days after Passover. It celebrated Moses receiving the Law from God. At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples were gathered on this day when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Unlike the repeated giving of the Spirit recounted in John’s gospel, Luke describes this one particular outpouring as a one-time event. The disciples did not have time to discuss it or argue about it. The Lord came upon them. He did not have to fall on them in the same way again.
It doesn’t really matter whether you or I have experienced God’s Spirit with an initial one-time moment of conversion, or we come to understand God’s presence as the still small voice that continues to speak to us. The kingdom of God is unfolding as time itself unfolds.
As much as I love the Church’s feasts – and one of the great things for me personally about becoming an Episcopalian was to be introduced to the Church calendar – I am in love with Sundays more than anything else. I don’t know if this will always be true. It mirrors in some way the understanding I have about the vocation of a priest. I am not a pastor because I am a priest; I am a priest because I am a pastor. Christmas is glorious because of the ordinary Sundays in the year; Sundays are not special because of Christmas.
I invite you to be with us on Pentecost to conclude the Easter Season in the best possible way. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. We celebrate Holy Baptism too at 11:00 AM. And, I invite you to come back to church for the last service of the Easter season, Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Marietta, Philip, Mary Katherine, America, Sam, Ovidiu, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Bill, Eugene, Joe, Pedro, Terry, Mary, Gert, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Carl, priest, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Katharine, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 10: 1994 Malcolm Benton Wallace; May 15: 1981 James Thomas Gordon.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Friday abstinence resumes this year on May 16.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The reception after Evensong will be in honor of Saint Mary’s Evensong Choir, which sings for the last time this season on Pentecost . . . The Book Sale to support Father Smith’s Emergency Fund resumes this Sunday after the Solemn Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, May 17; Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, May 24.
COMING EVENTS . . . Saturday, May 17, and Sunday, May 18: AIDS Walk 2008 . . . Sunday, May 18, Trinity Sunday: the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass will include the Solemn Te Deum from Byrd’s The Great Service; and the 5:00 PM Evensong & Benediction is the last of this season . . . 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 annual end-of-season picnic for the parish Guilds will follow Solemn Mass on Corpus Christi. The party will take place on the Mead family roof terrace on the 5th floor of the parish house. Members of all parish guilds are invited . . . Sunday, May 25, summer schedule begins: Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM, Said Mass at 5:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study wrap-up party will take place on the Mead family roof terrace on Wednesday, June 11, 2008. Please RSVP to Father Mead.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Vince Amodei and Sandra Schubert will be at the ACS convention in Houston, Texas, from Tuesday, May 13, until Friday, May 16. Dick Leitsch will be in the parish office assisting in Sandra’s absence . . . There will be Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Maurice Allen Garrison, priest, on Saturday, May 17, at 12:00 PM at the Church of the Transfiguration, One East 29th Street, New York City. In retirement Father Garrison, who died on April 14, served often at the altar of our parish as well as at the Church of the Transfiguration . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 281.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2008 . . . “What Saint Mary’s means to me” . . . After living in Manhattan for nearly thirty years, I finally “discovered” Saint Mary’s a year ago in September when my office moved around the corner. The first time I entered the church was for a noonday Mass on an ordinary weekday, and I particularly remember the friendly welcome by Dick Leitsch, who greeted me at the door. I was immediately struck by the spirituality of this sacred space and knew that instant that I would be back, though becoming a member of the community was not on my mind at first. It was not until I attended the Solemn Pontifical Mass on All Saints’ Day 2006 that I felt touched by the Spirit. Soon thereafter, I started attending Sunday worship faithfully – just in time for Commitment Sunday! The spiritual rewards of that first pledge have not stopped coming and my life has been enriched with new friendships and purpose. To go from occasional, anonymous worship to deep personal commitment in the span of one year is pretty amazing, or maybe it is just the magic of Saint Mary’s. Marie Rosseels
AIDS WALK 2008 . . . 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).
SAINT MARY’S EVENSONG CHOIR . . . I extend my heartfelt thanks to the dedicated members of Saint Mary’s Evensong Choir. This group began singing together this past January, adding new members almost each week. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with them. The members are Dale Bonenberger, Gene Brocius, Jean Brown, Robert Cutting, Gypsy DaSilva, Julie Gillis, Jerry Gould, Pamela Hall, Christian Henning, Allen Hill, Seth Kasten, Hazel Kersellius, Denise Pillott, James Preiss, Alma Rivera, Monique Rose, Leroy Sharer, Ginny Singeltary, Catherine Stanke, Barbara Stettner, Dan Thompson and Mim Warden. Robert McCormick
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, BuxWV 209, by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). The postlude is an improvisation on Veni Creator Spiritus. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Octo vocum by Hans Leo Hassler (1512-1562). Though he was Protestant, Hassler, a student in Venice of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586), wrote a good amount of Latin music for Roman Catholic liturgy (in addition to madrigals, keyboard music and instrumental music). This work for double choir (two distinct choirs of four parts each) bears the influence of the Venetian polychoral tradition. This tradition, which was prominent at the time of the transition from Renaissance to Baroque styles of music, is particularly associated with Giovanni Gabrieli, organist of St. Mark’s, Venice (who was nephew of Andrea Gabrieli and a contemporary of Hassler). The motet at Communion is Dum complerentur by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) . . . Immediately before the Gospel at the Solemn Mass, the congregation sings Veni Sancte Spiritus, the so-called “golden sequence.” Liturgical sequence hymns were an outgrowth of the Alleluia chants that immediately preceded them. At one point, there were hundreds of proper sequences, but only three remain officially sanctioned in the liturgy, this being one of them (another, Victimae Paschali laudes, we have sung throughout Eastertide, and the other, Lauda Sion Salvatorem, we sing on Corpus Christi) . . . The Evensong Choir sings for the final time this “choir season” at Evensong & Benediction, including a Magnificat by Bairstow and a setting of O salutaris Hostia by Giles Farnaby. R.McC.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday
Monday The First Book of Common Prayer
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
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.