From the Rector: Trinity at Saint Mary’s
It is to Pope John XXII, a bishop of “Rome” from 1316 until 1334, who never made it to Rome – he was the second pope in Avignon – that we really owe credit for two of the three “theme” feasts that survive across the wider Church, Trinity Sunday and the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ, commonly called “Corpus Christi.” In John XXII’s day, both celebrations had been around for a while, a Mass of the Holy Trinity since the eighth century, Corpus Christi since the thirteenth. This pope imposed both celebrations on the entire Western Church.
Trinity Sunday survived the Reformation in England and other liturgical churches of the Protestant Reformation. Corpus Christi did not – more about that next week as we observe Corpus Christi at Saint Mary’s on the Second Sunday after Pentecost. (The third “theme” Sunday is Christ the King, the Last Sunday after Pentecost.) Trinity Sunday has its origins in the theological controversies that date to the earliest days of the Church’s life: Who is God and how do we speak about God correctly?
By the second half of the first century, no more than fifty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, those questions shaped the discourse of the emerging Church. Matthew’s Gospel and Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, both composed around A.D. 80, have different answers to the question of in whose name the Church should baptize. Ten to twenty years later, John’s Gospel speaks in its own way about the work of the Father, the Son and the “Paraclete” (or “Comforter”). My dictionary, Random House, defines Paraclete as “literally, the person called in to help.”
Until I got to seminary, I didn’t have any appreciation for how controversial the question of the Trinity had been in the early Church – or that those same fights would survive today along much the same lines. But it’s not just an exercise in linguistic correctness. We are loved and saved by Persons, not ideas or concepts. I’ve written before of encountering as a pastor how important ordinary Trinitarian language has been for people who got through childhood because they had heard “Good News” of their heavenly Father when their own earthly fathers had failed them, often with great cruelty.
God revealed himself completely as one God in Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One may certainly address prayer to the Father, to the Son or to the Holy Spirit. But the common prayers of the Church are normatively addressed to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. Trinitarian theology and language are fundamental to who we are as Christians. Yet this revealed language does not control or limit God. It is, however, language we can use with confidence to describe the reality of God we have encountered and believed in.The first church I attended as an infant was Trinity Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia. The first hymn, in the hymnal I knew most of my life growing up, was “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!” I’ve been surrounded by the Trinity for so long that it is just a given in my life. Many Episcopal parishes are also named after the Trinity – it was a good way to distinguish ourselves from Unitarians and Universalists in the nineteenth century.
At all of the Sunday services (except the Said Mass at 10:00 AM) there will be great hymns and Trinitarian music. I think you can trust my colleagues and me to preach no heresy this Sunday about God! If we have to have a feast to begin the Season after Pentecost, I can think of no better one than the celebration in honor of the Holy Trinity. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Esther, Carol, Marietta, Philip, Ovidiu, Doreen, Brooke, Allison, Bill, Eugene, 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; and for the repose of the souls of Mary and Max . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 16: 1960 Minnie Packard Rounds; 1992 John Francis Arnold; May 18: 1949 Don Patterson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Mary Young Ousley, wife of the Reverend Douglas J. Ousley, rector of the Church of the Incarnation, Manhattan, died on Tuesday, May 13, following a lengthy illness. Please pray for Mary, for Douglas and for all who mourn . . . Max Henderson-Begg, verger, Saint Thomas Church, Manhattan, died suddenly on Wednesday, May 14. Please pray for Max, for his widow Heather Cross, and for all who mourn.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of 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 . . . Saint Marians are walking and giving on Saturday, May 17, and on Sunday, May 18, for this year’s AIDS Walk . . . Trinity Sunday evening we will have Sunday Evensong for the last time until October 5, 2008 . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, May 17; Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, May 24.
COMING EVENTS . . . The organ recital by Robert McCormick scheduled on Monday, May 19, has been cancelled . . . 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 fifth floor of the parish house. Members of all parish guilds are invited . . . The Summer Sunday Schedule begins on Sunday evening, May 25: 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 . . . Many thanks to Dick Leitsch who assisted last week in the office while Vince Amodei and Sandra Schubert were attending the ACS Convention. ACS Technologies provides the data management products for membership and financial records . . . This week, the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, celebrates the anniversary of his ordination as bishop on May 22, 1981. He served as bishop of New York from 1989 to 2001 and is often with us at Saint Mary’s . . . We have received pledges for 2008 totaling $508,662.00, which is 93% of our goal. If you have not yet made a pledge, but would like to do so, please call the Parish Office and we will send you a pledge card . . . David Jette is speaking at the Diocesan Acolyte Festival on Saturday, May 17, on “Liturgy 101 for Adults”. . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, May 19, at 7:00 PM . . . The Rector will be away Tuesday, May 20, through Friday, May 23 . . . Elizabeth Baber, a member of Saint Mary’s Choir, was recently married to Charles Weaver. Congratulations to them both! . . . Congratulations to Rosanne Talbird who has graduated from Iona College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology . . . USPS postage costs continue to climb. We are always happy to send “The Angelus” by e-mail. Please let us know if we may. We also welcome special donations to defray the cost of postage . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 386.
INTERIM MUSIC DIRECTOR SEARCH . . . Christine Hoffman was our consultant for the search which brought us Robert McCormick in 2001. She’s been active in music in New York for many years. I’ve asked Christine to assist me in the search for a new interim and for a new permanent parish musician. Between us, we think we know enough people in our area to find an excellent person for the interim position without doing a wider search. Then, I plan to put my efforts into the search for a permanent person. I hope this permanent person will be in place by July 1, 2009. S.G.
AIDS WALK 2008 . . . As of Tuesday, May 13, 2008, twenty-six Saint Marians and their friends have registered to participate in this year’s AIDS Walk. We have raised 56.4% of our $20,000 goal. You can support your parish’s team by visiting the AIDS Walk website and making a donation online or by writing a check. Go to the AIDS Walk site (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 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).
OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTREACH . . . As many of you know, food prices are rising at an alarming rate, both in this country and around the world. If you are thinking about ways to help, you might take a look at the following websites: Citymeals-on-Wheels (citymeals.org), Food Bank for New York City (foodbanknyc.org), or City Harvest (cityharvest.org). J.R.S.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude and postlude are two settings of the German chorale Wir gläuben all an einem Gott, BWV 681 and 680, respectively, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). This chorale is a metrical (hymn) version in German of the Nicene Creed. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa aedis Christi (“Mass of the house of Christ”) by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). This beautiful setting was composed 1958 for the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, England. Though set for four-part choir, it frequently splits into six and seven parts, giving the texture a rich and full sound. Howells made many contributions to sacred music; a great deal of it is not widely heard. The anthem at Communion is A hymn to the Trinity by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). The Te Deum laudamus, sung “solemnly,” is from William Byrd’s (1543-1623) Great Service, a sizable collection of liturgical music written for the reformed English rites of Matins, Holy Communion and Evensong, as found in the Book of Common Prayer. This joyful setting, large in scale, is for two choirs of five parts each . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM, the final one of the season, is by Matthew Lewis . . . The choir of St. Peter’s Church, Morristown, New Jersey, under the direction of Brian Harlow, sings music of Roland Martin, David McK. Williams and Duruflé at Evensong & Benediction. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Trinity Sunday
Monday Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988
Tuesday Alcuin, Deacon, and Abbot of Tours, 804
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Jackson Kemper, First Missionary Bishop in the United States, 1870
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.