From the Rector: Peter and Paul
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles. Most years there are one or two celebrations of a certain rank that parishes can choose to observe in preference to an ordinary Sunday in the Season after Epiphany or the Season after Pentecost. This year, in addition to Peter and Paul, Holy Cross Day, September 14, falls on a Sunday and we will keep it on Sunday. We also observe on Sundays the Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24), Assumption (August 15), and Saint Michael and All Angels (September 29) when these feasts fall on Sunday.
Early Christian tradition records the memory that Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome under Nero, who began a systematic persecution of the Christian community there after the famous fire in A.D. 64. We know little about the first Christians in Rome other than that there were many martyrs. I believe it is correct to say the historical record suggests the local church in Rome was one where the tradition of a single bishop for the city emerged after a period when there was a council of bishops. For those interested in a history of the Papacy, I highly recommend the very readable The Conclave: A Secret and Sometimes Bloody History of Papal Elections (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003) by Michael Walsh, a Roman Catholic historian.
It is very hard to write about Peter and Paul because it is so, so easy to use Christian language and thought of the succeeding generations to describe the lives and work of the first generations. No one who lived while Peter lived thought he was the “pope” – the title was not used for the bishop of Rome until the fourth century. In the Acts of the Apostles, although Peter spoke and was present, it was James of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord, who gives the judgment of the “apostles and elders” on the question of the customs gentiles who became followers of Jesus Christ were to follow. Clearly, like Paul and others, Peter was an “apostle.” It is not clear at all that anyone thought of apostles as bishops. The word “bishop,” that is, “overseer,” is used in the New Testament. What it meant then and what it came to mean are very different things.
That said, there are, of course, some excellent reasons for the Church to celebrate Peter and Paul. Peter knew Jesus, was one of the Twelve, is first to confess Jesus as Christ, and in general takes on a very active role in the Gospel accounts and in the Acts of the Apostles. He betrayed Jesus before dawn on the day Jesus was crucified but also went to the tomb on the first Easter Day. He knew the Risen Lord and became one of the leaders of the first community of Christians in Jerusalem. There is no reason to doubt the tradition of his martyrdom and Paul’s martyrdom in Rome and to have the highest reverence for their life and death.
Paul knew and persecuted the first Christians in Jerusalem. The Risen Lord appeared to him and called him to be an apostle. The earliest books of the New Testament are his letters, not the gospels. After Luke, he is the second principal author of the New Testament. The power of his teaching and preaching remain; the power of the Holy Spirit in his life remains. About his apostleship, he wrote, “We are fools . . . We are weak . . . we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things” (See 1 Corinthians 4:9-16).
Our present custom at Saint Mary’s is to sing the great hymn “For all the saints” only at the Masses on All Saints’ Day. Sunday’s commemoration gives us another opportunity. We will sing it as the offertory hymn at the Solemn Mass. At the Sung Mass and the Solemn Mass we will sing “A mighty fortress is our God” and “The eternal gifts of Christ the King.” There is something wonderful about singing a hymn by Martin Luther on the day the Church celebrates Peter and Paul. I hope you may be able to be with us on Sunday. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jennie who is gravely ill, for Jack, Gilbert, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Doreen, Katherine, Alan, Ovidiu, Bill, Eugene, Marietta, Esther, Mike, Richard, Betty, Janine, Taylor, Connie, Anne, Rick, Charles, Samuel, Philip, Carl, priest; and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew and Brendan.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, June 28. Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, July 5 . . . The parish office will be closed on Friday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The public services of the day will be 12:00 PM Noonday Office and 12:10 PM Mass . . . Father Smith continues on vacation through Sunday, July 6.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . It was great to have Richard Theilmann at church last Sunday and to know he is doing so well as he recovers from open heart surgery . . . Seminarian Jed Fox is assisting in the parish office two days a week in many areas, with special attention to the ongoing lectionary project. Very soon we hope to have it complete and up on our web page . . . Attendance last Sunday 282.
CONSERVING OUR HERITAGE . . . The set of seven lamps that hang under the rood screen originally hung in the first church on West 45th Street. The center one is not missing. It has been damaged and we have sent it out for repair. It’s going to cost $2,100.00. Donations are needed. It seems important to conserve this antique lamp that is a part of our heritage. Please make your check payable to Saint Mary’s and mark it for the sanctuary lamp repair. If you have any questions, please speak with the Rector.
RECEIVE THE ANGELUS BY E-MAIL . . . The Angelus is a vital communication tool, keeping us in contact with our local and international members. We don’t want to lose this opportunity to keep in touch, but postal rates continue to rise. As of this reading it costs us $82.74 a week to mail the Angelus and approximately $4202.96 for the year. In 2007 ten people contributed $378.32; in 2008 five people have now contributed $246.32. Thank you to those who have contributed or gone online. Please consider receiving the Angelus by e-mail at a cost of just pennies per e-mail. Contact Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website to subscribe online.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on St. Peter. The postlude is Tu es petra et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus te, from Esquisses byzantines (1914-1919), by Henri Mulet (1878-1967). The cantor is Ms. Karen Wapner, mezzo-soprano, and the music at Communion is Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, an aria from Cantata, BWV 100, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) . . . The congregational setting of Gloria in excelsis Deo that we sing during the summer is by the Welsh composer William Mathias (1934-1992). Though his works encompass a wide variety of styles and forms, he probably is best known for his choral music. Perhaps his most famous piece is Let the people praise thee, O God, an anthem composed in 1981 for the Royal Wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Robert McCormick
FAMILIES INTERESTED IN SUNDAY SCHOOL . . . On Wednesday, July 16, at 7:00 PM, Father Matthew Mead and Nicole Mead will host a dinner for anyone with children interested in Sunday School at Saint Mary’s. Children are of course invited to attend the dinner which, weather permitting, will be held on the outdoor roof terrace of the Mead apartment. If you are interested in attending the dinner, please contact Father Mead at email@example.com. Matthew Mead
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION . . . Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., has been a member of the Community of St. John Baptist for 18 years and trained as a spiritual director at the Center for Christian Spirituality at General Seminary. Currently, she is available to meet on Wednesdays at Saint Mary’s. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a meeting.
THE PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT . . . Throughout the fall of 2008 and the spring of 2009 the Wednesday Night Bible Study Group will study the prophets of the Old Testament. Our goal is to read the stories of the prophets in the Books of the Kings and read every book attributed to a prophet. Our primary source will be the Bible. Participants are encouraged to bring their own study Bible. Any translation may be used. Secondary and recommended readings are A History of Prophecy in Israel by Joseph Blenkinsopp and A History of Ancient Israel and Judah by J. Maxwell Miller and John H. Hayes. The Wednesday Night Bible Study includes a meal provided by a different participant each week. M.M.
VISUAL ART PROGRAM: THE WAY OF THE CROSS BY RANDALL GOOD . . . Currently on view in Saint Joseph’s Hall is Randall M. Good’s series of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. These oil on wood panel paintings were commissioned by a church in Hope, Arkansas, and are currently touring the country before they are installed there permanently. A book about the exhibition is available in the gift shop and the artist will be visiting Saint Mary’s to give a talk about his work and sign copies of the book in August 2008. More information can be found here: http://www.bluemoonartgallery.com. The exhibit is on display until August 30, 2008.
SUNG MASS AT 9:00 AM EVERY SUNDAY . . . The 9:00 AM Sung Mass on Sunday mornings includes two great hymns each week, congregational singing of the Ordinary (Gloria, Sanctus & Benedictus, Angus Dei) and a sung psalm. The service lasts approximately 50 minutes and is followed by a brief coffee hour. If you haven’t been, it’s a great way to begin a summer Sunday! M.M.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Saint Peter & Saint Paul, Apostles
Friday Independence Day : Federal Holiday Schedule
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Said Mass.
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. (The 12:10 PM Mass on Wednesday is sung.)
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.