From the Rector: Richness of Tradition
This week I was finally able to read an article that I’ve wanted to see for some time. It’s by Father Paul Bradshaw, the Anglican liturgist who is professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Its title is “The Eucharistic Sayings of Jesus” (Studia Liturgica 35, 2005, pages 1-11). Father Bradshaw is a careful and very readable scholar. He’s very good at taking a fresh look at sources to see what they say, or don’t say, and to see if the sources are actually addressing a particular issue.
For many reasons there are lots of things we just don’t know and will never know about the early Christian communities. At different points in our lives, many of us were taught (and have sometimes taught others) that, for example, the essentials of the shape of the Mass have always been pretty much as they are now. Turns out, that it probably isn’t that simple.
Bradshaw’s article looks at the “Words of Institution” (“Take, eat . . . Do this for the remembrance of me”) in the Eucharistic prayers. They were not universally a part of these prayers in the first and second centuries. One implication is that instead of taking the worshiper spiritually to the Upper Room, the Eucharistic proclamation fostered a profound sense of a present and “life-giving Jesus.” To me, this is an example of the richness of Christian tradition that invites a fresh look. Christian tradition is much richer than my own disposition to see a more linear, or direct, development through the centuries.
One of the things I most appreciate about Paul Bradshaw as a scholar is his obvious faithfulness to Christ. By way of contrast, Thomas Jefferson was probably more of a deist than a Christian. But he once wrote something about truth and reason that has shaped my thinking ever since I encountered it in my first year at college. Writing in 1820 about the then newly chartered University of Virginia, Jefferson wrote, “For here, we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” When I discovered Richard Hooker and the Anglican theological tradition with its balance among Scripture, reason and tradition, I was home.
There are people who are not comfortable with or capable of living with certain kinds of ambiguity in their lives – I find myself remembering parents in another parish who said they would not visit their son because he wasn’t married to the woman he had lived with faithfully as a couple for more than decade. Western Christianity has a particular affection, not unrelated at all to our Judaic heritage, for questions and answers, rules and regulations. Sometimes this heritage serves us well, sometimes less well.
The Church of England voted on Monday, July 7, to move forward the process of ordaining women as bishops. My sense from reading the news accounts is that there is a long way to go before this actually happens. I imagine almost all readers of this newsletter are aware too that on Wednesday, July 16, the Lambeth Conference, the every ten-year gathering of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, will begin. Not all Anglican bishops will be there. One of our American bishops was not invited and a number of bishops are staying away because the archbishop of Canterbury has invited bishops who support the ordination of homosexual persons. For some time I have had the sense that the controversies and anger in many quarters of the wider Anglican Communion have more to do with unresolved tensions within the Church of England than with the other provinces of our Anglican fellowship. If the Church of England were able to be clear about where it stands I think the rest of the Communion could find its place with far less acrimony.
When the invited bishops leave Canterbury, England, where the conference is held, on Sunday evening, August 3, Canterbury Cathedral will still be standing and open daily for the work and mission of God and so will the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in the City of New York. God only knows how much anxiety the press and those with an agenda may try to stir up among us – in the short term. But anyone of us who takes a long view can’t help but see the grace of God unfolding at this time – and the richness of our Anglican Christian tradition.
After a fire in 1895, Jefferson’s design for the University of Virginia was altered fundamentally, and forever, by the enclosure of the central group of buildings – which had looked out to the mountains – by the construction of three new buildings. Across the façade of one of these new buildings, which though smaller, stood opposite Jefferson’s “temple to reason” – the original library of the university, modeled on the Pantheon in Rome – the faculty had inscribed, in the original Greek, a verse from John’s gospel. In English the verse reads, “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.” The members of the faculty were in the right. I think we can trust that the Holy Spirit is still trying to help us in our own time to know the truth and to set us free. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Valerie, Jennie, Gilbert, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Katherine, Ovidiu, Marietta, Connie, Rick, 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 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 15: 1986 Peter A.J. McGrane, 1989 Allen C. Satterfield, 1989 Robert Fox Davis.
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 Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, July 12, at 11:30 AM. Confessions will not be heard at 4:00 PM on July 12 in order to accommodate a wedding scheduled for 3:30 PM . . . Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, July 19 . . . Father Gerth is away on vacation from July 10 through July 23.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The dinner for Sunday School parents is on Wednesday, July 16. If you haven’t signed up, please be in touch with Father Mead. . . . Many thanks to Grace Treiman for her help in the office this summer . . . Our seminarian Jedediah Fox is also assisting two days a week in the office and at the altar . . . As we go to press, donations for flowers for the high altar are still needed for July 20, July 27, all of the Sundays in August, except August 17, and for the feast of the Assumption on August 15 . . . Attendance last Sunday 300.
LETTING OUR LIGHTS SHINE . . . Many, many thanks to all who have given to the refurbishment of the hanging sanctuary lamp. The lamp is now at the conservator’s shop. We await its return. In fact, an excess of funds was given. The Rector is writing to all who made contributions for the repair in hopes they will permit their share of the excess to be applied to the repair of another part of our patrimony, the so-called “burning bushes” – the ecclesiastical candelabra that adorn the altar from time to time. We have two sets of them. The larger set is in need of substantial repair. There’s no inscription or record of when they were given, but they appear in a photograph marked Easter 1906. One of the pieces in this set is missing a crucial support beam and several of the cups which hold the individual candles need to be replaced. Until the repairs are made, the set cannot be used safely: without the support beam one of the pieces leans dangerously to one side and is on the verge of collapse. We will keep you posted for the need for any additional funds!
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CHILD CARE & NURSERY UPDATE . . . The parish nursery will reopen this Sunday. Ms. Brittany Innis, who had run the nursery since it was created two years ago, moved to Alabama at the end of June. Due to the move, she is obviously no longer able to work on Sundays in New York City. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brittany for her wonderful work over the last few years. She was integral in the transition from a part-time nursery to a nursery open every Sunday, and she will be greatly missed. Ms. Laura Minor, a professional childcare provider who is infant/child-CPR-certified and has worked previously as a kindergarten teacher, will begin work in our nursery this Sunday, July 13. As parents with a toddler (our son Liam), my wife Nicole and I look forward to her arrival and to the reopening of the parish nursery. The nursery is open every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM and on certain feast days during the liturgical year. Matthew Mead
SAINT MARY'S ON THE ROAD . . . On Tuesday, July 15, a group of Saint Marians will head to Central Park for the New York Philharmonic concert on the Great Lawn. Admission is free, and we will be picnicking. The concert program is Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Beethoven: Symphony No. 4; Sibelius: Finlandia. For more information contact Grace Treiman.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is a chorale prelude based on the tune of today’s postcommunion hymn, Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731 by J.S. Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is a chorale prelude from Bach’s Orgelbüchlein, Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 642. Mr. Robert McDermitt, associate organist, plays the organ. The cantor is Mr. Steven Fox, tenor, and the music at Communion is Nigra sum sed formosa filia Ierusalem from Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610, SV 206/206a) by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Robert McDermitt
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Bonaventure, Bishop and Friar, 1274
Thursday William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Tenth 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. Child care is available from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM every Sunday.
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. Wednesday 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include healing services.
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.