From Father Smith: The Hope of Our Calling
A friend called me early one morning recently and invited me to a performance of the Public Theater’s production of Hamlet in Central Park. She told me that she was already in the Park, had a good place in line and was sure that she would be able to get us tickets for that evening’s performance. I was on vacation and was free that evening, so I eagerly accepted her kind offer. I also thanked her for doing all the work.
Tickets to the Park productions are free of charge, but the procedures required to secure a ticket are elaborate and require a long wait in a line that forms at a dauntingly early hour. My good fortune did not end there, however. The weather that day was glorious. We had great seats and all of the actors handled the verse exceedingly well. Most of the performances were very good. (New York Episcopalians will be pleased, and proud, to learn that Sam Waterston’s Polonius was one of the best things onstage that night.)
There was another blessing: the performance we attended took place on June 20, the longest day of the year. It began to grow dark quite late, long after the play had begun. The moon was almost full that evening and so, as the sun set behind us, the huge rising moon was slowly transfigured. It turned a deep, reddish-orange. It seemed to hang just above the stage, a gorgeous and amazingly apt addition to the scenic design. The actors, mostly facing downstage, and therefore towards the West, seemed unaware of all this, until, early in the second act, the actor playing Hamlet turned upstage and caught a glimpse of the huge, blood-red moon hanging in the twilit sky. He paused for just a second; you could hear his voice catch, just a bit, but quite audibly, and then, a moment later he turned downstage, faced the audience and went on with the scene, a scene in which Hamlet says, “I have of late…lost all my mirth…and indeed this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, – why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours…”
The moment was profoundly ironic. The actor took all the energy of that exact moment, that beautiful moment, in time and space, raised his eyes and arms to the heavens and channeled all that awareness, and all that feeling, into a speech about despair, disillusionment and disgust (“What a piece of work is man!...and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust?”).
In the days that followed, I thought a lot about that scene. The power of that live, dramatic moment interpreted and relativized the despair of the language: hope and life and giddy joy co-existed with the fear, the sadness and the tragedy; and neither element cancelled out the other. And it occurs to me that that is one of the reasons why we pray the psalms day after day. Because we get to say, “Lord, why have you rejected me? Why have you hidden your face from me?” (Psalm 88:15) and then, a few verses later, we let the sacred word give us a kind of answer, “Your love, O Lord, for ever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness” (Psalm 89:1).
In praying the psalms and in our life in Christ, both things are true, paradoxically and without contradiction. Hope is our calling (Ephesians 4:4). Cross leads to resurrection. James Ross Smith
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Valerie, Olga, Jennie, Freya, Chris, Sophia, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Katherine, Ovidiu, Marietta, Connie, Rick, Elsa, priest, 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 21: 1963 Frederick Webb Ross; July 22: 1960 Mary Waters.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, July 19. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, July 26 . . . Father Gerth is away on vacation from July 10 through July 23. Father Mead will be away on vacation from July 27 through August 9.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, donations for flowers for the high altar are still needed for July 27 and August 3, 10, 24 and 31 . . . Angela Tomlinson and James Tassie were married here at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, July 12. James and Angela grew up on Long Island and now live in Atlanta. Many thanks to MaryJane Boland, Terry Carlson, Dick Leitsch, Wayne Mahlke and Marie Rosseels for giving up a Saturday afternoon to serve at the altar and to make sure that our guests received a warm welcome . . . We have received Letters of Transfer for two new members. Lisa Bridge manages a well-known yoga studio, not far from Saint Mary’s, studies at Union Theological Seminary, and has an interest in genealogical research. She is also studying Sanskrit. Scott is a flight attendant based here in New York. He hails from the Northwest and was a member, most recently, at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, Washington. He is extremely well-traveled and has good stories and excellent advice about overseas travel. We are very happy to be able to welcome both Lisa and Scott to the parish . . . Parishioner Grace Treiman and our seminarian, Jedediah Fox, are continuing to provide invaluable assistance this summer in the office, at the daily offices and at the altar. Jed has been working with Father Mead on the lectionary project and with plans for the fall term of the church school. Jed has also been getting his hands dirty cleaning and re-organizing the smoke room and the sacristy. He has been officiating at the offices and serving at Mass. Grace has been working with Father Smith, using her computer and organizational skills to correct and update the parish registers and to help with our longstanding project to put the information in all of the parish registers, going back to the parish’s founding, online. Grace has also been serving as thurifer at Wednesday’s Sung Mass. It’s been good to have incense again on Wednesdays and attendance has increased the last couple of weeks! . . . The Saint Mary’s Guild is looking for new members. If you are interested in joining the guild, please come to the next meeting on Saturday, August 2 . . . Attendance last Sunday 244.
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . The final tallies are in, and the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk team is pleased to announce the results: out of 1,779 teams (which included a large number of corporate teams), our parish team ranked 43rd! Twenty-eight Saint Marians raised a total of $16,977 and had a great time walking and giving of their time and energies to join the fight against HIV and AIDS. We had five Gold Walkers (people who raised at least $1,000), and we almost achieved Gold Team status (the top 20 fundraisers). Next year, we plan to “go for Gold” – and we hope you will join us! MaryJane Boland
CHILD CARE & SUNDAY SCHOOL UPDATE . . . Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom reopened last Sunday. Ms. Laura Minor, a professional childcare provider who is Red Cross infant/child-CPR-certified and has worked previously as a kindergarten teacher will staff the Nursery & Playroom. If you have children, please know that the Nursery & Playroom is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM and on certain feast days during the liturgical year . . .Saint Mary’s Sunday School will reopen the first Sunday of October. Sunday School will meet Sundays at 10:00 AM from October through May in the Morning Room (next to Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom). Sunday School begins after the 9:00 AM Sung Mass concludes; and Sunday School ends before the 11:00 AM Mass begins. Parents are invited to attend Adult Christian Education which also meets at 10:00 AM just down the hall in Saint Joseph’s Hall, and families are welcome to attend either service, or parents can attend the 10:00 AM Said Mass while children attend Sunday School. If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com. Matthew Mead
SIGNS & GREETING VISITORS . . . Our parish complex is large – our tour-guide pamphlet actually includes a map so people do not get lost! Every week at least one visitor wanders down the hall into the Sacristy, lost and looking for the rest room. You may notice a few new signs around the parish in the coming weeks. It is hoped that these signs will help visitors find the restrooms, the Nursery & Playroom, the Sunday School and Saint Joseph’s Hall. To be sure, these signs do not let Saint Marians off the hook when it comes to greeting newcomers and visitors! If you don’t recognize someone or you sense that some poor soul looks hopelessly lost, please ask if they are visiting and if you can help. Signs can be helpful when nobody is around, but a welcoming voice will make someone want to come back! M. M.
THE GIFT SHOP . . . Nicely decorated “baptismal” candles are now on sale in the Gift Shop, along with a fine selection of rosaries and religious art. T-shirts, baseball caps and mugs, with the Saint Mary’s “burning incense” logo are still in stock. The shop is also selling “charm-style” bracelets, with small color images of the Blessed Virgin and the saints. Also in the Gift Shop: brand-new copies of the pew edition of the Book of Common Prayer in red bindings. One member of the Board of Trustees recently suggested the following idea: “adopt a Prayer Book” – remove one of the Prayer Books in the pews that is beyond repair and replace it with a copy that you’ve purchased in the Gift Shop. Book plates are also available should you wish to dedicate the book. The Gift Shop is normally open on Sundays after the Solemn Mass. For further information, please contact José Vidal at firstname.lastname@example.org. J.R.S.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . This Sunday the prelude before the Solemn Mass, is Preludium II in G Major by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). The postlude is an organ setting of Psalm XIX - The Heavens Declare the Glory of God, composed by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739). Mr. Robert McDermitt, associate organist, plays the organ. The cantor is Mr. Alan Champion, bass. Robert McDermitt
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Eve of Saint Mary Magdalene
Tuesday Saint Mary Magdalene
Thursday Thomas à Kempis, Priest, 1471
Eve of Saint James the Apostle
Friday Saint James the Apostle Abstinence
Saturday The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Eve of the Eleventh 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.