From The Rector: Churches of the Fathers
Of all the curious events in the Anglican Communion this year, among the most curious to me was the invitation to address the Lambeth Conference given by the archbishop of Canterbury to Walter Kasper, the Roman Catholic cardinal who is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It wasn’t the first time Archbishop Williams had asked Cardinal Kasper to address a gathering.
In 2006, he invited Kasper to speak to the House of Bishops of the Church of England as they debated the ordination of women to the episcopate. I didn’t see the point of that invitation, even less so after I read the speech he gave. There was nothing new. He reminded the English bishops that as far as the Roman Church was concerned women cannot be priests, much less bishops. Politely, he didn’t remind these men that his own church doesn’t think Anglican bishops are real bishops. Again, why was Kasper invited in 2006? Why was he invited to Lambeth?
Let’s start with women – a problem for the hierarchy of the Roman Church – or should I say, the all-male hierarchy of the Roman Church? In 1994, John Paul II decreed that the Roman Church “has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” Discussion closed. (For the record, I had heard, and this was before Benedict XVI became pope, that one of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s great achievements as prefect of the Roman Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was to convince John Paul II that this declaration on women’s ordination should not be “infallible.”)
In 2008, sitting among the bishops at Lambeth and listening to Kasper were the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, our own suffragan bishop of New York and many other bishops who happen to be women. I don’t think any of them or any of the men present needed to be reminded of the position of the Roman Church on the question of ordaining women. At least the bishop of New Hampshire was not there to hear Kasper remind the bishops that, in a 1993 statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, Anglicans had agreed with the Roman Catholic teaching that declared “homosexual activity” to be “disordered.” I wonder what Archbishop Williams wanted everyone to hear that they didn’t already know?
Vocabulary is important. It is too easy and too common to hear the apostle Peter referred to as the first pope or even as a bishop. Saint Peter was what Jesus called him to be, a fisher of men. He was called by Jesus to feed Jesus’ sheep – not Peter’s sheep. Peter didn’t have a triple crown or a guard. He was an apostle, a witness to the resurrection. I don’t think Jesus was thinking about sacramental confession or eternal judgment when he said in the passage from Matthew’s gospel (16:13-20) appointed for this coming Sunday that Peter gets the keys to the kingdom and the right to make eternal judgments about the souls of men and women – but more than a few would read it this way.
At the Noonday Office at Saint Mary’s we read a non-Scriptural lesson. When I first came to Saint Mary’s, I used to introduce the reading by saying, “At the Noonday Office our readings are taken from the writings of the Church Fathers.” I stopped saying that quite a while ago. We actually do have some writings from women. For some time I have said, “At the Noonday Office, our readings are taken from the writings of the Church’s doctors and theologians.” I think that covers just about everyone we might read. I have great respect for the struggles of the Church’s fathers – and for the struggles and words of those who were not church leaders, which is to say those women and men whose unrecorded words are lost to us forever.
Back to Lambeth. I don’t expect much from the Roman Church. It’s not my church. Its members seem content to live with its past and its present. My concern is with our archbishop of Canterbury and especially the bishops of our American Church. I wish I had the sense that the archbishop understood how hard it is to see him welcome some but not all to Jesus’ table. I think for the most part our American bishops are committed to leading in a church that really does welcome all. Do I think this welcome alone will solve all problems we face? No. But by sitting at the Lord’s Table together and by breaking Bread together I believe we will find the nourishment we need from God for the journey ahead. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Janelle, Thomas, Joanne, Carol, Kevin, Bill, Olga, Jennie, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Katherine, Rozalind, Marietta, Connie, Rick, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew and Brendan . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . . August 27: 1961 Leslie Evans Roberts; August 29: 1959 James Edward Emanuel, 1961 James B. Thornell.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, August 23 and on Saturday, August 30.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . If you are going to be away during all or part of the summer, we would ask you to please remember to make pledge payments, by mail if necessary, so that we can avoid summertime cash-flow difficulties; and thanks to all for your support of Saint Mary’s . . Parish administrative assistant Sandra Schubert will be on vacation from August 18 until August 22. . . Dick Leitsch will be in the office during her absence. . . . The Rector will be away on behalf of the parish and on vacation from Friday, August 22, until Tuesday, September 9 . . . Flowers are needed for the altar for all of the Sundays in September . . . Father Mead has recruited two new altar servers and is looking for at least five more. If you are interested, please speak with him . . . Attendance: Assumption 633, XIV Sunday after Pentecost 272.
COMING EVENTS . . . Monday, September 1, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule. The parish office will be closed. Only the noonday services are offered. The church closes at 2:00 PM . . . Feast Days: Sunday, September 14, Holy Cross Day . . . Sunday, September 28, and Monday, September 29, “Primary Things: A Liturgical Conference of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin” . . . Sunday, September 28, the Eve of Saint Michael and All Angels, Solemn Evensong & Benediction, 5:00 PM, Sermon by the Reverend Dr. Clayton L. Morris, Program Officer for Liturgical and Spiritual Resources, The Episcopal Church Center . . . Monday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Solemn Pontifical Mass at 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, celebrant and preacher. Solemn Mass is preceded by an organ recital at 5:30 PM played by James Kennerley . . . Saturday, October 4, Marian Hymn Sing & Oktoberfest.
SAINT RAPHAEL’S GUILD OF USHERS . . . All members of the guild are cordially invited to lunch and a brief business meeting on Sunday, September 21, around 1:00 PM, following Solemn Mass and Coffee Hour, in the Smith-Vidal apartment on the fourth floor of the Parish House.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . This summer at Solemn Mass we have been singing the congregational Mass setting by William Mathias (1934-1992). Born in Wales, Mathias was a child prodigy, playing the piano at three and composing at five. He later studied under Lennox Berkeley at London’s Royal Academy of Music. His music encompasses a variety of styles and influences, but it is his choral music that is best known (his anthem Let the people praise thee, O God was performed for over one billion people at the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London). Mathias is also the composer of this Sunday’s prelude (Chorale) and postlude (Processional). The cantor at Solemn Mass is Ms. Naomi Morse, who will sing Gabriel Fauré’s Pie Jesu during Communion. Fauré (1845-1924) was one of the most prolific composers of his time. The Requiem, from which this piece is drawn, is his most famous and widely-performed work . . . The St. Mary’s Volunteer Choir will have its first rehearsal on Sunday, September 28 from 3:00-4:30 PM. We would love to have you join – if you are interested, please contact the Music Office. James Kennerley
CHILDCARE . . . Children are always welcome at Mass at Saint Mary’s. The Rector encourages families with children to sit at the front of the church – so the children can see easily and clearly. However, there are some Sundays when young children might need somewhere else to go. The Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom is staffed by Ms. Laura Minor, a professional childcare provider. The Nursery & Playroom is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM.
SUNDAY SCHOOL BEGINS OCTOBER 5, 2008, AT 10:00 AM . . . The Saint Mary’s Sunday School for Children meets in the Morning Room (follow the blue signs in Saint Joseph’s Hall to reach the Morning Room). Our Sunday School will be led by our seminarian, Mr. Jedediah Fox. We are looking for volunteers to assist Jed one Sunday each month. If you have any questions about Sunday School, please speak to Father Mead.
ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION BEGINS OCTOBER 5, 2008, AT 10:00 AM . . . Father Mead and Father Smith will teach the first class in this year’s Christian Essentials Series. The class is entitled “Opening the Good Book”: Reading & Interpreting the Bible. This four-session class (October 5, 12, 19, 26) aims at helping participants feel more confident and comfortable when they are reading, interpreting and discussing the Bible. We will propose some solutions to a number of commonly asked questions about reading and interpreting the Bible. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and add to the discussion by offering their own experience of reading, hearing, interpreting, discussing and even being “hit over the head with” the Holy Scriptures. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided. Adult Education classes meet on the second floor of the Mission House.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Saint Bartholomew the Apostle (transferred)
Thursday Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 430
Friday The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Sixteenth 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. The 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.