From the Rector: The Most Important Things
While on vacation, I came across a book that I’d looked at a few years ago when it first came out, Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies’ Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral. It was written by two members of Saint James’ Church, Jackson, Mississippi. It’s part cookbook, part commentary. It’s the kind of book my mother might have taken someone as a hostess gift. I laughed and laughed as I browsed through it, but I got the point. No excuse. Dead or alive, you and I are supposed to do the right thing in life, especially when it comes to dying.
The book brought back a lot of memories for me. For instance, the first time I ever ate beef stroganoff was at an uncle’s funeral when I was in high school. I don’t remember the funeral; I do remember the food. The power of such memories is the sort of thing that one finds in No Excuse. Funny and so truthful that more than a few passages are quite profound. The book works because people are pretty much the same everywhere. It should surprise no one that parishes are at their best when someone dies. Of all the things that are important, of all the things that are fundamental, birth and death are at the top of the list.
The summer after my first year in seminary I, like most Episcopal seminarians, spent a summer as chaplain in a hospital doing pastoral training. In the early hours of my first night on duty as the Protestant chaplain in a Catholic hospital, I baptized a premature infant. I stayed with his father for the next twenty minutes as we waited for his son to die. As hard as it was for that father and mother to have their child die, they were people of faith. They shared all they could give with their son, life, love, and faith.
A few days ago a friend sent me a review of a new book, Quitting the Church, by an evangelical, non-denominational Christian, Julia Dunn. I think I want to read it if I have the chance. It’s about why some church communities in her tradition seem to be losing members. I’d like to know how what our tradition regularly proclaims, Sunday by Sunday, day by day, world without end, shaped Dunn’s experience in her tradition. Of course, I'm speaking about the most important things. Of all the things you and I can share with each other and with those who visit this parish in any way is clarity about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a formation program for children, the first religious material presented to the youngest children in the program, is that Jesus died and is risen. In the Catechesis, from the time they begin at about age three, children never hear about Jesus’ death without also hearing about his resurrection. The Paschal Mystery shapes every presentation, every proclamation, they will receive in this formation program.
If you think about it, our Prayer Book worship never lets us stray very far from the Paschal Mystery. It’s not possible to do any service from the Prayer Book without hearing it. Jesus died and is risen. It’s not all that we talk about. By God’s grace, there’s a lot of life between birth and death. And there’s more life, and more life to come and, “love that never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Monday, September 8, is the traditional feast of the birth of Mary. Feasts like this remind us that Christianity is radically about God’s gift of human life, with all its richness and challenges, with its sin and its transforming love, with possibilities that can’t be foreseen. Thursday, of course, is the anniversary of the attacks on our city and nation on September 11 (read on for details about the day’s Masses). I hope at Saint Mary’s we don’t ever miss the reality of life and death or the reality of joy and fun along the way which God has given us. Without the joy and fun of community in our lives, it is too easy to miss the full truth of death and resurrection. Those Southern ladies were right, “Death is no excuse.” God has given us so much more. Stephen Gerth
MUSIC NOTES . . . This week at Solemn Mass, the organist is James Kennerley, interim organist and music director. The Cantor is Ms. Elizabeth Baber, who will sing “Paratum cor meum” by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (c.1580-1651). The work is taken from his Libro primo di mottetti passeggiati a una voce (1612). Before Mass, Mr. Kennerley will play Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s (1848-1918) chorale prelude on the hymn tune Rockingham, sung today as the Post Communion hymn to the words “When I survey the wondrous cross”. The tune is taken from the Second Supplement to Psalmody in Miniature, ca. 1780, harmonized by Edward Miller in 1790. Miller was apprenticed to his father, a pavior (a layer of paving stones and the like), but ran away to study music. At one time he was a flautist in Handel’s orchestra. He played the organ for 50 years at Doncaster Church, England, and composed hymn tunes and harpsichord sonatas. Cambridge University awarded him a doctorate degree in 1786. At the conclusion of the service, Mr. Kennerley and Ms. Baber and will sing a duet based on the words of Psalm 67, composed by Mr. Kennerley. James Kennerley
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Madeleine, Marc, Linda, Heather, Janelle, Joanne, Kevin, 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 Benjamin, Christopher, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew and Brendan; and for the repose of the soul of Carol. GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 7: 1883 Eliza A. Byers, 1886 Maria Fling, 1906 Margaret Sheldon, 1940 Hariett Chawner.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Carol Blazey, mother of a friend of Saint Mary’s, William Blazey, died on Wednesday, September 3. Please pray for her, for her family and for all who mourn. S.G
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Monday, September 8, is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There will be a Sung Mass that day at 6:00 PM. Father Smith will celebrate and preach . . . On Thursday, September 11, there will be requiem Masses on the anniversary of the attack on our city. The Rector will be celebrant and preacher for Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. Father Smith will be celebrant for Said Mass at 6:20 PM . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, September 6. Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, September 13.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Interim organist, James Kennerley, will be away from the parish at an organ competition from Thursday, September 4, until Monday, September 8. Robert McDermitt will play the services on Sunday, September 7 . . . Monday, September 8, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the thirty-eighth anniversary of the life profession of Sister Laura Katharine, CSJB. We are very thankful for her vocation – and the vocation of Sister Deborah Francis and all of the members of the Community of Saint John Baptist . . . Flowers are needed for the altar for all of the Sundays in September . . . Sunday School will begin on Sunday, October 12, at 10:00 AM, and will be led by our seminarian, Mr. Jedediah Fox. . . Attendance: Last Sunday 307.
COMING EVENTS . . . Sunday, September 14, Holy Cross Day. A relic of the True Cross may be venerated at the conclusion of the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass . . . 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.
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.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The Saint Mary’s Evensong Choir will have its first rehearsal on Sunday, September 28, from 3:00-4:30 PM. We would love to have you join us – if you are interested, please contact the Music Office. James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP MATTERS . . . “Why I Love Saint Mary’s”: About four years ago, my husband Daniel and I moved to Manhattan from Long Island, where we had lived for many years. We had been members of a small parish in East Meadow called Christ the King the whole time we had lived there. Although we now live on 43rd Street between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue, I find it well worth the walk to attend Saint Mary's on Sunday mornings. I did visit another Episcopal Church in our neighborhood that is closer to our apartment, but found that it was not what I was looking for. The moment I entered Saint Mary’s I had the feeling that I belonged here and I was totally in awe of its beauty. My first Palm Sunday was such a terrific experience, giving palms to tourists, cab drivers, and all the others in Times Square who were so eager to take them. During the summer months, I have enjoyed the service in the Lady Chapel as it is small and intimate, with a warm feeling for all who attend. Thank you for asking my opinion and I hope it will do some good – letting others know about Saint Mary’s and encouraging everybody who reads this to do what they can to support the parish. Ethelyn Bader
ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION BEGINS OCTOBER 5, 2008, AT 10:00 AM . . . During October, Father Mead and Father Smith will teach 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.
MARIAN HYMN SING & OKTOBERFEST . . . You may have heard of Oktoberfest, the annual Bavarian celebration of German food, beer, people, and singing. This October at Saint Mary’s we’re doing something similar. Join a very jovial group of Saint Marians for the second annual Marian Hymn Sing and Oktoberfest in Saint Joseph’s Hall (and the organ loft!) on Saturday, October 4, at 6:00 PM. German-style beverages and organ accompaniment will be provided. The rest is pot-luck with a German theme. We hope you can join us! J.K. and M.M.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Tuesday Constance, Nun, and her Companions, 1878
Thursday Parish Requiem: The Victims of September 11, 2001
Friday John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, 1830 Abstinence
Saturday Cyprian of Carthage, Bishop of Carthage, 258
Eve of the Eighteenth 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. Childcare 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 anointing of the sick.
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.