From Father Mead: All Saints’ Day
One of the things that I like most about Saint Mary’s is that all major feasts are celebrated when they actually occur. There is a venerable tradition of moving some feasts to Sunday so that everyone can be present for the feast, and in many churches this seems appropriate sometimes. Saint Mary’s is a special place, where it’s possible to celebrate every feast on the date on which it falls, and I am thankful for that. Our celebration of any major feast begins, whenever possible, the night before. This is commonly referred to as the Eve of the particular feast. This year, All Saints’ Day, November 1st , falls on a Saturday, and it will be observed at our noonday services that day, but our primary celebration will be Friday night, October 31st, the Eve of All Saints’ Day.
There is some disagreement over the origin of the feast of All Saints. It has been celebrated on a number of different dates. In the eastern churches a festival for all the martyrs (eventually all the saints) has been celebrated since the time of St. John Chrysostom (d. 407 AD) on the Sunday after Pentecost. In the western church it has also been celebrated on November 1 and May 13. Many argue that the date of November 1 was chosen since it was the date of the Celtic New Year and other important Roman pagan celebrations, and the Christian observance of All Saints’ Day on that date began in Ireland or England and was eventually adopted by the rest of the western Church. While there are a number of instances where the dating of Christian feasts matches important local non-Christian celebrations, there is often stronger evidence that many Christian feasts date from events that happened in important churches. It is with this in mind that others would argue that the dates of November 1 and May 13 correspond to important events in churches in Rome.
At the start of the seventh century, the, at the time abandoned, Pantheon in Rome was given by the emperor to the bishop of Rome. On May 13, 609 (or 610?), the Pantheon was dedicated as the Church of Saint Mary and All Martyrs. The event was quite memorable, as Adolf Adam writes in The Liturgical Year: “On the day of consecration the pope had twenty-eight wagonloads of martyrs’ bones brought to the church from the catacombs. The antiphons of the old rite for the dedication of a church may refer to that triumphant act of translation; one of them, for example reads: ‘rise up, saints of God, from your dwellings; sanctify this place and bless the people!’” It sounds like an unforgettable event, and events like this are often the source of major annual celebrations, in this case for all martyrs, that eventually spread beyond the source church. A similar event (likely without quite as many bones or wagons) occurred about one hundred years later, between 731–741, when a chapel for All Saints’ was built in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is believed that the chapel was may have been dedicated on November 1, and from this dedication an annual feast spread north, reaching England by the end of the century, where it is attested by the middle of the eighth century. By the middle of the ninth century November 1 was confirmed as the official celebration for All Saints’ by the Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious.
Why is there disagreement about who started the feast and attached it to November 1? I am not sure. I think the simple answer is to say that Christians just used an existing date, but I’m not sure the simple answer is always the correct answer. There is no indication at all in Adam’s book that would lead one to think the feast developed anywhere other than at Rome, and significantly, Adam is a Roman Catholic, writing for Roman Catholics. On the other hand, the most popular sources on the web for “facts and history” (the History Channel and Wikipedia), do not mention at all the history of the different dates or reasons for them and assume that the date was mandated for the entire western church by the bishop of Rome simply to replace a popular pagan feast in the north-western-most part of the church. The Oxford Commentary on the 1928 American Prayer Book is careful to note both possibilities, but makes the case for only one: the date of November 1 probably was the date that the chapel was dedicated in Rome and it was a convenient coincidence that there also was pagan feast in England on the same date.
In any event, the church today celebrates All Saints’ Day on November 1. The Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, Bishop of New York, will be with us as celebrant and preacher this year for Solemn Pontifical Mass on the Eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, at 6:00 PM. This year All Saints’ Day and Halloween should be very special, and I hope you will be able to join us. Matthew Mead
PRAYER LIST . . . Samuel, who is hospitalized, and for James, Donna, Laura, Madeleine, Marc, Janelle, Joanne, Olga, Jennie, Gloria, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Rozalind, Rick, and Charles, priest; and for the repose of the soul of Corinne; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Timothy, Benjamin, Marc, Keith, Dennis, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew and Brendan . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 19: 1918 Vivian Lure; 1937 Harriet Bullock Purdy; 1945 Mattie Cornell Lewis; 1965 Raymond Leggett; 1967 Harold Jacocks; 1974 Olive Middleton; 1987 Dorothea Waters Moran
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Tuesday, October 28 is the Feast of Saints Simon & Jude, Apostles . . . The Rector returns to the parish office on Wednesday, October 29. . . Father Mead will hear confessions on Saturday, October 26. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, November 1.
COMING EVENTS. . . Friday, October 31, 2008, the Eve of All Saints’ Day, Solemn Pontifical Mass, 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend Mark Sisk, bishop of New York, celebrant and preacher . . . Monday, November 3, All Souls’ Day (transferred), Solemn Mass and Blessing of the Vault at 6:00 PM. . . Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, November 4–6 and Saturday, November 8, Parish Requiems. . . Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 16, Diocesan Convention. . . Monday, November 17, Board of Trustees Meeting. . . Tuesday, November 18, The Annual Gift-Gathering Celebration at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. . . Sunday, November 23, the Feast of Christ the King & Commitment Sunday.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, October 26, and for November 9, 16, and 23. Please contact the parish office. . . Sunday School meets this week at 10:00 AM; child care are available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM. . . Father Mead has reactivated his blog: plainsermons.blogspot.com . . . The cost of the Advent Wreath is the same as Sunday flowers – and we get to use it for four Sundays. A donor for Advent 2008 is needed. . . Attendance: Last Sunday 318.
STEWARDSHIP MATTERS . . . “Why I Love Saint Mary’s”: An Ongoing Series: Parishioner Steven Eldredge writes, “There are so very many reasons why I love Saint Mary’s, all so intertwined that it is not easy to separate the strands. First of all, it is the people. One couldn’t ask for a kinder, smarter, friendlier, and often funnier, bunch than the parishioners and clergy, the sisters, the musicians, all those who make up the living body of the church here. I also love its accessibility. I know that anytime during the week when I might feel the call to worship I will find the church not only open, but a prayer service or Mass not far away. What a rare and precious thing that is! Originally it was the quality of the liturgy and the sublime music which drew me to Saint Mary’s, and I can trace the defining moment to an Ash Wednesday Mass. I was awaiting my turn to go up for the Eucharist, surrounded by the fragrance of incense and the soaring phrases of Allegri’s Miserere, when I felt completely engulfed by an overwhelming sense of God’s immense grace and a connection I had never experienced in church to that moment. This ineffable experience has returned to me many times during worship, and it deeply molds how I feel about Saint Mary’s. Finally, I must praise the beauty of the building. I never step into our church without a quickening feeling of joy and delight in the space itself, and the awareness of how deeply saturated it is with over a century of continual prayer. The Psalms tell us to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. We at Saint Mary’s are immensely blessed to be able to worship the Lord in the holiness of beauty.” . . . From Father Smith: . . . We will soon begin our 2009 Stewardship Campaign. Pledge cards will be mailed along with a letter from the Board of Trustees on or around November 3. We urge you to give the appeal your prayerful consideration and thanks so very much to all for your generosity.
OPPORTUNITY FOR OUTREACH . . . AIDS Action International is once again inviting parishes to collect gift items for people in need, who are living with HIV and AIDS. Gift items will be delivered to the Cathedral and offered at a special liturgy in November. We will begin collecting gift items this coming Sunday, October 26 and will continue our effort through and including Sunday, November 16. Gift ideas are: new clothing for men, women and children, games, basic cosmetics, disposable cameras, phone cards, dolls and toys, scarves, gloves, and hats. Jay Smith
CHRISTIAN FORMATION FOR ADULTS . . . The October 10:00 AM Sunday Adult Forum: “Opening the Good Book” part 4 will be offered this Sunday, October 26. Father Smith will discuss Anglican methods of biblical interpretation . . . The 7:00 PM Wednesday Night Dinner & Bible Study on the Prophets continues this week. A $5 (minimum) donation is requested to cover the cost of the food . . . All are welcome to attend every class. All classes meet on the second-floor Large Classroom in the Mission House
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before Solemn Mass is Folk Tune by Percy Whitlock (1903-1946). The choral music is penned by two figure-heads of the Anglican choral scene active during the first half of the twentieth century. Harold Darke (1888–1976) is most famous for his version of the Christmas carol ‘In the bleak midwinter’. He was organist at St. Michael’s Church, Cornhill, in the City of London, from 1916-1966, leaving only briefly to deputize for Boris Ord at King’s College, Cambridge during World War II. His Communion Service in F is one of three sung at St. Mary’s. Edward Bairstow (1874–1946) was born, and worked for the majority of his life in the northern part of England. He served as organist of York Minster from 1913 until his death, leaving a large number of compositions to his credit. James Kennerley
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Eve of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
Tuesday Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
Wednesday James Hannington & his Companions, martyrs
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Eve of All Saints’ Day
Saturday All Saints’ Day
Eve of the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Sung Mass, 10:00 AM Christian Formation & Sunday School, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction.
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.