From the Rector: Holy Week
In Luke’s gospel we read, “When the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:14-16). John’s gospel has a different perspective, but a careful reading of Mark, Matthew and Luke suggests that no one in that upper room, including the Lord himself, knew how those last days would unfold and what they would come to mean. This was all in the future, their future, our future and the future of those who come after us. Like life and death, like creation itself, time is one of God’s greatest mysteries.
During Holy Week, the Christians gather to eat. People prepare to join in the supper by washing and by making themselves clean. Washing and eating are at the heart of how we are and who we are. Together we are made clean. Together we are fed. Our worship is about our most basic needs. Ultimately, what makes it meaningful is the integrity with which it speaks to our most basic needs with truth.
The worship of Holy Week is accessible. To borrow a phrase my liturgics teacher heard from the Dominican scholar Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990), the worship of Holy Week “borders on the vulgar.” At Saint Mary’s we work very hard to keep these rites on that border. There’s nothing extra, nothing esoteric. Preaching is important, but when we chant the part of Jesus himself on Palm Sunday and say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Mark 15:34), the Holy Spirit present in each of us will open up God’s truth for us as we are able to hear it in ways no other person can know.
Daily during Holy Week there are opportunities to eat at Saint Mary’s. Each service is an opportunity for reconciliation with God and with each other. In addition, confessions are heard on Saturday before Palm Sunday and after both services on Good Friday.
Considering the richness of all the services, it’s hard for me to remember that the most important Masses of the week happen on Palm Sunday and Easter Day. The Sunday before Easter is officially, “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.” If you attend any of the Masses here on Palm Sunday, you will realize the service is the original Good Friday Liturgy – and for the record, it’s the only “Good Friday” service which has been considered an obligation for the Christian community. Easter Day is “The Sunday of the Resurrection.” It’s the main meal of the year. Period.
That said, the meals of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are among the most powerful of the year. On Maundy Thursday the Mass includes the Washing of Feet and a procession of the Reserved Sacrament to an altar for prayer through the night. (“Could you not watch with me one hour?” – Mark 14:37). On Good Friday, the service is celebrated at 12:30 PM and this same service is repeated at 6:00 PM so as many as possible can gather to eat.
At Easter, the richest services are the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve and Solemn Paschal Evensong on Easter Day. There are more than a few of us who go to the Vigil, and Easter morning Mass and to Easter Evensong. It’s all very, very good.
I invite you to come to eat the Suppers of the Lord here at Saint Mary’s. I hope all of us will be very aware of God’s presence in our lives individually, in the lives of each other and, most important of all, in the lives of all people everywhere.
Finally, most readers of this newsletter will know that I have been on sabbatical for three months and have just returned to the parish. I will have much to write about that in the coming weeks. Thank you for the time away. I am looking forward to eating here at home with you. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Anne Marie, Jeanne, Gloria, Jane, Kirk, Patrick, Angie, Jack, Ben, Alice, Harold, Marcia, Richard, Mary, Stephen, Laura, Brooke, Donna, Madeleine, Marc, William, Gert, Mary, Daisy, Rozalind, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces who are on active duty, especially Christopher, Omar, Curtis, Timothy, Benjamin, Marc, Terrance, Steven, Andrew, and Patrick; and for the repose of the soul of Betty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 5: 1886 Rachel McLellan; 1888 Evelyn V. Tower; 1891 Anna Holbrook Ely, Daniel Cottier; 1901 Henrietta Olive Favor; 1906 Howard Lewsen Rescousie; 1919 Henry Wiedner; 1925 Irene McFall Meyers; 1964 Harold Bosworth Libbey.
HOLY WEEK & EASTER DAY AT SAINT MARY’S. . . Schedule: See the detailed schedule at the end of the Online Angelus . . . Photos: Digital photographs for the parish website needed: Anyone who can take digital photos during the Holy Week services please speak with one of the priests. Ideal photos include lots of people in the congregation and action shots! . . . Volunteers: The Flower Guild is looking for volunteers to help decorate the church for Holy Week. The flower team needs help on Thursday, April 9, and on Saturday, April 11, beginning at 9:00 AM, right after Matins, until late afternoon. We need as many hours as volunteers are able to give. We can use people with talent and experience at floral arranging, and we can use people who simply follow directions and who are willing to help out; we also need people who are willing to sweep and clean up while work is in progress. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, it’s spiritual. Please join us. Just show up or send an email to Marie Rosseels and let her know that you able to be with us and thank you . . . Acolyte Rehearsals: for members of the Saint Vincent’s Guild: Saturday, April 4, at 10:00 AM, Rehearsal for Palm Sunday followed by Stripping of Palms; Sunday, April 5, at 1:00 PM, Rehearsal (1 of 2) for Maundy Thursday; Thursday, April 9, at 5:00 PM, Rehearsal (2 of 2) for Maundy Thursday; Friday, April 10, at 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Rehearsals for the Good Friday services; Saturday, April 11, at 4:00 PM, Rehearsal for the Easter Vigil. Dinner in the Rectory for all acolytes, readers, and flower guild members will follow the rehearsal . . . Watch before the Blessed Sacrament: Please look for the Maundy Thursday sign-up sheet in Saint Joseph’s Hall. As is our custom, members and friends of the parish sign up for an hour of the all-night watch before the Blessed Sacrament on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday . . . Confessions: Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, April 4. All of the clergy of the parish will sit for confessions following both Good Friday liturgies. Confessions are not heard during Easter Week except by appointment.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The full choir returns to sing for Solemn Mass on Palm Sunday. The setting of the ordinary is Mass for Five Voices, Opus 64 by Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989). On Maundy Thursday, the choir sings Missa brevis, Opus 50, by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988) and the sumptuous motet Ubi Caritas et amor (“Where Charity and Love are”) by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986). The Saint Mary’s Singers meet this week at 3:00 PM to sing Evensong on Palm Sunday. Of particular note is a new setting of Tantum ergo and O Salutaris, to be sung at Benediction. It was composed by Saint Mary’s Singers tenor and professional composer Allen Hill and was written for James Kennerley and the choir. Please note that we have professional singers leading each voice part, so, if you were thinking of joining us, (and this would be a very suitable occasion to do so), do not be worried that you’d be the only one in your section! If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com. James Kennerley
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Wednesday, April 1, the Rector returned to the office from his sabbatical . . . Father Mead’s Wednesday Night Bible Study will not meet during April . . . Theater at Saint Mary’s: Our resident theater, The American Globe Theatre, presents Henry V, by William Shakespeare, March 26–April 25, Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM (the Sunday performances are sold out; there are no performances during Holy Week). Tickets are $15.00 . . . Thursday, April 2, 8:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: Music for Double Choir, The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director. The concert is a presentation of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. For tickets, please call the theater box office at 212.854.7799. Admission is $40.00 . . . Saturday, May 2, 10:30 AM, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Ordination to the Diaconate: Rebecca Weiner Tompkins . . . Sunday, May 31, The Day of Pentecost, Ordination to the Priesthood: The Reverend Jedediah Fox . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 276.
CHILDREN AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Please bring your children for the Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Day following Solemn Mass! . . . 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. Childcare for younger children is available in the Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom which is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM . . . Sunday School for children meets on Sundays during the academic year at 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room (follow the blue signs in Saint Joseph’s Hall to the Morning Room). Sunday School is led by Deacon Jedediah Fox and Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . AIDS Walk 2009: Please join us. The AIDS Walk is Sunday, May 17, and Saint Mary’s team will walk for the fourth year in a row. So far, fifteen Saint Marians and friends have signed up to walk along with 45,000 other New Yorkers. Our goal is to have thirty walkers and to raise at least $25,000 towards a cure for HIV/AIDS. To learn how to participate, please pick up an information sheet at church, online, or contact the parish team captains, MaryJane Boland and Andrew Smith. M.J.B. & A.S. . . . The Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Episcopal Church: Saint Marians are invited to bring non-perishable food items on Sundays and place them in the basket at the ushers’ table in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall during Coffee Hour. The food is then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. Last Thursday, we made our fourth food delivery to the Food Pantry. We also brought them a check for $100.00, a gift from a generous Saint Mary’s parishioner. At its last meeting the Board of Trustees voted to designate the entire Maundy Thursday collection this year to benefit the Food Pantry. Thank you to all who continue to give so generously to this important outreach effort J.R.S. . . . From the Food Bank for New York City Website: The Food Bank has provided an update to its document, “NYC Hunger Experience 2008.” The subtitle of the update is “Food Poverty Soars as Recession Hits Home.” The document reads in part, “[Our updated report] shows that the number of city residents experiencing difficulty affording needed food has surged over the past five years — doubling from approximately 2 million to approximately 4 million from 2003 to 2008, representing almost half of all city residents (48%). The number having difficulty increased by almost 1 million (26%) within the past year alone, the highest increase in the history of the poll. Findings also show that 3.5 million city residents are concerned about needing food assistance (food from soup kitchens, food pantries and/or food stamps) during the next year, including 2.1 million (59%) who have never accessed food assistance in the past.” For more information: www.foodbanknyc.org.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Mary’s offers a wide variety of concerts each year. In addition to concerts offered by our music department, we also host a number of outside groups who offer concerts in the church . . . Every Sunday, 4:40 PM (October to June, except during Lent): Before Sunday Evensong & Benediction Saint Mary’s offers a weekly organ recital by a visiting musician . . . Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:15 PM: The Choir of the Royal Memorial Chapel, Sandhurst, UK, Peter Beaven, director . . . Friday, April 17, 7:30 PM, Organ Recital: Nathan Taylor, The Manhattan School of Music
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Monday Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday Tuesday n Holy Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Holy Week
The Easter Triduum
Thursday Maundy Thursday
Friday Good Friday Strict Fast & Abstinence
Saturday Easter Eve
Sunday Easter Day