From the Rector: Thirty Years at the Office
In May 1979 I was in Chicago when a priest I had come to know said to me, “When are you going to do something about your vocation to the priesthood?” At that point I had been accepted to an M.B.A program. After three years studying British Indian history at the University of Chicago I was looking forward to being back in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I had gone to college.
His question changed the course of my life. Among the first tasks he assigned me was the reading of the Daily Office, Morning and Evening Prayer, from the Prayer Book. It was the seventh week of Easter Season. I can still find the passages I read that week very easily. Among the readings were passages from the Letter to the Hebrews on the priesthood of Jesus. At age twenty-five I took it as another sign that I was called to be a priest. For all of the ups and downs of the last thirty years, I’ve remained thankful for this call to presbyteral ministry. Praying the Daily Office has been the frame of this journey in ways I could not have imagined as it began.
When I began praying Morning and Evening Prayer, the services seemed almost an incantation, a rite that had a power in itself that I didn’t understand but apprehended. It was neat to figure out what to read and when to read it. I would learn in time that the power I sensed came not from any formula but from praying the psalms and reading the Scriptures.
Though reared in a strong biblical tradition and fairly knowledgeable about the basic biblical narrative, I realized quickly how much I did not know about the Scriptures. Thirty years on, with much more knowledge, the encounter with God through Scripture provokes awe of a different and deeper kind. Whenever I hear younger members of the clergy say something like “the office just doesn’t work for them,” I always want to say, “You need to give it at least a decade before you begin to form an opinion.” The Daily Office requires time, and not just the fifteen or twenty minutes to pray. Its riches, like the riches of life itself, are revealed over time measured in years, decades.
My first corporate experience of the office was at seminary. I had been at the Daily Office for over a year at that point, so I fell very naturally into the prayer of the community. In seminary, the rhythms of congregational plainsong entered my head and have stayed there. Even when the office is said rather than sung, the rhythm of song, not reading, is natural for me – a pace that serves very well in the acoustic of Saint Mary’s.
Perhaps because I have always served in places where the public praying of the Daily Office was established (or re-established, as at Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana), my experience of the office has been in community. Just as the rhythms of plainchant are in my head, I know that even when I pray alone, I am not alone in praying. I felt this particularly when I was on sabbatical.
Perhaps most importantly, I have come to appreciate that God’s Word nurtures and invites new discoveries of God’s work in our lives and in our world. Christian fundamentalism of any kind, Protestant, Roman Catholic or Orthodox, is impossible to sustain if one reads the Bible.
I invite you to join us in reading the Daily Office in community at Saint Mary’s. I invite you to ask any of the priests or sisters for help in doing it at home. I invite you to join in the prayer of the Church. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Allan, Jewell, Aaron, Thaddeus, Christopher, Awilda, Jananie, Charisse, Grace, Mike, Carol, Jean Marie, Dorothy, Rick, Kirk, Jack, Alice, Harold, Marcia, Richard, Mary, Stephen, Laura, Donna, Madeleine, Marc, William, Gert, Mary, Daisy, Rozalind, and Rick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 24: 1917: Alleine D. Ward; 1934 Mary Sanders Barrett; 1982 Pearl Yerkes Fellowes; 2001 Raymond Lee Duncan; Memorial Day.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Michael Henry Bruni of New York City and Jessica Grace Treiman of New York City. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The regular round of Sunday services are observed including Solemn Evensong & Benediction on Sunday, May 24 . . . Monday, May 25, is Memorial Day. We will observe our Federal Holiday Schedule. The parish office will be closed. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The only services will be the 12:00 PM Noonday Office and the 12:10 PM Mass.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Holy Baptism and Confirmation will be celebrated at the Solemn Mass on the Day of Pentecost, Sunday May 13. The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York will be with us . . . Trinity Sunday, June 7, is the final Sunday Evensong of the academic year . . . Justin Thorne has joined the staff as sexton . . . Altar flowers are needed for the following dates: June 14 and June 28. Please contact the parish office if you would like to make a donation . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, May 23. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, May 30 . . . It’s not too early to sign up: sponsors are needed for the reception following Solemn Mass on Assumption, Friday, August 14. Father Smith coordinates the reception. Please let him know if you want to make a cash donation . . . .Attendance: The Sixth Sunday of Easter 300.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the Fantasia from Fantasia and Toccata in D minor by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). A rare example of organ music from a composer who is chiefly known for his choral music, the Fantasia and Toccata demonstrates the influence not only of Brahms and Mendelssohn, but also of the great Johann Sebastian Bach. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Communion Service in A minor by Harold Darke (1888–1976). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Coelos ascendit hodie for double choir by Stanford. A rousing setting of an anonymous text from the Cowley Carol Book, the work is the second of Three Latin Motets, Opus 38, which were written in 1905 for Alan Gray and the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers will meet THIS Sunday, May 24, at 3:00 PM, in order to rehearse and sing for Evensong and Benediction. Trinity Sunday, June 7, is our last Evensong for the year, and will be sung by the combined choirs of Saint Mary’s – a perfect time to try us out! If you have any questions, please e-mail me at email@example.com. James Kennerley
IN OUR CITY . . . The director of the Anglican Centre in Rome speaks on Friday, May 29, at 2:00 PM at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, 529 West 121st Street, New York City. Corpus Christi is just east of Broadway, near Union and Jewish Theological Seminaries . . . The American Ballet Theater performs The Prodigal Son June 1-6 at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center.
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . AIDS Walk 2009: Thirty three Saint Marians and friends completed the AIDS Walk this past week-end. This was our largest team ever, and we raised more money than ever. Congratulations to all. Contributions can be credited to the team up until June 12, and several members are still actively raising money. To contribute to the team, please visit www.aidswalk.net/newyork, click on “Teams” and then scroll down to “Saint Mary the Virgin.” You can also give a check made out to AWNY to one of the priests or to the co-captains, MaryJane Boland or Andrew Smith. More details about our participation in the Walk, and our successful fundraising campaign, will appear in the Angelus at a later date. A special word of thanks is due to all those who walked and raised money, to all our donors and patrons, to those who worked on publicity, and, especially, to team captains MaryJane Boland and Andrew Smith, who provided such able and enthusiastic leadership . . . Food Pantry: You are invited to bring non-perishable food items on Sundays. The food is then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. J.R.S.
FROM THE ARCHIVES . . . From The Arrow, a magazine published during the parish’s early years, Vol. VII, Number 1, January 1898: “The President’s Annual Report of the Men’s Guild . . . Last Spring we purchased a combination pool and billiard table, costing one hundred and twenty-five dollars, the funds for which were loaned through the influence of our fellow member, Mr. R.M.C. Ewer . . . The efforts of our Entertainment Committee have given us varied entertainments during the year. A course of lectures on ‘The First Aid to the Injured,’ lecturer Dr. Forbes Hawkes, was instructive and very well attended by both members and friends, though the number reporting for the examination was small. Three of our members, and four friends, were awarded diplomas at the end of the course, so we now have a feeling of perfect safety when we are wielding a [pool] cue or sparring in a debate – for if injured we have members who can patch us up, temporarily at least . . .”
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Monday The Venerable Bede, Priest, and Monk of Jarrow, 735
Memorial Day – Federal Holiday Schedule
Tuesday Augustine of Canterbury, First Archbishop of Canterbury, 605
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction (through and including Trinity Sunday).
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: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass.
Confessions are normally heard on Saturdays 11:30-11:55 AM & 4:00-4:55 PM.