From the Rector: Great Thanksgiving
Reading Sacrifice Unveiled: The True Meaning of Christian Sacrifice by Robert J. Daly, S.J. has sent me back to the books to look afresh at what I think I know about Eucharistic prayers. In particular, one of his sentences got to me, “the primary focus, indeed the very purpose of the transformation of the bread and wine, is the transformation of the assembly” (page 18). For some very good reasons, my gut focuses on other dimensions of the Eucharistic mystery.
In Western Europe, from the sixth century forward, the prayers of consecration contain no invocation, that is, no petition that the Father will send the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine to make them the Body and Blood, no petition that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to bless the assembly. In the East, the invocations are retained. For us western Christians, the words of institution become the focus of the prayer. At the Reformation, the nature of Eucharistic thanksgiving for bread and wine will become, and remains today, one of the most divisive theological controversies among Christians.
For a variety of reasons, an invocation over the bread and wine was put into the 1549 English Prayer Book and then deleted from 1552 book. Through the tortured history of Anglicans in Scotland, an invocation over the bread and wine comes to be included in the Eucharistic prayers of the Episcopal Church from our first book in 1789 and going forward. But until our 1979 book, none our Eucharistic prayers has contained an invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the assembly.
In the 1979 book, invocations of the Holy Spirit upon the assembly are included in three prayers in Rite II. In Prayer A, we pray for the Holy Spirit to, “Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace” (page 363). In Prayer B, we pray, “Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (page 369). And in Prayer D we pray, “Lord, we pray that in your goodness and mercy your Holy Spirit may descend upon us, and upon these gifts, sanctifying them and showing them to be holy gifts for your holy people, the bread of life and the cup of salvation, the Body and Blood of your son Jesus Christ” (page 375).
In The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950) Massey Shepherd wrote, “All the ancient liturgies, as far back as we can trace them, contained some form of Invocation in their Consecration Prayers. In some it was the creative Word (cf. John i.3; Col. i.16) Who was invoked; in others, the sanctifying Spirit. The earliest forms request the hallowing of the communicants or the Church, no less than of the oblations” (pages 80-81). The disappearance of the invocation on the assembly at the end of the classical age is a sign of a shift that is taking place generally on how Western Christians understand God’s presence in their midst. The bread and wine become greater signs of God’s presence than the holy people of God.
The diminution of the sacramentality of the Eucharistic gifts with among Protestant Christians comes to mirror the diminution of the sacramentality of God’s people among Roman Catholics. It’s helpful to recall that the new Roman Missal (1969) contained three forms of the Eucharistic Rite: Mass with a Congregation, Concelebrated Mass, and Mass Without a Congregation. The last of these has now been renamed, “Mass at which Only One Minister Participates.” The title itself speaks volumes.
My journey in Christ has been shaped by many, many things. Among them is the petition I first learned from the 1928 Prayer Book, “that we, all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him” (page 81). I hope I can continue to grow in my heart and gut to embrace a fundamental view of others as sister and brother in Christ. The New Testament word which is translated as “church” doesn’t carry in the New Testament any sense of institution. It means simply, “those who are called out” – out of this world to a new relationship with each other and with the Living God. It is for this that we give great thanks. It is for this that we and the gifts are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Frances who is hospitalized; for Jenny, Murphy, Allan, Jewell, Aaron, Charisse, Dorothy, Rick, Jean Marie, Kirk, Jack, Alice, Harold, Marcia, Richard, Mary, Stephen, Laura, Donna, Madeleine, Marc, William, Gert, Mary, Daisy, Colleen, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Marc, Curtis, Omar, Christopher, Benjamin, Steven, Andrew, and Patrick; and for the repose of the soul of Len, Pablo, Ian, Nancy and Brook, deacon . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 21: 1907 George Prentice.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The choir from Saint Paul’s Parish, K Street, Washington, D.C., will sing at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass on Sunday, June 21. The choir is directed by Mr. Robert McCormick, former music director at Saint Mary’s . . . The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is Wednesday, June 24; Sung Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM . . . The Irish choir Capella will give a short concert on June 26 at 1:15 PM. Music is by Rutter, Allegri, McGlynn and others, and entry is free . . . On Saturday, June 20, Father Mead will hear confessions; on Saturday, June 27, Father Gerth will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Frances Geer, Hardison Geer’s wife, is still hospitalized at Roosevelt Hospital. Please keep her in your prayers . . . The Arrow – a parish newsletter from the 1890s – is now available online at the parish website. Look for it (and much more) in the Archives section of the website . . . Altar flowers are needed for the following dates: July 5, 12, 26. Please contact the parish office if you would like to make a donation . . . Father Smith is away on vacation until July 12 . . . Attendance: Corpus Christi 308.
A GREAT DAY: THANKS SO MUCH! . . . Did you notice that the sun came out when we processed into Times Square with the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday? Corpus Christi was fantastic, the liturgy and music were wonderful, and it was a great treat to have a Guild Fair and festive lunch afterwards. Thanks to everyone for making it such a great day and for making lunch and the guild fair such a success: all of our guilds grew and the procession returned to the church with about twenty more people than when it left! . . . And, it’s not too late to join a parish guild. Signing up is easy – just visit the parish website, click on the Join a Parish Guild section, and learn about and sign up for any of the parish guilds or speak to Father Mead.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . This Sunday, we are extremely pleased to welcome our visiting choir from Saint Paul’s Parish, K Street, Washington, D.C. Mr. Robert McCormick, who was my predecessor at this parish, is the music director. Mr. John Bohl, assistant music director, accompanies the choir, and James Kennerley plays for the rest of the service. The prelude is the Prélude, fugue et variation, number three of Six pièces (1868) by César Franck (1822-1890). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Communion Service in G, Op. 81, by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Irish by birth, Stanford spent most of his life in England, following his going up to Cambridge University in 1870. He was known in his day, and nowadays, for his fine church compositions. He composed several complete services, that is, settings of the morning and evening canticles, and the communion service, unified by a particular home key born in the collection’s title. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Jesu, the very thought of thee to music by Paul Halley (b. 1952). Of British birth, Halley is the winner of five Grammy Awards for his contributions as writer and performer on recordings by the Paul Winter Consort, of which he was a member for eighteen years, and was director of music of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for thirteen years. . . The Saint Mary’s Choir sang its last service of the season on Corpus Christi and will return on the Eve of the Assumption on August 14 . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers sang their last Solemn Evensong service on Trinity Sunday, and we were able to welcome a number of new faces to the group. Please be in touch with me if you are interested about joining next year. James Kennerley
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . Food Pantry: You are invited to bring non-perishable food items on Sundays and place them in the basket at the back of the church or on the table in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The food is then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. Thank you to all those who have given so generously and so consistently to this very important outreach effort . . . Post-Katrina Mission Trip to the Gulf Coast (Mississippi and Louisiana): A group from Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights, is planning a mission trip to the Gulf Coast for November 8-14, 2009. This is not their first trip so the effort seems to be well-established. The coordinators have already booked lodging (described as “convenient and comfortable”) in New Orleans’s Garden District. For more information, please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins or send an e-mail to Barbara Pace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . During this time of belt-tightening and budget cuts, we would like to invite the members and friends of Saint Mary’s to consider making a donation to support the parish’s hospitality efforts. There are several ways that one can do that. One thing you can do is donate unopened boxes of cookies or other sweets or pastries for use at Coffee Hour on Sunday mornings. Even if there is a surplus of donated items on a given Sunday, we are able to freeze items for use at a later date. You can also make a cash donation. Checks should be written to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and “Hospitality Fund” should be written in the memo line. We are grateful to all those who have already answered this appeal and have helped with this important ministry of hospitality. J.R.S.
A FRIENDLY REMINDER . . . If you plan to be away from the parish for all or part of the summer, we would appreciate it if you tried to stay current on your pledge payments. We often run into cash-flow problems during the summer months and that is, of course, a special concern this year. Thank you very much for your consideration – and thank you to all who give so generously to support the work and mission of this parish.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday After Pentecost
Monday Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304
Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Wednesday The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer. Childcare is available from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM all Sundays of the year.
Monday–Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer. The Wednesday Mass is sung. The Thursday Mass includes 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 heard on Saturdays 11:30-11:50 AM & 4:00-4:50 PM.