From the Rector: Our New Episcopal Church Calendar
At the Reformation, the calendar of the English Church was greatly simplified for theological reasons. The church year became basically about Sundays and New Testament commemorations. Until recently Prayer Book revision happened very gradually. We basically have inherited the work of the reformers.
I write today to say something about a new calendar for the Episcopal Church that has designated September 8 as a day for optional commemoration of the lives of Nikolai Gruntvig and Søren Kierkegaard. Our Episcopal Church decided not to adopt the historic commemoration for this day, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here at Saint Mary’s we will be remembering the Virgin Mary’s nativity on September 8. In addition to Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM and the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM, there will be a said Mass at 12:10 PM and a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM.
The nineteenth century brought a desire among many across the Anglican Communion to restore commemorations that had been lost at the Reformation. This was not to bring back “miraculous and legendary elements” but to recall lives of “sanctity and witness” to Jesus Christ. (See Prayer Book Studies IX, The Calendar (New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1957). Again, Prayer Book revision was slow. The 1892 Prayer Book added just one feast to the 1789 Prayer Book calendar, August 6: The Transfiguration of Christ. The 1928 Prayer Book added no commemorations, just a single provision for “A Saint’s Day.” Things would begin to change in the 1960s.
In 1964, the Episcopal Church introduced a procedure for authorizing materials for “trial use” in preparation for what would be the 1979 Prayer Book. The first material authorized was a collection of prayers and lessons for “lesser feasts.” These materials were published as Lesser Feasts and Fasts (New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1963). In 1973 another edition was published, in 1980 a third edition. This 1980 edition was authorized for “optional use” – no longer “trial use.” When I went to my bookshelf I was surprised to find I have collected copies of all of them: 1964, 1973, 1980, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2006. The 2009 General Convention took Lesser Feasts and Fasts in a new direction. It has authorized a volume called Holy Women, Holy Men.
I take the word “optional” from “optional use” seriously for reasons theological and practical. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right for the American hymnwriter Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) to be in the same category as Francis of Assisi. Curiously, our calendar has picked up the only saint in the new Roman calendar that survived that ecclesial community’s 1969 revision for whom there is no historical record, Cecilia. (Yes, she’s survived at Saint Mary’s because of association of the music program with her name – but I am troubled by our complicity with this.) Would the Scottish Presbyterian missionary and martyr Eric Liddell have made it into our new calendar without the movie “Chariots of Fire”? February 29 (yes, once every four years) now has a commemoration, John Cassian of Marseilles.
The Church of England’s new calendar contains three historic commemorations of Mary that are independent of the New Testament record. August 15 is the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8 is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and December 8 is the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Only August 15, the date associated with her death, is a “Principal Holy Day.” I’m not sure why our Prayer Book only includes August 15 as the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Since 1980 the alteration of the calendar has become a major interest of our Church’s leadership – check out the number of editions. The 1964 edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts provides ten optional commemorations during January; Holy Women, Holy Men will contain twenty-two. That’s just one month. Prayers and lessons have been appointed for all of these days. The General Convention adopted the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music recommendation that we not be allowed permission to use the ordinary daily Mass readings with the lesser feast collect of the day. I wonder if anyone realizes how much work this will create in parishes that worship daily.
The church calendar is an enormously complex subject. For the record, Nikolai Gruntvig was a nineteenth bishop and hymnwriter in the Lutheran Church in Denmark. He died on September 2, 1872. Søren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher who died on November 11, 1855. Why have the Nativity of Mary and the Conception of Mary no place in our official church calendar and Gruntvig and Kierkegaard have? I really have no idea. As far as I know, no Lutheran community remembers the pair on September 8. Mary’s birth has a certain claim on our hearts in this parish and this we will celebrate on Tuesday, all day. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Burt, Carol, Kevin, Frances, Linda, Benicio, Diego, Cindy, Rosemary, Autumn, Sándor, Margaret, Eva, Allan, Dorothy, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Marc, Benjamin, Steven, Andrew, and Patrick; and for the repose of the souls of Trevor and Roy, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 6: 1893 Nellie G. Thompson; 1910 Edna Grace Rescousie; 1916 Robert Walker; 1917 Melissa McFall; 1989 Martha McElveen Jones.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Roy Edmund Waywell, priest, died on Monday, August 31, 2009. He was rector All Saints’ Church, South Richmond Hill, New York. He was sixty-five years old. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at All Saints’ on Saturday, September 5, at 10:00 AM. Father was known to many in the parish community here. Please pray for him and for all who mourn . . . Trevor Helmer uncle of Rik Pike, a member of our weekday community, died on Monday, August 31. Please pray for him, his family and all who mourn . . . The Burial of the Dead was celebrated for Frances Burney Cappon Geer, Hardison Geer’s wife, on Thursday, September 3. Her ashes have been placed in the Lady Chapel Vault awaiting burial in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, Poughkeepsie, New York. Please pray for Frances, Hardy and for all who mourn. S.G.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Sándor Márton and Autumn Martin 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 parish office will be closed on Monday, September 7, in observance of Labor Day. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and only the midday services will be offered . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, September 5. Father John Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, September 12 . . . Tuesday, September 8, is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM in addition to the 12:10 PM Mass.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Burt Abelson is at home recovering from a stroke. He’s doing very, very well. Please keep him in your prayers . . . If interested in Saint Mary’s Guild, our parish altar guild, please speak with Sr. Laura Katharine or Marie Rosseels. You are most welcome to join them on Saturday, September 12, following the 12:10 PM Mass . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, September 21, 7:00 PM, following the additional 6:20 PM evening Mass on Saint Matthew’s Day . . . Parishioner Michael Reid will be appearing with Broadway star Melba Moore in a cabaret evening on Friday, October 2, to support the outreach programs of Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 242.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is Chorale by William Mathias (1934-1992). Born in Wales, William Mathias was a child prodigy; he played the piano at the age of three and was composing by age five. He later studied under Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His music encompasses a variety of styles and influences, but he is best known for his choral music (when his anthem Let the people praise thee, O God was performed at the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, it was heard by over a billion people worldwide). The cantor on Sunday is Mr. Christopher Howatt, tenor. During the ministration of Communion he will sing Arise, my love, my fair one, by Richard Hundley (b. 1931), a setting of the well-known text from the Song of Songs. Hundley, who resides in Manhattan, is an American composer and pianist, particularly known for his unique Art songs for solo voice and piano such as this one. James Kennerley
MINISTRY TO NEWCOMERS . . . . As the summer draws to an end and now that Father Mead has gone on to his new parish, several things come to mind. The parish clergy can always use help greeting newcomers. Don’t be shy about asking visitors to fill out an information card. The cards are found at the back of the church and in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Try and introduce visitors to other parishioners so that visitors can meet a number of different people. If a visitor expresses interest in a particular ministry or activity, direct them to somebody who can answer their questions or ask them to indicate their interest on the information card. Please don’t be offended if the clergy ask to be excused at Coffee Hour, in order to speak to a visitor. If a visitor appears to be interested in finding out more about the parish and has some time to spare on Sunday afternoons, find out if the members of the Brunch Group are going out together that day and make some introductions. Jay Smith
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN & ADULTS . . . Saint Mary’s Church School will resume on Sunday, October 4, 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room, just outside the Sacristy. Please contact Deacon Rebecca Weiner if you would like more information, or if you are planning to have a child attend Church School on Sunday mornings. (Please consider inviting your friends who have children to come to Mass on Sunday mornings and to introduce the children to Deacon Weiner and the other church-school students.) . . . Adult Education will resume on Sunday, October 4, 10:00 AM. Father Smith will teach a three-part church-history series, “The Episcopal Church in the Post-World War II Era, 1945–1985” (October 4, 11, and 18). No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. All classes will include a presentation and an opportunity to discuss issues and relevant texts . . . Father Gerth will teach the Adult Education class on Sunday, October 25. The topic will be “The American Editions of The Book of Common Prayer, 1789–1979” . . . On October 7, 6:30 PM, the Wednesday Evening Bible Study will resume. The class will be led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., and will meet on seven successive Wednesdays, 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM, following Evening Prayer. The class will be studying the Book of Proverbs. All adult classes are held in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House, 133 West 46th Street, east of the doors of the church.
AT THE MUSEUM OF BIBLICAL ART . . . “Scripture for the Eyes; Bible Illustration in Netherlandish Prints of the 16th Century” is an exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway, through September 29, 2009. The exhibition includes an extraordinary collection of woodcuts, engravings, illustrated Bibles and books.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Monday, September 14, is Holy Cross Day. In addition to the 12:10 PM Mass, Solemn Mass will be celebrated at 6:00 PM. At the conclusion of both Masses on that day, a relic of the True Cross will be offered for veneration. Following the evening Mass, there will be a reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Tuesday, September 29, is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. In addition to the 12:10 PM Mass, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . On October 4, the parish choir returns to sing on Sundays at Solemn Mass and Solemn Evensong & Benediction returns weekly through Trinity Sunday.
OUTREACH MATTERS . . . Food Pantry: You are invited to bring non-perishable food items and new or clean, gently-used clothing items on Sundays. Those items are then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street. You can also make a cash donation, if you would like . . . “The Glass Garden” rehabilitation program at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (400 E. 34th St.) is looking for volunteers to work with their exotic birds, in their conservatory. No experience is necessary. Rusk is part of the New York University Hospital. It is a first-rate rehabilitation center, serving those who have suffered strokes, other neurological disorders, and a variety of conditions requiring a long-term stay in the hospital. If you are interested, speak to Father Smith or Barbara Stettner . . . Once again this year we will be working with AIDS Action International (AIA) to collect gifts and toys for families in need, especially for those families affected by HIV and AIDS. AIA’s annual event at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine will be held on Tuesday, November 17. We will be delivering the gift items we’ve collected a few days before that. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Father Smith . . . New York Cares Annual Coat Drive: Before you know it the colder weather will be here. From the NY Cares website: “Did you know that 90% of homeless adults need a new, warm coat each winter because they have no place to keep one over the summer months? But it's not just homeless people who need our help; thousands of New Yorkers are forced to make a choice between buying a winter coat and putting food on the table, or meeting other basic survival needs. Each December, New York Cares collects nearly 80,000 gently used winter coats and distributes them to thousands of men, women, and children who would otherwise go without.” If you have a new or gently-used coat, please contact Father Smith. We are beginning to gather coats now . . . Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) “Christmas at Sea” Program: We have now made two deliveries of wool caps, scarves, and gloves knit by members of the parish to SCI. Those items are then distributed to mariners from warmer climes visiting the Port of New York and New Jersey. For more information, speak to Reha Sterbin. Jay Smith
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Weekday – Labor Day (Federal Holiday Schedule)
Tuesday The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday Constance, Nun, and her Companions, 1878
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Fifteenth 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. Holy Days as announced.
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.