The Angelus

Volume 12, Number 52


Twelve years ago, just before Christ the King Sunday 1998, I visited Saint Mary’s for the first time.  I was here to be interviewed for the position of rector.  As I opened the doors of the church and walked in, someone was at the organ thundering away.  He was playing Lo! he comes, with clouds descending.  The hymn’s customary tune, Helmsley – not St. Thomas, is powerful music to accompany the experience of walking into this church building church for the first time.  Some years later, and more than once, summer seminarian Peter Anthony would say to me as we walked through Saint Mary’s, “Father, you have a real church.”  Indeed, you and I do.

Last Saturday, our annual diocesan convention was held at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.  It is arguably the greatest religious space in North America.  Five or six hundred people gave up what was probably the last, beautiful, warm Saturday until late spring for the work of the diocese of New York.  There were, of course, many graces.  One of them was just being in the cathedral that day.  The sun was bright enough to send showers of color through the stained glass windows of the one hundred twenty-four foot high nave.  To paraphrase Peter, now Father, Anthony, “New York, you have a real cathedral.”

What is a cathedral, or a church?  Before everything else, a church or cathedral is simply this: it is a shelter for the assembly of the baptized.  Cathedrals, churches and chapels are places where the People of God gather to bathe and feed those who are being born, those who are hungry, and those who have died.  Like our own dwellings and home lives, it requires real money to sustain our church buildings and our common life in Christ.

Saint Mary’s has a small endowment and large expenses.  We have faith in our vocation and in our future.  We have assets.  There are some remaining development rights for our church property which may be sold one day if someone who wants to buy them makes us a fair and reasonable offer – and I believe that this will happen some day.  People make offerings at shrines and in collections during services.  We get some money to offset costs from letting other not-for-profit groups use our own non-profit space.  The role of bequests cannot be overstated; gifts large and small from estates have kept Saint Mary’s alive during its most difficult days.  But, the largest part of our budget is met by gifts from people who know and love Saint Mary’s, those who make and fulfill a commitment to the parish.  In church-speak, this is called a “pledge”.”

It cannot be said enough that a pledge is an estimate of what one hopes to be able to give over a certain period of time.  For the purposes of our yearly budget, as is the practice in every Episcopal parish I know, the lay leaders and rector ask people annually to make a pledge for the coming calendar year.

For some, their pledge will indicate the minimum of what they will give, for some the maximum.  Pledges enable leadership to plan and fund the operations of the church.  Pledge commitments keep the doors open, provide gifts for the work of the diocese and the larger church, make music, and repair and improve the facility.  These gifts make it possible for the parish to employ the staff and clergy.  Your gifts keep the doors open and ensure that the regular services of the Church are offered daily.

Saint Mary’s is not just a “real church.”  It is a great church, one that has nourished and thrived because it has put the gospel of Jesus Christ at the heart of its common life from the very first.  I’m not sure in which early publication I first ran across the phrase, “Saint Mary’s Opens Her Doors To All People”, but that’s exactly the kind of invitation Jesus himself gave when he had invited the thousands on the hillside to sit down and to eat.

Jesus once asked his disciples if anyone had anything to eat.  In John, there was a boy with five loaves and two fish and he gave all he had to eat to Jesus, not knowing what use Jesus could make of them (John 6:1-15).  I believe our gifts to Saint Mary’s enable an abundance for others.  It has always been the case that we humans find the greatest joy in what we give sacrificially for others.  Join me in bringing your pledge card on Sunday – or send it in – or send me an email – or just write the largest check you have ever written for Saint Mary’s and put 2011 in the memo line.  Any of these things will do.  Thank you for your support.  And if you are near Times Square, do try to be at the Solemn Mass on Sunday.  It’s the kind of Sunday when the kingdom of God really is in the midst of us.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Howard, Alan, Wayne, Randy, Averie, Lin, Tom, Ann, Mary, Owen, Robert, Thomas, Edward, José, Sharon, Daisy, Cesar, Gerardo, Chris, Rolf, Gert, Rick, Emil, religious and Allen, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially James . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 21: 1887 Sarah Skotzky; 1896 Thomas Rowe Kent; 1920 Wilhelmina Kramer Roth; 1962 Lillian Clorisse Smith


THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Adult Forum meets on Sunday, November 21, at 10:00 AM, in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House.  Father Peter Powell leads the final class of his three-part series on Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians . . . Sunday, November 21: Commitment Sunday: Offering of 2011 Pledge Cards . . . Also on November 21, Father Alan Moses, Vicar, All Saints Church Margaret Street, London, England, will preach at Evensong, 5:00 PM . . . On Wednesday, November 24, the Eve of Thanksgiving Day, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . On Thanksgiving Day, the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  The regular Noonday services will be offered . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, November 20.  Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, November 27.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . We have already begun to take reservations for flower memorials for Sundays and holy days in 2011.  If you would like to give flowers for January 16 or January 30, please contact the Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . On the First Sunday of Advent, we turn to the A-cycle of the three-year Lectionary for Sunday Masses.  You can find the new Lectionary here.  The lessons for the A-cycle are available on the parish’s web site here.  The Daily Office Lectionary is on a two-year cycle.  On Advent Sunday we begin Year One.  This lectionary has not changed.  These lessons are also available on the parish web site . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 236.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary is the Western Wind Mass by John Sheppard (c. 1515-1559/60).  “Westron Wynde” is an early sixteenth-century song whose tune was used by English composers John Taverner, Christopher Tye and John Sheppard as the “cantus firmus” (melody, tune) for their Mass settings of the same name.  The tune first appears in a “partbook” around 1530, and the Middle English words (which were written a few hundred years before the tune) are decidedly secular in nature:


Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,

The small raine down can raine.

Cryst, if my love were in my armes

And I in my bedde again!


This is the first incidence of an English mass setting being based on a secular tune (it had happened on the continent with settings based on “L’homme armé” and “Mille regretz”), and John Taverner’s was the first to be composed.  The melody in Sheppard’s setting is heard, in various voices, a total of thirty-six times throughout the Mass.  At the ministration of communion, the choir sings the motet Omnes gentes, plaudite minibus a lively setting of a portion of Psalm 47, by Christopher Tye (c. 1505–c. 1572)..  James Kennerley


LEGACY SOCIETY RECEPTION . . . We recently sent invitations to the members of the Legacy Society, inviting them to the reception held annually to thank and honor the members of the Society.  This year the reception will be on Tuesday, December 7, at 7:00 PM, following Solemn Evensong.  If you are a member of the Legacy Society and did not receive an invitation or if you have not yet responded to the invitation, please contact Father Jay Smith.  If you have put Saint Mary’s in your will or made another kind of bequest to the parish, please let us know so we can include you!


STEWARDSHIP 2011 . . . Commitment Sunday is November 21, the Feast of Christ the King . . . Stewardship Campaign Progress Report: As Commitment Sunday approaches, we still have a ways to go.  As of November 17, we have received pledges from only 57 households—183 households pledged during our 2009-2010 Campaign.  This means that only 27% of those who pledged last year have pledged so far this year; and we have only reached 41% of our anticipated goal for this year’s Campaign.  We hope and pray that we will see a large return this coming Sunday!  If you need a pledge card or if you have questions, please speak to MaryJane Boland, Marie Rosseels, Steven Heffner, or Father Smith.  Thank you so much to all those who have made a pledge so far this year.


WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of our 2010-2011 Stewardship Campaign we continue our ongoing series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.”  This week we hear from the Rev. Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins.  Rebecca writes, “Like that of many people who have found their way to Saint Mary’s my story begins and ends in love.  I fell in love with God as an adult, and was baptized.  I fell in love with liturgy and that led me to the front door on 46th Street.  I fell in love with the mural behind the altar (Our Lady, Queen of Heaven by Valentine D'Ogries), and being a violin player, I especially fell in love with the angel playing that instrument.  I fell in love with all the various faces and hands gathered at the rail each week as I began to serve at the altar. I fell in love with the phrase from scripture “all sorts and conditions” and how that encompassed who was welcome in the church – all.  I fell in love with what Saint Mary’s is beyond its reputation for musical and liturgical glory, its aspects such as local and global mission, religious study and presentations and heterogeneous community, and I fell in love with becoming an active part of that work, through adult education, and trips to Honduras with members of the congregation and diocese. I fell in love with the parish’s supportive nature and how it sponsored my path to the diaconate.  I love serving as deacon at Saint Mary’s.  I fell in love with all the ways I have been blessed to share the growth of Saint Mary’s, both liturgically and pastorally, but especially as catechist in the atrium of our new, special children’s formation program, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  I fell in love with the new, closer view I have of the painting of Mary herself and the saints and attendant figures as I face the altar on Sunday mornings and feast days.  I am still particularly in love with the angel who drew me into the picture from the start, but not merely because she seems familiar, but rather that she is the opposite, mysterious, and always revealing an unknown perspective, one that I now recognize.  It is the exact same way God is present at Saint Mary’s, and in our lives, simultaneously constant and unfamiliar, surprising us with both the stability and the possibilities of love we never knew existed until we let that love lead us inside the places God lives, which are everywhere.  For those who have followed, we can experience that love again and again, from God, and to God, at Saint Mary’s.  A poem I wrote at the beginning of my arrival, not long after I entered the awe-inspiring space, still speaks best for me:


Angel Playing the Violin


Her bare feet,

beneath a skirt of gauzy blue,

float in golden air,

that yellow orange view

bright behind the altar

where high up her song

attends Our Lady above,

herself held,

in a sun-washed circle of sky

shimmering down

its coins of light. They tell us

keep your eyes on the prize,

the heavenly figures

lifted and balanced, buoyant

from heels to elbows to crown.

We long for that invisible hold,

the same lift,

its lit music all around

as we too are carried

way up, our palms

folded, our own feet

so tipped they’d fit

neatly in God's hand.


ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . On Saturday, December 11, Father John Beddingfield will be returning to Saint Mary’s to lead a quiet day.  John will offer three meditations during the day, which begins at 10:00 AM and ends at 3:00 PM.  Those attending are invited to celebrate the Eucharist together at noonday.  Coffee and tea will be served in Saint Joseph’s Hall, beginning at 9:30 AM and a simple lunch will be provided following Mass.  Please send an e-mail to Father Jay Smith at if you think you would like to attend so he can make plans for lunch.  Father Beddingfield was sponsored for ordination by this parish; he worked here as the parish administrator before his ordination and as curate thereafter.  We are very happy, and grateful, that he has agreed to be with us in December.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, Father Peter Powell will lead the final part of his three-part series on Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.  Father Powell writes, “The class on Sunday, November 21, the last in this series, will include a discussion of the ‘words of institution’ in 1 Corinthians 11 and also 1 Corinthians 13, probably the best-known chapter in the Pauline Epistles.”  During Lent 2011, Father Powell returns and will do a close reading of 1 Corinthians 15.  The fall series will be good preparation for the Lent series, but it is not a prerequisite . . . The Adult-Forum will not meet on Sunday, November 28, the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day . . . Sunday, December 5, “Bishop Anthony Bloom’s Beginning to Pray.  A brief introduction to a well-known work by a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain.  Led by Father Jay Smith . . . The Adult Forum will not meet between Sunday, December 12, and Sunday, January 9.  The forum resumes on Sunday, January 16, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will begin a three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission.  The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.”  Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century.  The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on Wednesday, November 24, the Eve of Thanksgiving Day; on Wednesday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary; on December 22 or 29, because of the Christmas break; or on January 12.  However, the class will meet on December 1 and 15 and on January 5.  Those classes will be led by our seminarian Rem Slone.  The sisters will return to this Bible study on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We recently sent a check for $200.00 to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry to help cover their added holiday costs.  If you would like to make a cash donation to the Food Pantry, please speak to Father Smith . . . On Tuesday, we delivered a number of gift items to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine for the annual event sponsored by AIDS Action International.  We are continuing to collect toys that will be donated to the New York Foundling Hospital . . . We are now collecting new or very lightly used and well-laundered coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive, which runs from December 1-31 . . . Sunday, November 21, Saint Joseph’s Hall, Book Sale.  All proceeds are used to benefit those in need . . . We also continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Please look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Last Saturday, at the Diocesan Convention, we heard a very interesting report on a global outreach effort sponsored by our diocese, Carpenter’s Kids, which works to help Tanzanian children who have been orphaned during the AIDS epidemic.  Please stay posted for further information.  Jay Smith


LOOKING AHEAD . . . Tuesday, December 7, 6:00 PM, Solemn Evensong and Legacy Society Reception . . . Wednesday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, celebrant and preacher . . . Saturday, December 11, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, Advent Quiet Day, led by Father John Beddingfield . . . Sunday, December 26, 5:00 PM, Christmas Lessons and Carols . . . Wednesday, January 5, Eve of the Epiphany, Solemn Evensong, 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, January 6, The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM


NEWS OF THE DIOCESAN CONVENTION . . . The 234th Convention of the Diocese was held at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Saturday, November 13.  The Saint Mary’s delegation consisted of Father Gerth, Father Smith, MaryJane Boland and Marie Rosseels.  Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., once again hosted her community’s information table in the cathedral nave during Convention.  Highlights of the day: Bishop Mark Sisk called for the election of a bishop coadjutor to take place on Saturday, October 21, 2011; Bishop Catherine Roskam announced her plans to retire at the end of 2011; Father Matthew Mead was elected to serve another term on Diocesan Council; and a budget for 2011 was passed.


CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, November 20, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Early Music Series of the Columbia University’s Miller Theatre: New York Polyphony.  Music of Taverner, Ockeghem, Dunstable, Brumel, des Prez, and others . . . Saturday, December 11, 2010, 8:00 PM & Monday, December 13, 2010, 8:00 PM: Voices of Ascension: Christmas Concert, Dennis Keene, artistic director . . . Saturday, December 18, 2010, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra.  Annual NYRO Benefit Concert...and the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber.  David Leibowitz, music director & Eric Jacobsen, cello.  Music by Barber, Schumann, and Rimsky-Korsakoff.  For information and to purchase tickets:, 212.662.8383 or


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, Exhibition: “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam”.  Until February 27, 2011 . . . Concert: “The Spirit of Old Russia,” Russian choral music.  Saturday, December 4, 8:00 PM, the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, 552 West End Avenue



The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus


Saint Mary’s Mission House
Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.
The Community of St. John Baptist


The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator


The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager

Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons