From the Rector: Patterns of Prayer
Last week I had an email from a friend who asked about which prayers we use at Saint Mary’s for the Eucharistic Prayer and for the Prayers of the People. Mostly we use what is called Eucharistic Prayer A. Most of our Masses are Said Eucharists for which the congregation uses the Prayer Book. We use Eucharistic Prayer A because it is in place and requires fewer page announcements. Newcomers have less confusion. And, it’s a good, solid prayer.
At Solemn Masses, for which we have a bulletin, it’s practical to make use of others prayers. Eucharistic Prayer B has a focus that seems appropriate for Advent, Christmastide and the Season after Epiphany. Eucharistic Prayer D is based on the text of the fourth century Liturgy of Saint Basil. A form of it is still used in Orthodox traditions. In the more ecumenical days of the 1960s, because of its antiquity and richness, all of the major liturgical churches of the Christian West adopted prayers based on this text. We use this prayer for all Solemn Masses from the Great Vigil of Easter through the Day of Pentecost.
The one prayer we do not use is Eucharistic Prayer C. There are a number of technical problems with this prayer. The desire to include the congregation more directly in the verbal praying of the prayer led to a responsive structure where every paragraph requires a response from the congregation – and each of the responses is different. This means the congregation must have their heads in the book in order to make the responses in the right places – not good. Liturgical prayer is not about following the words in the book. The prayer, of course, is not without its merits. But its emphasis on the material creation is unusual for Eucharistic Prayers. Instead of recounting moments of salvation history, it is very much the product of a generation that first sent a human being to the moon.
How we as individuals and as a community experience and participate in prayer is as important as any text. There are days when I am celebrant for a weekday Eucharist with twelve people in the church sitting as far apart from each other as possible – all participating, but each in his or her own little world – me and God time. That’s a place where all of us are occasionally. On days when one can’t get an “amen” from anyone, I’ve learned to trust the rite and to remind myself that we can’t undo in thirty minutes what is an essentially private, life-long experience of Christian worship.
There are many variations of this pattern of essentially private common prayer. Slowly, I’m putting together notes from all the bulletins I saved from the Sundays I was on sabbatical. My first Sunday in California I ended up at the main Eucharist sitting by myself in front of a couple. I knew it was not going to be an easy Sunday for me from the beginning. I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to read the Nicene Creed at a different pace not only from the rest of the congregation, but from each other – three different paces in my ears. And, one was using the Roman Catholic version of the Creed, not the one in the Prayer Book he was holding in his hand. Of course it’s maddening when people are oblivious to those around them, but given who I am and what I do, I found my liturgical curiosity more aroused than my irritation.
If you have ever known the unity of word and sound in singing and in praying, it is more than a matter of right and wrong, or consideration for others. There’s a spiritual power in common prayer that’s like nothing else this side of the New Jerusalem. When an assembly is graced by these moments, time stands still, souls are united with God and with one another, and the Body of Christ is one.
On the whole, I think we at Saint Mary’s do a good job with our respect for newcomers and for each other, in and outside of worship. It’s not easy of course. We’re not perfect, despite Saint Matthew’s admonitions. But in prayer we glimpse God’s will for humankind to know him and to enjoy him for ever. That’s a pattern that really matters. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Narvel, Carol, Martha, Robert, Burt, Dorothy, Marie, Harm, Cindy, Margaret, Eva, Allan, 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 Samuel, Thomas, Annie, and John, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 27: 1910 Emily Miller Noyes; 1926 Mary Nowlen Wilmerding; 1931 Charles Edward Smith; 1940 John Scripture Peabody; 1965 Rhoda O’Connor; 1992 Howard Patch.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Samuel Bailey Hoxsie, grandfather of Father Matthew Mead, died on the morning of Thursday, September 23, 2009, after a long illness . Thomas O’Rourke, a friend of the parish, died on Friday, September 18. Please remember Samuel, Thomas, their friends and families, and all who mourn in your prayers. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Tuesday, September 29, the Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels, commonly known as Michaelmas: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, October 3, 2009, 3:00 PM, Ryan Jackson, recitalist: Maurice Duruflé: The Complete Organ Works (admission free) . . . Marian Hymn Sing & Oktoberfest: You are invited to join a very jovial group of Saint Marians for the third annual Marian Hymn Sing and Oktoberfest in Saint Joseph’s Hall (and the organ loft!) on Saturday, October 3, at 6:00 PM. Following the evening Mass, there will be dinner, followed by singing, followed by dessert. The hymn sing will be conducted by our music director and organist, James Kennerley, who has promised to repeat last year’s “tour” of our Aeolian-Skinner organ. This is a great opportunity for newcomers to get to know the parish better and for old friends to spend an evening together. All the ingredients will be in place: beer (and other, non-alcoholic, beverages), good food and joyful singing. Potluck contributions are welcomed, but not necessary. If you plan to bring something to eat, please contact Grace Bruni. If you have questions, please contact Grace, Marie Rosseels, Clark Mitchell, or MaryJane Boland.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Sunday, October 4, the parish choir returns and our summer Sunday schedule ends. From October 4 through June 2010 our Sunday worship schedule is as follows: Sung Matins at 8:30 AM, Mass at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM, Organ Recital at 4:40 PM (except during Lent), Solemn Evensong and Benediction at 5:00 PM. Refreshments are served after each of the Masses, as well as after Evensong and Benediction . . . We do not yet have donors for flowers for the following dates: October 25 and November 1, 15, and 22. If you would like to make a donation, please contact our business manager, Aaron Koch in the Parish Office . . . The American Globe Theatre (AGT), Saint Mary’s resident theatre group, has announced its fall season. On Monday, October 5, at 7:30 PM, John Basil, AGT’s artistic director will deliver the first part of a three-part lecture series “What Makes Shakespeare Great?” Part 1 is “Words!” (followed by “Women!” on November 30 and “Sex!” on January 11). On Monday, October 26, at 7:30 PM, AGT will present a staged reading of Shakespeare’s Macbeth . . . . . . 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. Also, please let Father Smith know if you are available during the next week or so to make a delivery to Saint Clement’s . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 230
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the chorale prelude on Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele, (“Deck thyself, O my soul”), BWV 654, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The cantors are myself and Matthew Marcucci, tenors. At the ministration of Communion, he and I will sing the motet Hilf mir, Gott (“Save me, O God”) by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767). Telemann, who is often referred to as the most prolific composer in Western musical history, was a contemporary of, among others, Handel, J.S. Bach and Vivaldi, and, during his lifetime, was the most celebrated of them all. Telemann held several important positions during his career. From 1721, until his death in 1767, he served as music director at the five largest and most prominent churches in the city of Hamburg. He composed several canons for equal voices, in which each vocal part sings identical material, with each voice starting one after the other. A verset (a short passage of organ music, in the style of Telemann) will be improvised as the centerpiece to the two sung sections. James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The members of the Stewardship Committee have been meeting over the summer and are preparing to launch this year’s pledge campaign in mid-October. Giving “for the spread of the kingdom of God,” and in support of the mission and ministry of the parish, is one of the duties of all Christians (Book of Common Prayer, page 856). The Committee has been working hard to make it possible for all of our friends and members to fulfill that duty – and, in practical terms, to help us close the gap between our expenses and our revenue. Please look for our annual stewardship letter in the next few weeks. The letter will be accompanied by a pledge card. If you don’t receive a card, or if you have questions about the nuts and bolts of pledging or about our understanding of the meaning and importance of pledging, please speak to MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Father Smith . . . As part of the 2010 pledge campaign, the Stewardship Committee plans to continue publishing contributions to its ongoing series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.” Long-time parishioner Larry Green has written this season’s first entry in the series.
WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . “I was brought to Saint Mary’s in 1979 by a California friend. While he was visiting New York during my first year here, he suggested that the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin might be the right place for me. I had visited other churches and had not been very happy with my experiences there. We decided to meet for the 11:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday. This was my first time in an Episcopal church, and I had no idea what to expect. By the end of the Mass, I felt that I was home. The following Sunday, I returned to Saint Mary’s alone. That is to say, no one accompanied me, but I did not feel alone. Sometime, within the first two months, Ray Kirby and George Blackshire approached me and one of them said, “We have seen you here the last few Sundays, so what do you want to do? You have to do something.” The next Sunday they introduced me to the Brother Lawrence Guild, which at the time was responsible for coffee hour, brunches and receptions. Within a couple of months, I had also become an usher, a member of the Saint Raphael’s Guild. In April 1980, I was confirmed. Since that first Sunday, I have always felt that I was, and am, a part of the Saint Mary’s family. Saint Mary’s has been the one constant in my life during the past thirty years. I feel that my weeks end and begin here every Sunday. Sometimes I wonder how I would have made it in New York if I had not been brought to Saint Mary’s on that Sunday in 1979. Then, I think: I do not have to wonder; it had all been planned for me. Why I love Saint Mary’s: it is home.” Larry Green
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 Tompkins if you would like more information, or if you are planning to have a child attend Church School on Sunday mornings . . . 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 as well as an opportunity to discuss issues and relevant texts . . . On Sunday, October 25, at 10:00 AM, Prof. Dennis Raverty, friend and neighbor of the parish, will teach a class on the history and theology of icons in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Prof. Raverty received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University and his B.A. from the University of Minnesota. At present, he teaches in the Art History Department of New Jersey City University in Jersey City. Though he has taught courses on the art of a number of different cultures and time periods, his specialty is in modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism. The title of Dennis’s class is “Icons: A Very Brief History. Session One: Origins of the Tradition in Early Christian Art” (we hope that Dennis will be able to offer a second session in the very near future) . . . 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.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . Sunday, September 27, 7:00 PM, Gala Fundraising Concert: “The Love of Music & The Music of Love, Reflections from the Keyboard, Works by Liszt, Schubert and Chopin,” Bishop Michael Marshall, piano, and Gretchen Pusch, flute, at the Church of the Heavenly Rest, Fifth Avenue and 90th Street. The concert will benefit Heavenly Rest and The Awareness Foundation, which was founded by Bishop Marshall. The bishop is a friend of Saint Mary’s. He has celebrated and preached here at the parish on several occasions. For more information about the Foundation, about the gala benefit, or to purchase tickets for the concert, please visit the parish’s website at www.heavenlyrest.org/html/marshall.html . . . Scripture for the Eyes: Bible Illustration in Netherlandish Prints of the Sixteenth Century at the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, New York. Scripture for the Eyes is the first major exhibition to explore the central role played by printed illustrations of subjects from both the Old and New Testaments in the Low Countries during the sixteenth century. Through Sunday, September 27.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Saint Michael and All Angels
Wednesday Jerome, Priest, and Monk of Bethlehem, 420
Thursday Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Eighteenth 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.