The Angelus

Volume XI, Number 46

From the Rector: Eucharistic Consecration

When I started attending an Episcopal parish in college, I began learning about Eucharistic consecration, how the bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  There were lots of new words and phrases like “Real Presence” (good) and “Transubstantiation” (bad) to learn.  The word “consecration” itself was new – Baptists don’t do “consecration” except of our lives.  Along the way to becoming an Episcopalian, I discovered parishes like Saint Paul’s Parish, K Street, Washington, D.C., that seemed a lot like the Roman Catholic Church of my grandparents.  There were also Episcopal parishes that were much simpler in every way and places like Saint Paul’s Memorial Church, Charlottesville, Virginia, that seemed “middle of the road.”  I pretty much liked them all.

Worship was the topic of the day.  The Episcopal Church was just about ready to produce its first new Prayer Book since 1928.  Episcopalians, laity and clergy, spent time learning about liturgy.  There were workshops, seminars and classes across the Church.  Some people fought Prayer Book change of any kind, but most Episcopalians welcomed the new book.

More importantly, our current Prayer Book was produced just before a new generation of scholars would question assumptions and conclusions that had shaped the liturgical academic landscape since Dom Gregory Dix (1901-1952) published his enormously influential book, The Shape of the Liturgy (London: The Dacre Press, 1945). Dix missed what early texts could tell him about the variety in practice across the emerging Christian community in the first centuries after Christ.  Variety, not uniformity, is what the textual evidence available to us suggests.

There was another text with an outsized influence at that time known as the Apostolic Tradition.  The next generation of scholars would argue persuasively that the document didn’t record the practice of second-century Rome.  But in the 1960s and 1970s, this document influenced liturgical reform among Protestants and Roman Catholics.  It turns out that the document is an “untitled and anonymous ancient church order known as the Apostolic Tradition and often (wrongly) attributed to Hippolytus of Rome [which] dates from the fourth century or later” (Paul F. Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 19).

As a newcomer to the Episcopal Church, I was taught that Anglicans did not believe in a moment or formula of consecration like Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians each in their own way do.  We Anglicans instead spoke of the whole Eucharistic Prayer as “consecrating” the bread and wine.  But one would never guess that from the way most of us experience the Eucharist.  Episcopalians are Western Christians and the medieval practice of viewing what we call the “Words of Institution” as “consecratory” is normative for just about all Western Christian denominations, Protestant and Catholic.

For Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and many Lutherans, their prayer over the bread and wine is normatively not much more than the words of institution.  The Prayer Book does not require that I genuflect after the words over the bread and the words over the wine, which is the tradition here, but it does require that I touch them at the words.  Scratch the surface of any Western Christian and one finds a medieval Eucharistic piety still in play.

I’ve continued to read and study about worship since seminary.  The subject of Eucharistic prayers is far larger and more complex than anyone let on when I was in a confirmation class.  Just for starters, the idea of “consecration” isn’t itself of much interest in early texts; “giving thanks” for the work of God is what matters.  The word “Eucharist” means “give thanks.”  Eucharistic prayers began generally to include Jesus’ words at the Last Supper only in the fourth century when the Church was being overrun with newcomers and the Sunday assembly began to take on a catechetical purpose.  (See Bradshaw, 140).

There’s more to learn about the past and about how to speak about it in the present.  I’m pretty good at consecration thinking.  I hear bells in my soul just before the words of institution are said at any Mass, whether I am celebrant or in the congregation, whether bells really ring or not.  Again, I’ve got the consecration thing down I think.  I need to work on the thanksgiving.  I use the word but I’m not sure it means what it should for me yet, what God wants it to mean.  Stay tuned.  Stephen Gerth


SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Jane, Josephine, Liz, Chris, Timothy, Rachel, Martha, Robert, Burt, Alex, Dorothy, Cindy, Margaret, Eva, Allan, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, and Emil, religious; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Marc, Omar, Benjamin, Steven, Andrew, and Patrick; and for the repose of the soul of George . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 11: 1897 David Abeel Storer; 1931 Wallo Gerald Campbell; 1950 Alice Louise Brown; 1960 Mary Cornish.


IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . George Blackshire, longtime parishioner and former member of the Board of Trustees, died on the evening of Monday, October 5.  As we go to press, arrangements for his funeral here at Saint Mary’s are pending.  Please pray for George, for his family and friends, and for all who mourn.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Mary’s Guild, the parish altar guild, will meet on Saturday, October 10, following the 12:10 PM Mass . . . Saturday, October 10, 7:30 PM, Audio Engineering Society Convention Recital: Graham Blyth, organ . . . Monday, October 12, the parish will observe the Columbus Day Federal Holiday.  The office will be closed.  The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  The 12:00 PM Noonday Office and the 12:10 PM Mass will be celebrated.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you so much to all those who worked so hard to make last Saturday’s Oktoberfest and Hymn Sing such a great success.  This effort was made possible by the efforts of members of the parish and we are very grateful; a special word of thanks to James Kennerley, who once again provided such fine and enthusiastic musical leadership . . . Thank you also to the volunteers who have given so many hours in recent weeks to the repair and cleaning of the cushions in the pews.  This is difficult work, hard on both hands and eyes, but the rewards are significant.  This work makes our building much more presentable, it preserves the patrimony of the parish, and it helps us do a better job at welcoming our visitors.  We are very grateful . . . We do not yet have donors for flowers for the following dates: October 25 and November 15 and 22.  Please contact the Parish Office, if you would like to make a donation . . . Attendance Last Sunday 300.


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Adagio C-dur für Glasharmonika, K. 356 (K. 617a), by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass in C, D. 452, by Franz Schubert (1797-1828).  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Des Tages Weihe (“Consecration of the Day”), D. 763, also by Schubert.  Franz Schubert was born in Austria; he produced some six-hundred Lieder (art songs), nine symphonies, operas, and a large amount of chamber and piano music.  He was raised in a musical family, and, while he had a close circle of friends who greatly admired his work, it was not until after his untimely death at the age of thirty-one that composers such as Liszt, Brahms and Schumann championed his compositions.  The Mass in C, D. 452, is the fourth of six masses which Schubert composed, and it features the charming and inventive use of melody and harmony that came to characterize the composer’s style.  The motet is a part-song written in 1822 and first published in 1842.  The organ recitalist on Sunday at 4:30 PM (note earlier time) is Ms. Renée Louprette, Associate Director of Music at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York, New York.  Renée has asked me to assist her at the recital and I will join her, not as organist, but as tenor singing the plainsong.  James Kennerley


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Sunday, October 11 & 18, 10:00 AM, Studies in Church History: The Episcopal Church in the Post-World War II Era, 1945–1985. Taught by Father Jay Smith, curate.  October 11, Session 2: The Postwar Religious Revival and the Crisis of the 1960s.  October 18, Session 3: Following the upheavals of the 1960s, the Church faces a number of challenges during the period, 1970-1985 . . . Studies in Sacred Scripture: The Wednesday Evening Bible Study, 6:30-7:30 PM, The Book of Proverbs (October 14, 21, and 28; and November 4, 11, and 18). Taught by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B. . . . Studies in the History of Christian Art: Sunday, October 25, and Sunday, November 8, 10:00 AM: “Icons, A Very Brief History”.  Prof. Dennis Raverty, Ph.D., friend and neighbor of the parish, will teach a class on the history and theology of icons in the Eastern Orthodox tradition later this month.  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.  As an educator, Prof. Raverty is a generalist.  He has taught courses on the art of a number of different cultures and time periods, including the art of the Byzantine tradition; as a scholar, his specialty is in modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism.  Session 1 (October 25): “Origin of the Icons” – An examination of the early development of the icon within the context of late antiquity, early Christian art and the veneration of relics of the martyrs.  Session 2 (November 8): “Iconoclasm and the Triumph of Tradition” – Iconoclasts (“image smashers”) during the eight and ninth centuries threatened the very existence of icons, and in response to this crisis an orthodox theology was formulated.  A later stylistic crisis resulted in the decline of the tradition in the seventeenth century, but the second half of the twentieth century witnessed a veritable renaissance of the tradition.  J.R.S.


WELCOMING OUR NEW SEMINARIAN . . . We are very pleased to be able to welcome T. Remington Slone (“Rem”) and his wife Casey Slone to the parish.  Rem is a middler at the General Theological Seminary.  He is from the Diocese of Georgia and his sponsoring parish is Saint Paul’s Church, Jesup, Georgia (a ninety minute drive southwest of Savannah).  He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, where he studied history.  This past summer he did his chaplaincy training at the NY Presbyterian Hospital–Columbia University Medical Center.  Rem and Casey were married in May 2007.  Casey also studied at the University of Georgia, where she received a bachelor of fine arts degree.  At present, she is working as the arts coordinator at the West Side YMCA, Sixty-third Street and Central Park West.  In addition to his work in the sacristy and in the chancel as acolyte, thurifer, reader and master of ceremonies, Rem will be helping out at the parish in a number of different ways.  He has interests in pastoral care, stewardship and outreach.  Please introduce yourselves to Rem and Casey and join me in welcoming them to the parish.  S.G.


OUTREACH MINISTRIES . . . Father Smith continues his book sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Sunday Masses.  All proceeds are used to benefit those in need.  Donations of book for this outreach effort are gratefully accepted . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and some clothing for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry . . . Please contact Father Smith if you think you would like to donate toys or other gift items for the AIDS Action International Event at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on November 17, 2009.


CONCERTS & RECITALS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, October 10, 2009, 7:30 PM (Admission Free), Audio Engineering Society Convention Recital, Graham Blyth, organ: The Three Chorales of César Franck paired with Preludes and Fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach . . . Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 7:30 PM, Tenebrae Choral Ensemble, Nigel Short, director.  For information:; Saturday, October 24, 2009, 8:00 PM (Free Admission), New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, Music Director, Lutoslawski: Funeral Music for Strings, Chausson: Poeme de l'amour et de la mer, Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 (“Reformation”).  For information:, 212.662.8383 or . . . Thursday, October 29, 2009, 1:00 PM (Free Admission), Sounds Spectacular: The Choir of Wakefield Cathedral, Wakefield, United Kingdom; Thomas Moore, conductor and Jonathan Bielby, organist.  The Choir will present a program of both sacred and secular music, including works by Stanford, Mendelssohn, Leighton, John Scott, Cole Porter and George Gershwin . . . Saturday, November 21, 3:00 PM, Cameron Carpenter, organ.  Music to include the Trois Chorales of César Franck and the Etudes of Jeanne Demessieux.  For further information and ticketing, please visit the following website: . . . Friday, December 5, 2009, 7:30 PM, “Jubilee Christmas”: Treasure House Chorale and Orchestra Annual Christmas Concert.  Works by Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Billings, Rutter, among others.  For further information and ticketing, please visit: or call 914.318.3268 . . . Saturday, December 12, 2009, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director.  Music to include works by Josquin des Prez, John Nesbett, Thomas Tallis, and William Byrd.  For tickets, please contact the Miller Theatre Box Office, 2960 Broadway (at 116th Street); Phone: 212.854.7799; Hours: Monday-Friday, 12:00 PM-6:00PM, and two hours prior to performances . . . Saturday, December 19, 2009, 8:00 PM (Admission Free), Annual NYRO Benefit Concert, David Leibowitz, music director and James Kennerley, organ soloist.  Music to include Virgil Thomson, The Plow That Broke the Plains; Francis Poulenc, Concerto for Organ; and Camille Saint-Saëns, Symphony No. 3 (“Organ Symphony”).



The Parish Clergy

The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector.

The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate.

The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon,

The Reverend John Merz, assisting priest.

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. 


Parish Staff

Aaron Koch, business manager.

Mr. Hector Rojas, building mechanic.

Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Tony Santiago, Mr. Timothy Zimmerman, sextons.


Questions about the Angelus newsletter 



Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday School and Adult Forum, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare is available from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM every Sunday 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 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include 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 normally heard on Saturdays at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM or by appointment.