From The Rector: A Community of Prayer
Last month I attended the academic convocation at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. The preacher for the evening service was one of the honorary degree recipients, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, dean of Canterbury Cathedral. He remarked that at Canterbury he was part of a “community of prayer” that had existed for over 1400 years. Almost immediately I began to subtract 1870, the year in which the doors of our first church were opened, from 2009.
It’s easy to think of Saint Mary’s as a “place” of prayer, just as it is easy to think of Canterbury as a place of prayer. But Dean Willis’s phrase points to a deeper reality. There has been an ongoing, daily, living community of prayer at Saint Mary’s since our parish began. That will be 139 years as a community of prayer on December 8, 2009, the anniversary of the first services in the parish’s first church home on December 8, 1870.
On a recent Sunday, when the weather was warm, the doors of the church were all open. Three people came into the church during the Solemn Mass as we began the Eucharistic Prayer. With word and gesture they were drawn into the prayer of the Church. It’s a long way from the high altar to the main doors of the church. As celebrant I can only see shapes, not faces beyond the first couple of pews in the nave when I am facing the congregation. But I could see what was happening very clearly. The sight and sound of the community at prayer issued the invitation to enter and made them welcome as they entered.
When I am asked how many members Saint Mary’s has, it’s never easy to answer. In a formal sense, membership in the parish is defined by the canons, that is, the laws, of the Church. But to say there are 319 of us misses the reality of this community of prayer. We are a wonderfully broad and diverse group in so many ways. We are indeed made up of all who come and join in the prayer of the Church in this place. We are made up too by many who cannot be here physically, but whose spiritual home is centered here because of the witness, worship and mission of this parish. Saint Mary’s Times Square would not be here today without the love, prayers and financial support of people of the wider parish community.
Anachronism, that is, the reading of the present into the past, is a cross the Church will carry to the end of time. A relevant example: the New Testament word “church.” Few of us, I think, hear the word the way Christians in the New Testament would understand it. When the New Testament was written, those who had been called together by Christ were just beginning to understand the new life they shared as members of his Body.
The Greek word translated as “church” is ekklesia. A good translation of that word is “assembly.” Its root meaning is useful too: those who are “called out.” When the New Testament was written, and for centuries afterwards, there was no Church the way I think of Church, with our sacraments, organization and buildings. In the New Testament, the Christian community was made up of those who belonged to “the Way” (Acts 9:2). They had been “called out” of their old lives into a new relationship with God and each other in Christ. They were a community of prayer. And not many made the mistake of confusing the leaders of the community with the community itself.
That said, anchoring our community of prayer is a resident community of clergy and religious. Since the beginning of Saint Mary’s, our parish priests and their families have always lived at the church, here and at the first parish church on West 45th Street. Except for the period 1965 to 2007, there have been resident sisters at Saint Mary’s from different religious orders since 1882. And let’s be clear, this isn’t a “high-church” thing. It’s about the Body of Christ being called together Sunday by Sunday, day by day, by Word and Sacrament.
My first visit to Saint Mary’s was on November 18, 1998, when I had been invited by the Board of Trustees to interview for the position of rector. I had no idea what a remarkable place of prayer this was until I entered the building for the first time. The sight of an arch, the marble of the altar, the scent of beeswax and incense can stop me in my tracks, as it were, unexpectedly. But I can say that in my heart and mind Saint Mary’s is the community of prayer, those who are here now, those who were here before, and those who will be here in the future. Just as the clergy are not the Church, the building is not the Church either. Without the Spirit himself filling us and bringing us together we would be a valley of very dry bones. Saint Mary’s is more than a place. It is a community of prayer. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Burt, Jack, Sandy, Josephine, Robert, Chris, Timothy, Alex, Aaron, Dennis, Dorothy, Sharon, Margaret, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, Emil, religious, Ian, priest, and Carl, priest; and for the members of our armed forces on active duty, especially Kayla, Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 15: 1887 Laura Chambers Sutton; 1881 Theodore Codswise Mitchell; 1898 Mary Dow; 1907 Sadie Adams Smith; 1939 Anna Daingerfield; 1949 Richard Davis Campbell; 1951 Elizabeth Congdon Mason; 1954 Florence Louise Farson Dawson; 1956 Etta Jane Willsie; 1972 Wallace Charles Taylor; 1973 Estell Moore; 1983 Ralph Burns Smith; 1997 Noel Julian Blackman;
SPECIAL SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21 . . . The church will be open on the regular Saturday schedule from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Confessions will be heard by only at 4:00 PM. I will be on duty. Evening Prayer will be said at 5:00 PM. The Sunday Vigil Mass will be at 5:20 PM. There will be no morning confessions or noontime services on this day. The annual convention of the Diocese of New York is on November 21 at the Cathedral. Your parish clergy will be there. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Evensong will be sung by members of the parish choir on Sunday, November 15 . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, November 16, at 6:30 PM . . . Father Jay Smith will be on retreat November 17-19. He returns to the parish on Saturday, November 21 . . . Father John Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, November 14, at 11:30 AM and at 4:00 PM. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, November 21, at 4:00 PM only.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Brother Emil Denworth, F.M.S., is at home and continues to recuperate after a stay in Lenox Hill Hospital. Father Ian Montgomery is now at home and is doing well after a bout with pneumonia and a stay at Lenox Hill. Canon Carl Gerdau has just returned home from after rehabilitation therapy at Amsterdam House. Parishioner Burt Abelson is at Long Island College Hospital for some tests. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Many thanks to Scott Homan and Dick Leitsch for their work on repairing the church cushions. We need new ones, but the repairs certainly help!; many thanks also to Daniel Craig, who spent Wednesday afternoon helping out in the sacristy . . . There will be a Reception for Members of Saint Mary’s Legacy Society on Monday, December 14, 6:30 PM, after Evening Prayer, in the Rectory . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 256.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude this Sunday is the Psalm Prelude, Set 2, No. 1, by Herbert Howells (1892-1983), which is based on words from Psalm 130 (the text for the minor proper at the Offertory). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis F-dur, Opus 117, by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901). Rheinberger, an important composer and teacher of the German Romantic period, is known especially for his organ and sacred choral music. This work, composed in 1880, was written over a span of a mere five hours – clearly efficiency was among Rheinberger’s skills. His aesthetic and style is in many ways similar to the great Johannes Brahms (both men wrote music in a classical disposition, as opposed to the freer and “wilder” music of composers such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet O Hearken thou, Opus 64, by Elgar. The work was written for chorus and orchestra as the Communion motet for the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary and was completed in March and first performed at the Coronation service in Westminster Abbey on June 22 of that year. At Solemn Evensong this week, members of the professional choir will sing the Short Service evening canticles by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), and Tantum Ergo by Déodat de Séverac (1872-1921). James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010 . . . Our financial goal for the 2010 Campaign is $535,044.00. As of November 10, 68 pledge cards have been returned and we have achieved 33% of our financial goal (in other words, $180,969.00 has been pledged as of November 10). We urge all Saint Marians to return their pledge cards by Sunday, November 22, the Feast of Christ the King and Commitment Sunday. Please pray for the success of this year’s campaign. Thank you to all who give so generously of their time, talent, and treasure to support Saint Mary’s. J.R.S.
WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of the 2010 Stewardship Campaign, the Stewardship Committee plans to continue publishing contributions to its ongoing series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.” Parishioner Clint Best has written the latest addition to the series: “Hundreds of friends and the curious still seek out Saint Mary’s on great feast days with the organ exultant, clouds of incense rising and gorgeous vestments on display. And this is a glorious aspect of the parish – a link with earlier times when lavish worship in the beauty of holiness was a hallmark of our status as an international Anglo-Catholic shrine. But times have changed and we have grown into a greater awareness of what it really means to be catholic Anglicans. The true measure of a parish, I believe, is not the splendor of the liturgy, but how God’s people are supported, encouraged and helped to find meaning in an ever more confusing world. Under Father Gerth’s guidance, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are learning as a parish what it means to be more fully the Body of Christ in Times Square. Our life together is achieving a wholeness I have not witnessed in forty years as a parishioner. We must give thanks for those in the past whose vision founded the parish, for those through the years who have sacrificed to maintain our tradition, and for those in our own day who strive to create a solid foundation to hand on to those who will follow. Saint Mary’s truly is a living treasure that must be cherished, preserved and celebrated.” Clinton Best
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Church School for Children continues on Sundays at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room, just outside the sacristy. This year, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins is the Church-School teacher. She is beginning to work with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The children have already been busy in the Morning Room on Sundays, working with materials Scripture and liturgy appropriate to their age. They have also been singing! We welcome young children to join the Church School at any time. The children need not have attended earlier sessions. For more information, please contact Deacon Weiner Tompkins or the Parish Office . . . Adult Education: Studies in Christian Doctrine: Sunday, November 15, and Sunday, November 22, 10:00 AM, “What do we mean when we talk about ‘revelation’, our conviction that God acts to reveal himself to us and to the world”? Led by Father Jay Smith . . . Studies in Sacred Scripture: Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., November 18, 6:30 PM, following Evening Prayer. The class is studying the Book of Proverbs. All are welcome . . . Studies in Christian Liturgy: Sunday, December 6, 10:00 AM, The American Editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Led by the Rector . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 25 and the Adult Education Class will not meet on Sunday, November 29, because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Adult Education Class will meet on December 6 and then we will take a break for the holidays between December 13 and mid-January.
CONCERTS & RECITALS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, November 21, 3:00 PM, Cameron Carpenter, organ (for further information and ticketing, please visit: http://www.Cameron11-21.org) . . . Saturday, December 12, 2009, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director . . . Saturday, December 19, 2009, The New York Repertory Orchestra, Annual NYRO Benefit Concert, David Leibowitz, music director & James Kennerley, organ soloist . . . Saturday, January 23, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre, conductor . . . Saturday, January 23, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: “The Art of the Canon,” Vox Vocal Ensemble, George Steel, conductor . . . Saturday, February 13, 2010, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Susie Park, violin soloist . . . Saturday, February 27, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: “The Birth of the Renaissance: Guillaume Dufay,” Orlando Consort . . . Saturday, March 27, 2010, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Erin Keefe, violin soloist . . . Saturday, May 22, 2010, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Jennifer Grimaldi, soprano.
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.
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 Vigil Mass for Sunday. Confessions are normally heard on Saturdays at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM or by appointment.