The Angelus

Volume XI, Number 52

From The Rector: Commitment to Christ

The Episcopal Church does not call the last Sunday of the Church year “Christ the King.”  In our Prayer Book it is simply “The Last Sunday after Pentecost.”  Yes, our prayers and lessons are about the kingship of Christ.  At Solemn Mass and at Evensong we will sing some of the greatest hymns on this theme.  I think our Episcopal Church’s particular decision merits wider and greater appreciation.

Since its earliest days the Church has had a feast of the kingship of Christ.  It’s Epiphany, which along with Easter, Pentecost and Christmas are the great ancient celebrations of the Church.  Note that aside from Trinity Sunday, the liturgical tradition does not have thematic Sunday observances.  Our celebrations are rooted in the historical events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  Our days and our lives find their meaning in his life, in his gospel.

The Christian community is plagued, world without end, not only by anachronism – reading the present into the past, it’s also plagued by amnesia – forgetting what has been.  In origin, Christ the King wasn’t about Christ; it was about the pope.  I have a hunch that some leaders of our Church remembered this as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was being created.

In 1925, Pope Pius XI had yet to make the treaty with Mussolini that would turn the Vatican into an independent city state.  Like all popes since the loss of Rome in 1870, he considered himself a prisoner of the Vatican.  His encyclical Quas Primas proclaimed the celebration of Christ the King and fixed it on the last Sunday in October.  The pope gave a very clear reason for its institution: to fight anti-clericalism.  I think it’s fair to say that the liturgical reformers of the 1960s and 1970s quietly ignored its origins.  They moved the feast to the end of the Church year with a focus on the time when God will be all in all.

This parish, like the Episcopal Church, stands for a particular theological and historical Christianity.  We are certainly not perfect.  But since I encountered the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition in college it seemed to me then, and still does, to embrace what is best of the Catholic and Protestant experience.  Our commitment to Christ as Anglican Christians has survived monarchs, revolutions and civil wars.  We found a way to end slavery.  We are working to find ways to welcome all into the life of God’s Church.  We continue to work for conversion, justice and freedom.  Episcopalians care and give to help those who are hungry, to those who will never have the capacity in this life to take care of themselves.  We try to tell the truth about what has been and what we believe God plans in his love for us.  I am very proud to be an Episcopalian.

The home base for our commitment to Christ is our parish church.  Saint Mary’s is so special in so many ways that it is easy for many who come here not to see its needs.  It costs a great deal of money for the doors of this church to be open.  It costs money to maintain what others have built.  It costs money to support our mission ministries and to support the ministries of our wider Episcopal Church community.  Did I mention that great music for worship, for which our church was gloriously built, costs a lot of money?  Did I mention plumbing, insurance, electricity, steam and staff?

This Sunday, the parish community is asked to commit again to the work of Saint Mary’s by making a financial pledge for 2010.  The lay leadership of the parish needs a base to make it all work, to keep the doors open, to keep our ministries strong.  We transform and give real meaning today to the kingship of Christ with lives that proclaim and do God’s work.  I invite you to pledge your support for Saint Mary’s and all it stands for and does as we enter a new Church year on November 29 and a new civil year on January 1.  Stephen Gerth


SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Jack, Sandy, Burt, Dennis, Isaura, Josephine, Robert, Chris, Timothy, Alex, Aaron, Dorothy, Sharon, Margaret, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, Dorothy, Sharon, Margaret, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, Emil, RELIGIOUS, and Carl, PRIEST; and for the reposes of the soul of Rodney and George, PRIEST . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 22: 1901 Laura Janes; 1932 Gulian Crommelin Verplanck Richards; 1946 Amelia Stout Slavin; 1960 Marion Eppley.


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Paul Wojnicki and Alena Chalmovska of Leeds, United Kingdom.  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 first time of asking.  J.R.S.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Reminder: There will be no morning or noonday services on Saturday, November 21.  The parish clergy will be attending the Diocesan Convention . . . This coming Sunday, November 22, is Commitment Sunday.  Pledge cards may be offered at all the masses and at evensong on that day . . . Wednesday, November 25, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, November 26, Thanksgiving Day: the church opens at 10:00 AM, the noonday services are offered, and the church closes at 2:00 PM


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Please keep Brother Emil Denworth in your prayers as he continues medical treatment.  He is doing very well, but the treatments require some nights in the hospital . . . Burt Abelson is home from the hospital and doing well.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Many thanks to Grace Bruni, Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch and Andrew Smith for their help moving boxes and boxes of books to a new location.  These were part of the old parish library and had to be moved as part of the basement clean-up.  They are now awaiting the clergy to go through them.  We hope to have the parish library reopened in the new year . . . Ahead: Volunteers are needed on Saturday, December 19, to polish brass and help organize the sacristy for Christmas.  Please speak with Daniel Craig or Sister Laura Katharine if you can help . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 290.


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . .  The setting of the Mass ordinary this Sunday is the Western Wind Mass by John Taverner (c. 1490-1545).  Westron Wynde is an early sixteenth-century song whose tune (or a version thereof) was used by English composers John Taverner, Christopher Tye and John Sheppard as the cantus firmus 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 Taverner’s was the first to be composed.  The melody is heard, in various voices, a total of 36 times throughout the mass.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Cantate domino by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643).  It was published by a former student of Monteverdi in 1620 as part of a collection comprising 31 motets, of which 6 were by Monteverdi himself.  James Kennerley


CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . This Saturday, November 21, at 3:00 PM, Cameron Carpenter will play an organ concert featuring works of Bach, Shostakovich and others.  See for more information . . . On Saturday, December 19, at 8:00 PM, I will be the organ soloist for Poulenc’s Concerto pour orgue; other music will include Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No.3 “organ” and Thompson’s The plough that broke the plains, played by the New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, conductor.  J.K.


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 22, 10:00 AM, Father Smith, “What do we mean when we talk about ‘revelation’, our conviction that God acts to reveal himself to us and to the world”?


WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of the 2010 Stewardship Campaign, the Stewardship Committee is continuing to publish contributions to its series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.”  Peter Dannenbaum, parishioner and member of the board of trustees, has written the latest addition to the series: “There are many reasons why I love Saint Mary’s, but it is the church’s open doors that are most significant to me.  Of course, I absolutely love St. Mary’s reverence for worship.  After all, this is God we are talking about.  Similarly, I put tremendous value in the care and thoughtfulness with which our priests approach their sermons.  Truly, these are teaching moments, not just preaching moments (in my mind there is a difference).  Finally, how could one not mention the church’s physical beauty and wonderful music?  No other church compares, in my humble opinion.  But it is the open doors that bring me back, again and again. Around 1980, my father, a New Jersey commuter on his way to the train station after work, walked by the open doors of Saint Mary’s, poked his head in, and was blown away by what he found.  Soon after, my parents started attending Saint Mary’s a few times each year, and I, a teenager at the time, would often accompany them.  I recall being impressed by the size of the church, the volume of the organ, the smoky incense, and the sheer length of the mass.  A few years later, I was off to college and my visits to Saint Mary’s stopped.  In the late 1990s, after some ten years working in the Rockefeller Center and Times Square area (as a New Jersey commuter), I again walked by the open doors of Saint Mary’s.  Like my father before me, I was drawn in and I was blown away by what I found:  the incredible physical restoration; the equally incredible young, energetic, and outgoing priests; and the numerous weekday services and classes.  Since then, I have been a regular weekday mass attendee, an occasional Sunday mass attendee, and a trustee for the past four years.  This time, my visits to Saint Mary’s won’t stop, and I thank the open doors for continuing to draw me in!” Peter Dannenbaum


ABOUT THANK YOU NOTES . . . We send acknowledgements for all monetary gifts except those that are payments on pledges to the operating budget.  Sometimes people ask that we not send acknowledgments and are upset when we continue to send them.  Administratively the parish does not employ sufficient staff to keep track of who wants and who does not want an acknowledgment.  That doesn’t immediately seem reasonable but is in fact the better way for us to do it.  For the record, when I was on sabbatical I put a check in the plate every Sunday.  One congregation sent an acknowledgment and thank-you, Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, New York City.  One congregation sent a letter asking for more money.  I heard nothing from the others.  I know our practice drives some people crazy, but it’s so much better than saying nothing at all.  And if you think about out cutbacks in office staff, you will see why we approach things in this way.  I thank you for your understanding.  S. G.



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.


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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.