From Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.: The Long Retreat and Saint Teresa
Once each year the Sisters of the Community of Saint John Baptist have a silent retreat that lasts five days. We call it the “long retreat” and it is an important element in our Rule of Life. This year, we increased the time devoted to prayer and reflection by reducing the number of offices to two per day, Lauds and Comp line, and by eliminating non-essential work from the daily schedule.
This year our retreat leader was the Reverend Suzanne Guthrie. Suzanne and her husband live as “resident companions” of an Episcopal order of sisters, the Community of the Holy Spirit, at the sisters’ Melrose Covent in Brewster, New York. Suzanne serves as priest-chaplain for the sisters and as chaplain at the Melrose School, which the Community of the Holy Spirit founded in 1963. She is also the author of two books, Grace's Window: Entering the Seasons of Prayer and Praying the Hours. During the retreat, she gave an address each morning and celebrated and preached at Mass in the late afternoon. The topic of her addresses was Saint Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle.
On the first day of the retreat, Suzanne spoke about some analogues of the movement of the soul toward God, discussing such examples as Dante’s journey through hell, purgatory and paradise; John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; pilgrimages to shrines and holy places; and the Stations of the Cross. Another analogy that she discussed was the physical and cognitive development of the child. She pointed out that as we grow older we also develop spiritually, passing through various stages in our relationship with God. Thus, as we mature we continue to explore, to integrate and master what we have learned, to push past the boundaries of our limited experiences, and to discover new depths both in ourselves and in our relationship with God. She reminded us, however, that it is God who continually calls us out of our “comfort zones” and into new places of living and being.
The following day, as a way of preparing us for a discussion of Teresa’s Interior Castle, she talked about Carmelite spirituality and Teresa’s efforts to reform the Carmelite order. The “Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel” was founded in the middle of the twelfth century in Palestine; however, Carmelites have always claimed that the origins of their order can be traced to the hermits who had settled long before that on Mount Carmel, in Northern Israel. The biblical associations with Mount Carmel are important elements of Carmelite spirituality, especially the stories about Elijah the prophet. The Carmelite charism involves a radical call to surrender to God, something that plays out in all aspects of their life.
The “interior castle” is another analogue of the progression of the soul to God. Saint Teresa’s biographer, Fray Diego de Yepes, speaks of her vision of the soul as follows: “On the festival of the Holy Trinity, she wanted some insight into the beauty of the soul. God showed her a vision of the soul as a beautiful diamond shaped like a castle.” She wrote, “I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.” In her book there are seven mansions. The seventh and innermost is the King of Glory whose bright light illumines all the others. The closer one gets to the center, the stronger the light becomes. For Teresa, the individual soul advances in prayer by becoming ever more intimate with God.
I had read Teresa’s Interior Castle some time ago and had liked it very much; and so the retreat was like meeting an old friend. I continually found myself remembering things about the work that I had forgotten. One thing that struck me on the retreat was the emphasis that Teresa places on God’s delight in us and his great love for us. It was good to rediscover how incarnational and experiential her spirituality really is. Saint Teresa’s work has helped me to have a clearer understanding of how God works in my own life. Though it meant being away from Saint Mary’s for almost a week, the retreat was a good one and both Sister Laura Katharine and I found it very useful. It is, however, good to be back at Saint Mary’s. Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, Henry, Jack, José, Dennis, Nicholas, Sandy, Jack, Chris, Dorothy, Robert, Elsa, Juan, Chris, William, Gert, Mary, Rick and Pegram, PRIEST. We also pray for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially James, Christine, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew; and for the repose of the souls of John Lea and Lucia Dalton . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 31: 1955 Howell Denniston Essex
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Craig Alan Phillips and Erika Marie Rauer of New York City. 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. Stephen Gerth
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Church School resumes on Sunday, January 31 at 10:00 AM . . . Father Gerth has been away from the parish in order to deliver a lecture at Trinity Church, Naples, Florida. He returns to New York on Thursday, January 28, and will be in the office on Friday, January 29 . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, January 30. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, February 6. Confessions are heard on Saturdays at 11:30 AM and at 4:00 PM, or by calling the Parish Office to make an appointment . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday. All proceeds will be used to benefit agencies working in Haiti in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. A number of new books have been added to the table (and please take a look at the new pricing scheme) . . . Tuesday, February 2, is the Feast of the Presentation, commonly called “Candlemas.” On the eve, Monday, February 1, Solemn Evensong will be sung at 6:00 PM. On Candlemas, we will have our customary principal feast-day schedule. The 12:10 service will be Blessing of Candles & Sung Mass. There will be an organ recital at 5:30 PM. At 6:00 PM there will be Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Wednesday, February 3, the Feast of Saint Blase, the blessing of throats is offered after the 12:10 PM Mass and after Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Steven Gonley joined the staff of the parish last Monday. He is our new building superintendent. Steven is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Coney Island. Before coming to Saint Mary’s he worked at Saint Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan. Steven will be on duty on Sundays, so please introduce yourselves to him and welcome him to the parish. We are very happy that he has joined the staff . . . Parishioners Sal and Liz Tommasino gave birth to a little girl, Samantha Eleanore, known as “Sammie,” on December 29, 2009. Sammie’s brother Xander is in the Church School and is known to many members of the parish. We are very happy to hear the news and we look forward to meeting this new Saint Marian. Please keep the Tommasino family in your prayers . . . The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday is February 17. On Ash Wednesday, there are masses at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM and 12:10 PM. The Solemn Mass is at 6:00 PM. The imposition of ashes is offered in the church throughout the day . . . Friday, February 19, 6:30 PM, Stations of the Cross . . . Wednesday, February 24, the Feast of Saint Matthias, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM, Bible Study, 7:00 PM (note later time) . . . The Finance Office mailed final statements of giving for 2009 (both pledges and non-pledge donations) this week. Please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office, if you have questions . . . Saint Mary’s 2010 Episcopal Church calendars have arrived and are now available for sale in the Gift Shop . . . The Saint Mary’s Guild, the parish altar guild, will meet on Saturday, February 6, after the noon Mass. Please speak to one of the sisters or to Marie Rosseels, if you have questions . . . The pillow on which the Sanctus bells sit at Solemn Mass has been badly in need of replacement for some time now. Thank you to Marie Rosseels for making a beautiful new pillow for use in the chancel . . . Thank you to Clint Best who has been providing much-needed assistance to our business manager during this very busy time of year . . . Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, February 14. Please contact the Finance Office if you would like to make a donation . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish from Thursday, February 4, until Sunday, February 14 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 258.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude on Sunday morning is Fantasia by William Byrd (1543-1623). The setting of the mass ordinary is Missa Saeculorum Amen by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). This late work, the eighteenth of Guerrero’s masses to be published, appeared in a collection of motets in 1597. Guerrero, one of the foremost Spanish composers of the Renaissance, spent nearly his entire life in Seville. He served the cathedral there first as a chorister and then, in succession to Pedro Fernández, as maestro de capilla (or, “choirmaster”). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem (“Arise, shine, Jerusalem”) also by Byrd. The text is based on Isaiah 60:1, a portion of which was traditionally used as the gradual at Mass on the feast of the Epiphany. The organ recital on Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM will be played by HyeHyun Sung, who is studying at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. The recital program includes music by Sigrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937). James Kennerley
SUPER BOWL PARTY . . . Saint Mary’s Sixth Annual Super Bowl Party will be held following Evensong & Benediction on Sunday, February 7. Kickoff is at 6:30 PM and we will watch the game in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The party is a pot-luck (please contact Grace Bruni if you would like to bring something). Richard Theilmann is working on beverages and is also providing technical support on matters related to the broadcast of the game, using our projector and cable hookup. Thank you to both Grace and Richard for providing such able leadership and for helping us to keep this particular tradition alive. Speaking of traditions: though no doubt some may miss Father Mead’s notorious “abusive chili,” we are told that this year’s party will feature a batch of “kinder, gentler” chili. Jay Smith
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010 . . . Thank you so very much to all those who have given so generously, and so faithfully, to support this parish. Your continued support allows us to keep our doors open and to maintain our ministry of presence and witness in the middle of Times Square. Our visitors come and go through those open doors and usually we do not, and cannot, know the result; but sometimes a visitor takes the time to reflect on her time at Saint Mary’s. One such visitor recently posted her reflections on her blog (along with a number of photographs of the chancel). The welcome that she received and the quiet and the beauty of the space were important to her. She saw things that perhaps many of us no longer see. If you are able, visit her blog and take a moment to read her reflections (http://raskia.blogspot.com/2010/01/mother-mary-comes-to-me.html); and thank you for helping to keep the doors open. Jay Smith
AT THE GREAT VIGIL OF EASTER . . . Holy Baptism, Confirmation, the Reception of new members to the Episcopal Church and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows will all be celebrated on Saturday, April 3. The Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher. If you wish to know more about joining the Episcopal Church or presenting a child for Baptism, please speak with one of the parish priests.
SAINT RAPHAEL’S GUILD OF USHERS . . . Please remember that we will need ushers on Monday, February 1, 6:00 PM, the Eve of the Presentation, for Solemn Evensong; on Tuesday, February 2, the Feast of the Presentation, at 5:30 PM for the organ recital and at 6:00 PM for the Solemn Mass; and on Wednesday, February 17, Ash Wednesday, throughout the day. Mr. Handy has prepared a sign-up sheet so that you can let him know if you are available. Thanks so much for your help. If you think you might be interested in becoming a usher, please give me a call. Jay Smith
AN INVITATION . . . Father Michael Allen and Penny Allen would like to extend an invitation to all their friends at Saint Mary’s to join them for a special Mass to celebrate the merger of the Church of the Epiphany in Allendale, Father Allen’s original parish in New Jersey, and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Midland Park. The newly merged parish will be called Trinity Church, Allendale. The Right Reverend Mark M. Beckwith will be leading the “Service of Celebration of Unification & New Ministry” on Sunday, January 31, beginning at 3:30 PM. The address is 55 George Street, Allendale, New Jersey. Please e-mail Penny at email@example.com for any further travel directions. The website of the new parish is http://www.episcopaltrinitychurch.org.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . January 31 and February 7 and 14: Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Led by Mr. T. Remington Slone, seminarian. Rem is a middler at the General Theological Seminary . . . February 21 and 28 and March 7, 14 and 21: The Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Led by Father Peter Powell . . . April 25: Prof. Dennis Raverty, art historian and friend of Saint Mary’s, will give a slide lecture on “God & Nature in the 19th-Century American Romantic Landscape” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class meets at 6:30 PM on Wednesdays (7:00 PM on Holy Days) in the Mission House. The class is led by Sisters Deborah Francis and Laura Katharine. The class is reading Ecclesiastes and Job.
OUTREACH MINISTRIES AT SAINT MARY’S . . . In addition to our efforts to respond to the needs of the people of Haiti, following the recent earthquake, we continue to collect non-perishable food items and new or “gently used” clothing for the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church. The Pantry serves families living in our own neighborhood and fills an increasingly important need during this time of economic difficulty. You are invited to bring food or clothing and place it in the basket in Saint Joseph’s Hall after Mass (or at the ushers’ table before Mass). You can also make a cash donation, if that is more convenient for you (please speak to me about how to do that; in fact, cash donations are in some ways more efficient and cost-effective). Jay Smith
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
The Eve of the Presentation
Tuesday The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple
Wednesday Blase, Bishop and Martyr, c. 316
Thursday Cornelius the Centurion
Friday The Martyrs of Japan, 1597 Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Eve of the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Saint Mary’s is open every day of the year for worship, prayer and rest. Most weekdays the church is open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Saturdays the church is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. On Sundays it is open from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM. On holidays the church is open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The regular services of the Church are offered. For the list of the daily services of worship, please see our web page at www.stmvirgin.org.