From the Rector: New Direction
Chuck Metzger, the gym director where I work out, has been encouraging me to for a long time to exercise in the morning. While Father Smith was away on vacation, I realized that the only way I could make time to get myself on the treadmill was to be on it by 7:00 AM. So I got up and went. The results were unexpected. Chuck was right.
Without thinking about it, I punched in a speed of 6.5 miles per hour instead of the usual 6.0 – in my fitness bracket that half-mile per hour rate is significant. Suddenly my body was unexpectedly waking up, and I started to feel really good. I felt so energized that I ran three miles at the faster pace. Two days later I ran four even faster. So far, I’m keeping it up.
I’ve been stuck for a long time at 10-minute miles. I need to be a careful and smart about what I’m doing when I’m exercising. It’s been a couple of years since I was able to run “the loop” in Central Park. The loop is the street that goes around the park. But it’s a hard surface. My knees like the bridle path. I don’t expect to get back on the street, but now I won’t be surprised if my pace on the bridle path is faster. You can see, I hope, where this is going. I’ve found myself wondering where things might be shaken up in other areas of my life.
Human beings respond to challenge. Sometimes challenge is unwelcome, sometimes very hard. But even in the face of serious sickness or genuine evil, human beings are often capable of extraordinary, loving, and life-giving response. The other side is true as well. Just as difficult circumstances come in varying degrees to all of us, all of us also receive opportunities to respond to the good in life that comes our way.
I missed being at Saint Mary’s last year during Lent. Don’t get me wrong; the sabbatical was one of the great and useful times I’ve had. I missed the ritual simplicity of our worship, and, once Lent began, I missed the liturgical silence that marks our celebrations during the season. I hope the somewhat fresh eyes I bring to the season here this year may open up a new direction in my spiritual life or a new way of looking at something. I know it’s easy for someone my age to think that he or she can’t do something new physically. I never want to think that the Lord can’t do a new thing in my life or in yours.
There were loads of people at Saint Mary’s on Ash Wednesday. More people come into the church on this day than on any other day of the year. In addition to almost 500 people at the Masses of the day, we think another 1500 persons received ashes. Of course, ashes and Ash Wednesday itself are optional observances. Stations of the Cross on Friday night is an optional Lenten observance. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday have never been obligatory for Christians. What is fundamental is the Sunday Eucharist. One wonders what good we Christians might do if our Sunday Eucharists were experienced as more fundamental and useful than our ashes.
Every once and a while, I get a glimpse in my soul of Easter being its heart – not Good Friday, not Palm Sunday, not Lent, but the Sunday of the Resurrection. If I have a prayer for Lent it would be for a bigger Easter in my heart, even if it means a new challenge, a new cross, a new and unexpected direction. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, Daisy, Charlie, Jo Ann, Roger, Henry, Jack, Timothy, Nicholas, Sandy, Jack, Chris, Dorothy, Robert, Elsa, Juan, Chris, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, and Pegram, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Christine, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 21: 1909 Angelica Baraclough Shea; 1915 Sarah Morris Cory; 1929 Marguerite Spear Slocum; 1941 Rosa Payne Collins
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday mornings in Lent, the Reverend Peter Powell teaches a class on the Book of Isaiah . . . The Right Reverend Andrew St. John, rector, the Church of the Transfiguration, New York City, will preach at Solemn Evensong on Sunday, February 12 . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, February 22, at 6:30 PM, in the Rectory . . . Wednesday, February 24, is the feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle. Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM and at 6:20 PM . . . On Saturday, February 20, Father Merz will hear confessions. On Saturday, February 27, Father Smith will hear confessions.
THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. In addition, the Fridays of Lent are observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats. S.G.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS . . . On Fridays in Lent we offer the service of Stations of the Cross at 6:30 PM. The service lasts about 35 minutes and includes the singing of Stabat Mater (“At the cross her station keeping”). We use the exceptionally fine version of the service published by the Episcopal Church in its Book of Occasional Services.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We are very happy to be able to welcome Steven Gonley and Miguel Gonzalez to the parish staff. Miguel will be working as our new weekend sexton. Steven is our new building superintendent. He is a native New Yorker. Before coming to Saint Mary’s he worked for First Quality, which provides maintenance and building-management services for Trinity Wall Street and Saint Paul’s Chapel in downtown Manhattan . . . Save the Date: Father Matthew Mead will be instituted and inducted as the rector of Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, NY, on Friday, April 16, at 6:30 PM . . . It seemed to many this year that the numbers of those who visited Saint Mary’s this year on Ash Wednesday had increased when compared with 2009. We rely on our many volunteers who allow us to welcome our many visitors on that day. Thank you to all those who worked so hard throughout the day, serving at the altar and in the church, including Penny Allen, Rick Austill, MaryJane Boland, Jon Bryant, Robin Landis, Grace Bruni, Daniel Craig, Jim Dennis, Tom Heffernan, George Handy, Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch, Mary Leonard, Wayne Mahlke, Clark Mitchell, Jananie Nair, Yvonne Noradunghian, Santiago Puigbo, Marie Rosseels, Leroy Sharer, Sharon Singh, Rem Slone, and Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. Thank you also to James Kennerley and the members of our choir who sang so beautifully at the liturgy on Wednesday evening. . . Book Sale: Father Smith will resume his book sale on Sunday in Saint Joseph’s Hall. All proceeds will be used to benefit the people of Haiti and agencies working there . . . Disaster Relief for the People of Haiti: Donations may be made at www.er-d.org (Episcopal Relief and Development) or through the Diocese of New York (www.dioceseny.org). Last Sunday 314, Ash Wednesday 477.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . Music today is sung by a quartet drawn from the main choir, as an attempt to reduce the gap in the choir budget. It costs $1,100 each Sunday to have our wonderful choir sing at Solemn Mass, and this year’s budget, reduced to 45% of that of 2008, is barely enough to cover Holy Week and Christmas. I am extremely grateful to those who have given special gifts to the program in this time of need . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa secunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1512-1562). Though he was Protestant, Hassler, a student in Venice of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586), wrote a good amount of Latin music for Roman Catholic liturgy (in addition to madrigals, keyboard music and instrumental music). This Mass setting is one of his most popular, and is admired for its beauty and brevity. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Sicut cervus (“Like as the Hart”) by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). James Kennerley
IN CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Miller Theatre of Columbia University presents the Orlando Consort singing Missa Sancta Jacobi by Guillaume Dufay (c.1400-1474). For tickets and further information: http://www.millertheatre.com/Events/EventDetails.aspx?nid=1300.
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.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . February 21 and 28, 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 Nineteenth-Century American Romantic Landscape”. The lecture will examine how painters of the Hudson River School were influenced by contemporaneous understandings of the relationship between God, Humankind & Nature–the American wilderness they painted was viewed by them romantically as a new, sublime, Garden of Eden . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class meets at 6:30 PM on Wednesdays, except on Holy Days, when the class begins at 7:00 PM. This coming Wednesday, February 24, is the feast of Saint Matthias Apostle, and the class will begin at 7:00 PM, following the evening Mass. The class meets in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House and is led by Sisters Deborah Francis and Laura Katharine. The class is reading Ecclesiastes and Job.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
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
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Steven Gonley, building superintendent,
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons