From the Rector: Holy Week Faith
The first time I attended all the services of Holy Week was 1980, the year I went to seminary. Before then, I had never been in a parish that offered all those services. Since then, apart from three years of service, two in a parish that didn’t offer everything and my first year in Indiana, I’ve been in communities where the liturgies of this week were the center of everything. That said, I know it’s taken me a long time to get a handle on how it all fits together. The richness and beauty of Christian worship can be very seductive. But I think I’ve finally got it: Sunday Christian worship is the foundation of it all, even in Holy Week.
Yes, even in Holy Week. If one could only attend church on the Sundays of Holy Week that would be enough to celebrate the most important things. The principal services of the week are the Solemn Mass on the Sunday of the Passion and the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve. Death on one Sunday, resurrection the next.
If I had to pick a third service, it would be Evensong on Easter Day. Several centuries before there was a liturgy of the palms or services for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, Christians gathered on Sunday mornings to celebrate the Eucharist and on Sunday evenings to pray. The special form of Evensong we celebrate on Easter Day is an enormously rich liturgy. What makes it so spiritually powerful are the appointed gospel readings about the first encounters with the risen Lord on the evening of the first Easter Day.
That’s the foundation. There’s a lot more. Beginning in the fourth century in Jerusalem, the secondary layer of the week begins to emerge. Great churches are erected in Jerusalem over the sites believed to be the locations of the Last Supper, the crucifixion and the Lord’s tomb. A liturgy of the palms is celebrated on the evening of the Sunday of the Passion. It will be many centuries before this service is prefixed to the morning Mass. It’s also from Jerusalem that the custom of receiving Communion on Good Friday spreads throughout the Church.
This year I find myself wondering about whether I experience Holy Week as a look forward more than a journey back. “Eschatology” – from the Greek word for “last” – is the theological term for reflection about the end of time, about the last things. It was a part of Jesus’ preaching. (“Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” – Matthew 24:44). A vision of the heavenly Jerusalem completes the New Testament. Perhaps because I am getting older, I find myself thinking about the present and the future, more than I do about the past. I think Holy Week is profoundly about our future.
The service schedule is always different this week. Here are the highlights: For the celebration of the Sunday of the Passion, the Saturday Vigil Mass will be at 5:00 PM and there will be a Sung Mass also on Sunday morning at 9:00 AM. There will be no 10:00 AM Mass this day, also called Palm Sunday. The principal Mass is at 11:00 AM and includes a procession through Times Square. Solemn Evensong concludes the day at 5:00 PM. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week we follow our regular daily service pattern.
On Maundy Thursday, there is no noon celebration of the Eucharist. The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is at 6:00 PM. On Good Friday, the liturgy is celebrated twice, at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM – because so many people no longer are free to attend the service in the middle of the day. On Easter Eve, the Great Vigil of Easter is at 7:00 PM. On Easter Day, there are services at all of the usual times.
Most of our readers will know that the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be with us as celebrant and preacher for the 12:30 PM Good Friday Liturgy and for the Great Vigil of Easter. On Maundy Thursday morning, he is giving a retreat for the clergy of the Diocese of Washington. He will be with them for their Noon Chrism Mass at the Washington National Cathedral. We are honored that he will be with us on Good Friday and Easter Eve
At Saint Mary’s, all are invited to share in all of the services. During the procession through Times Square on Palm Sunday, all members of the congregation will have palms to pass out. On Maundy Thursday, all may sit to have their feet washed and may then wash the feet of the next person. On Good Friday, all may venerate the cross and then hold it for others to do the same. On Easter Eve, all may see Jesus Christ rise again as he brings new life to those who are baptized.
As a seminarian I once found my rector in the church as he was putting a veil on a statue of Mary. He smiled and said, “They know you mean business when you dress your statues.” We mean business at Saint Mary’s because we put worship first, especially during this week of grace. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, MaryJane, Elaine, Donald, Angie, Rolf, Jack, Daisy, Ross, Alice, Charlie, Jo Ann, Roger, Henry, Nicholas, Chris, Dorothy, Robert, Elsa, Juan, Chris, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, Pegram, priest, and for John, 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 . . . March 28: 1928 Helen Ridgeway
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Stations of the Cross, Friday, March 26, 6:30 PM . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers rehearse at 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 28, and will sing at Evensong at 5:00 PM . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, March 27. Father Gerth and Father Smith will hear confessions after the 12:30 PM liturgy on Good Friday; Father Gerth will hear confessions after the 6:00 PM liturgy on Good Friday. Confessions are heard on Saturday, April 3, and Saturday, April 10, by appointment only.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Congratulations to Peter Trent whose grandson, Murdo John Kelt, was born on March 11 at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center . . . Please look for the sign-up sheet for the Watch before the Blessed Sacrament on the table in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday morning. A member of the house staff is on duty through the night. The eastern most door to the church on West Forty-sixth Street will be open . . . Thank you very much to Rita Johnson who has been helping the sisters with the altar linens in recent weeks and took on much of that work this week while the sisters were away. We are grateful to her for her hard work and her meticulous attention to detail . . . Volunteers are needed to help decorate the church for Easter. Some preparatory work will be done during the day on Wednesday in Holy Week and on Maundy Thursday. Most of the work will be done on Holy Saturday, Easter Eve, from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM. If you would like to help out this year, please speak to one of the priests or to José Vidal, Marie Rosseels, MaryJane Boland, or Rick Austill . . . Father Matthew Mead’s installation as rector of Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, will take place on Friday, April 16, at 6:30 PM. Father Gerth will preach at the installation . . . We are told that the film of the service of Stations of the Cross which took place here at Saint Mary’s on Friday, March 12, will be posted on the national church website on Good Friday . . . The Annual Meeting of the parish will take place on Sunday, May 2, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, at 12:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The deadline for reports is Monday, April 19 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 260.
COUNTING THE THREE DAYS . . . During Easter Triduum (tri-DJUU-um – Latin for “Three Days”), the Church reckons time as Jesus and his disciples did, from sunset to sunset. The first day begins at sunset on Maundy Thursday. The second day begins at sunset on Good Friday. The third day begins on Easter Eve, “the holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed from death to life” (Prayer Book, page 285).
FROM THE RECTOR OF SAINT THOMAS CHURCH . . . “Father John Andrew, our Rector Emeritus, was struck by a car this past Monday morning as he was walking, with the light, across First Avenue, by a car turning into the avenue from Fifty-second Street. He sustained painful injuries to his left shoulder and elbow (he is right-handed), for which he is having surgery today [March 24]; but the good news is that he was not critically injured . . . [He is] alert and good-spirited as a patient, but he does need peace and quiet to recuperate . . . A powerful thing we can all do for Father Andrew, in any case, is to express our love and support by praying for his speedy recovery.” Andrew Mead
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . At Solemn Mass on the Sunday of the Passion, the choir sings the setting Missa in die tribulationis (1980) by McNeil Robinson (b. 1943), former music director of Saint Mary’s. Mr. Robinson composed this setting specifically for Palm Sunday at Saint Mary’s. The passionate, mournful, prayerful and dramatic nature of the music suits the Mass of the Passion in this church perfectly. At Solemn Evensong, the Saint Mary’s Singers will sing Henry Purcell’s (c. 1659-1695) Evening Canticles in G minor and Maurice Duruflé’s (1902-1986) setting of the Tantum Ergo . . . On Maundy Thursday, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis, Opus 50 by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). Leighton was born in Wakefield, England, and his unique musical language (including lyrical melodies combined with chromaticism, and later in his career, use of serial techniques) earned him great respect as a composer. This striking setting for unaccompanied choir was written in 1968 for the choir of Liverpool Cathedral. The choir sings the offertory song Ubi Caritas et amor to the setting by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) . . . At the Good Friday liturgies, the choir and congregation sing many of the ancient chants that have been associated with this day for hundreds upon hundreds of years. During the Veneration of the Cross, however, the choir sings a modern setting of the Reproaches by John Sanders (1933-2003). Sanders was for many years director of music of Gloucester Cathedral, and his setting of this powerful text, particularly “Answer me,” eloquently expresses the profound intensity of the words. James Kennerley
AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATOR . . . Saint Mary’s needs an “Automated External Defibrillator” (AED) – and we need to offer training this fall for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. We’ve begun to plan for the training. In the meantime, we need an AED. The cost is about $1,000.00. If you would like to be a part of this gift – frankly, in thanksgiving for the graces that saved the life of one of our parishioners during Solemn Mass at Epiphany – please mark your check “AED”. S.G.
ALTAR SERVERS . . . Rehearsal for Palm Sunday: Saturday, March 27, 10:00 AM; Rehearsals for the Maundy Thursday Liturgy: First Rehearsal, Sunday, March 28, Palm Sunday, 1:30 PM (a light lunch will be served after the rehearsal); Second Rehearsal, Maundy Thursday, April 1, 5:00 PM . . . Rehearsals for the Good Friday Liturgies: The rehearsal for the 12:30 PM Liturgy will take place on Good Friday, April 2, at 11:00 AM; the rehearsal for the 6:00 PM Liturgy will take place on Good Friday at 5:00 PM . . . Rehearsal for the Great Vigil of Easter: Saturday, April 3, 4:00 PM . . . Rehearsal for Easter Day Evensong: Sunday, April 4, 4:00 PM . . . Thank you in advance to all of our faithful and hardworking acolytes for their service at this busy time of year.
AIDS WALK, SUNDAY, MAY 16: Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team is forming now. We invite you to join us. The 2010 AIDS Walk is on Sunday, May 16, but many of us will walk on Saturday in order to be in church on Sunday. (Yes, you can do the walk on Saturday!) Flyers that tell you how to join or how to support an individual walker will be on the ushers’ table every Sunday. If you can’t join us but would like to support the team and support this very worthy cause, you can give a check made out to AWNY to one of the priests or to the sisters. In 2009, Saint Mary's team ranked #27 out of 2,885 teams for its fundraising efforts. Please help us to beat our record! For questions, speak to Grace Bruni or MaryJane Boland or send them an email.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum will meet next on Sunday, April 25. Professor 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 will not meet on March 24, 31, or April 7. The class will resume after the Easter break on April 14 and will continue until Wednesday, June 9. The class normally meets at 6:30 PM on Wednesdays in the Arch Room of the Mission House; it is led by Sister Deborah Francis and Sister Laura Katharine and is continuing to study the Book of Job.
THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST will be presenting an exhibition of icons, “The Glory of Orthodoxy: A Treasured Collection of Icons,” at the community’s convent in Mendham, New Jersey, on May 22-23, 2010. Some of the icons in the exhibition were “written” as long ago as the seventeenth century. Sister Eleanor Francis, C.S.J.B., superior, writes, “The sisters and I have initiated a capital campaign program and all proceeds of the icon show will benefit this campaign. To that end, we are seeking the support of individuals through a $50.00 sponsorship of an icon in the exhibit. We invite you to join us for this marvelous event, and we thank you most sincerely for your consideration and your generosity.” For more information, please speak to one of the sisters or visit www.csjb.org.
IN CONCERT AT SAINT MARYS . . . The New York Repertory Orchestra (NYRO), David Leibowitz, music director, will present its next concert at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, March 27, at 8:00 PM. Admission is free. The program will include Busoni’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 (“Geharnischte”), Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, and a world premiere of a work by Stephen Dembski, Raven-Year, which was commissioned by NYRO. For information, please send an email to email@example.com, call 212.662.8383, or visit www.nyro.org . . . On Saturday, April 10, 2010, at 2:30 PM, Ryan William Jackson will play an organ recital in the church. The program is Maurice Duruflé’s complete organ works. Admission is free. For more information you may visit www.ryanwilliamjackson.com.
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