From the Rector: Easter Renewal
I write during the last hours of Lent. It’s Maundy Thursday. The sun is shining this afternoon in New York City after the rainiest March on record here. There is some activity in the church, but it is quiet activity as the final preparations are made for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Our rainy March seemed to go too slowly, but I feel as if Lent has passed very quickly. It ends tonight at sunset as the Easter Triduum begins.
I’ve mentioned before two very useful articles by Patrick Regan that were published in the journal Worship in 2007. Regan is a Roman Catholic liturgist and a Benedictine monk, formerly abbot of Saint Joseph’s Abbey, Covington, Louisiana. For a number of years he has taught in Rome. The first was “The Good Friday Communion Debate,” the second, “Holy Thursday Reservation: From Confusion to Clarity.” Reviewing liturgical texts, mostly from the church in Rome, Regan provides an outline of how the celebrations of these days have evolved. I haven’t seen an article yet on Easter itself. I hope there’s one in the future.
The tradition of receiving communion on Good Friday in Rome came to that city from the Christian communities of the eastern Mediterranean. It was resisted by the bishop of Rome for centuries. The early tradition there was no communion on Good Friday. As late as the eighth century, the pope and his entourage would actually leave the Lateran basilica and the people would receive communion after he had left. It would not be until the eleventh century that the Eucharist would become an object of devotion, and the Eucharist in the West became about looking at the consecrated Bread and not communion.
Not so very many years ago, Pope John Paul II found it necessary to remind Roman Catholics that the Eucharist is a “meal.” To be honest, for myself and I think for most Christians, few of us think of the word “meal” when we think of Mass. I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of our regular praying in the postcommunion prayer, “we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ” (Prayer Book, page 366).
At the moment I have three sermons in various stages of preparation, one for tonight, one for the evening service on Good Friday and one for Easter morning. Maundy Thursday is just about finished. Good Friday is on its way. But I really want to get at the Easter morning sermon. Last week I realized there is almost nothing in Mark and Matthew about the resurrection of Jesus beyond the empty tomb. Why would that be? This year we have Luke on Easter Day – and there are important post-resurrection stories there, including one that is never read at Sunday Mass. The preacher in me wants to get at it.
In the meantime, I invite you to join us for the services of the Church. It is a great honor for us to have the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, with us for the 12:30 PM liturgy on Good Friday and for the Great Vigil of Easter. It is a great privilege for us to be members of a community where worship is at the heart of all we do.
Again, the weather is sunny today in New York City. And it’s supposed to be a warm weekend. It will be wonderful to have the doors of the church literally open all day. I hope that our open doors will be able to welcome not only those who make this their church home, but those who do not expect to be drawn into a place where prayer has brought so many closer to others and to God. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, MaryJane, Ethelyn, Luis, Rafael, Louis, Jane, Elaine, Gary, 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; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Christine, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew; and for the repose of the souls of Peter Sibilia and Cindy Briones-Rivera . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . 1885 Maud Reynolds; 1886 Irene Bevan Hill; 1903 Charles Augustus Davidson; 1924 Edward Livingston Coster; 1958 Claude Arundel; 1966 Paul Bernard Baitle; 1987 Clara D. Lewis; 1992 Thelma Bradford Ingersoll
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Monday in Easter Week: the church opens at 10:00 AM, only the noonday services are offered, the church closes at 2:00 PM, and the parish office is closed . . . Confessions are heard on Saturday, April 3, and Saturday, April 10, only by appointment . . . Ryan Jackson plays the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé on Saturday, April 10, at 2:30 PM. Admission is free.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to all those who are volunteering their time this week to decorate the church; thank you to Daniel Craig and Wayne Mahlke who spent an entire day this week polishing brass for Easter . . . Father Mead has asked us to invite all the people of Saint Mary’s to his institution as rector of Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, New York, on Friday, April 16, at 6:30 PM. He has sent us detailed instructions about how to get to Granite Springs either by train or by car. His parishioners are making plans to pick up those traveling by train at the Katonah Metro-North station. They can provide transportation to the church to those taking the following trains out of Grand Central to Katonah: 4:20 PM, 4:43 PM, and 4:58 PM; however, they are asking those who would like such transportation to RSVP via e-mail. Please contact Father Smith for complete details . . . The Annual Meeting of the parish will take place on Sunday, May 2, at 12:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 388.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary at the Great Vigil of Easter is Communion Service in E (“Collegium Regale”) by Harold Darke (1888-1976). An English composer and organist, Darke was organist of Saint Michael’s Church, Cornhill, London for fifty years. He was acting organist of King’s College, Cambridge, during the Second World War, substituting for Boris Ord. One of his most popular liturgical pieces, this setting was written for the King’s College Choir. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the anthem Ye choirs of new Jerusalem by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). At Solemn Mass on Easter Day, the choir sings the Krönungsmesse (“Coronation Mass” – Mass No. 15, sometimes numbered as 16, in C Major, KV 317) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Regina coeli by Iain Quinn. The motet was composed especially for James Kennerley and the choir of Saint Mary’s. It will be performed for the first time on Easter Day. Mr. Quinn, music director of the Cathedral Church of Saint John, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is in great demand as a composer, and has written works for many of the world’s most famous choirs. At Solemn Paschal Evensong, the Magnificat is sung to the first setting, Opus 33, by Giles Swayne (b. 1946). Swayne was educated at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Magnificat was composed in 1982 for the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. The Nunc dimittis is by Gustav Holst (1874-1934). An early work, written in 1915, it was forgotten following its first performance, and was revised by the composer’s daughter, Imogen Holst, in 1974. James Kennerley
AIDS WALK, SUNDAY, MAY 16: Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team is forming now. We invite you to join the team. The 2010 AIDS Walk is on Sunday, May 16, but many Saint Marians and their friends will walk on Saturday in order to be in church on Sunday morning. Flyers giving information about joining the team or supporting an individual walker will be on the ushers’ table near the church’s Forty-sixth Street entrance every Sunday. If you can’t join the team but would like to support its members, and 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 ranked #27 out of 2,885 teams for its fundraising efforts. Please help the team to beat last year’s record! If you have questions, please contact Grace Bruni or MaryJane Boland.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The collection at the Maundy Thursday liturgy is for the poor and will be sent to Episcopal Relief and Development in order to assist the people of Haiti. If you were not able to be with us on Maundy Thursday, but would like to make a donation, you may still send a check to the Finance Office; please write Maundy Thursday donation in the memo line . . . We continue to collect food, clothing, and cash donations for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the basket in the back of the church this week where you can drop off canned goods and other non-perishable food items. Please contact Father Smith if you would like to make a cash donation; and thank you to all those who support the mission and ministry of this parish.
AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATOR . . . Saint Mary’s needs an “Automated External Defibrillator” (AED) – and we need to offer training this fall for cardio-pulmonary 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.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum will meet next on Sunday, April 25, at 10:00 AM. Art historian Dennis Raverty will give a slide lecture on “God & Nature in the Nineteenth-Century American Romantic Landscape” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on March 24, 31, or April 7. The class resumes on April 14 and will continue until Wednesday, June 9. The class normally meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM in the Mission House’s Arch Room; it is led by the sisters and is continuing to study the Book of Job. All are welcome at any time. No prior experience is necessary.
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