The Angelus


FROM THE RECTOR: Easter Thanksgiving

Last Saturday the terrorist parked his weapon by what is now the West 45th Street entrance of the Minskoff Theatre.  From December 8, 1870, until December 8, 1895, that address was the first home of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.  If we were still at that location, we might not have been able to hold services last Sunday.  But since 1895 we have been on the other side of Times Square.  Our doors were open on Sunday morning at the usual hour.  All of the regular Sunday services were celebrated.  At different points in the morning I found myself thinking about Dom Gregory Dix’s famous meditation on the Eucharist.

It’s a passage I daresay many, if not most, readers of this newsletter know.  It’s near the end of Dix’s The Shape of the Liturgy (London: Dacre Press, 1945, 743-745).  It begins, “At the heart of it all is the eucharistic action, a thing of an absolute simplicity – the taking, blessing, breaking and giving of bread and the taking, blessing and giving of a cup of wine and water, as they were first done by a young Jew before and after supper with His friends on the night before He died . . . He had told His friends to do this henceforward with the new meaning ‘for the anamnesis of Him,’ and they have done it always since.”

He continued, “Was ever another command so obeyed?  For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it until extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth.”  Then he recounted dozens of instances in which the Eucharistic meal has been shared.  I have never been able to read the passage silently to myself without tears; I have never heard anyone read it aloud and make it to the end without great emotion.  On the morning after the terrorist tried to kill and maim in the heart of our parish, we gathered to “do this,” to be fed by the Lord’s Body and Blood.

Anamnesis is the New Testament Greek word customarily translated as “remembrance.”  “Remembrance” is not the only translation; “recall” and “remind” are two others.  The richness of this word’s meaning has been the subject of much reflection and writing for a very long time.  Sometimes this word is heard in isolation and seems to take its hearers to Calvary.  But that’s not the way it is used in our Eucharistic prayers.

Our prayers of thanksgiving begin by praising God and recounting God’s work in history.  We remember what God has done in Christ through his death, resurrection and ascension.  Then, remembering, we offer our bread and wine and ask the Holy Spirit to make them the Body and Blood of Christ.  Our thanksgiving is consummated in communion.

I think it is fair to say that for Western Christian traditions, the experience of the Eucharist as a meal has been shrouded behind Christ’s sacrifice for a very long time.  At the Reformation and continuing today, how we understand sacrifice is a matter of rich theological debate – for some, a matter of great division.

Last Sunday, I wasn’t thinking about, in the words of O come, O come, Emmanuel, “our sad divisions.”  I was thinking about the strength you and I can take from God feeding us for the journey of our lives.  Our thanksgiving is always an Easter thanksgiving.  Easter is always what we celebrate as Christians, every day of the year.  Even on Good Friday, as we come forward to venerate the cross, the first anthem sung begins, “We glory in your cross, O Lord, and praise and glorify your holy resurrection, for by virtue of the cross, joy has come to the whole world.”  It’s always Easter.  We Christians know many commands of the Lord.  The one that gives us strength to grow into following all of them more and more is the one that calls us to remember and to eat.  “Was ever another command so obeyed?”  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, MaryJane, Mary, George, Dennis, Chris, Wayne, Alicia, Angie, Rolf, Daisy, Ross, Roger, Emil, Henry, Nicholas, Robert, Elsa, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, Edgar, priest, and Pegram, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin and Andrew; . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 9: 1891 William Sethick Moore; 1906 August Howard Lesner; 1911 Thomas Netterfield; 1932 James Lees Laidlaw; 1963 Helen Harrison Morgan


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Mary’s Guild will meet on Saturday, May 8, following the 12:10 Mass . . . Wednesday, May 12, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 13, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM . . . The Rector will hear confessions on Saturday, May 8.  Father John Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, May 15.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, flowers are needed for Ascension Day.  If you wish to give them, please contact the finance office! . . . On Saturday, May 1, Daylene Hunte and Felipe Lee were married in the Lady Chapel.  Daylene grew up in the parish and served at the altar as a child.  We are grateful to Daylene and Felipe for the donation of flowers for the Lady Chapel and Saint Joseph’s Chapel this week . . . On Sunday, May 2, parishioner Reha Sterbin and Ben Slusky were married at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia.  Please keep these newlyweds in your prayers . . . Michael Reid is still coordinating donations for the National Bone Marrow Program.  He can be contacted at . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale on Sunday in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  All funds are used to help those in need . . . We are still collecting non-perishable food items and new or “gently used” clothing on Sundays for the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s.  Look for the basket at the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . On Wednesday, May 5, Father Smith and Steven Gonley attended a meeting of the new 46th Street Block Association.  The meeting was attended by the director of security and operations of the Times Square Alliance (TSA).  At the meeting the following issues were discussed: noise, trash pickup, locked bicycles on lamp posts and the parish scaffolding, beautification projects, such as planting flowers and trees, events in Times Square, bicycle stands, street fairs, community-board meetings, and emergency updates from TSA via e-mail . . . Mark your calendar: The Day of Pentecost is Sunday, May 23.  Trinity Sunday is May 30.  The Feast of Corpus Christi will be celebrated on Sunday, June 6 . . . On Sunday May 30, we offer our final service of Evensong and Benediction of the academic year.  Beginning on Sunday, June 6, the final service of the day will be Evening Prayer, said in the church at 5:00 PM, until the first Sunday in October . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 251


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Offertoire sur les grands jeux from the Messe pour les convents by François Couperin (1668-1733).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe pour le samedi de Pâques (“Mass for Saturday of Easter Week”) by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1645/50-1704).  Charpentier, one of the greatest composers of the French Baroque period, wrote an enormous body of music, including masses and a large amount of other liturgical music (perhaps, most famously, the Messe de minuit pour Noël), cantatas, operas, and instrumental music.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Exsultate, justi by Ludovico Viadana (1560-1627) . . . At Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 13, the choir sings Mass by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971).  Stravinsky, who was born in Russia and lived in New York for many years, was one of the twentieth century’s most important composers. His works span a wide variety of styles.  The Mass was composed in 1948, partly as a result of the composer’s desire to produce a truly liturgical piece using instruments, the use of which was banned in the Orthodox Church (the original score is for voices and double wind quintet; tonight, it is played on the organ.)  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Coelos ascendit hodie from Three Latin Motets, Op. 38, by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924).  The words are from an anonymous text from the Cowley Carol Book.  James Kennerley


CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Wednesday, May 12, 8:00 PM, Voices of Ascension Chorus and Orchestra, “The Glory of Palestrina”.  The program includes Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli.  To order tickets visit or call 212.358.7060 . . . May 22, 2010, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director.  The program includes music by Kodály, Strauss, and Debussy.  Admission is free.  For information, send an e-mail to, call 212.662.8383. or visit


VOICES OF ASCENSION is hoping to recruit some extra ushers for their concert on Wednesday, May 12.  The ushers would need to arrive at 6:45 PM, and stay until the end of the concert (around 10:00 PM).  In return for their services, ushers will see and hear this wonderful concert for free.  If interested, please email Sirkka Kyle at  Many thanks.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Church School meets for the final time this season on Sunday, May 23, the Day of Pentecost.  Church School will resume in October.  Thank you so much to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins for her able leadership of the Church School this year.  Thanks also to our small, but committed, and growing, group of parents for their tenacious support of the Church School and of Saint Mary’s.  A final word of thanks to our children, who are a great source of life and energy here at the parish.  We thank the children also for their fine creations during the past year and wish them a good, healthy, lively and safe summer; and we hope to see them all in church during the summer months! . . . Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will continue until Wednesday, June 9.  Led by the sisters, the members of the class are now Ruth, Esther and the Song of Songs.  The class normally meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House.  All are welcome. No prior experience is necessary.


FLOWERS NEEDED . . . Flowers are needed for the altar for the following days:  Thursday, May 13, Ascension Day; Sunday, May 30, Trinity Sunday; Sunday, June 13; Sunday, July 18 and Sunday, July 25.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Finance Office.  Thank you to all those who have made such generous gifts, allowing us to decorate the altar and church.


SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM . . . Our team, now twenty people strong, is participating in AIDS Walk New York for the fourth year.  The team will walk the full AIDS Walk route on Saturday, May 15, in order to be in church on Sunday.  Last year, we set a team record, raising more than $17,000.  This year, we have raised just over $9,000, and so we are asking the members and friends of the parish to act now to support us financially by contributing online or by giving a check made out to AWNY to Father Smith.  In order to contribute online go to  At that website, click on “Team Information” and then “click on 2010 Registered Teams.” Scroll down and click on “Saint Mary the Virgin,” click on “General Team Donation” and then follow the instructions.  With your help, we may yet come near our last year’s record.  Thank you to all Saint Marians who have supported us in the past and this year as well.  Mary Jane Boland and Grace Bruni


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Rubin Museum of Art on 17th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues: “Visions of the Cosmos,” an exhibit “which compares and contrasts images that describe the creation and structure of the universe in Hindu, Christian, Jain, and Tibetan Buddhist belief” . . . The producers of “Next Fall,” currently running on Broadway,

are offering Saint Marians discounted tickets.  Visit or call 212.947.8844 and use code NFFNF24 or visit the box office of the Helen Hayes Theatre Box Office at 240 W. 44th, where the code may also be used.  The play “deals with important questions of faith, family and love.”  The Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Reverend Gene Robinson recently participated in a special “talk back” with the cast and audience.


VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . Exhibit now in Saint Joseph’s Hall: “Illuminated Psalms by Lisa Bell.”  Lisa Bell is an artist and calligrapher who lives in Hartford, Connecticut.  Lisa is a graduate of the Pratt Institute.  Her work is owned by private collectors who value her exquisite calligraphy, use of bold color, fine papers, and handmade frames – she is a picture framer by trade – to create unique works of art in the tradition of the medieval scribes and illuminators of the biblical text.  Susan Wamsley, Saint Mary’s Visual Arts Program



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
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Steven Gonley, building superintendent
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons