The Angelus



Parishioner Thomas Jayne writes a weekly online post for the magazine Interior Design.  This week his article was called, “Discovering Color in Historic Metalwork.”  It turns out that much metalwork we are used to seeing painted black was originally painted with a broader palette.  The last time I was in Colonial Williamsburg, the gates on the Governor’s Mansion were black; they are now off-white.

Thomas’s post reminded me of a passage from the introduction to Maxwell Johnson’s book The Rites of Christian Initiation: Revised and Expanded Edition (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2007).  Johnson quoted the late liturgist Thomas Talley, “Our current discussions of pastoral praxis, theological meaning, or spirituality, and of much more rest finally on the assumption that we know what we are talking about” (p. xx).  Johnson continued, “To actually ‘know what we are talking about’ with regard to the rites of Christian initiation, then, means we have to study history” (p. xxi).  I would say this is true not only about Christian initiation, but theology, interior design and everything I can think of.  Do we know what we are talking about?

The greatest controversy the Church has ever faced was how to speak about God as Trinity.  It continues to mark the liturgical prayer of all Christians.  In the face of 2000 years of great disagreements, the universally recognized words to be used at the ministration of Christian baptism is the same across denominations, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

These Trinitarian words, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, do not control God or limit the reality of God in any way.  But they are words about God revealed by God in human history that we can use with confidence.  Like Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me,” the names of the Persons of the Trinity themselves are an invitation to a relationship with God.  That they may not be experienced as invitation is a cause for concern, especially since we live in a time when the conventions of the English language around masculine generic language have shifted rapidly in a generation.  Many theologians in many denominations are seeking ways to expand our language about God while remaining faithful to God’s revelation of God’s self in Christ.  It is no easy or small task, and one where it seems very important to know what we are talking about.  It will continue to be no small task to grasp what God may be trying to reveal to us today.

That said, I hope a focus on relationship as invitation may provide a path for the Church to get beyond any experience of traditional Trinitarian language as a stumbling block.  I’ve mentioned before Robert Daly’s book Sacrifice Unveiled: The True Meaning of Christian Sacrifice (London: T & T Clark International, 2009).  Daly thinks Christian sacrifice is the life and love the Father and the Son give freely to each other.  I wonder if the value of that relationship can push us past any barrier that suggests that God is male to the reality of God’s love for us.  I do not suggest this is easy, but I suggest this is what we were made for.  This is the invitation of the Trinity.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, Troy, James, Robert, Larry, Mary, George, Dennis, Wayne, Sharon, MaryJane, Chris, Angie, Rolf, Daisy, Ross, Roger, Emil, Henry, Nicholas, Robert, Elsa, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, Pegram, PRIEST, and Edgar, PRIEST; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin and Andrew; and for the repose of the souls of Gerard, Rosemary, Peter, and Edward . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 30: 1889 Clarissa Pierson Chew; 1896 Emeline Place Hayward; 1921 Almira Guion; 1955 Bertha Francesca Werner.


IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Gerard T. Abrahamsen, the brother-in-law of building superintendent Steven Gonley, died on Monday, May 24, 2010.  Please keep Gerard, his wife Ellen, Steven, and all who mourn in your prayers.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, May 30, is Trinity Sunday: Solemn Mass & Te Deum at 11:00 AM.  On Sunday, we also offer our final service of Solemn Evensong & Benediction for the academic year at 5:00 PM . . . Monday, May 31, the Feast of the Visitation and Memorial Day – Federal Holiday schedule: the church will open at 10:00 AM, the noon services will be offered, the church will close at 2:00 PM, and the parish offices will be closed . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, May 29.  Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, June 5.


SUMMER SCHEDULE BEGINS JUNE 6 . . . During the summer, the Daily Office on Sundays is said, not sung.  Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM.  Evening Prayer is offered at 5:00 PM.


THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Troy Buttone, good friend of Saint Mary’s, had cardiac bypass surgery in New Orleans on Wednesday, May 26.  Please pray for his swift recovery; we look forward to his next visit to Saint Mary’s . . . Longtime parishioner and former member of the Board of Trustees, Larry Green, is moving to Richmond, Virginia.  We will miss him greatly and we wish him Godspeed and many blessings as he begins a new chapter of his life.  We hope that he will come back to visit us frequently . . . Parishioner Brian Foster has accepted a position working for the government of Afghanistan and has been assigned to the ministry charged with human-resources reform.  The goal of this work, he tells us, “is, hopefully, to help make the Afghan government work better.”  Please keep Brian in your prayers as he begins this work and this new ministry.  We pray for the success of his work and for his safe return . . . Sunday, June 6, is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Corpus Christi.  The 11:00 AM Solemn Mass will include a Procession through Times Square and conclude with Eucharistic Benediction . . . Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk Team raised $14,170.00 this year; and a total of $5,717,610 was raised for AIDS Walk 2010, an increase over last year’s total.  Donations to this very worthy cause can still be made until early June.  You can give a check made out to AWNY to one of the priests or to the sisters.  You can also make a donation online at  At that website, click on “Team Information” and then click on “2010 Registered Teams.” Scroll down and click on “Saint Mary the Virgin” and then click on “General Team Donation.”. . . 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 . . . The 2010 LGBT Pride March will take place on Sunday, June 27.  The Committee on LGBT Concerns of the Diocese of New York is organizing this year’s effort and is making plans to introduce an Episcopal Church float at this year’s march.  For more information or if you would like to make a donation to defray the costs of the float, please contact Father Mark Hummell, Chair of the Diocesan Social Concerns Commission, at, or Paul Lane at . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 294.


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude before Solemn Mass is Sicilienne from Suite pour orgue, Opus 5, by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986).  The suite, composed in 1932 and first performed at Saint Mary’s in 1946, is one the most magnificent compositions from the relatively small amount that he published.  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Collegium Regale (“King’s College”) by Herbert Howells (1892-1983).  Howells composed many settings for various cathedrals and collegiate chapels, all of which bear that particular institution’s name.  The settings for King’s College, Cambridge (which also include an Evening Service) are particularly fine, and are tied together by several shared musical motifs that appear in various guises throughout the settings.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Libera nos by John Sheppard (c. 1515-1559/60).  Te Deum is sung to the setting by Howells, also for the choir of King’s College . . . Please note the earlier time: Sunday’s organ recital begins at 4:30 PM.  The recitalist is Christopher Creaghan . . . Solemn Evensong and Benediction at 5:00 PM on Sunday is sung by The Saint Mary’s Singers and the members of the parish’s professional choir.  Music at the service will include works by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), Edward Elgar (1857-1934), and Louis Vierne (1870-1937) . . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers rehearse for this their final service of the year on May 30 at 2:30 PM in the Choir Room.  This is your choir – so please do your best to promote this wonderful opportunity.  Interested singers are very welcome to join us – please email me ( if you are interested.  James Kennerley


LOOKING AHEAD . . . On Sunday, August 15, 2010, the Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus, will be celebrant for the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM in observance of the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on August 9, 1960.  Our guest preacher will be the Reverend Dr. David Wood, parish priest, Grace Church Joondalup, and Anglican chaplain, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia.  More details to follow.  Please mark your calendars.  S.G.


ALTAR FLOWERS are needed on the following dates: June 13, July 18, July 25, August 6 (the Feast of the Transfiguration), August 22, August 29, September 5, September 19 and September 26.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office.


THE MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY . . . Once again this year, we are seeking patrons and donors willing to defray the costs of the receptions in Saint Joseph’s Hall following Solemn Mass on holy days.  If you would like more information, or if you would like to volunteer to help on a particular holy day, please contact Father Jay Smith. 


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At Mobia, the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street: Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians, and the Altarpieces of Medieval Spain.  The exhibition discusses the last two centuries of medieval Spanish history from the vantage point of religious art, and illustrates the cooperative relationship between Christian and Jewish artists, who worked either independently or together to create art both for the Church and the Jewish community.  The exhibition will close on May 30, 2010 . . . Also at Mobia beginning June 18 through September 12, 2010: Ukrainian Icons. September 12, 2010.  This exhibition from the collection of the oldest monastery in Ukraine, the Kyiv-Pecherskaya Lavra (or “Monastery of the Caves”) will survey the history of Ukrainian icons and their stylistic evolution over the centuries.  Ukrainian icons, unlike their Russian counterparts, show distinct influences from Western artistic traditions.  Alongside icons the exhibition will display textiles, ceremonial and altar crosses, chalices and other liturgical objects . . . The Asia Society through June 20 has an exhibition, Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art.  It features items from the first through the twentieth centuries.  Details:




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