FROM THE RECTOR: THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE
The most successful volume of the Church’s Teaching Series, published in 1979, is Liturgy for Living. It’s still in print and still very useful. It was co-authored by the late Charles Price, a systematic theologian who taught at the Virginia Theological Seminary, and by Louis Weil, then professor of liturgics at Nashotah House. It was the late Urban T. Holmes, dean of the School of Theology of the University of the South, who suggested putting them together on this project involving the new Prayer Book. Dr. Price was from the Protestant tradition of the Church; Father Weil was an Anglo-catholic. Scholarship bridged what had been a great deal of distance in theology and practice within our Church.
The Anglican Reformation was successful for many reasons. The attack and defeat of the Spanish Armada settled the independence of England and its national church. However, scholarship in the long run was more important than politics. I do not believe this expression of Christianity would have thrived without the theological work of those committed to learning and study. I’m thinking especially of Thomas Cranmer, Richard Hooker, and the translators of the King James Version of the Bible.
Despite the political strife and the Civil War in England and Scotland during the seventeenth century, great theological learning abounded. The disestablished Scottish Episcopal Church would produce a Eucharistic liturgy in the eighteenth century that continues to shape the Eucharistic worship of the American Church. The same kind of learning and study shows up in the extraordinary hymnody of Charles Wesley.
Our parish from its founding has been on the leading edge of what was called, at first, the Oxford Movement, and, later, the Anglo-catholic Revival. It started at Oxford University. The first generation dated the movement’s inception to a sermon preached at the University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. The man who preached that sermon, John Keble, was a priest and an academic. In every age, study and learning are gifts of the Spirit that help the Church move forward in faith and keep us from trying to live in a past that never really was.
There is something exciting about learning. This excitement is natural to human beings. One of my favorite things to see is a child who is just starting to walk. He or she is experiencing a new reality, one that seems to overwhelm him or her with delight. Falling rarely upsets a child; he or she just gets up for more. If the child cries, it seems to happen when he or she becomes too tired to continue to walk – or if a parent takes the child away from walking too soon.
I’m thinking about the future and about learning for many reasons. The parish’s board of trustees will soon be receiving the facilities survey it commissioned last year. Some newer readers of this newsletter may not know that sidewalk scaffolding has been in place across the West Forty-sixth Street façade of the church since Easter Week 2010. Significant (and expensive) work of some kind on the envelope of our church complex is in the future. We don’t know what other work will be of first importance. One of the great gifts of being here in New York is the resources to learn what challenges are probably in front of us.
I am also thinking about the future for personal reasons. On Tuesday, February 1, I begin my thirteenth year as rector of this parish. I have been challenged and blessed in so many ways by the work here that, even on the busiest and hardest days, I remain deeply thankful for the call to serve at Saint Mary’s. I want to tell you too about my mother who has Alzheimer’s. Her physicians have placed her on “hospice care” – which means they think she will die within six months. In the middle of this reality, I am aware of a new relationship with her. Right now, she can do almost nothing for herself. I know there may come a time very soon when she may not know me or may not be able to give any sign that she knows me. In the midst of the deep sadness I feel, I am profoundly thankful for my mother’s life and love. I did not expect to be feeling new things, but I am.
Learning works its best when it helps bring us to knowledge and truth, helps us to live life as it really is and might be in the future, not how it will never be or never was. Even when I have confidence in what I think I know, in what I have learned, I still want a certain critical, almost detached, self-awareness. There is serendipity in the unfolding of God’s kingdom. I don’t want to miss the future because I am afraid of what is old or of what is new. There is still a lot to learn and to enjoy. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Sharon, Margaret, Julia, Dorothy, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, Daisy, William, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 30: 1887 Betsy Maria DeWolfe Hoyt; 1902 Marie Louise Asbury; 1923 Peter H. Morris; 1943 Olive Eugenie Morgan; 1955 Mary A. Scott.
CANDLEMAS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Tuesday evening, February 1, Solemn Evensong will be offered at 6:00 PM as we begin our celebration of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. On Wednesday, February 2, Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. The Blessing of Candles is celebrated with the Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. At 6:00 PM, we welcome the Right Reverend Peter James Lee, XII Bishop of Virginia, as preacher at our principal service of the day, Blessing of Candles, Procession and Solemn Mass. An organ recital, played by James Kennerley at 5:30 PM, precedes the Solemn Mass. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, January 30 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on Wednesday, February 2. The class resumes on Wednesday, February 9, at 6:30 PM . . . Thursday, February 3, is the Feast of Saint Blase. The Blessing of Throats will be offered at the 12:10 PM Mass and after Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM . . . Super Bowl Party and Potluck Dinner, Sunday, February 6, 6:00 PM . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 29. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, February 5.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Julia Levo, the Education Director of Saint Mary’s resident American Globe Theatre, had surgery this week. She is recuperating at her home in Connecticut. Please keep her in your prayers . . . We have received a Letter of Transfer for James Phillip Burgess and John George Schultz. We are very happy that they have decided to join Saint Mary’s. We hope that you will introduce yourselves and welcome them to the parish . . . There will be an acolyte rehearsal to prepare for Candlemas on Sunday, January 30, from 12:45 PM to 1:15 PM . . . Altar flowers are needed for February 13. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office. There are no flowers on the altar during Lent. Ash Wednesday is March 9. The First Sunday of Lent is March 13. Easter Day is April 24. . . In order to increase the funds available for our hospitality efforts, we have begun to invite donations, once again, at the receptions following Evensong on Sunday evenings. For further information, or if you would like to make a donation to the hospitality fund, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish January 25-28 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 214.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Prélude sur l'Introit de l'Épiphanie, Op. 13 (1960) by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa syllabica (1977/1996) by Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). Pärt, whose stark and powerful music has achieved great popularity worldwide, has composed since 1976 in a style he named tintinnabuli (“little bells”). Tintinnabulation, the practice of considering two simultaneous voices as one line (one voice part moves in a stepwise motion, the other outlines notes of the triad in leaps), is what gives Pärt’s music its distinctive sound. The motet at Communion, Pärt’s The Beatitudes (1990/1996), is one of the composer’s best known works. The organ recitalist on Sunday at 4:40 PM is Paul Richard Olson, Organist and Choirmaster, Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights. I will play the service of Evensong and Benediction, which begins at 5:00 PM.
At the Solemn Mass, on Wednesday, February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, the choir sings Nunc dimittis from the Evening Service in A by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) during the lighting and blessing of the candles. The Irish-born Stanford composed a large output of varied music, though he is remembered best, perhaps, for his many contributions to Anglican Church music. The setting of the Mass ordinary on Candlemas is Missa Christi (“Mass of the House of Christ”) by Herbert Howells (1892–1983). This hauntingly beautiful setting was composed in 1958 for the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, England. Though set for four-part choir, it frequently splits into six and seven parts, giving the texture a rich and full sound. Howells made many notable contributions to sacred music; a great deal of it is not widely heard, however, and this Mass is among his numerous neglected works. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Hail, gladdening light, a setting in English of the Phos hilaron text with music by Charles Wood (1866–1926). I will play the recital before the Solemn Mass. The recital begins at 5:30 PM. The program includes music by Stanford and Kenneth Leighton (1929–1988). James Kennerley
CPR TRAINING . . . We now have a full class (and a waiting list!) for the training scheduled for Saturday, January 29, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The course will be held at Emergency Skills, Inc., 350 Seventh Avenue (at 29th Street), Suite 504. Since time is limited, we encourage all registered members of the class to arrive a bit before 9:00 AM, so that the training can begin promptly. Thank you to parishioner Clint Best for his help in organizing this effort. S.G.
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY . . . Our Super Bowl party and potluck dinner will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday, February 6, beginning at 6:00 PM. Grace Bruni has agreed to organize the event. We hope that many Saint Marians and their friends will be able to join us for what is always a fun evening and a good opportunity to spend time together. This is a wonderful way to introduce your friends to the parish. (And, if truth be told, you can have a good time even if you don’t know anything about football!). If you are able, please “bring a dish” for the potluck. For more information, please speak to Grace Bruni. J.R.S.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class normally meets in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM. The class is led by the sisters. Newcomers are most welcome! . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, January 30, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will lead the third part of his three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission. The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.” Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century. The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . Father Jay Smith will lead a five-part series on The History of the Bible in English (February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6) to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible . . . On Sundays during Lent (March 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10), Father Peter Powell will teach a class on First Corinthians 15.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Donations to this effort have begun to lag a bit. However, the need for supplemental food assistance in our neighborhood has not decreased. Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry. Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Concert: “Beethoven for the Indus Valley”: A Concert for Life and Renewal in Pakistan after the 2010 Floods. Carnegie Hall, Monday, January 31, 2011, 8:00 PM. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Call CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800 or www.carnegiehall.org . . . A particularly moving article appeared in the New York Times on Sunday, January 23. Entitled “Against All Odds, A Beautiful Life,” the article tells the story of a young man, a member of Saint Luke’s, Montclair, NJ, who died recently of complications due to AIDS. The story makes one consider a renewed commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS; the article also has things to say about family, faith, the importance of a parish community and, perhaps, the present state and future prospects of the Episcopal Church. In order to access and read the article, go to www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/nyregion/24towns.html?_r=1&emc=eta1. J.R.S.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Saturday, February 12, ordination of our seminarian Thomas Remington Slone to the diaconate at the annual convention of the Diocese of Georgia to be held in Valdosta, Georgia . . . Monday, February 21, Washington’s Birthday, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . March 9, Ash Wednesday . . . Fridays during Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM (except on March 25) . . . Friday, March 25, The Annunciation, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 15, AIDS Walk. Please speak to MaryJane Boland about registering for the Walk and to begin fundraising efforts.
The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator
The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons