The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 11


In the winter of 1978, when I was studying in Pakistan, I used to go to the 7:30 AM Eucharist at the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection in Lahore on Sunday mornings.  Sunday was the beginning of the work week.  After Mass, I went to eat breakfast at a new American hotel, my one “American” meal each week.  I was pretty surprised that the Anglican Church in Pakistan used grape juice for Communion, although Christians could legally buy and consume alcohol.  As an earnest, budding high church Anglican, I was sure there was something very wrong.  Real Christians had always used real bread and real wine, just as Jesus said to do.  It turns out, things are not so simple.

My experience in Pakistan came to mind because of two articles in a recent book, edited by Notre Dame professor Maxwell Johnson, Issues in Eucharistic Praying in East and West: Essays in Liturgical and Theological Analysis (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2010).  Most startling: many of the first Christians seem to have used bread and water for their Eucharists.  They were poor.  That’s all they had.  The Eucharist was truly, and literally, food for their journey of their lives, for what was their journey in faith.

In the first article in the book, “Did Jesus Institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper?”, Paul Bradshaw calls attention to the historical record we have of how Christians prayed in the first centuries.  In an earlier book, Eucharistic Origins (London: SPCK/New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), Father Bradshaw observed that the so-called “Words of Institution” don’t come into the Eucharist until the fourth century.  They became part of these prayers as large numbers of converts are baptized after the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  The simplest explanation for their inclusion: catechesis.

What we call “the Eucharistic Prayer” developed independently of the New Testament accounts of the Last Supper.  Just as Saint Paul’s association of baptism with Jesus’ death and resurrection in his Letter to the Romans didn’t affect early baptismal texts, no early texts link the Eucharist to the gospel accounts of the Last Supper.  Recall too, that John’s gospel has no account of the meal at the supper before the Passover.  In early Eucharistic texts, it’s all about the meal, not Christ’s sacrifice.  Bradshaw calls attention to Geoffrey Wainwright’s work on depictions of the Eucharist in the Roman catacombs.  They too are about Jesus feeding people, not about his last meal with his friends.

The second article in this book by Nicholas Russo, “The Validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari: Critique of the Critiques”, is about a debate in the Roman ecclesial community.  In 2001, John Paul II gave formal permission for the Assyrian Church of the East to continue to use the ancient Eucharistic prayer called “Addai and Mari.”  It is the most ancient text for a Eucharistic prayer that there is, but there are no “Words of Institution.”  It’s a decision that has not made some fundamentalists within the Roman Communion – yes, they have them too – happy.

Looking back, one can appreciate how the gospel accounts come to be taken as historical narrative, as what had always been done.  Yet, such was not the case.  One can also see how the Church simply lost the sense that the Eucharist was spiritual food.  That said, Christians of the first centuries would not have begun to understand a rule about how often one had to receive Communion, anymore than they would have understood “Words of Institution” as “consecratory.”  God’s kingdom has never evolved as neatly as some, myself included, might wish.

When early Christian communities shared bread and water, they shared the life of the Risen Christ.  Though they may not have known Luke’s account of the Last Supper, I think it’s fair to say that the Lord “filled them” at his table “with good things.”  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Sharon, Doreen, Margaret, Julia, Ann, Michael, Lee, Dorothy, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, William, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 6: 1888 Mary Jane Bailey; 1923 Leila West de Wolffers; 1933 Charles Richard Graham.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, February 6 . . . Annual Super Bowl Party and Potluck Dinner, Sunday, February 6, 6:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on February 9, at 6:30 PM . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, February 5.  Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, February 12.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Our Annual Super Bowl Party and potluck dinner will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday, February 6, beginning at 6:00 PM.  Please bring a dish to share . . . Parishioner John Delves is at home after hospitalization and treatment at Beth Israel Medical Center last week.  He is doing well.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make Candlemas such a great day here at the parish: to Bishop Peter James Lee; to our faithful acolytes, readers, floral designers and ushers; to sacristan, Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B, and her assistants, Daniel Craig, Tom Heffernan and Brother William Jones, B.S.G.; to Dennis Raverty, who designed the Candlemas poster; to Heather Peskin and Violet Greene, who prepared the delicious desserts; to Jon Bryant and Jim Dennis, who provided hospitality; and to José Vidal, who organized the reception . . . Saint Mary’s edition of the 2011 Episcopal Church Calendar, with a wonderful photo of a child at work in the atrium by Daniel Craig, is available in the gift shop . . . On Friday, February 11, our seminarian Thomas Remington Slone will be ordained deacon in Valdosta, Georgia.  Father Gerth will be one of his presenters (and will be away from the parish on Friday, returning Saturday, February 12) . . . Thank you to volunteers Clint Best, MaryJane Boland, Grace Bruni, Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch, and Roberto Perez, who have been providing invaluable assistance around the parish offices . . . Eleven Saint Marians gathered last Saturday at Emergency Skills, Inc., to receive training in CPR and to  use an AED (“automatic external defibrillator”).  We will be purchasing an AED shortly . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 208; Candlemas 198.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is Les Mages (“The Wise Men”) from La Nativité du Seigneur, a suite of nine movements based on scenes from the birth of Christ, written in 1935 by Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992).  Music on Sunday morning is sung by Mark Risinger, bass, and me – a tenor.  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Ave Maris Stella, which I have composed.  It is based on the familiar plainsong melody of the same name, and is composed in a sixteenth-century polyphonic style.  This is its first performance.  At the ministration of Communion, the motet is Oculus non vidit from Cantiones duarum vocum (“Songs for Two Voices”) by Orlande de Lassus (c. 1532-1594).  Lassus (or Lasso or Delattre, as he was variously named) was born in Mons, now part of Belgium.  Little is known about his early life apart from the fact that he was kidnapped three times because of the incredible beauty of his singing voice!  He worked for several years in various parts of Italy before settling in Munich in 1556, where several composers, including both Gabrielis, visited to study with him.  Cantiones duarum vocum, a set of Latin motets for two voices, was published in Antwerp in 1609.  I will improvise a verset (a short passage of organ music) in the style of Lasso as a centerpiece to the two sung sections.  James Kennerley


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, February 6, when Father Jay Smith will begin 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. J.R.S.


LOOKING AHEAD . . .  Monday, February 21, Washington’s Birthday, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Thursday, February 24, Saint Matthias, Masses at 12:10 and 6:00 PM . . . The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday is March 9 . . . Sunday, May 15, AIDS Walk.  Please speak to MaryJane Boland about registering for the Walk and to begin fundraising efforts.


THE ARTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Visual AIDS is a New York-based arts organization that “utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy.”  The organization has a large image archive and they invite writers and curators to discuss the images on the organization’s website.  Clergy spouse and longtime Saint Marian José Vidal is this month’s web gallery curator.  He has posted an article entitled, “Why religious images now?”  You may read the article and view the images at the Visual Aids website . . . American Globe Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, February 25–March 20, in the theater on the third floor of the Parish House.  Tickets are $18.00 and performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM and on Sundays at 3:00 PM.  On Saturday, March 12, there is a Gala Benefit Performance at 6:00 PM.  For more information or to reserve tickets, please call 212-869-9809 or visit



The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon
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


The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager

Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons