The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 13


Recently I ended up in conversation with several members of the clergy of our diocese at a lunch.  The talk turned to the search that has begun in our diocese for a “bishop coadjutor” – that is, a bishop who will take office as bishop of New York when the present bishop retires.  At the last annual diocesan convention on November 13, 2010, a plan was proposed to elect this bishop coadjutor at a special convention on October 29, 2011.  The convention adopted the necessary funding.  Our “Committee to Elect a Bishop” has begun its work.

The Diocese of Washington (the nation’s capital and part of the state of Maryland) is also searching for a new bishop.  It has structured itself for a longer and, it seems at a distance, a more public and participatory process.  It will be interesting to see how it all goes in both places in the years to come. 

At the lunch, more than one of us remarked about how our process was moving forward without involving much of the diocese in it.  No rector of any Manhattan parish, for example, is on the committee.  Unlike our diocesan procedures for calling a new rector, we have chosen not to start by developing a formal profile, reaching out to the laypeople and clergy of the wider diocesan community, before asking for names.  We are, of course, different dioceses.  There are no guarantees that any process, long or short, works well.

In terms of budget and numbers of congregations, I think the diocese of New York is roughly double the size of the diocese of Washington.  We both have great cathedrals.  Their community is rooted in the history of the Church in Maryland; ours is rooted in the history of Trinity Church, Wall Street.  Our diocese was organized after the American Revolution.  The diocese of Washington was organized from the diocese of Maryland in 1895.  The origins of both dioceses continue to shape their individual common lives.  One can read the profile for the bishop search of the diocese of Washington.  One wonders what a profile of our diocese would be like if we had one.

The Prayer Book tradition generally reserves the word “shepherd” for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bishops and priests are called “pastors”, but not “shepherds.”  This is not surprising given the New Testament debate between Matthew and John over the role of Peter.  We Episcopalians come down clearly on the side of John.  Jesus himself is the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18) and all of the sheep are his (John 21:15-19).  However, it’s good to remember that in New Testament Greek and in classical Latin, the English words “shepherd” and “pastor” are essentially the same word, as are “church” and “congregation” or “elder and “presbyter” or “guardian”, “overseer” and “bishop.”  How one uses English can signal how one wants to understand or construe the present and the past.

There were a number of significant changes in the texts of the ordination rites when the present Prayer Book was being put together.  The older books, following the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, spoke of gifts to make “some Apostles, some Prophets, some Evangelists, some Pastors and Doctors” (The Book of Common Prayer 1928, 557).  The new rites speak of “prophets, kings, and priests” (The Book of Common Prayer 1979, 520) and of God’s “princely Spirit” (521).  And in the new book, the ministry of bishop is described for the first time as a “high priesthood” – a phrase which our tradition has reserved, like Shepherd, for Jesus himself (Hebrews 6:20, 8:1).

More problematic is this new sentence in the prayer of consecration of bishops, “In all things may he present before you the acceptable offering of a pure, and gentle, and holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son” (1979, 521).  Jesus’ offering makes us acceptable to the Father, not the actions of any of our lives.  One wonders where this came from.  One misses the former exhortation, “Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, devour them not” (1928, 558).

Once as a seminarian assisting at a Eucharist in a parish church, I asked a bishop if he wanted to be at the altar or at the chair for a particular part of the service.  He responded, “at the throne.”  When I think about the next bishop of New York, like the bishops I have served in New York, I hope she or he would be equally at home at the altar or at a chair of any parish church in our diocese.  I’m sure we will again have a bishop who knows who the Shepherd and high Priest really is.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Valmai, Sharon, Doreen, Margaret, Julia, Dorothy, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, William, Daisy, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine; and for the repose of the soul of Joe Hickey . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 20: 1871 John Clark Pancoast; 1872 William Hardy; 1899 Adeline Gardiner; 1923 Esther Mertz Lindsey; 1932 Gustav Friedauer; 1933 Theodore Ross; 1973 Viola Katherine Sadowsky; 1985 Therese Anna Furlong.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, February 20 . . . Monday, February 21, Washington’s Birthday, Federal Holiday Schedule, the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM, only the noon services are offered and the parish offices are closed . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on February 23, at 6:30 PM . . . Thursday, February 24, is the Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle.  The Eucharist will be offered at 12:10 PM and at 6:20 PM . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, February 19.  Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, February 26.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Concerts at Saint Mary’s: Saturday, February 19, Early Music Series, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, at 8:00 PM . . . Seminarian Thomas Remington Slone was ordained deacon in Valdosta, Georgia, on Friday, February 11.  Father Gerth was one of his presenters.  Rem will serve as deacon at the Solemn Mass on Sunday . . . The stained glass window from one of the two Forty-seventh Street doors is still out for repair and conservation.  We expect it back by the end of the month . . . George Handy continues to recover at home.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish on Monday and Tuesday, February 21-22.  He will return on Wednesday, February 23 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 238.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass on Sunday is Gloria tibi Trinitas by William Blitheman (c. 1525–1591).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Plainsong Mass for a Mean by John Sheppard (c. 1515–1559/60).  Sheppard, along with such composers as Thomas Tallis and Christopher Tye, was among the English musicians whose careers took place during the Reformation and who experienced the resulting changes in liturgical practice.  Sheppard’s output of sacred music includes works in both Latin and English.  This mass is relatively simple in style; its name reflects the use of plainsong (Gregorian chant) in alternation with polyphony as well as the low range of the highest voice.  In Sheppard’s time the “treble” part in a choral work was the highest (soprano is a rough modern equivalent) and the “mean” part was slightly lower (somewhat equivalent to mezzo-soprano).  In this piece the mean is the highest voice.  At the ministration of Communion, the motet is Teach me, O Lord by William Byrd (1543–1623).  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 continues through March 6 with Father Smith’s series on The History of the Bible in English . . . On Sundays during Lent, March 13 through April 10, Father Peter Powell will teach a class on First Corinthians 15.  Father Powell writes, “Jesus never intended to start a church.  The Epistles, our earliest Christian writing, wrestles with what it means to be faithful when the world doesn’t end.  Paul’s earliest writings clearly expect the end of time to come within his lifetime. It doesn’t.  How then do people remain faithful to God as revealed at Easter when their expectation of the end doesn’t come?  One answer, probably the defining answer, occurs in 1 Corinthians 15.  We will devote Lent to studying this central statement of faith.  It is as important for a living understanding of what it means to be a Christian today as it was when Paul wrote it.  All that we teach about the resurrection and its continuing centrality in the twenty-first century begins with this chapter.  Please join us Sunday morning at 10:00 AM throughout Lent to prepare for a renewed sense of Easter.”


LA NATIVITE DU SEIGNEUR… On Saturday, February 26 at 3 PM, James Kennerley will perform Olivier Messiaen’s (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur on the magnificent 1932 Aeolian-Skinner organ. The suite of nine pieces, composed in 1935, sets to music the various biblical scenes concerning the birth of Christ. The sounds of Saint Mary’s instrument are particularly appropriate for the music of Messiaen. Readings will be presented before each movement of the work, and the performed will be visible to the audience via a live camera feed. The performance lasts around an hour. Admission is free.


SAINT MARY’S AT THE GRAMMYS . . . Paul Jacobs was awarded the Grammy award “Best Classical Recording without orchestra” for his recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement (1984), performed on Saint Mary’s magnificent 1932 Aeolian-Skinner organ.  This is the first time that Mr. Jacobs, who is professor of organ at The Juilliard School, performed the complete works of Messiaen (1908-1992) in marathon concerts around the USA.  This recording, which features Messiaen’s final large-scale work for organ, was made over several late nights in January 2008.  The recording is available on the Naxos label.  We remain extremely grateful to Larry Trupiano, curator of our Aeolian-Skinner organ, for his unparalleled skill and dedication in maintaining and restoring the instrument for the past several decades.  Copies of the CD have been ordered for sale in the Gift Shop.  We expect that they will be delivered next week.


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.  If you would like more information about how the Food Pantry works or if you would like to volunteer, please speak to Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.  Jay Smith


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 . . . Fridays in Lent, 6:30 PM, Stations of the Cross . . . Friday, March 25, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, the Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh, preacher . . . Saturday, April 16, Eve of Palm Sunday, Blessing of Palms & Sung Mass, 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, April 17, Palm Sunday, Blessing of Palms and Sung Mass, 9:00 AM & Blessing of Palms, Procession and Solemn Mass, 11:00 AM . . . Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15, AIDS Walk.  Please speak to MaryJane Boland about registering for the Walk and to begin fundraising efforts.




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