FROM THE RECTOR: BEHIND THE ROSES
In the nineteenth century, the Anglo-catholic movement in the Anglican Communion inspired a revival of the Church’s life and mission, and not just among its adherents. It helped to shape the changes that would come across the denomination in the future. The movement, of course, did not sweep all before it. There were genuine struggles over the direction of the Church. Many of the battles took place in print. In England, the Reverend Arthur Tooth and others were sent to jail for violating the Public Worship act of 1874. But the movement has marked the common life of the entire Anglican Communion, including that of the militantly Protestant tradition within our Church.
In the United States, the Episcopal Church certainly has had its fights. There was a schism, mostly over the then burning question of baptismal regeneration in the early 1870s. It produced a denomination known as the Reformed Episcopal Church, now affiliated with some who have left the Episcopal Church in recent years. Yet, the Episcopal Church remains a broad denomination, united by its worship and its generous spirituality. There are always parishes that seek to conserve a theology and practice of earlier days, just as there are always parishes that push in new directions.
The Anglo-catholic movement reshaped worship in the Anglican Communion in part because of a renewed passion for worship. They also had lots of outward signs to help this passion make its mark. Cut flowers and candles on the altar were considered a radically catholic and a radically controversial practice when introduced among Episcopalians in the nineteenth century. The use of traditional vestments can still create a lot of excitement in some quarters, as does the practice of reserving the Sacrament for the Communion of the sick and dying. Even today the bishops of the diocese of Texas are known for not wearing miters. Hard to believe that just last summer the archbishop of Canterbury wouldn’t let our presiding bishop wear a miter in Southwark Cathedral, London.
From the beginning of the movement, Anglo-catholics adopted and adapted many practices of the Roman Communion. But since we weren’t Roman Catholics, it was always something of an uneven fit. Fortunately, the twentieth century scholarship has helped move Church discussions beyond questions like the number of candles on the altar to issues of far more substance. “Who is welcome to be an Episcopalian?” is asked and answered very differently today than it was even a half-century ago.
I’ve been thinking a little about this because this coming Sunday the liturgical color is “rose” or “pink.” Colored vestments disappeared among Anglicans at the Reformation. When Anglicans again started using colored hangings and vestments in the nineteenth century, most moved to the then contemporary scheme of the Roman Communion. Other Protestants who wish to use vestments and hangings have largely done the same.
As is often the case with Church practices, history is complicated and not always known. It is likely that the customs associated with the Fourth Sunday in Lent have their origin in a Roman civic festival to welcome the arrival of spring flowers. The “blessing” of a “golden rose” by the bishop of Rome at this time goes back to the 900s, perhaps earlier. (See Adolf Adam, The Liturgical Year (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1981), 103). When Advent gets turned into another Lent, the Third Sunday of Advent got a “rose” Sunday too (Adam, 135). That said, the practices that have come to be associated with these days can carry real meaning. The traditional entrance songs for this Sunday begin with scriptures that call on the assembly to “rejoice.” We get rose-colored vestments, flowers on the altar and more organ accompaniment than we would on any other Sunday in Lent. It’s a break. It’s a nice one, especially if you are a part of a parish community where Lent and Advent are kept with integrity.
Far more important than the outward signs of the day is its gospel. This year we hear John’s account of the Healing of the Man Born Blind. I’m not a fan at all of the new Mass lectionary but, to give credit where credit is due, it has included these final verses of the ninth chapter of John that we used to not hear. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, ‘Are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, “We see,” your guilt remains’” (John 9:39-41).
We are singing one of my favorite hymns at the Solemn Mass – All praise to thee, for thou, O King divine. Rose vestments will be beautiful. But the take away from Sunday will be the gospel. And it brings to mind that wonderful English carol arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1858), “This is the Truth sent from above, the truth of God, the truth of love; therefore don’t turn me from your door, but hearken all, both rich and poor.” Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Sharon, Doreen, Margaret, Julia, Dorothy, Alan, Chris, Rolf, Gert, William, Daisy, Rick, and Emil, religious; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 3: 1891 Flora Ann Smith; 1892 Clarence Caludius Bode; 1901 Mary Jane Crook; 1902 Arthur Jones; 1917 Edward Dwight Atherton; 1930 Josephine Hewitt Keffner Lyons; 1933 Thomas Gillen Dawson.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, April 3 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study will meet on April 6 . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, April 2. Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 9.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Tallis Scholars will perform on Saturday, April 2, at 8 PM as part of Miller Theater’s Early Music series . . . James Kennerley and the Byron Concert of Harrow School will perform a concert of Lenten choral and organ music on Tuesday, April 5 at 7:30 PM. Admission is free. See the concerts website for full details.
THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. In addition, the Fridays of Lent are observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Cash gifts are still needed to fund the reception planned for the Easter Vigil on April 23. Please contact Father Smith or Aaron Koch in the Finance Office if you would like to help . . . Father Smith is away from the parish. He returns to the office on Wednesday, April 6 . . .The Rector will be away Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9. He will be giving meditations at a retreat for the priests of the Diocese of Western Kansas in Great Bend, Kansas . . . Attendance: Annunciation 273, Last Sunday 243.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The service this Sunday is sung by the female voices of the choir. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe Basse by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). Composer, organist, pianist and teacher, Fauré was the foremost French composer of his generation. From a young age, Fauré was a student at the École Niedermeyer, which prepared organists and choir directors in Paris. He would later be organist-choir master in several Parisian churches, where sacred texts served as the inspiration for his compositions. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Ave Maria, Op. 12 by Johannes Brahms (1833–1897). James Kennerley
DIOCESAN ALTAR GUILD QUIET DAY . . . Bishop Sisk has asked Bishop Andrew St. John, rector of the Church of the Transfiguration, New York City, to be an advisor to the altar guilds in the diocese. He will give a Quiet Day, “Bringing Our Work To God”, on Saturday, May 7, 2011, at Transfiguration between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Participants are asked to bring a brown bag lunch and to make reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class 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 and is currently reading the Book of Ecclesiasticus. Newcomers are most welcome! . . . On Sundays during Lent, Father Peter Powell will lead the Adult Forum in a discussion of First Corinthians 15 . . . On the four Sundays in May, Grace Bruni will lead a church-history series on the complex relationship between civil and ecclesiastical authority during the Middle Ages . . . On Sunday, June 5, Dr. Dennis Raverty, will give a lecture on The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood & the British Arts and Crafts Movement.
AIDS WALK 2011 . . . The Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team is in action again, our sixth year in a row, walking in the 26th AIDS Walk on Sunday, May 15. Our team will raise money, and most of us will walk on Saturday, May 14, in order to be in church on Sunday. We are small but successful: in 2010, there were 20 of us, we raised almost $15,000, and we ranked 50 out of 3,000 teams in the Walk! We need your help to do even better this year. Contribute to our team by clicking here (if you prefer to write a check made out to AWNY, you can give it to Father Smith or to MaryJane Boland). Join our team by clicking here (click on Join a Team NOW, and select Saint Mary’s) and then raise money from your friends and colleagues. Ask questions of our team by emailing the team leader, MaryJane Boland or speak to her on Sunday.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. 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. . . . Father Smith resumes his Book Sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday morning. All proceeds benefit the Food Pantry and other outreach efforts.
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus
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