FROM THE RECTOR: FEEDING HIS FLOCK
The tenth chapter of John’s gospel is the great New Testament proclamation of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In earlier Prayer Books, a passage from this gospel was always read on what we now call “The Third Sunday of Easter.” With the new book, it is always read on “The Fourth Sunday of Easter.” Across the new Prayer Book’s three-year lectionary cycle, we hear almost all of this chapter at Sunday Mass. Jesus’ eucharistic presence is now proclaimed on the Third Sunday of Easter; Jesus the Good Shepherd follows naturally on the fourth.
“Good Shepherd Sunday” at Saint Mary’s has a particular significance for us that should not be forgotten. In 1967, the Reverend Donald Lothrop Garfield, seventh rector of the parish, decided that communion would be offered to everyone attending the Solemn Mass on Sunday. Before this, only the celebrant received communion at the Sunday Solemn Mass. No practice revived by Anglo-catholics in the wake of the Oxford Movement was more unfortunate than that of “non-communicating Solemn Mass.” In this respect, the revival just got it wrong.
“Early Mass for communion; Solemn Mass for worship” was one of the quips that described this piety. At the principal Sunday service, the congregation didn’t “take, eat” or “drink ye all of this,” to use the words of the traditional rite. But before we beat up on ourselves too much, it’s helpful to remember that today, though all Christian communities I know of use some form of the “words of institution” in their eucharists, most Christians simply do not follow them.
The ministration of the cup is not normative in the largest Christian denomination (Roman Catholic), even at the principal churches in Rome. Pasteurized grape juice was invented in the nineteenth century by a New Jersey Methodist layman to take the place of wine – because of alcoholism. For a variety of reasons, it has replaced wine in the communion services of most Protestant denominations – and even in the eucharists of some provinces of the Anglican Communion.
For Episcopalians, following the words of institution isn’t the big problem. The problem is one of understanding. Once the practice of including these words in the prayer over the bread and the wine started in the fourth century, the words came to take on a life of their own. They began to be included in eucharistic prayers probably for catechesis (Paul F. Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004], 140-142). A text by Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) contains the earliest reference to the idea that the bread and wine are consecrated by the presider repeating the words of institution (Ibid., 156-157). Among Western Christians, this idea came to dominate not only the Church’s thinking about the eucharist, but also about ordination. (The particular identification of bishops and priests with Jesus himself can be a subject for another day.)
As the thirteenth century begins, some priests in Paris begin elevating the bread and the cup at the words of institution and doing so with genuflections. The practice spreads. Bells and incense follow. (Remember, all of this is happening in a time when the Church demands that the celebrant receive communion just to make sure that someone is receiving the eucharist.) At Saint Peter’s Basilica one can still see uniformed Swiss Guards kneeling, with halberds and helmets, saluting the gifts as they are raised.
Protestant reformers tried to revise the old rite, hoping to arrive at what they thought was an original, scriptural understanding, but didn’t really get very far. Many denominations ended up with eucharistic prayers consisting only of the words of institution – not really very far from Medieval Christianity. There are many hopeful signs that some Anglicans are developing their way out of the theological mess they had developed themselves into. Change is often not easy, especially in matters of faith and practice; but we know that it is only truth that moves us to places where we can begin to see what God is really doing among us.
The words of institution, as we Episcopalians use them, still sound consecratory. The celebrant is required to touch every vessel containing bread at the words over the bread and to touch every vessel containing wine at the words over the cup. Where our tradition gives us freedom is what we do apart from these prescribed actions. Since Good Shepherd Sunday 2010, we have not used medieval ceremonial, which the Roman Communion still requires, during the Eucharistic Prayer.
This is what we do now: following the directions of the Prayer Book, at the words of institution, the celebrant lays hands on the vessels containing the bread and the wine. We no longer ring bells before and after these words. We make one elevation of the gifts at the Great Doxology (“By him, with him, and in him ...”). Then the prayer concludes with the congregation’s “Amen,” and the elements are replaced on the altar, and one genuflection is made.
(For the record: I think our Church should be doing what the Church of England’s Alternative Service Book 1980 prescribed and which the current Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) permits: Before the presider begins the eucharistic prayer, “The president takes the bread and cup into his hands and replaces them on the holy table” . No further manual acts are required until the prayer is complete.)
Looking back, it’s been a very long time since the Eucharist has been experienced widely by any Christian community primarily as “feeding on the life-giving Jesus” – to use Paul Bradshaw’s wonderful phrase. (“The Eucharistic Sayings of Jesus,” Studia Liturgica 35 , 11). I wonder if I will ever say or hear the words “until his coming again” without hearing a bell ring in my being. But I know I am unwilling to pretend with ceremony that our Prayer Book proclaims something it does not say. I know I don’t believe the eucharist is some kind of religious “historical pageant” – Aidan Kavanagh’s phrase (Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style [New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1982], 75). I certainly do believe in the sacramental presence of Christ in the Bread and the Wine. How we eat and drink together matters. We have one Shepherd; he is not absent from us. He is here among us through his Spirit to feed us with his Food and his Drink. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Lindalou, Daniel, B.F., Ethelyn, Carol, Sharon, Jack, Sandy, Krislea, Michael, Max, Michele, Olutoyin, Owen, Bonnie, William, Virginia, Timothy, Anna, Julia, Dorothy, Chris, Rolf, Gert, William, Rick, and John, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christine and Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Mary and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 15: 1917 Guillaume Stengel; 1947 Gayle Reese Southall; 1955 Helena Appleton; 1958 Alice Levit Eastman; 1981 James Thomas Gordon.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Mary Hunsicker, the youngest sister of parishioner Carol Pepper, died on Sunday, May 8. Please keep Mary, Carol, their family, and all who mourn in your prayers.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Andrew William Gould and Kristen Marie Gennaro of Hamden, Connecticut. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. S.G.
A SPECIAL GUEST PREACHER AT SOLEMN MASS . . . We are honored that the Very Reverend Dr. Robert Willis, dean, Canterbury Cathedral, will preach at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, May 15. Dean Willis has served as dean of Canterbury Cathedral since 2001. In addition to his responsibilities in the cathedral community, in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion, he is a well-known hymn writer. He preached here in April 2005 and it will be great to have him with us again this year. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, May 15 . . . The New York Repertory Orchestra will perform its final concert of the season here on Saturday, May 21 . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, May 14 (please note this is a change of schedule). Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, May 21
AIDS WALK 2011 . . . The small but energetic Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team is raising money for the fight against AIDS. We’ve raised $4,000 during the past week. If we raise just $1,000 more, we will equal what we accomplished last year when we raised almost $15,000, and ranked 50th out of 3,000 teams registered for the Walk! Please help us to surpass last year. You can contribute to the Saint Mary's 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). We are proud of our part in this fight and will treasure your involvement. Thank you for your generosity. If you have questions, please e-mail the team leader, MaryJane Boland or speak to her on Sunday.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . TENET and the Spiritus Collective will perform on Saturday, May 14, at 8:00 PM . . . Thank you so much to Father Peter Ross Powell, who was our guest preacher at the Solemn Mass last Sunday. Father Powell is a popular teacher in our adult-education program and has preached for us several times this year. We are very grateful to him for his ministry and for all his help . . . On Saturday, May 14, there will be a Memorial Service for, and a Celebration of the Life of, Mildred Kathryn Montgomery Hamil, at the First English Lutheran Church in Butler, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Hamil, who died on Christmas Day 2010, is the mother of parishioner Larry Hamil. Please keep Larry in your prayers . . . On Saturday, June 4, at 1:00 PM, a Requiem Mass will be celebrated for Alan Champion at the Church of Saint Clement, Philadelphia . . . José Vidal and the Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s would like to express their gratitude to the members of the staff, the parish volunteers, and all who helped to prepare for the Luciano lecture last Friday. We are also very gratified that so many Saint Marians came to the lecture. Thank you for your enthusiastic support! . . . Altar flowers are needed for the following dates: Sunday, May 29; Ascension Day, Thursday, June 2; Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 26; and all the Sundays in July. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . On Saturday, May 7, parishioner Kathleen Fuller was married to Marcos Miltiades Desillas in the Lady Chapel . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 221.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the Allegretto from Sonata No. 4 in B-flat Major, Opus 65/4, by Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Ave Maria by Francisco de Peñalosa (c. 1470–1528). Perhaps Spain’s most important composer of the generation preceding Cristóbal de Morales, Peñalosa worked at a time when Spanish church music became greatly influenced by the international “Flemish” style. In addition, his career was aided by Spain’s prominence in the international arena at that time. A renowned singer, he was a member of the papal chapel choir after leaving Seville for Rome in 1517. When the Seville Cathedral chapter fervently and repeatedly demanded his return, the Pope himself interceded on Peñalosa’s behalf. This relatively brief setting (one of the composer’s six masses) is based upon the plainsong melody of the same name. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet, which is a setting for upper voices, in German, of Psalm 23 by Franz Schubert (1797–1828) . . . At 4:40 PM on Sunday, before Evensong and Benediction, John Paul Farahat will play the organ recital. Mr. Farahat is principal organist at the Church of Saint Basil, the collegiate church of Saint Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. His program includes music by John Bull (c. 1562–1628), Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992), and J.S. Bach (1685–1750). The postlude following Evensong and Benediction is Prélude et danse fugue by Gaston Litaize (1909-1991). James Kennerley
FROM THE FINANCE OFFICE . . . One of our money counters writes, “I just counted the money from the Big Ben box in the back of the church. In it was an envelope with a message. I thought the sentiment rather sweet and thought I'd share it: I came here to give thanks in 2007 and have enjoyed great abundance since. Not raised a Catholic. This is still a place of refuge and wonder. Thank you to all who work to keep the doors open. This is not one of those "all talk, no action" missives. This particular grateful soul included five twenty-dollar bills as an expression of his/her gratitude.”
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . TENET and the Spiritus Collective will perform on Saturday, May 14, at 8:00 PM as part of Miller Theatre’s Bach and the Early Baroque series. Box Office: 212-854-7799. Tickets can also be purchased online . . . The New York Repertory Orchestra will present a concert on Saturday, May 21, at 8:00 PM, performing music of Berlioz, Rosenhaus, and Beethoven. Admission to the NYRO concert is free.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Maundy Thursday liturgy offering was $2,187.26. Traditionally, the entire collection at this service is for the poor. We cut two checks this week, both for $1,093.63, and delivered them to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry and AIDS Walk New York. We are very grateful to all the members and friends of the parish who gave so generously to support these outreach efforts.
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! . . . The current series in the Adult Forum continues on Sundays through May 22. Grace Bruni is leading 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. Dr. Raverty writes, “In the mid-nineteenth century a secret society of young British painters from Oxford rebelled against the academy, signing their paintings with the mysterious initials, “PRB”. Influenced equally by the Gothic Revival and the contemporaneous Realist movement on the continent, much of their work is devoted to Christian subject matter, in emulation of artists of the early Renaissance and late Gothic periods. Their religious work was derided publicly by no less a figure than Charles Dickens for lacking decorum, and the movement had ties with the Anglo-Catholic revival and with socialism, both of which were controversial in the Church of England during the Victorian era.”
The Reverend T. Remington Slone, The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacons
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