FROM THE RECTOR: BAPTISM AND COMMUNION
From coast to coast – and across Manhattan for that matter – one can find parishes where Holy Communion is offered at Mass to everyone whether a person is baptized or not. The intention in these parishes is to include all who have come for worship in the fellowship of Christ’s Table. As the Sunday bulletin of the Washington National Cathedral puts it, “All who seek God and a deeper life in Christ are welcome to receive Holy Communion.” What is also being said without saying so is this: baptism is no longer necessary.
From an historical point of view, this is very odd, almost perverse. For most of the last 1000 years we have had a Christian community in Western Europe where almost all were baptized but almost no one received communion but once, or at most, very few times a year. In the Episcopal Church, we now have cathedrals, parishes and perhaps dioceses where everyone receives communion and baptism doesn’t matter. How did this reversal happen so quickly?
Arguably the most important theological achievement of the 1979 Prayer Book was the restoration of communion to all of the baptized. But it’s clear from what’s happened since then that the revised rites themselves have not been enough to bring about a rebirth of meaning and conviction about baptism itself. One simple explanation: baptism has been experienced for a long time as something that didn’t matter very much.
The link between baptism and communion was made universally across the Christian community by the early second century. For hundreds of years after that, baptism includes communion. The early Church would not have understood baptism apart from communion – the age of the person being baptized was irrelevant. Baptism meant washing and feeding. Eucharist was the necessary food for sustaining the faith of those who had died and risen to eternal life in the waters of baptism.
This fundamental link between baptism and communion first began to get lost as Christianity overcame the pagan religions of the classical world in the fourth century. The link was entirely lost in the Middle Ages. By then, people were all baptized, but, again, they usually only received communion at Easter. It is not unimportant that this was the era when the Eucharist becomes all about Good Friday, not Easter. Scholastic theology turned priests and bishops into images of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. The Church had to make a rule to require the presider to receive communion at Mass so that at least one person actually ate at the sacred meal. Yet, the memory of the Eucharist as meal somehow persisted through all of this.
In the centuries when people were convinced they could not or should not receive communion, I think they still hungered for it because there were baptized. I hope the memory of baptism, the memory of being clean, the memory of dying and rising in Christ, the memory of water, is going to seek us out until we learn again how to wade in the Jordan. After you have had a good swim, food tastes awfully good. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED for Carol, Wayne, John, Joseph, Sharon, George, Gertrude, Jack, Sandy, Krislea, Olutoyin, Timothy, Anna, Julia, Dorothy, Chris, Rolf, Dianne, Gert, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christine, Rob, and Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Daniel and Sheila . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 12: 1926 William G. McQuckin; 1981 Clementina V. Harnett; 1986 James P. Gregory.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Daniel Hamilton, a member of Wayne Mahlke’s extended family, died of heat stroke on Friday, June 3, while on a wildlife rescue program on Grand Cayman Island. He was twenty-one years old and a student at Purdue University, active in the Episcopal community there and in his home parish, Saint Andrew’s Church, Valparaiso, Indiana. Please keep him, his brother John, Wayne and all their family in your prayers.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Holy Baptism will be celebrated at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, June 12 . . . The Sunday organ recital by Michael Phelps will begin at 4:35 PM this Sunday . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, June 11. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, June 18.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. This observance begins on the Friday after Pentecost, June 17.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Carol Pepper was discharged from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on Wednesday and is now at home . . . Heather Kopelson and Michael Innis-Jiménez have a new daughter, Alessandra, who was born on May 30. All are well! . . . Congratulations to Father James Pace who will become associate dean of the undergraduate program in the New York University College of Nursing as of September 1, 2011. Father, congratulations! . . . Altar flowers are needed for the following dates: July 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office . . . Last week was a busy time here at Saint Mary’s. We were honored to host the Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Centre. We were pleased to be able to welcome Bishop Charles Jenkins back to Saint Mary’s and to welcome Bishop Stephen Platten to the parish for the first time. Bishop Platten preached a very fine sermon at the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day. We are grateful to all those who helped during this busy week. Thank you to all! . . . As the summer months approach, we would like to encourage all Saint Marians to try and stay current on their pledge payments, since this is a time when we often experience cash-flow problems. We are grateful to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s. If you would still like to make a pledge for 2011, please contact Aaron Koch or Father Smith . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Monday, June 13. He returns to the rectory on Friday, June 17 . . . Attendance: Ascension 214; Last Sunday 215.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Fantasia super “Komm, Heiliger Geist,” BWV 651, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Before the gospel, we sing the traditional hymn appointed for Pentecost, Veni sancte spiritus. Known as the “Golden Sequence”, it acquired its epithet during the medieval period due to the extraordinary beauty and balance of the Latin verse. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Frences Mass 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 spanned the Reformation and the resulting changes in liturgical practice. His output of sacred music includes works with both Latin and English texts. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Loquebantur variis linguis by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585). The composer’s extraordinary skill is particularly evident in the musical depiction of the effect of the various languages. Most notable is the use of “false relations” – that is, pointed dissonance produced by the various voice parts clashing as part of the counterpoint. James Kennerley
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM (VAP) . . . A new exhibition, Seeing and Believing: Works by Charlotte Lichtbau, is now hanging in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Ms. Lichtbau was born in Vienna in 1925 and came with her family to the United States in 1940. Since the early 1950s, she has often returned to Austria, working both in Vienna and in Altaussee, located in Austria’s Salzkammergut region. She has painted the mountains, lakes and countryside in and around Altaussee for more than seventy years. Her work includes landscapes, fantasias, paintings of mythical figures and biblical scenes. Ms. Lichtbau is a modernist, whose work has been deeply influenced by the European tradition of expressionism. She has had two major retrospective exhibitions in Austria in addition to a recent retrospective here in New York at The 8th Floor Space in Chelsea. Ms. Lichtbau has also worked as an art critic, publishing reviews and essays in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Herald Tribune, Arts Magazine and other publications. Her works now on view in Saint Joseph’s Hall include Gothic Madonna (1965), Water into Wine (The Wedding at Cana) (1966), Stabat Mater (1983) and Annunciation in Altaussee I & II (2006).
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . As is our custom, on Trinity Sunday, June 19, we will offer Solemn Evensong & Benediction for the last time until the first Sunday in October. During the summer, Evening Prayer is read on Sundays at 5:00 PM . . . On Friday, June 24, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. Friday abstinence is not observed on this feast of our Lord . . . On Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 26, the 11:00 AM liturgy will be Solemn Mass, Procession through Times Square, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament . . . Wednesday, June 29, is the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles. There will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to accept donations for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the basket at the 46th Street entrance to the church . . . We are still finalizing figures and statistics for this year’s AIDS Walk. However, we already know that the Team did very well in its fundraising efforts. Thank you to all who gave so generously to this very important outreach effort. Jay Smith
SAINT RAPHAEL’S GUILD OF USHERS . . . The summer schedule was e-mailed recently. If you did not receive a copy, please speak to Father Smith or Randy Morgan. Since the summer vacation period has almost arrived, we would like to remind all the members of the ushers’ guild that, if possible, they should try to find a replacement if they are not able to serve on a Sunday for which they have been scheduled. If you need a copy of the current contact list, please speak to Father Smith.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector;
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate;
The Reverend James Pace, assisting priest;
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.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST: WHITSUNDAY
Sung Matins 8:30 AM
Mass 9:00 AM
Mass 10:00 AM
Solemn Mass 11:00 AM
Organ Recital 4:35 PM
Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM