The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 52


On Wednesday, November 16, Mr. Viggo Rambusch, Rambusch Decorating Company, assisted our sextons Mario Martinez and Tony Santiago in removing the high altar tabernacle so that the lock could be sent out for repair.  I’m not sure the tabernacle has ever been removed from the altar since it was installed in April 1947 – thank you, Dick Leitsch for locating this information in the records of the board of trustees.  As we go to press, I am hopeful that the tabernacle may be back in service before Sunday.

Removing the Tabernacle, November 16, 2011

The original tabernacle was replaced because its door opened out – requiring everything at the center of the altar to be moved in order to open it.  The present tabernacle has a revolving door, that is, the door rotates into the tabernacle.  Vessels do not have to be moved for access – though great care must still be taken by those at the altar not to knock over a chalice.

The original tabernacle door was made into an “urn” for reposing the Sacrament for the night after the Maundy Thursday liturgy – one of two urns the parish has that are designed for this purpose.  This original door depicts Mary, seated in heaven, holding the child Jesus.  She and Jesus are wearing crowns, surrounded by angels.  In the foreground, the wise men are also shown, kneeling, offering their gifts.  The one offering incense is actually using a thurible, assisted by someone holding his cape – much as a server assists the officiant with his or her cope at the censing of the Sacrament at Benediction.

Great honor is shown to Mary in this design; great honor is also shown to the Eucharist.  This is not remarkable or surprising to us today, but these were on the cutting edge of the Church’s understanding of God’s work among us when the original altar and tabernacle were given in 1872.  This altar, but not its reredos, was moved to the present church in 1895.

I learned from Mr. Rambusch that their firm had done the design scheme which was used for the painting of the church in 1997.  It’s just brilliant.  Nicholas Krasno in A Guide to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin New York City (New York, 1999) writes of the visual impression, “The details and precise colors of the repainting have been taken over from the exposition throne over the church’s high altar . . . The importance of this carefully conceived scheme to a correct visual appreciation of the building can hardly be over-emphasized.  The architectural elements of the structure, and the placement and relationship of the additional artistic and devotional elements, are once again immeasurably enhanced: an effect fully intended by the architects one hundred years ago” (page 32).

The most prominent aspect of this design was taking the underside of the tabernacle canopy – blue background with gold stars – and using it for the ceiling of the church nave.  For me, this design expresses how Saint Mary’s has a new awareness of Christ’s Presence among his people.  The Baptized are the greater sign of God’s love and presence.

In the Revelation to John, John hears a loud voice proclaim, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).  Eastern Christian traditions have a strong sense of being united with that heavenly city when they come into their richly decorated churches for prayer.  The tabernacle is a sign to us of God’s presence among us – not just in the Eucharist, but in those he calls, like Jesus, his sons and daughters, the Baptized.  Saint Mary’s makes real in its own way the words of Jacob when he awoke from his dream, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:17).  Stephen Gerth


SPECIAL SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19 . . . The Reverend E. Clare Nesmith, priest-in-charge, Christ Church, Babylon – and former seminarian here, will hear confessions on Saturday, November 19, at 11:30 AM, officiate at the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM, and be celebrant and preacher for the 12:10 PM Mass . . . Confessions will not be heard today at 4:00 PM . . . The Reverend George W. Brandt, Jr., retired rector, Saint Michael’s Church, New York City, will officiate at Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM and be celebrant and preacher for the 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass.


The diocesan convention will meet on Saturday to elect a bishop coadjutor, that is, a bishop who will succeed the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk as bishop of New York when Bishop Sisk retires at some point in the future.  Father Smith, Deacon Weiner Tompkins and I vote in convention as resident clergy who are serving in active ministry.  Saint Mary’s congregation is represented by Steven Heffner and Leroy Sharer, who were elected delegates at the meeting of the congregation in May.  Please keep our diocese and our work in convention in your prayers.  S.G.


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2012 . . . We have received 74 pledges so far, 8 of them new pledges.  Our goal for the Campaign this year is $425,000.00.  $229,427.00 has been pledged to date, which is 54% of our goal.  We still have a ways to go.  Last year, 177 households made pledges to the parish.  Commitment Sunday is this coming Sunday, November 20.  Pledge cards may be offered at all the Masses on that day and we hope that many Saint Marians will do so.


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR James, Gerald, Dorothy, Richard, Sybil, Peter, Gilbert, Linda, Thomas, Jim, Sylvia, Janice, Peggy, Donald, Bob, Julia, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, Carlson, priest, and Paul, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Mark and Rob; and for the repose of the soul of Robert Fitzpatrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 20: 1886 Jennie Brisbane Schlesinger; 1892 George L. Parker; 1903 William Vanderbilt Kissam; 1913 Thomas McKee Brown, Jr.


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 WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, November 20, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Adult Education: Bible Studies – A Discussion of Genesis 25:18–36:43, the story of Jacob.  Led by Father Peter Powell . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 23 . . . Wednesday, November 23, The Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM; Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM; the parish offices are closed and only the noon services are offered . . . Mother E. Clare Nesmith will hear confessions at 11:30 AM on Saturday, November 19.  Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, November 26.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Gerald McKelvey underwent surgery on Wednesday, November 16.  As we go to press, we expect he is on his way home.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Congratulations to Peter Thompson who has been admitted as a postulant for ordination to the priesthood by the bishop of Washington.  Peter is a member of the congregation of the Washington National Cathedral and is an intern here during his senior year at Columbia University . . . David Jeffrey Buchanan and Maria Arias were married in the Lady Chapel on Friday, November 11.  Andrew Smith and Michael Hess were married in Toronto, Ontario, on Saturday, November 12.  Congratulations to them all . . . A Requiem Mass was celebrated in the Lady Chapel for Marie Mueller on Saturday, November 12 . . . Food and travel writer (and parishioner) Jane Daniels Lear writes in her blog this week on turkey gravy – a topic we think may be a very useful ministry to many this week . . . Thank you to Jim Dennis, Mary Robison, and José Vidal, who organized the new and prospective members reception last Monday.  Thank you also to parishioners Grace Bruni, Dick Leitsch, Rick Miranda, Randy Morgan, Dale Reynolds and Richard Theilmann, who were hosts and greeters at the reception. . . Donors are needed to sponsor the receptions on the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and on Epiphany (January 6).  Please contact Aaron Koch or Father Smith if you would like to make a donation . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 234.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is an improvisation on King of glory, King of peace, the hymn sung after Communion. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Communion Service in A minor by Harold Darke (1888–1976).  An English composer and organist, Darke was organist of Saint Michael’s Church, Cornhill, London for fifty years.  He was acting organist of King’s College, Cambridge, during the Second World War, substituting for Boris Ord.  The Mass was composed in 1967 for the choir of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus, a lively setting of text from Psalm 47, by Christopher Tye (c. 1505–c. 1572).  I underwent an operation to correct a deviated septum last Wednesday, and am healing mercifully quickly!  Many thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.  James Kennerley


ADULT EDUCATION ON NOVEMBER 20 . . . Father Peter Powell will be leading the final discussion on Genesis 12-50, which includes the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel and Joseph. This Sunday, the Adult Forum will discuss the story of Joseph, Genesis 37-50. This story differs from those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and is independent of them.  It serves the obvious purpose of getting the Hebrews to Egypt.  But it also speaks to a time very much like ours. Many scholars date it to the Court of Solomon.  It treats the issue of how we talk about God in a time in which everyone believed in God and no one expected God to act.  Pharaoh is powerless; Joseph's brothers are desperate, but God acts.  Nothing replaces reading the text but this week I invite you, if you have access, to listen to the soundtrack of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Google it and you can listen to it.  Join us at 10:00 AM on Sunday morning as we talk about how God works in a world that reduces divine action to our being God's hands.  God can work through us but these stories show that God will also act independently of us.


ADULT EDUCATION ON DECEMBER 4 . . . Deirdre Cornell will talk about her book American Madonna: Crossing Borders with the Virgin Mary.  Deirdre’s book is a meditation on Mexican narratives about Mary, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe.  That image plays such an important role in Mexican life and devotion and has travelled thousands of miles to the farms of upstate New York, the orchards of rural Georgia, and the meat-packing plants of Minnesota, where it is a source of inspiration, strength, and courage to thousands of workers, “who find in her an intimate witness to their daily struggles.”


PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, November 27, The First Sunday of Advent . . . Wednesday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM and Legacy Society Reception 7:00 PM . . . Thursday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception 7:30 PM.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . During November and December, we will be collecting new and gently used coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive.  The deadline is December 31.  If you would like to donate a coat, please speak to Father Smith or bring the coat with you on Sunday . . . We are also collecting toys and gifts, including gift cards, to donate to the New York Foundling Hospital.  The Hospital, located on Sixth Avenue in Chelsea works with children, teenagers, and families in need.  The deadline is December 16 . . . 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.  You may make a cash donation as well . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale on Sunday.  All proceeds are used to benefit the Food Pantry and others who are in need.


CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . December 1 and December 2 at 8:00 PM, and December 3 at 3:00 PM, Holiday Concert by The Choral Society, John Maclay, conductor.  Works by Gabrieli, Bernstein, Pärt, and favorite audience carols . . . Saturday, December 10, 8:00 PM, Miller Theater Early Music Series: Songs of Mary: A Christmas Celebration.  The Tallis Scholars, Peter Philips, director . . . Saturday, December 17, 8:00 PM New York Repertory Orchestra Annual Benefit.  David Leibowitz, music director.  Music by Chausson, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky.  Tickets are required.


AWAY FROM SAINT MARY’S . . . The Peccadillo Theater Company at the Theatre at Saint Clement’s presents a revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s classic and very funny play, The Man Who Came to Dinner.  Limited engagement, November 25-December 18.  Directed by Dan Wackerman.  Dan is a good friend of Saint Mary’s and often worships with us on Sunday mornings.  For reservations and tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.thepeccadillo.comThe Theater has very kindly offered Saint Marians and their friends discounted tickets.  When ordering tickets, use the following code in order to get the discount: PTCCH.