The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 8


Tuesday night, January 11, as I walked home from dinner with friends on Tenth Avenue, snow had been falling and was still falling.  Down the avenue, I saw three or four snow sanitation trucks fitted with snow plows start to barrel up the street – Mayor Bloomberg clearly had decided there would be no failure this time to get the streets clear.  As I walked home, I saw something beautiful that I had never noticed before and I want to tell you about it.

The snow was falling.  The lights of the city were on, of course.  What I don’t ever recall noticing before was the kind of shadow pattern the snowflakes were making when there was a spotlight shooting straight down to the sidewalk.  The pattern seemed beautifully random.  In a sense it was random, chaotic.  When the snowflakes reached the ground, whatever individual shadow or pattern they had had, of course, disappeared.

For reasons I don’t understand, it is very improbable for two snowflakes ever to be identical.  But there is no snow without countless individual snowflakes.  The city lights gave me a new view.  I had had a wonderful evening with friends that helped my eyes be open to what I was seeing.  Even though it was cold, I double-backed a couple of times just to walk again under the kind of lights that were producing what was for me something new.  The snow pattern made me smile.  I thought about the city and I began to think about our parish.

Saint Mary’s is very much a part of many larger wholes, as it were.  Its own uniqueness, like the individuality of every parish, contributes to the whole of the Church.  I often wish for more parishes to be like ours – doors open, all welcome, the regular services of the Church offered (please note that I don’t mention liturgical style) – but other communities have other vocations.  I have been blessed in my life to be led to and to be a part of Christian communities where worship has been central, traditional, and forward looking.

I don’t mean to push the snowflake thing too far as a point of reflection, but every individual is a unique human being, even genetically identical twins.  Many different people go into making up this parish.  It’s helpful, I think, to remember that the root meaning of the word “church” is “called out.”  It doesn’t refer in the New Testament to an institution, but the people who have been “called out” of this life to share in the new life of Christ.  Saint Mary’s is very much a part of the mix that helps make up the community of Christians who have been called together to be the Episcopal Church.

There have been many joys already this winter in our parish community.  Yet the wider reality of our human condition is always at the center of the parish’s daily prayer.  We live in a world where some people kill in what they believe to be God’s name; we live in a world where tragedy and evil strike.  We cannot explain even the ordinary frailty of human life.  Our Prayer Book speaks of “joyful expectation” in the burial rite (page 481).  I am thankful for the joy that comes our way in this life.  I share, I hope with you, a joyful expectation of eternal life in the world to come.  Final thought: one way to describe John the Divine’s final heavenly vision is a “city church”, an assembly of people “called out” into this new place.  No snow, but in John’s vision those called out sing; the angels burn the incense.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, Sharon, Perry, Craig, Erika, Grace, Rebecca, Adam, Everett, João, Alan, Chris, Daisy, Rolf, Gert, William, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Nicholas and Christine; and for the repose of the soul of Sophy . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 16: 1873 Georgianna Hempstead; 1880 Elizabeth Karl; 1920 Clara Janes; 1931 Beatrice Trippe; 1955 Ada Evelyn Dellegar; 1976 Michael McGrath.


IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Sophy Toppin, mother of the Reverend Paulette Schiff, died on Monday, January 3.  Mother Schiff was an assisting priest at Saint Mary’s (and a regular celebrant for the Sunday Solemn Mass) from 1997 to 1999.  She and her husband Walter Schiff continue to be frequent visitors to the parish.  Please keep Sophy, Paulette, her family, and all who mourn in your prayers.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will not meet on Sunday, January 16 . . . Monday, January 17, is the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  We will keep our Federal holiday schedule that day.  The church will open at 10:00 AM, only the noon services will be offered; the church closes at 2:00 PM, and the parish offices will be closed . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on Tuesday, January 18, with the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter.  On this Major Feast Day, Mass will be offered at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Wednesday, January 19, at 6:30 PM . . .  The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes its regular schedule on Wednesday, January 19, meeting at 6:30 PM, after Evening Prayer . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, January 15, at 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM.  Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 22.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . A daughter was born to Craig Phillips and Erika Rauer on Sunday, January 9.  Craig and Erika were married here at Saint Mary’s.  They have named their daughter Grace . . . On Sunday, January 9, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism was administered to Louis Emery Eggleston Dobyns, grandson of the Reverend Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins and son of Emery Dobyns and Andra Eggleston . . . There will be an acolyte rehearsal to prepare for Candlemas on Sunday, January 30, at 12:45 PM . . . James Kennerley is away from the parish this week, vacationing in England.  He is also there to have a required work permit affixed to his passport.  We are hopeful he will return to the parish on Wednesday, January 19.  His return may be delayed a few days by the need for the U.S. Embassy in London to return his passport . . . Altar flowers are needed for February 13 and 20 and for March 6.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish January 25-28 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 208.


CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION TRAINING . . . A we go to press, five people have signed up for the CPR training to be conducted on Saturday, January 29, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  The course will be held at Emergency Skills, Inc., 350 Seventh Avenue (at 29th Street) Suite 504.  A minimum of three more are needed to give Saint Mary’s a total of eight trained persons.  The State of New York requires this minimum for an institution like ours.


Parishioner Clint Best who works for the Office of Emergency Preparedness, NYC Department of Aging, writes, “After supervising hundreds of AED trainings by Emergency Skills, Inc., I can assure you the course is very non-threatening.  The trainers are highly skilled and understand the natural anxiety most people experience in learning CPR/AED skills.  Through years of experience, the American Heart Association has developed a simple sequence of steps in performing CPR that is very easy to learn.  There is no written test, only a demonstration of skills so the instructor can certify candidates have mastered the necessary skills.”


Again, three more people are needed.  If you are interested, please let me know.  Thank you.  S.G.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . At the Solemn Mass on Sunday, music is sung by Linda Jones, soprano; Guadalupe Peraza, mezzo soprano; Jonathon Hampton, tenor; and Matthew Barnson, bass.  Parishioner Mark Peterson directs the choir and plays the organ.  The prelude is Fantasia in C minor, BWV 537, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd (1543-1623).  The motet is Magi viderunt stellam by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) . . . On Sunday at 4:40 PM, the organ recital will be played by Griffin McMahon of Longmeadow, Massachusetts.  He will play music of Bach and Mendelssohn.  Mark Peterson will play the service and Mr. McMahon will play the postlude.  James Kennerley


SAVE THE DATE . . . Super Bowl Sunday is February 6, and, once again, our Super Bowl party and potluck dinner will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall, beginning at 6:00 PM.  Grace Bruni has agreed to organize the event.  Details about the provision of food and beverages will follow shortly, but we hope that many Saint Marians and their friends will be able to join us for what is always a fun evening and a good opportunity to spend time together.  This is a wonderful way to introduce your friends to the parish.  (And, if truth be told, you can have a good time even if you don’t know anything about football!).  J.R.S.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet next on January 19 at 6:30, following Evening Prayer.  The class will be led by the sisters  . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 16, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will begin a three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission.  The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.”  Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century.  The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . Father Jay Smith will lead a five-part series on The History of the Bible in English (February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6) to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Please look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  J.R.S.


LOOKING AHEAD . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on Tuesday, January 18, the Confession of Saint Peter and ends on Tuesday, January 25, the Conversion of Saint Paul.  Masses will be offered at 12:10 and 6:20 PM both days . . . Wednesday, February 2, the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (“Candlemas”), 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.  The preacher will be the Right Reverend Peter James Lee, XII Bishop of Virginia.  A reception follows the Solemn Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Thursday, February 3, is the Feast of Saint Blase.  The Blessing of Throats will be offered at the 12:10 PM Mass and after Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, February 6, 6:00 PM, Super Bowl Party in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Saturday, February 12, ordination of our seminarian Thomas Remington Slone to the diaconate at the annual convention of the Diocese of Georgia to be held in Valdosta, Georgia.




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