In January I had a meeting with Father Shin and with Chuck Carson and Winston Deane, who had been assigned to serve as MCs at the liturgy on Candlemas. These things just don't happen and I've expressed before how thankful I am for the great love and work given by so many to worship in this parish church. There were lots of details to discuss and I'm glad we discussed them. The liturgy turned out to be wonderful in so many ways. I haven't yet really had a chance to write about a change I made in the pattern of censing and that's what I want to tell you about today.
We knew that there would be three bishops present for Candlemas and the parish clergy would be in choir. It would be possible for the censing at the offertory to have gone on almost for ever. Time was not an issue. The issues were proportion, liturgical flow and meaning.
The previous pattern would have meant individually censing the bishop-celebrant, the vicar bishop, the bishop-preacher, the subdeacon, the rector, the assistant and each of the assisting members of the clergy in choir and then all of the altar servers. Then, the pattern would have been for the thurifer to give the congregation three simple swings. Something seemed wrong to me with this picture. Why should the servants of the assembly receive more honor than the assembly?
There are always liturgical books to be consulted. Older books gave elaborate directions for censing - the pattern that has been in use here. Newer books say simply when a priest is celebrant, "If incense is used, he [celebrant] incenses the gifts and altar. The minister [without specifying lay or ordained] incenses the priest and people." When a bishop is celebrant, the bishop is censed, then any concelebrants, then the people. Directions about how to swing the thurible and the number of times to swing the thurible are no longer given.
It seems to me that ceremonies of censing should not be out of proportion to the rest of the liturgy; there should be some balance both in terms of time and richness. The ritual associated with the preparation of the gifts should not overwhelm the prayer of consecration. More important, it seems to me that the servants of the assembly, the altar servers and clergy, should not receive more honor than the assembly, again, whose servants they are.
This is what we are doing for the present. The altar is censed at the beginning in the traditional way. At the preparation of the gifts, the bread and wine and the altar are censed in the traditional way. [No bow but directly: Over the bread and wine, 3 crosses, 3 circles - 2 counterclockwise, one clockwise; For the altar, bow to the cross, 3 doubles to the cross, bow, to the right side three swings on the top of the altar table, two circles on the corner - the "horns" of the altar, three circles as one returns to the center, bow, three to the top of the altar table, two circles on the corner, three circles back to the center, then back to the left, three big circles in front of the altar, bow, and three final big ones as one moves right.]
Then, the deacon will give the celebrant three double swings, and the subdeacon one double swing. The deacon then moves to the chancel, faces all of the servers and censes them as a group, two to the left, two to the right, two to the center.
Finally, the deacon turns, bows to the assembly and then walks down the main aisle censing all of the congregation as he or she goes. When the censing of the assembly is complete, the deacon returns to the chancel, bows again to the assembly, goes to the altar and receives two double swings from the thurifer before we proceed to the eucharistic prayer.
I write this with some hesitation because I am loath to contribute to an inappropriate focus on liturgical detail, but it is something I know many members of the community care about deeply. The change has been received so far with only positive comments. What I hope you appreciate is my concern for flow and for meaning. I think it is important that the liturgy continue to evolve as our understanding grows. The pattern Saint Mary's took a century ago from nineteenth century Roman Catholic models grew out of an era when congregations never experienced their presence at Mass as in any way essential to the action. The pattern also did not articulate the relationship between clergy and people well. I am also aware that because of the length of our nave, there is now even more incense during Solemn Mass at Saint Mary's. That couldn't be the reason why people have told me they like this change and don't want to go back, could it?
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Jack and Gloria who are to have surgery and for Jacob, George, Carol, Olga, Helen, Jack, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah and Dawn . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 20: 1985 Theresa Anne Furlong; February 23: 1999 George Everston Dix; February 26: 1994 Milledge Polo Mosley.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 43:18-25, Psalm 32:1-8, 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, Mark 2:1-12 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin . . .. On Saturday, February 19, Father Shin will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, February 26, Canon Garrison will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Flowers are needed for this Sunday and next Sunday. If you would like to give them please call the parish office today! . . . The parish will observe its "Federal Holiday Schedule" on Monday, February 21. There will be one service only that day, the 12:15 PM Mass . . . Father Shin took Holy Communion this past week to two of our shut-ins, Bertha Horne and Thomas Haines. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Father Marc and Jennifer Burnette's new son, Jacob, has had serious heart surgery and more surgery is to come. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Your donations towards the maintenance of coffee hour are most appreciated and needed! . . . The Altar Servers will meet on Friday, February 25, in Saint Joseph's Hall to prepare for Lent and Holy Week and to organize to serve a parish brunch on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, March 5. Please let Father Shin know if you will not be able to attend. Supper will be served at the meeting . . . Attendance last Sunday: 159.
BROTHER LAWRENCE GUILD . . . George Blackshire, after many years of service, has asked that a new chair for the Brother Lawrence Guild be appointed. The Rector has asked Jim Dennis to be the new chair. The Brother Lawrence Guild is the group responsible for our community hospitality and fellowship after the Solemn Mass on Sundays and feast days. Lots of people step forward to help with these occasions. More are always welcome. Let Jim know of your interest.
CONSORTIUM OF ENDOWED EPISCOPAL PARISHES . . . The Rector and the Parish Treasurer, Barbara Klett, will be attending the annual meeting of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes in San Francisco on February 23 - February 26. They are attending at the suggestion of the Reverend Canon Carl Gerdau, canon to the Presiding Bishop, and a former member of Saint Mary's. (We are delighted too that Canon Gerdau will be guest preacher at the Solemn Mass on Pentecost.) The Rector will be attending workshops on stewardship and the treasurer will be attending workshops on the management of our endowment. Because of the airline ticket pricing scheme requiring a Saturday night stay the Rector will not return in time for the Sunday Masses on February 26.
CAVEMAN COMETH . . . A film company will be using Saint Mary's as the "cover set" in inclement weather during the next two weeks. If it starts raining or snowing it is possible that you may suddenly find a weekday Mass or Office in a side chapel and lots of folks and equipment inside the church. Do not be alarmed; be thankful for the contribution they are making to reducing our operating deficit. There will be no inappropriate or disrespectful behavior in the church and the company is being generous. The film is called "The Caveman's Valentine" and stars Samuel Jackson.
SUMMARY OF FEBRUARY 14, 2000, BOARD MEETING . . . At its February meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Heard from the Treasurer, Mrs. Barbara Klett, that signed pledges for the year 2000 now total about $148,000. 2. Approved an expenditure for installation of a local computer network at the Church complex, including hardware (a server and three new workstations) and software. 3. Learned that the Nursery renovation will be completed shortly. 4. Learned that Father Andrew Mead, Rector of St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, will preach on our Patronal Feast, the Immaculate Conception, on December 8, 2000. 5. Heard that Mr. George Blackshire, a member of the Board of Trustees, will step down from his position as head of the Brother Lawrence Guild, which provides hospitality. There will be a parish party in Mr. Blackshire’s honor after the Solemn Mass on the Eve of the Annunciation, March 24, 2000. Bishop Taylor will preside at the Mass.
GUILD OF ST. IVES . . . Bishop Grein has asked the parish office to forward to his office the names of the attorneys in the congregation so that he can invite them to attend the Law Day Eucharist to be held at Saint Paul's Chapel, Manhattan, on Monday, May 8th at 5:00 PM and a reception following at the New York County Lawyers' Association. We want to be sure to include your name in the list we give to Bishop Grein. Please let the parish office know if you are an attorney. Thank you.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar for the Eighth Week after the Epiphany
Monday Weekday (President's Day Holiday - One Mass only at 12:15 PM)
Wednesday Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr, & Eve of Saint Matthias
Thursday Saint Matthias the Apostle
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.