A few weeks ago Father Shin and I met with the parish musicians and part of our sacristy leadership team to begin to look at the liturgies for Holy Week and Lent. I know I will be whining in June about how long the season is (Corpus Christi is the last Sunday in June), but right now I am delighted to have a relatively late start to Lent.
At this time a year ago I was brand new as your rector, Holy Week was on the early side, and we were very busy working on the service of institution for the ninth rector. At our recent meeting as we reviewed draft copies of the liturgy bulletins it was interesting to see what individuals remembered or didn’t remember about what we did or didn’t do last year. I claimed several times that I didn’t recall doing things a particular way or recall doing things differently than my predecessor. It was obvious to me that people had been very understanding of me as I was trying to find my way last year. I have thanked people before for this, and it is not inappropriate for me to say thank you again.
The meetings weren’t really to change things for Lent and Holy Week but to get the details right: were there enough palms on Palm Sunday; discussion of where to place the brass and choristers during the palm procession, how to help the congregation sing. Maundy Thursday: monstrance for the procession of the host again this year? Should there be an anthem or motet during communion? Should the congregation participate in the singing of Psalm 22 during the stripping of the altar or should they be able just to watch? Let’s get the sign-up sheet for the Watch up no later than 4 Lent.
Good Friday seemed to present the fewest problems though there were questions here too. Now where do we hold Morning Prayer on Good Friday? Stations are offered at 6:00 PM, but Evening Prayer is not.
We are purchasing a new music software which will enable us to put the music we need into the service leaflets in ways tailored to the particular needs of our community in our building. (Rule Number 1 of Liturgical Planning: The Building Always Wins.)
The Great Vigil of Easter is the culmination of the Easter Triduum and the richest liturgy of the church year. Here memories were searched and books were brought out to be consulted. The question “Why?” was repeated many times and we were not always sure there were answers. Concerns about controlling and using our house lights during the liturgy. Why do the presiding ministers sit in the chancel and not the sedilia for the first past of the service? How many prophecies? How do we coordinate the lighting of the candles before the singing of Gloria in excelsis?
Some Decisions: On Palm Sunday and on Easter Day there will be no 10:00 AM or 5:00 PM Low Masses. On Palm Sunday there will be a Blessing of the Palms & Said Mass at 9:00 AM. On Easter Day there will be a simple Sung Mass with Hymns at 9:00 AM. And on both Palm Sunday and Easter Day there will be Solemn Evensong & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 5:00 PM. Yes, the Office of Tenebrae will be sung on Wednesday night in Holy Week. Yes, confessions after the Good Friday Liturgy.
We also spent some time talking about how we sing the Minor Propers. There are four of them, the entrance song, the verse before the Gospel, the song at the preparation of the gifts and the communion song. These come to us from the classic Western liturgy and were among the first part of the great liturgical tradition recovered by Anglo-catholics in the nineteenth century.
They are from the Latin tradition and we are going to experiment with having the choir sing them in Latin during Lent. Often it is simply hard for the words in English to be understood over the tones. I want to see if the words are easier to understand when they are in Latin. The group agreed that it is worth trying.
The biggest and most substantial change this year is of course that we are preparing for Holy Baptism at Easter. This will change the whole character of our Lenten observance. The greatest of the liturgical reforms of the second half of the twentieth century was not the change in language in the rites of the Church but in the recovery of Baptism as the center of mission and life for a Christian community. I have great confidence in the catechumenal rites.
As we go to press, I am still not sure how we will make use of the Great Litany this Lent given the character of the catechumenal rites. (I already know a lot of you love it, a lot of you don't like it and a lot of you don't care - and I appreciate knowing this. Right now what I am trying to do is to figure out if the Litany will work with the catechumenal rites and whether it should be used on Sundays when these rites are celebrated - and if you have something to contribute to this issue I would find it helpful to have a note from you.) Stay tuned. I can tell you that we are going to revert to historic catholic practice with regard to the organ. In Lent there will be no voluntaries before or after Mass and the organ will be used only to support singing as needed, except on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, when traditionally rose vestments are worn and the austerity of the season is relaxed.
What it's really all about is living and sharing the life of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. There's something very special about the character of Lent in an Anglo-catholic parish. Our common life is different, and it's more than the hymns and vestment colors. We are truly privileged this year to be preparing for the Easter event, for Christ dying and rising in our midst in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Sacrament of Easter, the Easter Event. Remember, Easter is not the occasion for Holy Baptism; Holy Baptism is the Easter Event. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Jack, Dennis and James who are hospitalized and for Carol, Olga, Helen, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn and Bryn.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 9: 1951 Leonore H. Hibbard; 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen; March 10: 1962 John Jarvis Beach; 1989 Marion Campbell Jr.; March 11, 1994 Virginia Greene.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 1 Kings 19:9-18, Psalm 27:5-11, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Mark 9:2-9 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Breidenthal, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . .. On Saturday, March 4, Father Gerth will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, March 11, Father Shin will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Starting this Sunday, March 5, Morning Prayer will be at 8:30 AM . . . As we go to press on Thursday morning, March 2, Dennis Smith is having heart bypass surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. Please keep him in your prayers . . . James Crawford, a member of Saint Mary's who lives in Ashville, North Carolina is recovering from back surgery . . . The Rector's young cousin, Jack Matthews, is completing a cycle of chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is scheduled to return home in Chesapeake, Virginia on Friday. We expect Jack to be back for a bone marrow transplant in April . . . Attendance last Sunday:.153.
MARDI GRAS FOR 20s & 30s . . . Our fellowship will take place on Tuesday evening at 7:00, March 7, in Saint Joseph’s hall, featuring Sr. Helena Marie C.H.S. on the piano, high-calorie food, great music, fun and games, and an honest conversation – all without guilt. Please let us know you are coming by calling the parish office 212-869-5830 by Friday, March 3.
Stations & Benediction
Fridays in Lent
with the Church of the Transfiguration.
This Friday, March 10, at Saint Mary's, 7:00 PM.
This week at Saint Mary’s
Sunday 10:00 AM The Rector's Class
12:30 PM Carnival Brunch
Journey in Faith will not meet today.
Tuesday 7:00 PM Mardi Gras Party for 20s/30s
Ash Wednesday Said Masses at 7, 8, 9,10, 11, 12
6:00 PM Solemn Mass
Friday 7:00 PM Stations of the Cross & Benediction
at Saint Mary's
The Calendar for the Last Week after the Epiphany
Tuesday Perpetua & Companions, Martyrs
Wednesday The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday Strict Fast & Abstinence
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Special Lenten Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent
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.