More than One Thing
The most obvious changes that occurred in the wake of the adoption of a new Prayer Book in 1979 were experienced in our worship. The theological movement of our common worship also affected our understanding of the Church. Especially in the areas of Baptism and membership. The Book of Common Prayer states simply, "Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church."
Slowly this understanding is spreading in the Church and changing the Church. After the adoption of this Prayer Book the canons (church word for rules) were changed so that membership in the Episcopal Church happens by baptism in this Church or by having the fact of one's baptism recorded in the register of an Episcopal parish - notice that Christians from other denominations do not become members by being "confirmed" or "received" as was the previous practice.
There has been an effort abroad to save confirmation just as there has been an effort to save first holy communion. Both practices, a distinct initiation rite of confirmation and a childhood rite of first Holy Communion, were basically unknown to the Church until the Middle Ages. Since then a great industry has grown up to support and justify these enterprises. But it's pretty clear that the folks who gave us the Church and gave us the Bible would not recognize a rite of baptism as needing a further something called confirmation to be complete. The idea of baptism not including admission to communion is something that would have made no sense to Saint Augustine of Hippo despite the protestations of medieval and modern apologists for the practice. You have to take the chalice away from the laity - and thus communion from infants - to have a pattern where you can invent first holy communion.
We have been conditioned to think of the pouring of water in the name of the Trinity as the essential rite of Baptism. It is an impoverished way of looking at the mystery and it only makes sense if you are worried about God's wrath if you were to do it wrong, if you are fighting about how to do Baptism or if you were only interested in Baptism as a drill for personal or social or whatever reasons to be accomplished as quickly as possible. Holy Baptism in its origin grows out of the experience of a community dying and rising in Christ and inviting others to join that death and resurrection. It is always more than one thing.
Holy Communion is not just the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. Yes, of course, it is that. But of course it is always much more unless one's view of the Sacrament is reductionistic in the most unfortunate ways. In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd the catechist is taught to be very careful about the way in which he or she answers a child's question. What is the Holy Communion? It is not just the Body of Christ; it is so much more, or as one child once answered, "The very heart of God." Life is very rich and almost always things mean more than one thing. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Dennis, Jack, Carol, Olga, Helen, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn, Bryn and James . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 12: 1961 Muriel Dorothy Blaine; March 15: 1969 Peter Chan; March 18: 1947 Howard Noble Place, 1965 Marie Louise Barreaux.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 2:4b-9,15-17,25 - 3:7, Psalm 51:1-13, Romans 5:12-21, Matthew 4:1-11 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: The Rector . . . On Saturday, March 11, Father Shin will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, March 18, Canon Garrison will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Stations of the Cross & Benediction at the Church of the Transfiguration on Friday, March 17, at 7:00 PM . . . Sunday Morning Bible Study: The class will study Romans during Lent and Easter. Father Breidenthal and Father Shin will alternate leading this class. The class starts this Sunday and will meet in Father Shin's office in the Parish House . . . As we go to press, Dennis Smith has gone home from the hospital and is doing well. A number of parishioners were able to see him in the hospital . . . "A Model Sinner", a new film, will be shooting here on Friday, March 10 . . . The Rector will be on vacation Tuesday, March 14, through Wednesday, March 22 . . . The Board of Trustees will have an extended meeting on Monday evening, March 13, with the Reverend Charles Fulton, president of the Episcopal Church Building Fund . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 158, Ash Wednesday 520 at Masses.
ASH WEDNESDAY IN NEW YORK . . . Father Shin and I are going to sit down tomorrow, Thursday after Ash Wednesday, to make some notes for next year. One of the things I didn't appreciate before today was the New York City phenomenon of churches offering ashes continuously all day. On the face of it, I confess I didn't like the way it sounds or what it says theologically. The imposition of ashes apart from Mass seems to turn an essentially corporate act of penitence into something individualistic. However, after both of the Masses I celebrated this morning I returned to the rail to distribute ashes because there were people waiting for ashes. After the noon Mass which Fr. Shin celebrated I distributed ashes continuously until 2:00 PM when Fr. Shin returned to relieve me. I observed that some people do just come in and out for ashes but most of them stop to pray, some for a very long time. Next year will have a full complement of clergy and ushers for the noon Mass, our biggest liturgy. Frankly, we couldn't begin to count all of the people who were here just for ashes. Kevin Farley served all the morning Masses. Our sextons on duty, Lazaro Terron and Augustin Terron, did a great job on a long day. Thanks to Canon Garrison who took the 10:00 AM Mass and Father Edward Sunderland, a new friend of Saint Mary's, who took the 11:00 AM and assisted at the 12:00 PM Mass. On Tuesday before Ash Wednesday we decided to do a Mass booklet for all of the low Masses. It was very helpful and we are thankful for a number of people who were here for the 20/30s Mardi Gras Party for putting them together. George and Helena Handy and Rosanne Valeri did the Solemn Mass bulletins. We have a folding sign on 46th Street; we are going to have a second one for 47th Street. The 47th Street door was open for the day and people came in and out and more will come in next year when we have some proper signage on that side of the church. Many thanks to all who helped Saint Mary's be a place of prayer and of service to our community on the First Day of Lent. S.G.
THE LITANY & OTHER THINGS . . . This is the deal. I promise you we will do the Great Litany on the First, Second and Fourth Sundays in Advent 2000, but we will not be doing the Great Litany before the Solemn Mass during Lent. If you don't like the Litany, then I have not caused a problem for you. If you do like the Litany, I ask that you trust me and look forward to experiencing a Lenten liturgy close to its historic catholic roots. I think you will find a new depth to Lent and to your personal acts of discipline and self-denial because our common worship will focus so clearly on the central and great mystery of the faith, the Paschal Mystery. In addition, the Solemn Masses will begin with the congregation and choir singing the Opening Acclamation and Kyrie eleison from Missa Orbis Factor. (In one of the very few serendipitous accidents of layout in The Hymnal 1982, these are right next to each other.) The choir will be singing a choral setting for Sanctus and Agnus Dei each Sunday. There will not be a sprinkling with holy water during the entrance song during Lent - we are preparing for Baptism - but there will be water in the holy water stoops. I'm sure there are other details, but I hope I have provided enough so that the direction is generally clear and that you will be able to come to the liturgy without being surprised. S.G.
BIBLE BASICS CLASS . . . Father Allen Shin will lead a one-session class on the Bible this coming Saturday, March 18, from 10:00 AM to 11:50 AM in Saint Benedict's Study. How and when was the Bible written? Is the Bible myth or truth? How can I make the Bible relevant in my life? Some answers on Saturday.
This week at Saint Mary’s
Sunday 10:00 AM The Rector's Class
10:00 AM Sunday Morning Bible Study
1:00 PM Journey in Faith
Wednesday 7:00 PM Paschal Mystery: Approaches New and Old
Friday 7:00 PM Stations of the Cross & Benediction
at the Church of the Transfiguration
Saturday 10:00 AM Bible Basics Class
The Calendar for the Last Week after the Epiphany
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
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.