Holy Week Notes
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday . . . The principal liturgy is at 11:00 AM. We will be generous with the distribution of palms. I encourage you to be willing to share them with persons we will pass in Times Square who ask for them. There will be more palms in the church if you give all of yours away. Despite the solemnity of the day, there is an element of purposeful joy in the procession. Don't try to impose a sense of northern European order on Mediterranean devotions. When you return to the church you will find the aisles strewn with palms; this is where the Body of Christ walks. A Solemn Mass of the Passion follows the Liturgy of the Palms and the Procession. The Sunday before Easter was the original "Good Friday." In the fourth century the elaboration of Holy Week rites we know today began to be developed. The day's evening palm liturgy began to be affixed to the morning Mass of the Passion in the Middle Ages - so that people did not have to come to church twice on Sunday! However, at Saint Mary's you have the opportunity to worship here twice as we will be having Solemn Evensong & Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction at 5:00 PM. There will be a Blessing of Palms and Mass in the Lady Chapel at 9:00 AM; but there will be no 10:00 AM or 5:00 PM Masses today (or on Easter Day).
Wednesday in Holy Week . . . The monastic office of Tenebrae ("shadows") will be sung by the choir at 7:00 PM. Eventually the church is entirely dark and the Allegri setting of Psalm 51 will be sung by the choir from the Lady Chapel. It is not a necessary liturgy of Holy Week, but it is a lovely one and one which many people find to be powerful and introspective preparation for the liturgies of the Easter Triduum. (And this year the dimming of the lights will be carried out properly.)
Maundy Thursday . . . Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 AM. This is the only service at the church during the day. Lent ends tonight at sunset as Holy Thursday begins. Evening Prayer is said only by those who do not participate in the public worship of the Church. The title for the liturgy tonight is "The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper." After the sermon all are invited to participate in the Washing of Feet. A person will have his or her feet washed, then he or she will wash the feet of the next person. All who wish to participate will have the opportunity to do so. By ancient catholic tradition the monetary offering of the Church on Maundy Thursday is entirely for the poor. Your written suggestions for the dispersal of the gift are invited. Bread and wine will be consecrated for the ministration of Communion on Good Friday. At the end of the liturgy this Eucharist is carried in solemn procession to an altar of repose that will have been set up in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy. There is a Watch through the night. A member of the parish who is a security guard will be on duty through the night. The easternmost of the 46th Street doors will be open all night.
Good Friday . . . The Watch in the Chapel continues until "The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord" at 12:30 PM. Morning Prayer will be said at the High Altar at 8:30 AM. Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. Again this year there will be no sermons before or after the liturgy; there will be a sermon during the liturgy. We will just offer the historic solemn liturgy of the day at 12:30 PM. Evening Prayer is not said publicly and in catholic tradition is said privately only by those who are unable to participate in the public liturgy of the Church on this day. Stations of the Cross will be said at 6:00 PM, especially for those who are not able to participate in the liturgy of the day.
Easter Eve . . . The Great Vigil of Easter will be celebrated beginning at 7:00 PM. We are honored that the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher. Bishop Griswold presided here in 1998 at the entire Easter Triduum. It is truly extraordinary our parish should be the place the presiding bishop presides at the Vigil.
This is the Easter service of the Church. Saint Mary's, since its founding, has been in the forefront of restoring and holding up the tradition of the Great Vigil. I suspect Bishop Griswold is the only presiding bishop ever to have done this here and that not many presiding bishops have regularly presided at this liturgy as bishops. In part this is because the Vigil only officially came into the American Church's liturgy with the approval of the new Prayer Book in 1979 - although Saint Mary's has been celebrating it since the early part of the century. (Father Louis Weil, who now teaches liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific but taught me at Nashotah, remembers attending the Vigil here on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM when he was a student at the General Theological Seminary. This was the custom here and elsewhere until liturgical reform arrived.)
Easter Eve 1982, when I was at Nashotah House, Bishop Michael Ramsey, retired archbishop of Canterbury, presided at the Vigil. It was the only occasion of his entire episcopate that he ever presided at this liturgy. (And it was an occasion when I first understood why a deacon and subdeacon escorted a celebrant in traditional solemn rites - Bishop Ramsey needed help to get around and that's what the deacon and subdeacon helped him do.)
It took two meetings with the MCs for me to realize that I didn't understand that it has been the custom at Saint Mary's to do the Vigil in the order it was done before the reforms of the 1960s. Some will recall this order: Service of Light, Vigil Prophecies, Sermon, Liturgy of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the other rites), Liturgy of the Word and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In fact, the Prayer Book lays out the Vigil in this order.
The morning after the second MCs meeting I called Father Louis Weil. He confirmed my thinking that the Vigil should be done in the reformed and ecumenical order: Service of Light, Vigil Prophecies, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Christian Initiation and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist. (Thus, the Liturgy of the Word comes before Baptism; in the old order it did not.) By putting the liturgy of the word and the sermon before the liturgies of the font and of the table we are invited to bring the whole proclamation of the history of the Kingdom of God in this world to the font and to the table. And this order also seems to bring the whole assembly to the font and to the table, not just those who are present to celebrate the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. Especially since the Presiding Bishop will be our celebrant I think it is important at least to try it this way.
The Great Vigil will be special this year in other ways as well. There is one adult Baptism - the Easter event! - and eleven others for Confirmation, Reception or Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant. The parish Easter Reception follows the liturgy. You will be sorry if you do not bring a small hand bell to the Vigil. Morning Prayer will be said at the High Altar at 8:30 AM. Evening Prayer is said only by those who are not able to attend the Great Vigil.
Easter Day . . . If the parish clergy have the voice to do so, they are going to sing a very simple setting of Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM at the High Altar. (This service when sung is called "Sung Matins.") At 9:00 AM there will be a simple Sung Mass with Hymns at the High Altar. At 11:00 AM will be the traditional Procession & Solemn Mass of the Day. (No coffee hour today following the 11:00 AM Mass!) At 5:00 PM Solemn Paschal Evensong & Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction will be offered. All the services are at the High Altar today; the only Masses will be the Sung Mass at 9:00 AM and the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.
Concluding Remarks . . . I want to thank everyone in the community who will help to make this week a powerful celebration of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and a powerful and public witness to this faith. The ministry of some will mean many, many hours of work on the behalf of others. The ministry of others will be simply to be here. In addition, I know that the prayers of our many friends and members who cannot be here will be supporting us through the week.
PRAYER LIST… Your prayers are asked for James, Mabel, Dennis, Carol, Olga, Helen, Jack, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Yamily, Dawn, Bryn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Ronald, André, Edgar, Helen, Marilyn and Beatrice . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 19: 1977 Gudrun Lagergren.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: At the Liturgy of the Palms: Mark 11:1-11a; At the Mass: Isaiah 45:21-25, Psalm 22:1-11, Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 14:32-15:47.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Beatrice Norling was hospitalized briefly last week. She is at home. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Mabel Hawkesworth-Lewis continues in rehabilitation at Long Island College Hospital. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Holy Week service cards will be included in the Passion Sunday bulletins. Extra cards are available at the ushers' table . . .Our seminarian, Richard Lawson, was selected as one of the students to represent General Seminary at The Annual Preaching Excellence Program in June. Congratulations, Richard! . . . We return now to Lectionary Year B for the Sunday Masses . . . Many thanks to all whose efforts are going to make possible a very rich celebration in Christ during Holy Week! Your parish clergy and staff are deeply appreciative of the enormous number of volunteer hours that go into supporting the common life of the parish community . . . Father Edward Sunderland will be present with us during Holy Week and helping at some of the weekday Masses, including the Tuesday 12:15 Mass when Father Gerth and Father Shin will be at the Cathedral for the Chrism Mass . . . Attendance last Sunday: 130.
This week at Saint Mary’s
8:30 am Morning Prayer
9:00 am Blessing of the Palms & Said Mass
11:00 am Blessing of the Palms, Procession through Times Square & Solemn Mass
5:00 pm Solemn Evensong & Benediction
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday
7:40 am Morning Prayer
8:00 am Mass
12:00 pm Noonday Office
12:15 pm Mass
6:00 pm Evening Prayer
6:20 pm Mass
7:00 pm Office of Tenebrae
8:30 am Morning Prayer
7:00 pm The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper - The Watch
8:30 am Morning Prayer
12:30 PM The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord - Confessions
6:00 PM Stations of the Cross
8:30 am Morning Prayer
7:00 pm The Great Vigil of Easter Reception
8:30 am Sung Matins
9:00 am Sung Mass
11:00 am Procession & Solemn Mass
5:00 pm Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction