Easter in the Ordinary
Easter this year was different for me. There was something extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary routines of the Triduum and Easter Day. Much of it has to do with the new catechumenate process, the Rite of Christian Initiation or Journey in Faith as we have named it.
The journey began quietly and maybe even timidly last fall. No one knew what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never done this before. Everyone in the class began at different spiritual places in life. One came to “find my place in God’s community.” Another came back to this journey because “I couldn’t hear anything in the church any more.” And yet another joined the class because “I was churchless.” I was to lead this journey and found myself overcome by a sense of inadequacy. Do I know my place in God’s community any clearer than these persons? What do I hear in the church and what am I supposed to convey to them? Soon we became companions in this journey. No one led anyone else. We told each other stories of our lives — life’s joys and sorrows, its unexpected turns and corners, the should-haves and the shouldn’t-haves. There were moments of tears and laughter, but none insignificant and embarrassing, because they were moments of truth, moments of revelation of God’s presence in life.
During Lent, as various rituals were carried out for Angela, our baptismal candidate, our journey became more intense and deliberate. There was a real anticipation of death and resurrection among the participants. In fact everything we had done in the class pointed to that experience. And it all came together on the Great Vigil of Easter. We had studied the lessons of the vigil prophecies. Now we heard them for the first time in their liturgical context. Our journey in faith thrust us through the threshold of death and resurrection into a new life. We glimpsed the extraordinary in our ordinary life. Easter in the ordinary!
“The Christian paradigm is death and resurrection.” This is how Louis Weil, professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA, began one of his lectures at a seminar called, the Magic of Ritual, which I attended at the College of Preachers in March. In the blurring memory of many wise and important things said and done at the seminar, this particular statement has stood out in my mind. As the people of the Resurrection community, it seems logical enough that Christians live in such a paradigm. However, this is a simple truth about Christian life we often forget and overlook. Even more challenging is how we organize and live out our common life as the church, the Body of Christ.
Liturgy takes us out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. As such, the liturgical act does not stop with the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. It extends into our lives as Christians. In fact, the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist is the beginning that compels us to live out our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. It captures our imagination to envision the beauty of holiness in every life. It inspires us to search within ourselves for the gift of who we are and offer that gift for the extraordinary work of building up the Body of Christ.
St. Mary’s has a rich heritage of liturgical tradition. However, a tradition has a danger of being trapped in the past. Though glorious and rich it may be, if the tradition remains a thing of the past and does not help us look forward into the future, it is no longer a living tradition. The challenge for this parish is not how perfectly we put on the liturgical performance (we already do that well) but rather how we rebuild this parish community. How do we truly become a liturgical community in every facet of our common life?
Easter this year was different for me. I think it was different for many people. There was a genuine sense of death and resurrection experience at the Great Vigil. This is a new beginning and there is yet so much work to be done. Five stale loaves of bread and two dried-up fishes were once offered to make a miracle. It is through the ordinary people like us that God makes the extraordinary happen. God is waiting to make a miracle here at St. Mary’s. What do you bring to make it happen?
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jack who is hospitalized, James, Carol, Olga, Helen, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn, Bryn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Ronald, André, Edgar, Helen, Beatrice, Timothy and Marilyn. . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 15: 1981 James Thomas Gordon; May 16:1960 Minnie Packard Rounds, 1992 John Francis Arnold; May 18: 1949 Don Patterson.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 4:23-37, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:1-8, John 10:11-16 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Breidenthal, Preacher: Richard Lawson; 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 13, by Father Shin and on May 20 by Canon Garrison.
AROUND THE PARISH . . .. . . The Board of Trustees meets this Tuesday, May 16, at 7:00 PM . . Our Wednesday evening series continues in St. Benedict's Study, at 7:00 PM. The topic this week is "Jesus the Jew" led by Father Breidenthal. . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training course meets on Saturday, May 20, from 9:00 PM to 3:00 PM . . .Congratulations are in order for Mary Haddad, who will graduate from General Theological Seminary on Wednesday, May 17. Mary will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on June 10 in the Diocese of Los Angeles, but will be returning to New York to continue her graduate studies at General Seminary. . . Flowers are needed for May 28 and the first three Sundays in June. You may give flowers by calling the parish office of by signing the sheet in Saint Joseph’s Hall. . . .Attendance last Sunday: 210.
A WONDERFUL INVITATION . . . The Churchwardens and Vestry of Saint Bede’s Church, Syosset, request your presence at the Institution of the Reverend William Curtis Parker as fourth rector of the parish on Saturday, May 20, 2000, at 11:00 AM. Luncheon follows in the parish house. RSVP 516-921-0755.
This week at Saint Mary’s
10:00 AM The Rector's Class in Saint Benedict's Study
1:00 PM Journey in Faith in Saint Benedict's Study
(Concluding session for this season.)
9:00 AM Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in Saint Joseph's Hall
7:00 PM Jesus of History and Faith in Saint Benedict's Study
The Calendar for the Fourth Week of Easter
Monday Easter Weekday
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Dunstan, archbishop Abstinence Dispensed
Saturday Easter Weekday
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.