In the 1970s the parish in the Diocese of Chicago that sent me to seminary used the modern Roman Rite, something that was uncommon among Anglo-catholics in the United States at the time but not uncommon among many Anglo-catholics in England. When I went to visit Nashotah House a student from my diocese, Randall Haycock, still a priest in Chicago, volunteered to show me around. When we went through the Red Chapel, the old, original chapel, he noticed me looking at the lectionary on the lectern. He said something like, “It’s the same one that you use at Saint Helena’s.” But at Nashotah, of course, they used the Prayer Book!
Most people at Nashotah House didn’t know or care about Saint Helena’s Church, Burr Ridge, Illinois. But I can recall a conversation with some folks in which Father Louis Weil, professor of liturgics, remarked quite seriously that it was a profound ecumenical witness. What it meant for me was that my formation for priesthood was shaped by The Book of Common Prayer 1928, The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (Rite I and Rite II), and the Sacramentary, The Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI. I functioned prayerfully in all of them. I was fed and can still be fed by all of them. And I believe my experience of all them has continued to direct me to fundamentals. What is, for example, the purpose of the Eucharistic Prayer? What do the words mean? Is Gloria in excelsis a song of praise or a regular drill? Why am I wearing these clothes? What am I doing with my hands? Does everyone in the assembly experience his or her presence as essential? Does anyone?
Among the reasons my liturgical formation was so strong at Nashotah House was the stability of the faculty during the 1970s when the new liturgical forms were being adopted and the Anglo-catholic background of almost all of the members of the faculty. They had the background and formation to appreciate the questions the new rites posed. I remember once hearing my classmate, John McCausland, a priest in the Diocese of New Hampshire who was preacher for my institution as rector of Saint Mary’s, saying something like, “Of course, the seminary liturgy should reflect the very best thinking about the liturgy.” To a great extent in the 1970s it did.
Looking back, so much was communicated in subtle ways. We were part of a community where the priests cared deeply about the details of the liturgy but in a way that got us past the details. I don’t think it was pointed out until Mass practice in our last term how a celebrant communicates with his or her body that the Eucharistic Prayer was addressed to the Father. We knew it already because that was the way it had been proclaimed daily (and most readers of this newsletter will be amazed that Nashotah House is and has been for a long time the only seminary in the Episcopal Church where students and faculty are required to attend Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Mass daily). I learned to care about the liturgy because my priests cared about the liturgy, not just the drill but the incarnate reality of the Christian community.
In addition, at Nashotah House a very great value was placed on how everyone participated. It was important to say and sing the words of common worship with the rest of the community, not slower or faster. It was important to say and sing the words loudly enough so that the people next to you could hear you but not so loud that you could be heard above others. We were one community, we were one body, we were brothers and sisters in Christ.
One of the things that I heard at seminary was that it would never be this way in the parish, that we couldn’t do in a parish what we did at seminary. I will not name the professor who used to say that but I have told him more than once he was wrong. A seminary community changes every year with the coming and going of faculty and students. A parish community has much more stability and people bring their lives to the worship and to each other year after year. This richness gives a depth of experience to the reality of Christ’s presence in a way that can never happen in the same way in a seminary community. In a seminary only a few members of the faculty will have been there for very long. In a parish almost always there is living memory of celebrations decade after decade. More than just one or two will remember how to process the Wise Men to the crèche every Christmastide! People recall and have a special bond with those with whom they are confirmed or received.
Worship alone is not enough to be a Christian. Being a Christian includes many other things, including prayer, study, and works of religion and charity. You and I are continually invited to grow up in Christ, to get to the fundamentals of being alive in him. I want to communicate in many, many ways the love of God for you and me and this world. I want us to communicate in ways in which others can hear the Good News of God for all people in Jesus Christ. I want us to have the joy and hope of faith, to dance with the gift of life we have been given. Our formation for this mission will never be over. We are so fortunate to have been invited to this place, the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, to do this. Saint Mary’s doesn’t go on vacation. We are growing in Christ, even in the summertime. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jack, Ann, Olga, Helen, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, André and Eleanor . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 9: 1991 Blanche Evelyn Preene; July 11:1981 General Pelham St. George Bissell; July 15:1986 Peter A. McGrane; 1987 Allen Satterfield; 1989 Robert Fox Davis.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Ezekiel 2:1-7, Psalm 123, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-6 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Gerth, Preacher: Richard Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant: Father Shin, Preacher: Richard Lawson, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . . Confessions will be heard on July 8 by Father Shin . . Confessions will be heard on July 15 by Father Garrison.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to all who gave money for Bibles. More than enough was received. Thank you very much! . . . Invitations have been mailed for a new member supper at the rectory to those who have joined the parish officially since the last new member event. If you are new and want to join, you are welcome too! RSVP for all at 869-5830. There is no agenda for the evening except the opportunity to meet each other and the members of the Board of Trustees and to eat . . .Our seminarian Richard Lawson will be preaching at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM this Sunday so he can have the experience of preaching the same text twice . . . While Kevin Farley is away this week, Helena and George Handy and Dennis Smith are doing Angelus and bulletin duties with our thanks! . . . The Bookstore is open every Sunday. Many thanks to our volunteers who keep it open . . . We have many visitors during the summer. Please be helpful if someone seems to need help with the Prayer Book, the Hymnal and the bulletin . . . As we go to press we have not heard that AVE has actually reached local homes. We are somewhat at the mercy of our bulk mailer and the US Postal Service. We are assured it is on the way . . . Flowers are needed for July 16, 23 and 30 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 155.
A Collect for Travelers
O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go:
Preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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 8:40 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 Fourth Week after Pentecost
Tuesday Benedict of Nursia, abbot
Friday Weekday Abstinence
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 Mary Haddad, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.