Monday was my day for visiting some of our homebound parishioners in New Jersey. Unlike the last time, there was no rain! In fact, it could not have been a more perfect day. Marion Freise was in wonderful form, celebrating her 89th birthday. She always tells me stories about Saint Mary’s and I always learn something new. This time she told me about Father Taber. If ever someone left a light on in the sacristy, the wrath of Father Taber would descend upon that person. “You would rather have God mad at you than Father Taber,” Marion said. Perhaps this is why there is such a compulsion about keeping hallway lights turned off at Saint Mary’s. The ghost of Father Taber keeps an eye on us (and another eye on the electricity bill.)
Earlier in the day, as I was leaving the church building, I learned that Beatrice Norling had been hospitalized at a rehabilitation center in Hackensack, which meant my becoming more familiar with Hackensack, New Jersey than I ever thought possible. Beatrice had fallen the week before and had hurt her legs and hips. After finally tracking her down in the therapy room, she greeted me with her usual, big smile. One smile from Beatrice takes away any fatigue, worry or frustration with New Jersey traffic. As it turned out, the previous week she had just celebrated her 94th birthday. She told me that she had gone to the Roman Catholic Mass that Monday, but couldn’t receive communion. I then had that strong sense that my being there—being there with Beatrice and her being there with me—was the very intention and desire of God. We shared the Mass. Even Peggy Johnke, though less alert and active, remembers Saint Mary’s, knows the Lord’s Prayer and loves Holy Communion. Being there matters.
On the way back into Manhattan I wondered if there are others from our parish who may be homebound, hospitalized or troubled and yet we don’t know of their condition. I can’t speak for other priests, but I know that I haven’t yet developed a “priestly sixth sense” of knowing things without being told them. I doubt if I ever will have that skill or possess that gift. Without being told, I would not know of someone’s need. Without being told, the opportunity for “being there” simply does not arise. I began to wonder what this means for Saint Mary’s as a community. For many years, this parish has come together not because of its geographical location (few of our parishioners live in the immediate area), but we have been a parish community built around the liturgical act. We gather at Solemn Mass. Without a Solemn Mass, I wonder what kind of community we would have at 145 West 46th Street? Would anyone still attend this church? Perhaps we would because of the need to be with one another. We would because of the need to know God’s being with us.
There was an Olympic moment which spoke to the importance of “being there.” It involved the lone swimmer from West Africa. His two competitors in the qualifying round were disqualified for a false start. So he swam alone. As the announcer was telling the story of the team of four athletes from this new nation and of this lone swimmer, I couldn’t help getting all choked up. The swimmer had never had a coach. His style and his time were not even close to competition level. Yet he swam with courage and energy despite the possibility of shame and ridicule. Perhaps he would have been ridiculed anywhere else. But here he was cheered on by the crowd, he felt the crowd’s presence and because the crowd was there for him, he has become an inspiration for others.
As the announcer said, the Olympic event exists primarily in the opportunity of participation. It’s all about just being there. The spiritual dimension of the Olympic Games is rooted in the spirit of participation and of being connected with others from around the world. And through these athletes, I found myself oddly connected with this global community.
Christian community is about our simply being there for God and for each other. Though some of our parishioners may live alone and far away, perhaps they can hear us cheering for them. And we can continue to draw faith and courage from their witness and stories. Without this sense of being and quality as a community, as the preacher says in Ecclesiastes, “All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 12:8). We must guard against Liturgical Vanities! Father Peter Hannen humorously called Saint Mary’s “the longest running show on Broadway.” But one doesn’t always think of theatre as community. Church is community, however, and we are the Body of Christ in this place. Caught up in the details of things, it’s easy to forget the basics: the being there with God and with each other. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be there for Marion, Peggy and Beatrice and I am grateful that they are there for me. In God’s Spirit we are connected. In the Body of Christ, we are one.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Olga, Helen, Shirley, Dawn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Eleanor, Carl, Harold, Frank, Deborah, Stephen, Winston and Nettie.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Wisdom 1:16-2:1,6-22, Psalm 54, James 3:16-4:6, Mark 9:30-37 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . . Confessions will be heard on September 23 by Father Shin . . . Confessions will be heard on September 30 by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Special thanks to Rosie Talbird who carried out last Sunday’s coffee hour all by herself. . . . Help is needed for brass polishing and cleaning next Saturday, September 30 at 10:30 AM in preparation for the Feast of the Dedication. Contact Sean Cassidy or Pat Higgins for details. . . . Last Friday night Father Shin and the 20’s and 30’s Group attended Shabbat service at the Brotherhood Synagogue and met with Rabbi Alder. . . . Father Gerth returns from vacation midweek . . . Attendance last Sunday 127.
VESTMENT RESTORATION . . . On Saturday, October 28, Gina Bianco, fabric restorationist at the Metropolitan Museum, will be here to teach and train volunteers to help restore and care for the old vestments. Those who are interested in this important project please call the church office or talk to Sean Cassidy or Godfrey Gregg. Thank you.
SPIRITUAL FORMATION BEGINS THIS WEEK . . . The Wednesday evening classes meet in Saint Benedict’s Study, located down the long hallway from Saint Joseph’s Hall. This week Father Breidenthal begins a study of “Jesus’ Bible.”
SAINT JOSEPH'S HALL APPEAL . . . As we go to press, $14,391.50 has been received for the restoration of Saint Joseph's Hall. We think at least $20,000.00 will be needed to do a first rate paint job and to provide for modest decoration.
JOURNEY IN FAITH . . . Our catechumenate program, Journey in Faith, begins on October 8. As was the case last year, this program is open to any and all who wish to deepen their faith.
OCTOBER 11 AND THE PROBLEM OF CHOICES . . . On Wednesday evening, October 11, Saint Mary’s has an abundance of riches. Father Breidenthal will continue to lead his series on “Jesus’ Bible” in Saint Benedict’s Study. In Saint Joseph’s Hall, also at 7:00 PM we will hear from Father Martin Warner, Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. At approximately 8:30 PM, the two groups will meet for refreshments in Saint Joseph’s Hall. We apologize to Father Breidenthal for the competition in the other room. We apologize to Our Lady for the competition from Father Breidenthal, but we hope that all will understand and will enjoy this dual opportunity for spiritual growth and nourishment.
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 6:20 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 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 Fifteenth Week after Pentecost
Monday Sergius, abbot
Tuesday Lancelot Andrewes, bishop
Wednesday Vincent de Paul, priest
Eve of Michaelmas 6:20 PM
Friday Saint michael and all angels Abstinence Dispensed
Saturday Jerome, priest
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.