Many of you know that I am a student of Family Systems Theory. The basic idea is that one's family of origin has a lot to do with who we are and the way we deal with people. Congregations are a lot like families. The person who applied this theory to family systems theory was the late Edwin Friedman, a rabbi and a therapist who trained with Murray Bowen of the Georgetown Family Center. Ed did a lot of work with congregations of many different denominations but especially among Episcopalians. Whenever possible he would ask members of the clergy in charge of congregations to study the early history of their congregations, the original formatting of the "parish" family system.
We actually know a great deal about our family of origin, Father Thomas McKee Brown and the first trustees. We know of their vision, their faith and their trust in God's providence. They believed in a sacramental Christianity, one where God was really present and active in the life of the Church and its members. They sacrificed their prosperity and their reputations to give Saint Mary's its life and its future.
Few of us appreciate today the prejudice they encountered and withstood. New York City had been the scene of major anti-catholic riots. If you look at older Roman Catholic parish buildings you won't see a statue from the early nineteenth century. Prejudice about race and religion were almost normative for society at that time. In the Episcopal Church the idea of putting flowers and candles on a "Communion Table" was radical. Our first family committed themselves to a catholic Christian
expression when they built the first church on West 45th in 1870. Twenty-five years later they gave us the church home that continues to stand as a call to encounter a God who is really present to us.
Even though we may feel called to be at Saint Mary's there can be a spiritual danger for us as well. The danger is to fail to see that the great sign of God's presence is not this building but this community. The Body of Christ is the assembly of the baptized, not a building. In a deeper sense, perhaps the Body of Christ is the assembly not only of the persons who are next to us at Mass but the persons God wants to be members of his Body in this place. Our faith is evangelical or it is dead.
In catholic tradition October is the month of the Holy Angels and November is the month of remembrance. In our common life this is also the season of stewardship, when we assess what we are being called to do and give for the work of the Church in the coming year. Some at Saint Mary's can still remember times in our history when the congregation was very large. But Saint Mary's has never depended on large congregations. It has depended on a deep Christian faith and commitment.
Jesus asked his disciples for their faith and he asked them for their love. Both faith and love are tangible and intangible. This part of the Body of Christ, this community of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, is a place you and I can respond to Jesus' call to give our lives to God and to each other in Christ's name.
Last Sunday we celebrated again the Dedication of the Church. You and I like every generation that has knelt before this altar are being called to respond with the substance of our lives to Christ and to give for the work of his kingdom in this place. All of us will be called to give more than we ever thought we could. Love always means a deeper response. Love always means going farther than we ever imagined we could.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Kersten, Nolan, Olga, Helen, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Eleanor, Carl, Harold, Frank, Cindy, Peter, Eleanor, Jane, Allen and John.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 9: 1971 Roger Rolt-Wheeler; 1981 Barbara L. Coates; October 10: 1994 Octavia Josephine Wall.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 2:18-24, Psalm 8, Hebrews 2:1-18, Mark 10:2-9 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on October 7 by Father Shin . . . Confessions will be heard on October 14 by Father Garrison.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Monday, October 9, is Columbus Day. We will observe our federal holiday schedule. The church will be open only for one Mass at 12:15 so most of the parish staff can have a holiday . . . A Busy Wednesday Night: in addition to the special program by Father Martin Warner, Father Breidenthal's class resumes on October 11 at 7:00 pm in St. Benedict’s Study . . . If you can spare three to four hours a week on Thursdays to help with the folding, posting and mail labeling of our weekly newsletter The Angelus, it would be greatly appreciated. Please contact the parish office at 869-5830. Also volunteers are needed to fold and staple the Sunday bulletins every other week (which are usually done on Friday evening or Saturday) . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training course meets on Saturday, October 14, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You are always welcome to join us. Our presenter this time is Carol Nyberg, Christian Education Director for Palmer Memorial Church, Houston, Texas. There are currently almost thirty people, Roman Catholic and Episcopalian, involved in the training . . . 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 . . . Many thanks to all who made the Feast of Dedication so beautiful and so rich. And it was great to see our Sunday Brother Lawrence Guild Coordinator, Ann Sokolowski . . . Attendance last Sunday 229.
TWENTIES & THIRTIES . . . The Twenties/Thirties group is taking a tour of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Saturday, October 28. The tour will include a walk from the crypt to the tower and an organ performance by Dorothy Papadokos, the cathedral organist. The tour will begin at 9:00 AM in the narthex of the cathedral and is limited to 15 people. The cost is $15 per person. Call Father Shin in the office to reserve your space.
SATURDAYS AT SMV . . . Our program begins again on Saturday, October 21, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study. The first program of this year is "Faith and Life Crisis." Most of you know our wonderful Dr. Carol Pepper who will be presenting this program. Our faith is tried the most in crises. Yet faith is helpful and needed to get through crises. Dr. Pepper is a clinical psychologist who works with trauma and torture survivors from around the world at Bellevue Hospital. She is an ordained member of the clergy of the United Church of Christ.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM 5:00 PM. A Sung Mass is offered at 10:00 AM. 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 Seventeenth Week after Pentecost
Monday Robert Grosseteste, bishop
Columbus Day; one Mass only, at 12:15 PM
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Samuel Schereschewsky, bishop
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, The Reverend J. Barrington Bates, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.