The Angelus

Volume 2, Number 9


It finally arrived, without snow so far but winter is here.  Cheeks are cold; feet are cold.  There seem however to be fewer tourists in Times Square, but I haven't noticed any great reduction in traffic noise at night on West 47th Street when the theaters let out.  At Saint Mary's, the church is a comfortable 64 degrees, so people wear their coats during Mass.  Flowers last longer, but the incense doesn't hang in the air.

There are special joys all through the year.  Each season really does have its opportunities to rejoice in the amazing gift of life that we have been given by the Creator of all things.  I do wonder sometimes about the philosophical position of people who don't seem to need to concern themselves with the question of where we came from, where the universe came from, who gave us this amazing life that we have.

I was a philosophy major as an undergraduate.  The Philosophy Department at the University of Virginia twenty-five years ago was filled with people trained in the tradition of British analytics - if I remember the term correctly.  I'm pretty sure none of the members of the department were practicing Christians.  I do remember asking one professor once about faith.  I think his answer was that the question of a creator didn't seem to be a question that could really be asked and answered.  It wasn't an especially satisfying response.

I once could tell you the "cosmological argument" for the existence of God - was it Anselm's - I no longer remember.  And I once could tell you why the argument doesn't work logically.  But when I get a message on my answering machine from a friend who has just become a grandmother for the first time, when I feel the fresh cold of winter hitting my cheeks, when I live with wonder at what I experience by being alive, well, I don't need convincing in the philosophical tradition.  I am a person who desires faith and a person who believes in someone he has never seen.

I just don't think it would be possible for me to run away from faith in this life.  I think I might struggle with other persons of faith about what faith should mean.  I think it is entirely possible for the institutions of faith to wrong people and to stand between people.  I think it is possible for sinful human beings to do bad things and worse to others in the name of faith.  But I do not doubt that the universe has a Creator.  I believe this Creator is the Holy Trinity.  I am a Christian.  I happen also to be a priest.  But most of all, I am a person of faith in the Holy Trinity.

Winter is sometimes a metaphor for the absence of life, of life that is waiting for spring.  That's good as far as it goes.  But all of life is life and as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity shows us, death too is life.  I am most happy with myself when I am living as a person who appreciates this gift of life.


PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Olga, Helen, Jack, Margaret, Margo, Shirley, Clara, Daniel, Samuel John and Hannah . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 23: 1964 Walter R. Noe, Jr., 1990 Mary Grantham Adams; January 25: 1995 Giselle Klopstock; January 28:1987 Wan Tang Jou.


LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Jeremiah 3:21-4:2, Psalm 130, 1 Corinthians 7:17-23, Mark 1:14-20 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Breidenthal, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin. . On Saturday, January 22, Father Shin will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, January 29, Father Gerth will hear confessions.


PASTORAL EXCEPTION . . . Many members of the congregation won't yet know one of our new members, John Beddingfield, but he is well known to your parish clergy and to others who worship at the same time he has.  As of December 31, 1999, John resigned the ordained pastoral ministry of the Presbyterian Church and has become a member of Saint Mary's.  I am personally very honored that John has felt called in particular to Saint Mary's; he loves us and this expression of the great tradition.  There are some special canons concerning the membership in our church of persons who were previously ordained.  In John's case it seems appropriate to me that he be received formally and confirmed in the Episcopal Church as soon as possible.  Therefore, Bishop E. Don Taylor, vicar bishop for New York City in the Diocese of New York, will be celebrant on Tuesday, January 25, at the 12:15 PM Mass when John will be received and confirmed in our tradition.  At the Easter Vigil John will reaffirm this commitment in the presence of our celebrant, the Presiding Bishop.  Again, it is an honor to have John with us.  I am glad he feels called to be a part of our community.  S.G.


REPORTS FOR THE ANNUAL MEETING  . . . Reports from parish organizations for 1999 to be included in the annual meeting packets are due in the parish office on Monday, January 24, so that they can be assembled.  The reports can be sent by e-mail to the Rector at  The parish office uses WORD as its primary word processing program.  Our computers do open WordPerfect files too.  If you have any questions, please call the parish office, 212.869.5830.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, the repainting of the nursery is almost complete.  And it's looking very good . . . What does it mean when the parish office on West 46th Street hears a roar of teenage voices in the afternoon?  MTV has a crowd in Times Square . . . Attendance last Sunday: 171.


THE RECTOR AWAY . . . Father Gerth has accepted an invitation to preach at the institution of the Reverend Michael P. Basden as rector of Trinity By-the-Cove Church in Naples, Florida on Friday evening, January 21.  On Saturday morning, Father will give a workshop at Trinity on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  He will return to the rectory on Tuesday, January 25.


SUMMARY OF JANUARY 10, 2000, BOARD MEETING . . . At its January meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Heard a report from Robin Landis and the Investment Committee, which made recommendations for handling St. Mary’s investments.  2. Authorized a move of funds into the Diocesan Investment Trust (DIT) of the Diocese of New York.  (This Trust is part of the work of 'The Trustees of the Estate and Property of the Diocesan Convention of New York', a corporation established by the Diocese in 1877 to hold property and manage endowments for the diocese and diocesan institutions.  In 1943 the charter of the corporation, whose directors are all elected by the convention of the diocese, was expanded by statute to enable this corporation to manage endowment funds for diocesan institutions and parishes.)  DIT has performed very well over the last several years.  The Board further authorized that at least 70% of our investments with DIT be in equities (stocks), with 30% in fixed amounts (bonds).  3. Approved the budget for the year 2000.  Among items added to the budget are a part-time secretary, to assist with computer work, and funds for needed renovation work in the Rectory.  4. Received, with regret, a letter from David Crommett, who resigned from the Board.  5.  Heard that several bishops will visit St. Mary’s in the coming months, including: Presiding Bishop Griswold and Bishop Jenkins of Louisiana, who will both be present for Candlemas, February 2; Bishop Taylor, who will be present on the Eve of the Feast of the Annunciation on March 24; Presiding Bishop Griswold, who will celebrate and preach at the Easter Vigil, on April 22; and Bishop Coadjutor Sisk, who will be present for the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day on June 1.  Leroy Sharer, Secretary


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.


Friday Abstinence

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 the Epiphany


Monday                               Francs de Sales, Bishop

Tuesday                              Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

Wednesday                        Timothy & Titus, Companions of Saint Paul

Thursday                            John Chrysostom, Bishop

Friday                                  Thomas Aquinas, Priest

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 Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.