About the Mass: The Liturgy of the Word (Part I)
Early Christians gathered to listen to the story of salvation, to pray and to break the Bread. This is still what we do. Today we call it the Mass. Things haven't changed essentially from the days when the Apostles gathered with each other in amazement at the presence of the Lord.
The story of salvation is written in the books the Church gathered as the Bible. What is the Bible? The Bible is the collection of books that may be read when Christians gather for worship. In the Anglican tradition we say that these are the books that contain all things necessary for salvation.
At the Reformation, Protestants began to reargue the list of books to be included in the Bible - a question that had largely been settled in the third century AD. Most Protestants excluded the books of the Old Testament that were not a part of the Hebrew Bible after 100 AD. Anglicans continued to include these books, called "The Apocrypha", and placed them in a separate section of the Scriptures. The worship of Anglicans since the Reformation continues to include readings from these books.
Since the reforms of Paul VI (1897-1978), most Christians adopted a three-year cycle of readings for Sundays and Major Holy Days. What is important is not just the book, chapter and verse we happen to be reading or that the readings are put together for certain purposes. What is important is the story of salvation. The Bible is God's Word to us. The Bible helps us to recognize how truly present the Lord is in our midst.
In the liturgical tradition, the assembly listens to the Word of God as a community. The assembly is a community of sisters and brothers. The story of our God's love for us is being told and retold among us to proclaim to us what we know already: before the creation of the world there has been a plan in the mind of God to create life and to bring all people to share and enjoy this life for eternity. We do not read the Bible at Mass primarily for our education but so that we can recognize and respond to God's presence.
The singing of psalms has a particular importance in our tradition. These were the hymns of Jesus and his disciples. These are the great hymns of the Church from the first days after the Resurrection. As much as the great hymns of the last centuries and of our own day may move and deepen our worship, the hymns Jesus knew have a value in the tradition beyond all the songs we have composed. The Psalter is part of the Bible; it contains the Word of the Lord. (To be continued.)
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Beatrice who is hospitalized and for Harold, Jack, Olga, Helen, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Carl, Harold, Frank, Eleanor, Jane, John, Kersten, Nolan, Barbara, Rick, Judy, Roy, Peter, Phillip, Angela, Jennifer, Rose, Marie, John, Jonathan, and Charles, priest, and for Rodney, priest, and for the repose of the souls of Philip, Janet and Richard.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 5: 1964 Joseph Alexander Ellis Steele, Gerald Bergstrom; February 7: 1954 John Von Runneau.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Judges 6:1-24a, Psalm 85:7-13, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Luke 5:1-11 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 3 by Father Shin and on February 10 by Father Garrison.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Philip Trent, Peter Trent's father, died on Saturday, January 24, at the Actor's Equity Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Please pray for him, for Peter and for all who mourn . . . Janet Kern, Rosmary Kern Cardenas' mother, died on January 27. Please pray for her, for Rosemary and for all who mourn . . . Richard Jette, David Jette's father, died on Sunday, January 28. Please pray for Richard, for David and for all who mourn.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Rodney Kirk has completed his course of treatment at Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, and has returned to his home in St. Croix. Father sounds good on the telephone and those who know him will not be surprised that his spirit is as cheerful and hopeful as he always is. Please continue to keep him in your prayers . . . Altar flowers are needed for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Sunday, February 25. If you would like to give them, please telephone the parish office at 212 869-5830 . . . "Vocation and Spirituality" will be presented Thursday evenings after Mass, February 8, 15 and 22 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM by Nina Frost and John Beddingfield. The class will meet in Saint Benedict’s Study. All are welcome to attend. (Reminder: This series is on THURSDAY evening.) . . . Father Gerth will be on vacation Saturday, February 3, through Saturday, February 10 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 171.
THE PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND . . . We regret that due to the unstable circumstances in Jerusalem and the Middle East this trip has been cancelled. We are hopeful conditions for such a pilgrmage will be right for us next year.
ANNUAL MEETING NOTES . . . Many, many thanks to all who were able to attend the Annual Meeting of the Congregation. Many, many thanks to the wonderful folks who served us a great lunch. Special presentations were made to our recently retired vice-president, Gerald McKelvey, and to our parish administrator, Barbara Klett. Sean Cassidy was elected to serve as our delegate to the diocesan convention and Terry O'Dwyer as the alternate delegate. And the Rector was able to announce a new record for pledges to Saint Mary's, 108 giving units pledged $208,018.00. Thanks again to all who made the day so wonderful.
Our Mission House
The story in Thursday’s New York Times accurately states the terrible dilemma that has been thrust on Saint Mary's by the refusal of the trustees of SafeSpace to provide for the future of SafeSpace, jeopardizing the future not only of that worthy endeavor but of our parish as well.
A few points raised in the story need clarification: SafeSpace is not an activity of Saint Mary's. The program is run by an $18 million-a-year secular not-for-profit social services program that has no formal connection with us whatsoever, other than leasing our Mission House.· Because of this, the issue of SafeSpace and its future was never raised by Saint Mary's trustees during our discussions with Father Gerth, prior to his being called here. Neither the trustees of SafeSpace nor its advocates have expressed any concern or shown an appreciation of the financial problems facing the parish and the critical need for the size of our congregation to grow. Saint Mary's did not encourage SafeSpace to move forward with any renovations to our Mission House and agreed to do so reluctantly after they threatened us with legal action. The written consent from Saint Mary's Trustees for the renovations in 1998 included a confirmation of the terms of our agreement, including the May 31, 2001 expiration date of our arrangements with SafeSpace.
Finally, a year in advance of the expiration of our lease agreement, Saint Mary's Trustees advised SafeSpace that no additional agreement would be made when the lease expired because of the parish's need to use its own building for its own mission to its own neighborhood.
Stephen Gerth, rector and president
Barbara Klett, treasurer
James Dennis, vice-president
Leroy R. Sharer, secretary
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday The Martyrs of Japan
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, The Reverend J. Barrington Bates, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.