In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd young children are introduced to the liturgical year through the use of color. Three year-olds like special words like "Pentecost" and "Epiphany." They aren't too interested in the meaning of the word at this point in their development; yet the words help them begin to develop a vocabulary they will use to express their wonder at the gift of life and the history of salvation.
The minutiae of the liturgical tradition are not presented to the children. White is the color for celebration; purple is the color for preparation. There are many, many materials given to young children to introduce them to the liturgical life of the Church. Most adults react to them as I did the first time I saw them, "This stuff is just great." What is easy for an adult who doesn't work with the children to miss is the proclamation given to the children from the very beginning of their work in the Catechesis, "Christ has died and is risen."
Looking back over my notes from the course I had in the history of liturgy during my second year in seminary, I am reminded how the Church over time has tended to obscure its primary mission: to see Christ die and rise in those he is calling to faith.
Fast forward to the late Middle Ages and to our own day, it is not so difficult to understand why Lent becomes more about us, the Church, than about the mission Christ gave us, Baptism.
When I became an Episcopalian I was like a young child, fascinated with the Church, with Lent and its traditions, ceremonies and words. If anyone did introduce me to the idea that Easter is about Baptism the idea did not register on any level until the seminary classroom. Even then, it was material for my brain, not my heart. My heart thought Lent was about fish on Fridays, giving up something, going to church, Stations of the Cross, and confession. I have loved this Lent from the beginning of my journey as an Episcopalian. But I think there is another Lent. This other Lent is the one which our community of faith, Saint Mary the Virgin, and our wider Communion, the Episcopal Church, is being called to rediscover. Lent at its fullest is about helping people prepare for Baptism. It is also about being a community that can evangelize.
As your pastor I would commend all of the traditional disciplines of the season to every member of the parish community with one intention: that you hold in your heart the desire for God to lead us to learn to evangelize the unbaptized. Don't give up meat on Fridays or desserts or alcohol or cigarettes for the season because of your health or sentiment. Give up something to help you and the rest of the community listen for the Spirit to teach us to call people to faith. I think of going to confession as getting myself right with God. There's something more, of course. I can go to confession to get myself right for service as a priest, as an ordinary member of the Christian community.
I think so many of the great issues which occupy Christians would be cast in an entirely different light if we started from the position of caring most about calling those who have no community of faith to Christ.
The word "Lent" basically means spring. It refers to the ordinary turning of the seasons, the lengthening of days. The Church's life has always been in the world but not of the world. The Lord has always called the Church to enter his Baptism, his death and resurrection.
I invite you to hear the Gospel with this point of view. Sing the hymns of the season with the Easter Mystery at the heart of your understanding. Listen to the proclamation of the Gospel and the Eucharistic Prayer with the awareness that Christ really does die and rise and live in our midst in those whom he calls to faith. This is a "Real Presence" that goes beyond the Tabernacle. It is the very heart and life of God in our midst.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Ann, Beatrice, Jack, Nolan, Harold, Olga, Carl, Harold, Frank, Eleanor, John, Barbara, Cindy, Judy, Roy, Peter, John, Jonathan, Bill, Melanie, Joe, Luella, Elwyn, Shirlah, Joyce, Kersten, Rodney, priest, and Charles, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 26: 1994 Milledge Polo Mosley, March 4: 1989 Timothy Francis Meyers.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99, 1 Corinthians 12:27-3:13, Luke 9:28-36 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 24 by Father Shin and on March 3 by Father Garrison.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Formation Course meets on Saturday, February 24, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. . . . This Sunday, the musical prelude before Mass will be in the form of improvised tribal drumming. We welcome our drummers who will accompany the choir for the very festive Missa Luba, a Mass set by a Belgian priest reinterpreting the native Congolese style . . . All who would like to help work on and repair some of the church vestments should come to help on Saturday morning, February 24 at 10:30 AM . . .Saint Mary's Lenten Retreat entitled "Life's Spiritual Paths," led by Sister Catherine Grace, Community of the Holy Spirit, will be held at Saint Hilda's House March 23-24. The retreat brochure is on the table in the back of the church or can be obtained by calling the parish office. The fee for the retreat (with meals and overnight accommodations) is $60.00. Please contact Father Shin for more information. Space is limited, so make your reservations now . . . Noel Hennelly is taking over our web page management for us until new church computers arrive. Noel, thank you! . . . There is no Spiritual Formation class on Ash Wednesday. The next weeknight Formation class will begin on March 7 as Father Breidenthal leads a Lenten journey entitled, "Going Outside the Camp," based on Hebrews 13:13 . . . The 20's & 30's Network at Saint Mary's will meet on Saturday, March 3 from 11:00 AM to Noon at the Temple of the Pure Land, a Japanese Shin Buddhism Temple. RSVP to Father Shin at the church or E-mail at email@example.com [We apologize that Father Shin's email address was incorrect in last week's Angelus.] . . . The Lenten Quiet Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 17 from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM. We are fortunate to have as our retreat leader the Reverend Margaret Guenther: priest, author, and former director of the Center for Christian Spirituality at General Seminary. As in the past, those interested in attending should sign up on the bulletin board in Saint Joseph's Hall or call the church office . . . The actors Ben Afleck, William Hurt and Samuel Jackson were among the actors here last Friday for the filming of some scenes from a new movie, "Changing Lanes" . . . Attendance last Sunday 185.
CARNIVAL BRUNCH . . . Bring a few extra dollars ($8.00, if you have it) and stay after Mass on Sunday, February 28 for our annual Carnival Brunch, given by the Saint Vincent's Guild of altar servers (and a few extras). As always, if you forget to bring your cash, please stay anyway. There will be plenty to eat. "Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do" (Ecclesiastes 9:7).
Our Mission House
Our Mission House Committee met with members of the Board of Trustees of SafeSpace on Thursday, February 15. We are working towards an amicable resolution of our differences. The members of the Committee are Gerald McKelvey, chair, Robin Landis and Michael Merenda.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Tuesday George Herbert, priest
Wednesday The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday
Said Masses 7, 8, 9 AM, Sung Mass 12:15 PM,
Solemn Mass 6:00 PM
Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting. The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion. Flesh meats are not eaten on Fridays.
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent
Stations of the Cross & Benediction at Saint Mary's 7:00 PM
Saturday Weekday of Lent
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.