Liturgy in Lent
Some things about Lent are simple. There are no flowers on the altar except on two occasions, the Fourth Sunday and the Feast of the Annunciation. Other than Saint Joseph's Day and the Annunciation no other commemorations interrupt the cycle of Lenten Weekdays. The weekday Mass propers for Lent are especially well done. And here at Saint Mary's, as in other liturgical parishes, a sense of preparation and restraint are reflected in all areas of our common life.
During Lent musical instruments are used only to support singing (congregational or choral). Intonations, of course, are given, but there are no improvisations - a particular sign of Lent for us as our organ and building beg for this kind of music making. "Alleluia" is not heard in any liturgy of Lent. This year the opening song of praise at the Sunday solemn Masses will be Kyrie eleison from "Missa Orbis Factor" for congregation and choir. The choir will sing Sanctus and Agnus Dei. There is no sprinkling with Holy Water at the beginning of Mass. The use of incense is restrained (only by Saint Mary's standards!). Again this Lent, we will not be doing the Great Litany. Something new: We are going to have organ postludes following Mass but no preludes for a few weeks to see if this helps the Lenten liturgy.
The classic Anglican definition of sacraments, "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace," directs us to what really is important about Lent. All of the outward and visible signs of the season have a meaning that is more than an aesthetic. There is a definite set of liturgical theological values that inform our tradition as Anglo-catholics. It isn't the ceremonies themselves that are determinative; it is what they proclaim.
During Lent the Church prepares to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This celebration happens on the "Three Days." These days are reckoned according to the calendar of the first Christians who were Jews. The first day begins at sunset on a Thursday, the second day begins at sunset on Friday, the third day begins at sunset on Saturday. In the English language these days are called Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve. In the liturgical tradition they are called the Easter Triduum ("triduum" - Latin for "three days" - pronounced "tri-joo-um"). On these days the Church renews its death and resurrection and witnesses the death and resurrection of those who are called to eternal life in the waters of Baptism.
Lent is also about penance and reconciliation - a subject that I don't even want to begin to address in any full way in this short notice. I will say this though, in the same way that the liturgy of Lent is about so much more than purple vestments and no "alleluias," reconciliation is about much more than naming a few sins and praying a few "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys." It is about renewing and growing in faith.
One More Thing: Christians plan their spring around Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. The Church respectfully suggests all of her members go to Mass more. At least one Friday evening I think you should be at Stations of the Cross & Eucharistic Benediction, here or at the Church of the Transfiguration. You should plan to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Easter. This year on Good Friday the entire Good Friday Liturgy will be celebrated twice, at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM, so that those who are not free during the day can participate in the worship of the Easter Triduum. You should plan to be here or in another Christian community where the Triduum is valued - this is your Anglo-catholic Rector speaking - because we value these celebrations above all others.
Last night at the Solemn Mass for Ash Wednesday after Communion we sang Isaac Watts's (1674-1748) most powerful hymn, "When I survey the wondrous cross." I remind you of the words of the fourth verse,
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
We give meaning to words like this when we order our lives according to our beliefs. How you and I respond to the gift of life matters. What we value matters. You and I won't be perfect in this life; but our values do help us grow in grace, in accepting God's gifts and plans for our lives. Lent is, after all, about life.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Ann, Beatrice, Jack, Nolan, Harold, Olga, Carl, Harold, Frank, Eleanor, John, Barbara, Roy, Peter, John, Jonathan, Bill, Melanie, Joe, Luella, Elwyn, Shirlah, Joyce, Kersten, Scott, Daisy, Naomi, Madelyn, Rodney, priest, and Charles, priest, and for the repose of the soul of Helen . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 4: 1989 Timothy Francis Meyers, March 9: 1951 Leonore H. Hibbard, 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen, March 10: John Javis Beach, 1989 Marion Campbell, Jr.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:9-15, Romans 10:5-13, Luke 4:1-13 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 3 by Father Garrison and on March 10 by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Beginning March 7, the Wednesday evening Spiritual Formation class will be led by Father Breidenthal based around Hebrews 13:13. The study will ask what it means to share Jesus' suffering beyond the walls of the Church. The course will explore the Christian life as a life both of exposure and of new opportunities for reconciliation and fellowship. Following the 6:20 PM Mass, the class meets in Saint Benedict's Study from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. . . .
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 . . . Invitations are being mailed to new and prospective members for supper at the rectory on Saint Joseph's Day, Monday, March 19. If you are new to Saint Mary's (officially or unofficially) we want you to join us. Please call the parish office, 212-869-5830. There is no agenda for the evening except to eat, to get to know each other and the parish a little better, and to meet members of the Board of Trustees and the parish staff in an informal setting . . . Attendance last Sunday 178, Attendance on Ash Wednesday 388.
SUMMARY OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, February 20, 2001, meeting the Board of Trustees: 1. Heard a report from the Mission House Committee (Mr. Gerald McKelvey, Mr. Robin Landis, and Mr. Michael Merenda) about the situation in the Mission House. Mr. Todd Pickard, a real estate lawyer from the firm of Balber, Pickard, Battistoni, Maldonado, and Van Der Tuin, who has been advising St. Mary’s with regard to this matter, also participated in this discussion; 2. Received a newly formatted Treasurer’s Report from the Treasurer, Mrs. Barbara Klett, which had been prepared with new financial software; 3. Heard that there will be a reception for new members of the parish, at a date in March, to be determined; 4. Heard that the new computer network in the parish will soon go on-line; 5. Heard a report from the Music Search Committee, which has narrowed the search for a new Music Director. Leroy Sharer, Secretary
SOME WORDS OF THANKS . . . We know they are professionals but the music really has been especially wonderful during February. It is appreciated . . . This is always dangerous, but we want to try to thank the folks who gave us such a great brunch last Sunday: John Beddingfield, Jon Bryant, Chuck Carson, Sean Cassidy and Pat Higgins, Howard Christian, Joy Carmichael, Winston Deane, John Delves and Jim Dennis, Stephanie Felshin, Godfrey Gregg, Ryan Lesh, Ric Miranda and Rosanne Talbird.
ABOUT ASH WEDNESDAY . . . Mass attendance was actually lower this year, but "Ash" attendance was up spectacularly. We think total Mass attendance was about 400. We know we "ashed" over 2000. We were far better prepared to serve our community this year. Thanks to all who came during the day to help. It really enabled us to be a place of prayer for our local community. One of the first comments of the day, "This place looks like a church. My church doesn’t look like a church." In addition, we had the 47th Street door open all day with a folding board sign on the street. When these doors opened shortly before 7:00 AM six people were waiting to enter. It was a good beginning for our community for Lent. Our worship was powerful and we served many others in Jesus' name.
RETREAT AT SAINT HILDA's HOUSE . . . 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 . . .
GET A BELL . . . Plan now to have a hand bell for the Great Vigil of Easter. Don't ask. Just bring a loud, beautiful or obnoxious hand bell.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The First Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Abstinence
Stations of the Cross & Benediction at
Church of the Transfiguration, 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.