Reverence and Thankfulness
At the end of the funeral for Father Kirk, as the clergy stood on the sidewalk waiting for the coffin to be put into the hearse, someone on a bicycle rode by and said so that we could hear him, “What is this *****?” Appreciate the scene: the door of the hearse is open; altar servers bearing cross, candles and incense are standing in place, a bishop of the church and other clergy are in attendance. The crowd on the sidewalk has very respectfully stopped. The remark of that man riding the bike was profane and grossly inappropriate. I am thankful that no one heard him but me and the other sacred ministers. It didn’t make me angry; it made me sad
Reverence and thankfulness are human responses and emotions that I associate with the way in which we worship, the way we feel when we are in a sacred place, the way we human beings relate to one another and the way in which we enjoy life itself. Reverence and thanksgiving are Christian virtues. When we are reverent and thankful about life and the gifts given us we are in some sense the people God intends us to be. For whatever reason, the person on that bicycle did not have reverence for life, for living or for death.
There are many ways the Church invites us to reverence before the mystery of God and the mystery of life and to respond to these mysteries with the thanksgiving of our lives. Certainly our buildings, our worship and our music are invitations to reverence. At this point I want to make a particular plea for one concrete way to begin or to strengthen your journey: The Daily Office.
At the beginning of the Anglican Reformation Archbishop Thomas Cranmer did many extraordinary things. I’m not so sure his work to further the separation of the Church of England from the rest of the catholic Church was a good thing, but his work on The Book of Common Prayer was brilliant.
Even if it is a testimony to a schism within Christianity, Cranmer’s liturgical accomplishments were so magnificent that his work stands as a highpoint in the history of the worship of Christians. He got so many things right. His instincts were very good. One of his best works was to recover for Anglicans the custom of praying Scripture publicly in the vernacular in churches morning and evening. This is what we know as “The Daily Office” or “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer.”
The Prayer Book tradition has presumed that the parish clergy read the Office publicly in church. When the Reformation began, nowhere was daily Mass attendance more popular than in England. It would take centuries and a great deal of cultural change before people stopped the habit of going to church every day. Instead of a Daily Mass in Latin, in England there was the Daily Office in English.
Except on Saturday mornings, Morning and Evening Prayer are read daily at Saint Mary’s. The parish clergy normally attend except on our time off – and even then you can occasionally find a rector or a curate at the Office.
There are many reasons why daily prayer is a good thing. When Christians offer it together, the Body of Christ is assembled. Individually or in community, the Daily Office is built around listening to the Word of God, the story of salvation history and the revelation of God’s love for humankind. In the Prayer Book tradition the praying of psalms is always a significant part of the service. Most of Morning and Evening Prayer is simply Scripture.
I know I almost always feel different about the gift of life when I pray. It is hard not to look at the world differently when God’s Word has dropped into one’s day. I don’t think we become the people God makes us and calls us to be apart from his plan for our lives.
Reverence and thankfulness are nurtured in many ways across the course of our lives. If you would like to learn to pray the Daily Office, speak with a member of the clergy. You might find it helpful to come to Morning or Evening Prayer one day too even if you normally would pray one or both parts of the Office yourself, and lots of folks just read one Office a day, not two. I know more than one person who simply reads the daily psalms from the Prayer Book. There are many ways to participate in the great prayer of the Church.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Marisol, Beatrice, Jack, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Peter, Joseph, Elwyn, Shirlah, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Russell, Evelyn, Susan, Esme, Tessie, Richard, Barbara, priest, Charles, priest, and Arthur, priest, and for the repose of the souls of Irene, Henry and Evelyn . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 5: 2000 Vernon Frederick Veader; August 8: 1963 Charles Augustus Edgar.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . On Friday, July 27, Pat Higgins’s mother, Irene Higgins, died. She lived in Saint Louis, Missouri, where her funeral was held on Tuesday, July 31. On Saturday, July 28, Chuck Carson’s father, Henry Carson, died in Washington, D.C. He is to be buried at Quantico Military Cemetery in Quantico, Virginia, following the funeral. Please pray for Irene and Henry, for Pat and Chuck, and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; 2:1-7, 11, 18-23, Psalm 49:1-11, Colossians 3:5-17, Luke 12:13-21 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 4 by Father Garrison and on Saturday, August 11 by Father Shin.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday will be “Prelude on Adoro te devote” by Gerald Near (b. 1942). The postlude will be Präludium in D-dur, BuxWV 139 by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). Mrs. Amanda Silverman, soprano, a regular member of our choir, will be our soloist. The solo at communion will be Laudate Dominum from Vesparae solennes de confessore, K. 339, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) . . . On Monday’s Sung Mass for The Transfiguration of the Lord the postlude will be Fantasia on Wareham by Herbert Murrill (1909-1952).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We are extremely proud of Gloria Fitzgerald who was honored by Bishop Grein with the presentation of The Bishop’s Cross . . . Work continues on Saint Joseph’s Hall, the fifth floor apartment in the Parish House where Father Matthew and Janna Weiler will live, and on the Rectory guest room. Yes, the reception after the Solemn Mass on Assumption will be in Saint Joseph’s Hall and coffee hours after the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Sunday Masses will resume on Sunday, August 19 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 209.
IN SAINT MARY’S BOOKSTORE . . . This past March the choir of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, under the direction of David Shuler with Peter Stoltszus at the organ recorded selections from the Psalter of The Book of Common Prayer at Saint Mary’s. Called “Refuge and Strength”, it has some wonderful Anglican Chant and includes a favorite selection that we all know from Tenebrae – Allegri’s Miserere. Available for sale at our book store for $18.
A NOTE FROM THE PARISH SECRETARY . . . During my ten years at Saint Mary’s as Parish Secretary, I have worked with several Curates. The first was Father Gary Lawler. After that, Father David Lee Carlson who was a deacon at the time, came on board and was ordained priest here at Saint Mary’s on September 29, 1992 – what a great evening that was. When Father. Carlson left Saint Mary’s he went to Saint. Augustine’s Church, Croton-on-Hudson, as rector. The third curate I have known was Father William Parker who became Interim Rector when Father Wells retired. After Father Gerth’s arrival, Father. Parker became the rector of Saint Bede’s Church, Syosset, Long Island. Father Allen Shin was then appointed as the new curate. He too will be leaving in September for England. While all our curates have been special and very helpful to me (I consider all of them friends) I cannot pick a favorite! Stay tuned for more!!! E.S.
FROM OUR SEMINARIAN . . . Hola to all from Mexico! One month down, one to go. My Spanish is improving. I’ll definitely be linguistically (if not canonically) ready to celebrate and preach a little in Spanish when I return to the US. For the bishop’s visit to the very rural parish where I have been working we stoked up the thurible and Bishop Carranza censed the altar. It made me nostalgic for home and St. Mary’s. I look forward to meeting all who are new and renewing ties with those who remain. You are in my prayers. Jenni Reddall
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sung Mass 6:00 PM
Tuesday John Mason Neale, priest
Wednesday Dominic, friar
Friday Laurence, deacon and martyr Abstinence
Saturday Clare, abbess
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curates, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.