Assumpta est Maria
It’s Thursday morning, August 16. The church phones are ringing. One call is about a cell phone left in church last night; another is about a misplaced package. The rest are calls with people bubbling. The Procession & Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Assumption 2001 was an evening that had more than a few moments which will be remembered.
It is always special when a bishop of our Church is with us. It is such an honor for our community to have the Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, among us. Bishop Epting presided and preached. He is quite at home at our altar already and whenever he is able to be with us the sacristy moves into “episcopal mode” with ease.
There will be a Sunday in the not-too-distant future, September 9, when we will say goodbye to the Reverend Allen K. Shin and his wife, Clara Mun. Father was celebrant last evening for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It has been a great personal privilege to have him as a colleague and I know that our parish community will always value his many gifts to us. I and others will have much more to say about Father before they leave us for Oxford, England.
Then, there were the new guys, our curate, the Reverend Matthew G. Weiler, and our organist and music director, Mr. Robert McCormick. Matthew and his wife, Janna Weiler, are still living in New Haven as their apartment will not be ready for them until Monday, August 27. But I am very happy that it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to the authorities of the Church that he be called here.
Robert McCormick brought the house down last night. He played a recital. He played the Mass. He conducted our choir. And he played Widor’s Toccata as a postlude. There were lots of folks here early to hear him. Three-quarters of the congregation stayed to hear the postlude. Then they stood and applauded loudly. Those of you who have had the chance to meet him and Father Weiler know that both of them are deeply committed Christians with a great love for the Church and for Saint Mary’s. They bring many gifts to their work and I am delighted to have them as colleagues.
Quick memories: That special loud sound of the first words the congregation says at the beginning of the Angelus, “And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.” The church resounds on a great feast when these words echo in it. The wonderful procession. The beautiful altar. The clouds of incense. Drafting one of our sextons, Wilfredo Zapata, to help to carry Our Lady of Walsingham. (Wil, you looked right at home in cassock and cotta!) Standing across from our new curate during the Station at the Rood and being delighted when I realized that he knew all the words to “Sing we of the blessed Mother” by heart. The clouds of incense as the deacon of the Mass censed the chancel. And all night, the wonderful, wonderful music of Robert McCormick playing our organ, conducting our choir and our congregation singing.
Saint Joseph’s Hall was reopened. It is not quite finished. A few details remain. We are still waiting for some fixtures to arrive. The decorator is waiting for yours truly to do a few things, too. But the hall looks like it belongs to our church. It was filled to capacity last night for another great reception. Most of our ushers’ guild do not get to go off duty when the Mass is over. They move over to our hospitality group. As always, the reception was very special.
I want to thank publicly the church staff too for all of the extra work they did. Most people have no idea how much time the members of our parish guilds, Saint Vincent’s (acolytes), Saint Raphael’s (ushers) and Brother Lawrence (hospitality), spend to run Saint Mary’s. Too many people to name come in constantly during the days and weeks before a major feast to do jobs. But the kitchen is clean. The food and wine are ordered. The vestments are ready. The brass is polished. The flowers are spectacular. The incense is stirred.
Great worship not only is the bounden duty of humankind. It is also God’s gift to us. I, and I suspect almost everyone who was here last night, was overwhelmed by this gift. It continues to transform us as a community and as individuals. It renews our trust in God’s never-failing love for us in and through his and Mary’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Marisol, Beatrice, Jack, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Peter, Joseph, Elwyn, Shirlah, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Russell, Susan, Esme, Tessie, Richard, Jennifer, John, Barbara, priest, Charles, priest, and Arthur, priest, and for the repose of the soul of Andy.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 22: 1949 Mattie Myrtle Jones; 1997 Charles Bertram Harmon; August 24: 1959 Mabel Lenora Heyny; August 25: 1971 Elvira Herg Oyx; 1983 Arthur Atkinson III; 1990 Eliphal B. Streeter.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Jeremiah 23:23-29, Psalm 82, Hebrews 12:1-14, Luke 12:49-56 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 18 by Father Gerth and on Saturday, August 25 by Father Smith.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday will be Ricercare in c-moll by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). The postlude will be Präludium in G-dur, BuxWV 147 by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). Mr. Daniel Ebbers, tenor, a regular member of our choir, will be our soloist. The solo at communion will be “If with all your hearts” from “Elijah” by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . .The Rector will be on vacation and out of town beginning Tuesday, August 21, through Thursday, September 6. He will return to the parish on Sunday, September 9 . . . . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, August 20, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance last Sunday: 175, Assumption: 500.
THE VOCABULARY OF THE CHURCH . . . There’s a new old book in the sacristy, The Vocabulary of the Church. It is the work of Richard C. White. It was published in 1960. WE obtained it from one of the online used book dealers. This particular volume was once in the collection of the Bellingham Public Library, Bellingham, Washington. It is stamped “Withdrawn.” One wonders why. In any case, if readers are unsure of the pronunciation of a word, there is a useful volume (quite small actually) in the sacristy with an easy to follow (phonetic) guide to standard pronunciation of biblical words. Of course we know there is a big academic debate about what constitutes “standard” pronunciation. Nevertheless, over the years, especially because of the result of the great universities in England being church institutions, a standard did evolve.
AN ANNIVERSARY. . . There will be a service of thanksgiving for the silver jubilee of the Reverend William Blasingame as rector of Saint Paul’s Memorial Church in the Village of Edgewater, Staten Island, New York. A Solemn Pontifical Mass will be held on September 16, 2001 at 4:00 PM. The music will be the New York premiere of Mass, Opus 130, written by Joseph Jongen, a pupil of Cesar Franck. Saint Paul’s Church is the oldest Anglo-catholic parish in the Diocese and the second oldest Anglican parish in the Diocese.
20’s & 30’s DINNER WITH THE SHINS . . . On Saturday, August 25 at 6:30 PM there will be a potluck dinner at the rectory (144 West 47th Street) to say goodbye to Allen Shin and Clara Mun. Most of those who have participated in 20’s-30’s events should have received notice through E-mail, but if you have not, please regard this announcement as a personal invitation! To RSVP (and to let us know what you might be bringing please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The dinner will also be a good time to meet our new curate, Father Matthew Weiler and to meet Janna Weiler.
A LETTER FROM SAINT MARY’S CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA . . .
Dear Father Gerth,
We interred the ashes of Father Kirk on Friday, August 3, in the Churchyard at Calvary Church in Fletcher, NC. There was a small congregation of about 20 present. Richard told me of the splendor of the requiem at St. Mary’s and gave me a copy of the sermon preached by Father Wells.
I was honored to be able to assist in this way. I knew Father only slightly when I was in New York. When I spoke with him earlier in the year, he told me that my St. Mary’s had in fact sponsored him for Holy Orders and that he was ordained deacon here and presented by my predecessor, Father Paul Chaplin. It seems appropriate that St. Mary’s, Asheville have a part to play in his final earthly ceremony.
This letter brings with it best wishes and the assurance of our prayers as we approach our joint patronal feast. (The Rev.) William S. Bennett, Rector
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot
Eve of Saint Bartholomew’s Day 6:00 PM
Friday Saint Bartholomew the Apostle Abstinence
Saturday Louis, king
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.