From Father Weiler: Retreat
Retreat. The word conjures up unpleasant thoughts and the gruesome events that precipitated them. Consider Napoleon’s ill-fated retreat from Russia after months of tireless battle. Eventually, the cold was so deep and the food supplies so low that the French and their emperor simply had to turn back, no matter how difficult the journey home. It was the beginning of the end of Napoleon’s reign. Consider also the Federal retreat after the Battle of Chancellorsville or the Confederate retreat after Gettysburg. Military history overflows with countless other retreats. “Retreat” rhymes with “defeat” and usually signifies it, except in Christianity.
Against such a background, why would one ever choose to retreat? Why would we Christians choose to use the word “retreat” to signify something laudable, something worthwhile? Why would I write to you now, about my own experience of “retreat”? An answer to these questions came to me during my latest retreat, which began November 3 and ended November 7.
Father Gerth thought it worthwhile for me to go on retreat prior to my ordination to the priesthood. Despite the normally heavy load of responsibilities for the clergy and staff of Saint Mary’s, Father suggested a retreat. Despite the additional burden of the many preparations that have to be made between now and November 30, he encouraged me to retreat. Despite back-to-back Solemn Masses for All Saints’ and All Souls’, an Episcopal visitation, a week of requiems, classes missed, pastoral visits postponed, invitations to be mailed, family and friends arriving soon (Yikes!) - despite everyone of many important tasks that need to be done, I was offered the opportunity to retreat.
I suggested that I might go to Saint Gregory’s Abbey, the Episcopal Benedictine monastery in Three Rivers, Michigan. We made the necessary arrangements. I packed my bags. I kissed my wife goodbye and off I went to “Nowheresville.” I retreated. I am glad I did.
We often flatter ourselves thinking that the work we do is indispensable to the smooth operation of our workplace, our family or society. The more grandiose amongst us - yours truly, for one - fancy that the world itself would come to a screeching halt were we not working constantly to grease the wheels of its advance. At our most arrogant, we sometimes think that even God and his kingdom need us if redemption is going to succeed. Retreat gave me the opportunity to think and pray about my relationship to God.
Please do not misread me. I am not denigrating labor. I am not putting down service. It takes work to keep Saint Mary’s going: clergy, staff, trustees, servers, guilds galore and volunteers aplenty. Every member of the body of Christ is, in one very real sense, irreplaceable and absolutely necessary if the whole is to function faithfully. The Christian life is an active life. Yet, the other side of Christian life, namely, the contemplative side, is as much a part of things as the active. Prayer, silence, reflection, meditation, confession and simply being alone with ourselves and with God, can be vital to our perseverance as Christians. Doing nothing sometimes is doing everything. Matthew Weiler
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Alex, Marion, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Tessie, Jennifer, John, Jolene, Dorene, Christina, Julia, Maureen, Marie, Arthur, priest, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph and Mark and for the repose of the soul of Ida.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 19: 1990 Beryl Ermine Whittle; November 20: 1986 Richard Johnson; November 23: 1985 Calvin R. Gray and Gary R. Grubb; November 24: 1950 Harland S. Perrigo.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The parish received notice this week of the death of a member of our parish who died this summer. Ida Marshall died on August 13, 2001. Her son writes that “sadly, this ends a long relationship with Saint Mary’s which began with my grandfather, C.C. Marshall, in the late 1800’s.” May she rest in peace.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Malachi 3:13-4:2a, 5-6, Psalm 98:5-10, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 17 by Father Smith and on Saturday, November 24 by Father Gerth.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The Prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is entitled Very Slowly from Sonatina for Organ by Leo Sowerby (1895-1968), and the Postlude will be Fanfare by John Cook (20th century). The Mass setting is Messe in G, D. 167, by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and the Anthem at Communion is Judge eternal by Gerre Hancock (b. 1934).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Helena Handy is at Saint Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center for tests. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Journey in Faith meets on Sundays at 1:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, November 19, in Saint Benedict’s Study at 7:00 PM . . . Someone always asks: The reason the principal parish Thanksgiving Mass is on Wednesday night is because of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade . . . The Parish Office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and on Friday, November 23 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 181.
MAJOR CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are pleased to announce that Saint Mary’s will host a concert by the American Boychoir on Thursday evening, December 13 at 8:00 PM. The American Boychoir is one of the world’s finest choirs of its type, and is widely recognized as the United States’ premier concert boys’ choir. The Choir is based in Princeton, New Jersey, and is conducted by Vincent Metallo, who assumed that position earlier this season. The American Boychoir tours and records extensively, and frequently appears with major orchestras in the city and abroad. We are fortunate that they will be presenting a full concert (rare for them in New York) here at Saint Mary’s. The program will include something to please everyone, including music of Christmas. Tickets are $25 ($15 seniors and for students with a valid ID) and are available by calling the church at (212) 869-5830, extension 25.
SATURDAYS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . November 17, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM will be the first of this year’s Saturday afternoon offerings in Christian Formation. Join us for an introduction to liturgical music led by Mr. Robert McCormick. The class will examine the different types of music we use, and discussion of particular aspects that enhance or detract from the liturgy. An in-depth look at hymns and psalms will be included. If there has ever been something you wanted to know about the music we sing and hear every week, this is the perfect time to ask!
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Twenty-fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Monday Elizabeth of Hungary, Princess
Tuesday Edmund, king
Thanksgiving Eve: Sung Mass 6:00 PM
Thursday Thanksgiving Day: Said Mass 12:15 only
Friday Clement, Bishop Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate,
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.