Lenten Worship & Lifestyle
Lent is the season when the Church prepares to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the early centuries of the Christian era, the word Easter (and especially its non-English equivalents) was not the name of a day as much as it was a gloss for the word “Baptism.” Easter was when those the Holy Spirit was bringing to faith would die and rise in Jesus. Easter was not the occasion for Baptism; Baptism was the Easter event – “Jesus dying and rising still in his holy ones” - to use a phrase, if I recall correctly, of Aidan Kavanagh.
The worship and the lifestyle of the Christian community before Easter was shaped by this experience. Most Christians were baptized at Easter. And equally important, Baptism was not experienced narrowly as a water rite. Baptism meant water, oil, white vesture, the laying on of hands, candles and Holy Communion.
The Church’s common life is still organized around helping those called to faith to die and rise in Jesus. This is the organizing principle of Christian liturgy and community during Lent. Yet, over the centuries the purpose of Lenten disciplines has been overshadowed. You and I really are part of the generation that is bringing about its recovery.
Over the last few years I have been working to bring our tremendous musical heritage in conformity to the best thinking about liturgical worship today. Last year we dispensed with the playing of the organ during Lent except to support the singing of hymns. There were postludes but no preludes. This year, there will be no postludes either. It will be austere. It will be a new experience of discipline and self-denial for the community.
On the Fourth Sunday in Lent (“Laetare,” or “Rose Sunday”) this discipline, of course, is relaxed; but our great organ will not truly be heard again until the proclamation of Gloria in excelsis at the Great Vigil of Easter. This is not the discipline of all Christian communities but, again, it reflects what I believe is the best thinking about music and worship in liturgical Christian communities today. And no one will miss the organ more than me!
The liturgy reflects this austerity in other ways too. There will be no sprinkling of holy water at the beginning of Mass and the public recitation of the Angelus during the Solemn Mass will be omitted too. (Both will return at Easter!) Now, it is Lent. My hope is that the intensity and purpose of our liturgical life will strengthen us as a community and as individuals to turn in new ways to the Lord.
Finally, I want to say something about the character of our community as we are beginning the journey to Easter. I think the parish community is in a new place about its ministry to our neighborhood and about the ease with which newcomers now seem to be sharing actively almost from the day of their arrival in the ministry of the parish. I don’t yet know how many came through our doors on Ash Wednesday but I expect it was well over 2000. The warmth with which we welcomed people to Saint Mary’s was an act of devotion of a very human character, the kind of character Jesus had when he welcomed all people to sit down to eat with him. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Mabel, Jack, Scott, Gloria, Marion, Olga, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Maureen, Marie, Rick, Edgar, John, Joanne, and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned and David, and for the repose of the soul of Thyparambil . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 17: 1983 Helen Petersen Harrington; February 19: 1958 Harry Osmond Weed; February 20: 1985 Theresa Anne Furlong; February 23: 1999 George Everston Dix.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17, 25-3:7, Psalm 51:1-13, Romans 5:12-21, Matthew 4:1-11 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 16, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, February 23 by Father Smith . . . NOTES ON MUSIC . . . At the Solemn Mass on Sunday, the Mass setting is Missa ‘In illo tempore’ by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), and the anthem at Communion is Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake by Richard Farrant (c. 1530-1580).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Mabel Lewis was hospitalized last weekend for treatment at Long Island College Hospital. She has come home and it was wonderful to see her at Solemn Mass on Ash Wednesday . . . Kenny Isler, our incense maker, is in town. He too was with us for the Solemn Mass on the First Day of Lent. Kenny now lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He is still an active member of the parish. His visits are very special for us and it is good to have him home for a few days . . . Thanks to Saint Vincent’s Guild and Brother Lawrence Guild for the Carnival Brunch last Sunday . . . Huge thanks to those who helped to usher and be present during the day on Ash Wednesday . . . Congratulations to our John Beddingfield, postulant for Holy Orders from Saint Mary’s, who passed all of his ordination examination . . . Attendance last Sunday 213.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION NEWS . . . On Wednesday, February 20 Father Smith begins a new class, “Lent: Origins, History, Meaning and Practice.” The class meets at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study through March 20 and will explore the historical roots and development of the season of Lent as well as discuss the meaning, challenges, and goals of contemporary Lenten observances and practices . . . Saturdays at SMV meets on February 23 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM with Father Weiler's "The Lord's Prayer." Please join us for a biblical, theological, and spiritual exploration of this best known of all Christian prayers.
SAINT MARY’S ONLINE . . . The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin website can be found at http://www.stmvirgin.org. It contains eighteen pages of new information and the archives of AVE and The Angelus from September 2000. I've been helping with the website since February 2001 and have had a lot of fun with it. My training is in graphic design. I've worked in the graphic arts mainly in advertising since 1982 and have specialized in web graphics since 1994. Working as a Designer and Creative Director for the web division of Time Warner is what brought me to the neighborhood and to Saint Mary's.
When I began working on the stmvirgin.org project the first goal was to optimize all of the HTML coding and graphics to improve the performance of the site. Web graphics need to be very tiny to download over phone lines, and HTML coding can behave much more efficiently when it's optimized. I reworked all the graphics and code for each page, text was added to the homepage listing the daily schedule of services, special events and an intro to the weekly Angelus article.
The next thing we paid attention to was getting our name onto search engines such as Yahoo, Google and Alta Vista. We added special keyword and description codes into the background to help web spiders find and index our site. When we began this process we had as few as 40 “hits” a month from search engines, mostly people searching the words "Virgin Mary". This year more than one-quarter of our hits are from search engines. We have people searching with phrases such as: Churches New York, Lenten Observance, Episcopal, Anglo Catholic Churches, and Churches Manhattan. I really like to see these things because it indicates people who might be looking for a new church.
Speaking of web traffic, we just began a new survey which is really, really encouraging. Last year our average was 20 to 50 hits per day. This year's averages are from 45 to 85 hits per day and growing. This year we made additional changes to the site to expand our indexing. This includes HTML based navigation at the bottom of each page, additional tagging of our location in New York and in Manhattan, and expansion of the Meta tags to each interior page so that the contents found there can also be available for searches. I continue to submit our name to directories and search resources on an ongoing basis, if you find a church directory we are not on let me know and I can make sure to have our listing added. I expect to see ongoing increases in traffic as a result of these changes.
Stmvirgin.org is updated weekly, The Angelus appears every Friday afternoon and Liturgical and other special events are posted regularly on the Homepage. Robert McCormick has submitted a complete Choral Music Schedule. AVE usually appears (in color!) shortly after the paper version is produced. Our events calendar has a new format and we try to keep this up to date and accurate. I hope that all the members of the community find the site beautiful, informative, and helpful in planning their visits to Saint Mary's. It's really gratifying to work on the site, knowing that it can be a great service to our visitors both here and worldwide. Noel Hennelly, Webmaster
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The First Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent (Presidents’ Day Holiday)
Federal Holiday Schedule: One Mass only 12:15 PM
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Abstinence
Stations of the Cross & Benediction at the Church of the Transfiguration 7:00 PM
Saturday Weekday of Lent
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.