There are a few things in the Prayer Book (and things left out) that strike me as reflections of the less attractive side of the Church in the 1970s. For example, I do not understand how it was possible for the revisers, who did such good work in so many ways, to give us Eucharistic Prayer C, a prayer that praises God primarily for the material creation. (It really is problematic, and, as John Beddingfield reminded me in the course of my writing this article, it even includes the sentence, “You made us the rulers of creation.”) When I needed prayers following September 11, I turned to the previous edition of the Prayer Book. In the 1970s, the idea that the United States could be an innocent victim of an aggressor was not considered.
I make these remarks to put in context something I experienced recently while presiding at Solemn Mass, something important. I had always thought that the language of a rubric which appears in a particular way only before the Lord’s Prayer in the Eucharistic rite was just more 1970s stuff. Everywhere but at the end of the Great Thanksgiving similar rubrics read “Celebrant and People” or “Officiant and People.” Following the Great Thanksgiving the rubric reads, “People and Celebrant.”
Of course at Masses where the Lord’s Prayer is sung it is necessary for the celebrant to begin the prayer. He or she sings, “Our Father” and then the assembly joins in. That’s just the way it works. On the Sunday of the annual meeting I experienced the singing of the prayer in a new way. I sensed that once I introduced the Lord’s Prayer, the assembly really took over and my voice was unimportant. I truly felt like a servant, at most an auxiliary of some sort. The greater voice, moving physically above me, was the voice of the assembly, the Body of Christ. I felt at that moment in a new way in right relationship to the congregation I serve.
I trust the liturgical tradition. Far more often than not the historic traditions of the Church get things right. My interest in them is not for the sake of the traditions themselves, but for the proclamation of the Gospel and for being in right relationship with God and other people. When people think of Saint Mary’s, when they think of us, the first thing that should come to mind is Jesus Christ. This is what we are about. In a wonderful way we are simply trying to live up to the standard given for our Church in the Preface to the first American Prayer Book (1789):
And now, this important work being brought to a conclusion, it is hoped the whole will be received and examined by every true member of our Church, and every sincere Christian, with a meek, candid, and charitable frame of mind; without prejudice or prepossessions; seriously considering what Christianity is, and what the truths of the Gospel are; and earnestly beseeching Almighty God to accompany with his blessing every endeavour for promulgating them to mankind in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour.
I don’t know how the members of the assembly really experience the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t know how the members of the assembly really experience the relationship of the clergy to the parish community. I do know that the worship of the Church has the potential for us to be in right relationship to the Lord and to each other. I think the more we get it right when we come together we will be able to serve in the world in the name of Christ and to evangelize it for his kingdom. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Mabel, Scott, Gloria, Marion, Olga, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Maureen, Marie, Rick, Edgar, John, Joanne, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned and David . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 26: 1994 Milledge Polo Mosley.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 12:1-8, Psalm 33:12-22, Romans 4:1-17, John 3:1-17 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 23, by Father Smith and on Saturday, March 2 by Father Gerth . . . NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the Mass setting is Missa Della Battaglia by Giovanni Francesco Anerio (c. 1567-1630). Anerio, the brother of composer Felice Anerio, began his career as a chorister at Saint Peter’s, Rome, under the direction of G. P. da Palestrina. He held a number of important church music positions, and his music shows the transition from the Renaissance to Baroque style. For example, Missa Della Battaglia, though in the Renaissance Mass tradition, includes a continuo organ part, which is characteristic of Baroque music. The motet at Communion is Adoramus te, Christe by Gregor Aichinger (1564/65-1628). Aichinger was a German composer and priest who studied in Venice with Giovanni Gabrieli.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Penelope Byham’s daughter, Elizabeth Byham, had a daughter on Friday, February 15. Her name is Zoë Isabella. Zoë and Elizabeth are home and doing well . . . The Rector is delighted that the new issue of AVE is already reaching the homes of those in the metropolitan area and should soon be on our web site and in the hands of our friends around the nation and world. Our editor, Linda Bridges, gets the credit. Linda, thank you for another wonderful issue! . . . Many thanks to all who helped with the liturgies of the first weekend in Lent. Stations & Benediction was just great as was Solemn Evensong & Benediction on the First Sunday in Lent . . . The Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle is celebrated on Monday, February 25, this year. Although a “Major Feast” the Church’s discipline for Lent is observed . . . Attendance last Sunday 214.
FROM THE PARISH TREASURER . . . Apologies from the Finance Department to those of you who have received conflicting year-end statements. All who pledge will have received a Record of Contributions fourth quarter statement, along with a letter from the Rector. If you itemize on your tax return, please use that statement to report your contributions for the year. We also sent out a Charitable Contributions Tax Report to some of you which did not fulfill the function we thought it would; we’re still learning the intricacies of our new financial reporting system. Barbara Klett
PREPARING FOR THE EASTER VIGIL . . . The Great Vigil of Easter, celebrated this year at Saint Mary's at 7:00 PM on March 30, is the culmination of our season of preparation for baptism. There will be at least two infants baptized at this year's Vigil, but this is also an extraordinary time for confirmations, reaffirmations and receptions. Some may wish to be confirmed by the bishop on this night. Roman Catholics who have united with Saint Mary's may wish to be "received" publicly at the Vigil. Those who have joined Saint Mary's from other churches may wish to "reaffirm their baptismal vows" publicly. Since actual membership in an Episcopal parish often happens through correspondence and paperwork, the Great Vigil of Easter offers an occasion when one's membership may be enacted and ritualized in a public and very special way. It is a visual and physical way to become a part of the body of Christ. If you are interested in being confirmed, being received or in reaffirming your baptismal vows, please contact Father Gerth or Father Weiler.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION IN LENT . . . Two new educational opportunities are available to members and friends of Saint Mary's this Lent. Father Weiler's "The Lord's Prayer" meets in Saint Benedict's Study on Saturday February 23 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Please join us for a biblical, theological, and spiritual exploration of this best known (and least!) of all Christian prayers. On Wednesday, February 20 Father Smith began a new class, “Lent: Origins, History, Meaning and Practice.” This class will continue to meet each Wednesday 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.
LENTEN QUIET DAY . . . Let's face it, most Americans live busy lives, especially in New York. This can be a source of great stress as well as an obstacle to spiritual growth. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, why not take a few hours away from the world to prepare spiritually for the celebration of the death and resurrection of our Lord? Our upcoming "Lenten Quiet Day" is just such a time for worship, prayer, and reflection in preparation for Easter. The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, Executive Officer and Secretary of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will be at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, March 9, to guide our "retreat." The Quiet Day begins with Morning Prayer at 10:30 AM and ends with Eucharistic Benediction at 3:00 PM. In between are additional worship times and periods for silent meditation. There will also be an opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A simple lunch will be provided at 1:00 PM. Please contact the parish office to sign up.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday in Lent
Monday Saint Matthias the Apostle
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Abstinence
Stations of the Cross & Benediction at Saint Mary’s 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.