For the 2,500 people or so who came through the doors of Saint Mary’s on Ash Wednesday, I’m sure it felt as if Lent had started. My heart was in what I call “producer mode.” I was reading the lessons, presiding at Mass, ‘ashing’ – a verb among members of the clergy in the city – those who presented themselves, encouraging all who were here to help, and trying to remember the details that make our ministry of hospitality so remarkable. Lent did start for me on Friday night, February 15, a few minutes after seven o’clock, at the first station of the cross.
The form for the Stations of the Cross in The Book of Occasional Services is exceptionally well done. Saint Mary’s itself was built to be a place where the stations could be easily and fruitfully prayed. Add a few of our fine altar servers, our fine music director and a faithful congregation and Stations of the Cross & Benediction is immediately a powerful and rich spiritual moment. My soul began to sense at every station the rich simplicity of God’s love, his sacrifice and our call as members of the Body of his Son.
The parables of the kingdom of God, from Matthew’s gospel or from Mark, are not easy for us to live out in the world. There is always one more thing I want, not need. There are always opportunities to worry about things that do not matter when one’s soul could be at rest. I know more than a few people who spend a good part of their lives bringing only the past into the present without any joy, aching over things done and undone.
This Lent, it has been Stations that has centered me on the journey to Holy Week. The simplicity of God’s call to us in Jesus Christ, the pure and simple love of Jesus for all people, and the values of the gospel move my heart closer to where I think God wants it to be. This movement of my heart did not happen to me alone. Again, it happened and is happening as I worship as part of the community of the faithful. None of us conquers the temptations of the world, the flesh and the Devil by himself or herself. I for one do not believe that Jesus himself was alone in the desert fighting Satan. The Father was always with him. Jesus has promised always to be with us. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Doreen and Charles, priest, who are hospitalized and for, Gloria, Marion, Olga, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Maureen, Marie, Rick, John and Joanne, 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 Robert, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 4: 1989 Timothy Francis Meyers; March 9: 1951 Leonore Hibbard; 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95:6-11, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 2, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, March 9 by Father Weiler . . . The Dessoff Choirs concert was scheduled before Evensong was restored to our Sunday evening schedule. This is the only Sunday this spring when we will not have Evensong on Sunday. Evensong continues through Trinity Sunday, when Bishop E. Don Taylor, vicar bishop of New York City, will be with us to preside and preach . . . Stations of the Cross & Benediction will be held this Friday, March 8, at the Church of the Transfiguration, One East 29th Street, at 7:00 PM.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Sunday, March 3, at the Solemn Mass, the Mass setting is Missa tertii toni by Costanzo Porta (1528/29-1601). Porta, a prolific Italian composer, is noted for setting the text in a very clear and understandable manner in his Mass settings, in accordance with the instruction of the Council of Trent. The motet at Communion is Peccantem me quotidie by Cristóbal de Morales (c. 1500-1553).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Doreen Swan and Father Charles Whipple are both at Saint Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center for treatment. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Many thanks to George Handy, Dennis Smith and Eileen Whittle for doing the Easter Flower & Music envelope mailing this past week. It is much appreciated! . . . Ushers are needed for many of our extra services. Please see the sign-up sheet in Saint Joseph’s Hall to sign-up to help . . . Attendance last Sunday 232.
SWEET SACRIFICE . . . Many may not know that the incense barrel is full. Kenny Isler arrived from his home in Arizona on Ash Wednesday. He spent the next three days attending to the ministry of blending incense for the worship. There is a renewed and richer offering ascending since his visit. The serious purpose with which he attends to this ministry is not missed by those of us who know him, nor is it missed by anyone whose heart has ascended to the Lord at solemn liturgy at Saint Mary’s. “Nothing but the best” is a motto for so many who offer themselves to the service of the Lord in this place. It is exemplified by so many, and not the least by our great friend, Kenny Isler. Kenny, many thanks! S.G.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION NEWS . . . Father Smith's new Wednesday evening class, “Lent: Origins, History, Meaning and Practice” is under way, but it is not too late to join. 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.
PEOPLE READ THE ANGELUS . . . Yours truly received a number of e-mail responses to the brief remarks I made in last week’s Angelus about Eucharistic Prayer C. I’m surprised I’m going to try to put my thoughts about this prayer and new prayers the Standing Liturgical Commission on Liturgy and Music is drafting in a future issue of AVE, our parish magazine. (I hope to have it ready for the July-August number.) The issues raised by our readers are not unimportant and they deserve a more extensive discussion than is possible in our weekly newsletter. S.G.
THE PARISH COMMUNITY IS REMINDED . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are also observed by abstinence from flesh meats. Good Friday and Ash Wednesday are days of fasting and abstinence.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Abstinence
Stations of the Cross at Transfiguration at 7:00 PM
Saturday Weekday of Lent
Lenten Quiet Day led by Mother Sullivan 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Eucharisitic Benediction 3:00 PM
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.