New York City’s reservoirs are at just over eighty percent of capacity. The city is not in immediate danger of running out of water but adjustments must be made. Sidewalks cannot be washed every morning. Car rental agencies do not wash cars as frequently. Restaurants do not automatically pour water for customers. There are signs everywhere urging people to conserve water. These are small inconveniences, even the dirty sidewalks. What I really do miss are our beautiful fountains.
Fountains civilize the city in a wonderful way. There’s just something about the spray of water that is delightful, even on hot summer days when the sprays probably add to the humidity we feel. Water always seems cooling, refreshing. There are many dry fountains in front of the towering office buildings on Sixth Avenue between the church and Central Park. Empty plazas can have a certain beauty, but public urban space without fountains or trees seems to be waiting for something else.
In the encounter with the Woman of Samaria (John 4), Jesus spoke of “living water” which would become a “spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The Woman replies, “Give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
Thirst and hunger are basic needs. I’m convinced that at meals I usually eat everything that appears on my plate for reasons far beyond whatever encouragement or admonition I might have received from my parents when I was a young child. Thirst and hunger are more primitive. I am sure my biology remembers times in not so distant generations when different parts of my family knew hunger. Curiously, my middle name is the only part of my Irish ancestry which arrived before the potato famine hit Ireland. (The first Shea in my family died a member of the New Hampshire Republican Party – and I didn’t see any other obvious Irish family names on the Republican roles in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in his day.) But I know some of my great, great grandparents knew terrible hardship and hunger. I don’t think my biology can forget.
I don’t think that you and I will ever cease wanting rivers of water flowing in our world and in our lives. Our biology wants it. We don’t want to thirst. We don’t want to labor. We want to escape the sentence of the Lord God as he drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden.
This Thursday, most Christians throughout the world will gather to celebrate the Assumption into heaven of the New Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I don’t care what anyone may claim about not believing in God or in life after death. God exists and his plan for salvation exists. The joy with which we will celebrate God’s plan for us goes far beyond any desires of us as individuals. Human beings were made for the purposes and promises of God. Through Mary, Jesus comes to us. In Mary, we see God’s plan for our lives. In Mary’s assumption, God has shown humankind his love and his active presence in the history of his creation. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Kirk, Robert and Carl, priest, who are hospitalized, and for George, Eileen, Gloria, Jerri, Myra, Tessie, Marion, Olga, Rick and Charles, priest. Pray for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned, David and John. Pray for the repose of the soul of Aaron.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 15: 1963 Rose Macchia, 1971: Elvira Horg Oyx.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Jonah 2:1-9, Psalm 29, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:22-33 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 10, by Father Smith and on Saturday, August 17, by Father Gerth.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude will be Ave maris stella I and II, Op. 18, by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971), and the postlude will be Präludium in C-dur, BWV 547 (“9/8”), by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). The soloist is Michael Ryan-Wenger, tenor, and the anthem during Communion is The Call from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). On Thursday, August 15, the Assumption of our Lady, an organ recital by Robert McCormick begins at 5:30 and includes works of Dupré, Mendelssohn, and Bach. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Assumpta est Maria’ by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). Palestrina based this Mass (a “parody Mass”) on his motet of the same name, which sets the text of the Offertory of the day. It is scored for 6-part choir (SSATTB). The motets during Communion are Ave Virgo sanctissima by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599), a Spanish contemporary of Palestrina, and Alma redemptoris Mater, also by Palestrina. The postlude is Toccata in F-dur, BWV 540, by Bach.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The fall music schedule will be available at the Assumption Mass . . Saint Vincent’s Guild meets for brass polishing and sacristy cleaning on Saturday, August 10, at 10:30 AM . . . The Rector will be out of town Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. In case of a pastoral emergency please contact Father Smith at 718-834-1482 . . . Attendance last Sunday 191.
ONGOING RESTORATION . . . At Saint Mary’s, we are learning what the caretakers of any historic and great building already know: there is a fine line between restoration and maintenance. Unless there is careful, high quality, (and often expensive) upkeep, things break or become unusable. One current item that has been removed and is at the restoration shop is the crucifix from the Mercy Chapel. For some time parishioners have noticed that a hand has been broken off and there are some other small missing pieces. When the people who do restoration asked us, “How much do you want us to do?” There seemed to be one and only one answer for a crucifix that hangs in a chapel at Saint Mary’s: “Please do whatever you can to bring it back to the very best condition possible!” It will cost $1,000 to have the crucifix cleaned, breaks repaired, painted, parts of the corpus reattached and some parts fabricated. There is no money in the operating budget for this. We have ordered the repair because we believe this is something that many will want us to do and will make generous gifts to cover the cost. All contributions toward this effort will be greatly appreciated. Please mark your check, “Crucifix Restoration.” Thank you!
PARISH FALL RETREAT: THERE’S STILL SOME ROOM! . . . To date, 23 people are planning to attend the retreat at Mount Saviour Monastery. The Monastery is near Elmira, New York, and is a community of monks who live according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. The community says six daily offices and Mass. More information on the monastery can be found at: www.msaviour.org. The cost for the retreat is $150, which includes all meals and lodging. Those leaving from New York City can coordinate travel together, leaving Saint Mary's on Friday at noon and returning after lunch on Monday. Those interested should see the brochures in the back of the church or contact Penny Byham for more information. Reservations are needed immediately so that adequate space may be set aside. Payment is due in September Please fill out the reservation form in the brochure and give it to an usher or send an e-mail with the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Jeremy Taylor, bishop
Wednesday Jonathan Myrick Daniels, seminarian
Eve of the Assumption 6:00 PM
Thursday The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Procession & Solemn Mass 6:00 PM
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.