Faith, not Fear
The shadow of fear hangs over me and I see it in the eyes of others too. A terrible death has been inflicted on over five thousand innocent people, most of them died a few miles south of where our parish sits. It could have been a bomb in Times Square; it could have been anywhere.
The disciples had a great deal of fear, especially before they had faith. Some were afraid when Jesus told them to leave their old lives behind. Some were afraid when Jesus said to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar’s. Judas was terribly afraid. The others were afraid in the Garden. They could only look at Calvary from afar. They were even afraid when they saw the tomb empty, and even when Jesus himself came to them alive.
Fear is psychological, emotional and biological, if you will permit these distinctions. It is a response of our biology when we sense danger. Sometimes our fears are rational. At other times they are irrational. Yet, even in the shadow of death, none of us needs to be overwhelmed by fear. Fear is not the fundamental controlling human response. Sacrifice so that others can live is the greatest and most fundamental human response. Indeed, it is more than human. It is where humanity and divinity meet in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord.
On Wednesday, September 19, I was part of a small group of parishioners who were able to assist with the feeding ministry at the Seamen’s Church Institute near the disaster site and at Saint Paul’s Chapel, in the closed recovery zone. Walking around the wreckage I encountered so many wonderful human beings, all of whom were afraid, but none of whom seemed at all eager to rest, let alone leave. The reverence I saw for the dead spoke of faith, not fear. Ground Zero is a tomb. I don’t think anyone can see the people who are working there without believing in the reality of evil and the ultimate and greater goodness of God. Every person working in the wreckage of the World Trade Center is putting himself or herself at risk to save any who may have survived and to honor the dead. If there were the slimmest chance of one being found alive, many would step forward to die. Sacrifice connects fear to something greater, faith. Sacrifice conquers fear.
This morning I watched from my office window a blind man walk with a cane down the street, as he does most mornings of the week. I don’t know him; but I know he has faith and courage. He stumbles more than even the clumsiest of us who have sight. But he goes forward.
I have seen what evil can do. I know I will not go forward without the shadow of evil and death being larger in my life and in the life of my community and country. But today I have little patience with my own fear. It would be a dishonor to the dead and to those who are working to honor them.
At one point in the afternoon a firefighter started to run after me, calling to me, “Father, stop!” I thought I was in the wrong place. He brought me to his chief who said, “Father, they need you over there.” I was taken to a group of firefighters who were collecting the remains of someone who had died. I prayed over them briefly. The bag was closed. A few minutes later I saw the bag being carried by two of them, with love and faith and without fear.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for the members of the Armed Forces of our country on active duty, especially Patrick, Christopher, Edward and Andrew, for the civil and public safety officers of our city and state, for Karen who is hospitalized, for Marion, Beatrice, Godfrey, Jack, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Peter, Joseph, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Russell, Susan, Esme, Tessie, Richard, Jennifer, John, William, Norma, Raymond, Barbara, priest, Charles, priest, and Arthur, priest, and for the repose of the soul of Rae Anne . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 23: 1969 Rosie Matilda Flemister; September 27: 1992 Harold Patch.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Amos 8:4-12, Psalm 138, 1 Timothy 2:1-8, Luke 16:1-13 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, September 22 by Father Gerth and on Saturday, September 29 by Father Smith.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Sergius, abbot
Wednesday Lancelot Andrewes, bishop
Thursday Vincent de Paul, martyr
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Eve of Michaelmas
Sung Mass 6:00 PM
Saturday Saint Michael & All Angels
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew G. Weiler, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, 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.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday will be Berceuse and the postlude Carillon, both by Louis Vierne (1870-1937), from his 24 Pièces en style libre. Miss Megan Loomis, soprano, will be our soloist. The solo at communion will be Quia respexit from Magnificat, BWV 243, by J. S. Bach (1685-1750).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Karen Benson is hospitalized at New York University Medical Center. She is to be released shortly to a nursing home as she recovers from surgery on her knee. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Father Michael Basden and Jill Basden were able to return home to Naples, Florida, on Monday, September 17. We were grateful not only for Father being here to preach at the Solemn Mass on Holy Cross but for their ministry to us all of last week. It is not how they planned to spend their twentieth anniversary! Father assisted with the Noon Mass on Holy Cross and Jill was drafted to serve as an honorary member of the ushers’ group, Saint Raphael’s Guild . . . As we go to press, Father Allen Shin and Clara Shin are scheduled to leave this afternoon, finally, for Britain . . . Thanks to those who volunteered to work with the Seamen’s Institute on Wednesday. As with so many opportunities, we had far more volunteers than there was need. Thanks to all for your willingness to be of service . . . Attendance last Sunday: 232.
ABOUT MICHAELMAS . . . On Friday evening, September 28, we will have a simple Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. The Mass should last less than an hour. There will be congregational music; there will be incense! Michaelmas is the traditional English name for the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . The Wednesday evening classes have resumed. We begin this year with a series led by Father Breidenthal on “The Prodigal Son.” Discussion will be based upon the story from Luke 15 and will explore various ways the passage can be understood, experienced and applied to our lives. Those arriving for classes on weeknights after Mass are reminded of the doorbell that rings in Saint Benedict’s Study located inside the 46th Street Parish Building entrance.
SUMMARY OF THE SEPTEMBER 17, 2001, BOARD MEETING . . . At its September 17, 2001, meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Prayed for those who have died and those who mourn, for our Nation, and for peace and justice. 2. Heard about the activities at the Church since the World Trade Center disaster. The Church has remained open throughout each day, and many people have come in to seek solace. At the noonday Mass on Friday September 14, more than 600 people were in attendance, with the offering dedicated to the relief efforts. The clergy have also ventured into the streets around Times Square, to offer support to police and firemen and to console passersby. 3. Learned that renovation work is continuing in Saint Joseph’s Hall and in the Curate’s apartment, which is on the fifth floor of the Parish House. 4. Discussed plans for a Stewardship reception to be held at the Rectory on Monday October 15, beginning at 7:00 PM. 5. Discussed Board membership and rotation off the Board for members who have served. 6. Heard of plans for evening Solemn Masses for: All Saints’ Day, November 1; All Souls’ Day, November 2; the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, November 30, when the Curate, Father Weiler, is scheduled to be ordained to the Order of Sacred Priests by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold; and our Patronal Feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 7, when the preacher will be Father Allen Moses, vicar, All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London. Leroy Sharer, secretary
CELEBRATING A NEW BISHOP . . . The Diocese of New York invites you to be present at the recognition, investiture and installation of the Right Reverend Mark Sean Sisk as the Fifteenth Bishop of New York and for the Mass on the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, Saturday, September 29, 2001 at 11:00 AM at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.