Always the Leader
The weekday guests were from the University of the South. Observing the Calvary Shrine, with candles blazing before it, the visitor remarked, “That’s very catholic.” Your rector responded – with a smile, “We think of it as very Episcopalian.” The person’s eyes had the “new data” look in them. I love it when someone suggests to me that the world is a bigger place than I had imagined it to be; I love it when I as a Christian can suggest to another that the world is bigger than he or she thought it was. I hope our guest realized that the Episcopal Church is something larger than what she thought when she arrived.
Very few people appreciate even today what a radical vision of Christian community Saint Mary’s has represented since its founding in 1868. The parish is one of the preeminent expressions, if not the preeminent expression, of urban liturgical Christianity in the United States. The tradition, the building, the location, the community, the music and the hearts of the people here make possible a very rich and powerful proclamation of God’s plan for his creation in and through his Son. This is certainly not the only way to proclaim the Gospel; but it arises and evolves from the most ancient traditions of the followers of the Risen Lord
Recently, while I was at the home of one of our members and was being shown around, he remarked to me, “You don’t have to accept everything your family wants to give you.” I think that idea also applies to the way we look at the world with eyes of faith. When new doors and new ways of looking at things open for us as individuals or as a parish community we may be tempted to carry in more than we should from the past. We can make decisions about this.
Certainly the renewed baptismal ecclesiology which is welling up in the Episcopal Church has enabled us to leapfrog many challenges and to move forward. The assembly is the Body of Christ. It doesn’t need, for example, a priest to stand at the altar in the place of Christ, but to serve, preside and lead. The font is thus for us a new door and an old door, through which we are invited to move into a greater relationship with Christ and a deeper understanding of how essential each member of the assembly is.
Saint Mary’s continues to lead for several reasons. The parish is willing to move forward. There is development in Christian theology and Christian living. Just as God revealed his identity to us in time through the Church, God continues to draw us into himself over looking at things open for us as individuals or as a parish community we may be tempted to carry in time. He opens the new door. At the heart of our common life I think our parish community is very clear who the Leader is. And his mother’s name was Mary. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Eileen, Gloria, Robert, Jerri, Myra, Tessie, Marion, Olga, Rick and Charles, priest. Pray also for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned, David and John . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 21: 1963 Frederick Webb Ross; July 22: 1960 Mary Waters.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, Psalm 86:11-17, Romans 8:18-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 22, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, July 27 by Father Smith.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude will be Berceuse and Lied from 24 Pièces en style libre, Op. 31 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937), and the postlude will be Fuge in G-dur, BWV 577 (“Jig”) by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). Again, we welcome Robert McDermitt as the organist for Solemn Mass this Sunday. The soloist is Amanda Silverman, soprano, and the anthem at Communion is Höchster, mache deine Güte from Cantata BWV 51, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, also by Bach.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, August 18, and Sunday, August 25. If you wish to give them, please contact the parish office or send an email . . . .Our interns from Sewanee will be with us until July 26 . . . Mr. Peter Anthony, our intern from England, has arrived. Please greet him warmly when you meet him . . . We are very proud that the Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, Secretary of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and assisting priest at Saint Mary’s, is one of four priests nominated to be the next Bishop of Easton. The Diocese of Easton, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is comprised of some 45 parishes and 193 clergy. A new bishop is to be elected at Convention on September 28. Our prayers and best wishes are with Rosemari and her husband, Ted, as they discern God’s call for the future . . . Attendance last Sunday 205.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2002 . . . In last week’s Angelus, there was a brief note about upcoming events, but more words should be said now about one event in particular. Over the last few months, your clergy, staff and trustees, in conversation with others in and around the city have tried to discern what might be the most appropriate way of observing September 11, 2002, the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and deaths of thousands of innocent Americans. Other churches and organizations will have special ways of observing that day, but we have decided that the most appropriate way for us to observe the 11th is with a Solemn Requiem at Noon. The Right Reverend E. Don Taylor, Vicar Bishop for New York City, has agreed to be our celebrant and preacher. The Mass ordinary will be Missa pro defunctis by Tomás Luis de Victoria.
MORE UP AND DOWN . . . One of the greatest strengths and witnesses our parish community makes is the daily public praying of Morning and Evening Prayer. Although normative for Anglican parishes since the Reformation and still common in other parts of the Anglican Communion, the daily public prayer of the Offices is almost unknown now in the Episcopal Church. Even where Morning and Evening Prayer are offered, the parish clergy almost never lead the Offices or attend the offices. At Saint Mary’s, this has never been the case. The parish clergy, except on their day off, pray the Office together with the congregation in the church. Nothing is more characteristic of Anglican devotion since the Reformation. Sadly, almost unbelievably, the clergy have largely abandoned the Office in its historic Anglican context.
Like our weekday Masses, we make every effort for the offering of Morning and Evening Prayer to be reverent, devout and useful. The parish clergy and I regularly discuss how we lead and pray the Office. Make no mistake, the congregation is crucial for the public praying of the Office. It is the assembly who prays the Office; the officiant is there to serve by presiding.
I want to try to handle the end of the praying of the Psalter in a new/old way. It is our custom to begin the appointed psalms, the assembly standing, for the officiant to read the first verse until the asterisk. Then all sit and the psalms are offered antiphonally, that is, from side to side by whole verses. We also continue the custom, reflective of the structure of the verses of Hebrew poetry, of making a deliberate pause at the asterisk. Again, the parish clergy, lay readers and I have become quietly aggressive about helping the congregation know what we do. (One goal has been to make the announcements of instructions in such a way that newcomers have no sense they are intended for them alone.)
Since seminary days I have disliked the custom of bowing while seated for the recitation of Gloria Patri at the end of the appointed psalms. In some communities there is the custom of standing at the asterisk in the last verse of the appointed psalms, so that the assembly can be standing for Gloria Patri. I would like to experiment with this for a period to see if this would work. Come and pray with us. I let our readers who live elsewhere know how it goes. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Saint Mary Magdalene
Wednesday Thomas a Kempis, priest
Eve of Saint James’s Day 6:00 PM
Thursday Saint James the Apostle
Friday The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary Abstinence
Saturday William Reed Huntington, priest
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.