From Father Weiler: Joy in Christ
Joy is that delight in life that runs deeper than pain or pleasure; biblically it is not tied solely to external circumstances. Rather, joy is a gift of God, and it can be experienced even in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances. Joy is a quality of life, not simply a fleeting emotion, but a consistent mark of both the individual believer and the believing community. It is grounded in God as God, and flows from him. Psychologically, one cannot experience joy while being preoccupied with one’s own security, pleasure, or self-interest. Indeed joy flows outward towards others. It is simply too good to keep to one’s self.
Jesus makes it clear too, that joy is inseparably connected to love and to obedience in a passage that was read this week on the memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux. “I am the vine; you are the branches,” Jesus said to his disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
In the Gospel of John, the vine image provides the crowning symbol of the life of a community who lives out the love that Jesus shared with it in the foot-washing and in his death. The intermingling of the branches in the vine and the gardener’s attentive care to the fruitfulness of the branches creates the quintessential visual image of the life of the Christian community that is shaped by love, grounded in God’s presence, and infused with joy. The ground of the community’s abiding with Jesus is the love that the Father and Jesus share with each other and that the community is called to enact. We can’t be complete human beings, let alone joyous ones in isolation from one another.
The divine persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, though different, are mutually related from the outset and are inconceivable without these relations. Like the divine persons a Christian person lives from, and with, and towards others. Life lived in this way corresponds with the very life of God, whose perfect communion is attended by perfect joy.
What does it mean for the Church to live as the branches of Christ, the vine? What would “church” look like if it embraced this model for its corporate life? What would Saint Mary’s look like? The image of community that emerges, I think, is one of interrelationship, mutuality, and indwelling.
While on vacation, my wife and I had the occasion to visit a number of vineyards and wineries in Oregon and California. This time of year, the vines are fully leafed out. Full bunches of grapes hang heavy on the vines, turning color as they enter the final stage before full maturity and ripening. In vines like these it is hard to tell where one branch stops and another branch starts. All run together as they grow out of the central vine. The fruitfulness of each branch depends on its organic, abiding union with the central vine and its ability to exist intertwined with other braches in a mutual quest for the warm rays of the sun. To live in a community like this, to live as the branches of Christ the vine, means being members known for acts of love done in common with other members. Each person is vitally and intimately related to Jesus, all the while corporately accountable to his abiding presence and enacting the love of Father and Son such that ever increasing delight in life lived together is the tangible result. The mark of our faithfulness would be loving as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love, and the attending joy that cannot but be shared with all those around us. Matthew Weiler
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carl, priest, who is hospitalized, and for Robert, Jolene, Angel, Peter, Michael, Elenita, George, Eileen, Gloria, David, 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 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 27: 1961 Leslie Evans Roberts; August 29: 1959 James Edward Emanuel; 1961: Joseph B. Thornel.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 51:1-6, Psalm 138, Romans 11:33-36, Matthew 16:13-20 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 24 and on Saturday, August 31, by Father Weiler.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Rector is on vacation through Friday, September 6. Members of the parish community are reminded that the home telephone numbers for Father Gerth and Father Weiler are listed in the white pages of the Manhattan directories under their own names. In case of emergency in the evenings or at night, one can always obtain the number from the operator if a telephone book is not at hand . . . Attendance on Assumption 357, attendance last Sunday 192.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude will be Prelude on a theme of Orlando Gibbons, Op. 105 by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), and the postlude will be Marche by Louis-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817-1869). The soloist is Geoffrey Williams, countertenor and baritone. The anthem at Communion is Können Tränen from Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). Our soloist is proficient as both a countertenor and a baritone – which is actually not an unusual combination. Most men who sing countertenor do not sing that part because their voice is unusually high, but because they have a good use of falsetto, or head voice, the part of the voice that rests above the normal speaking voice and uses the vocal chords in a different way. Mr. Williams will sing the minor propers using his baritone voice, and the aria as a countertenor. Countertenors have an important place in the history of Western Church music. Most of the music our choir sings was written for choirs with male altos (as women generally did not sing in church in those days), which makes it appropriate for us to do the same. Many people are not aware that in the English tradition of Men and Boys choirs, the boys sing the treble (soprano) part only, and men sing alto, tenor and bass. In the continental European tradition, however, boys usually sang both soprano and alto, leaving men to sing tenor and bass. The countertenor sound is wonderful, and usually quite different from the sound of a female mezzo-soprano, and it is good that we can use both in our music today!
NEW HANDRAILS . . . New handrails, which have been made for the pillars by the high altar rail, are scheduled for installation on Tuesday, August 27. The rails were designed by Mr. Peter Pennoyer, and were crafted by Stella, LLC. A future project will include handrails for the steps on the exterior of the church, which are currently being designed.
ASSUMPTION THANKS . . . Many thanks to those who worked so hard to make the Feast of the Assumption so very special: The people who polished and cleaned beforehand, the person who did the flowers, the ushers, the servers, the musicians, the people who made the reception so special (and what WAS in that punch—incredible!), Father Galloway, Bishop Epting and the faithful who prayed and sang through the smoke and heat. A joyful, joyful feast. Thanks everyone.
SEPTEMBER WOMEN’S MEETING . . . The Women and Spirituality Group continues through the summer, meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting is Tuesday, September 10 and will include a study of the story of Lot’s daughters and wife in Genesis. One question that will be asked is, “What can we learn from these stories?” Those who attended the August meeting may also want to bring something they have written based upon last month’s meeting. The group meets in Saint Benedict’s Study at 7:00 PM and all female members and friends of Saint Mary’s are warmly invited to attend.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Wednesday Augustine of Hippo, bishop
Thursday Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Aidan, bishop
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.