Joining the Mystery
The Christian community assembles for the Eucharist so that an epiphany of the Lord’s death and resurrection may take place. Our individual intentions are not always so clearly focused. Many Christian communities on any day can have many ulterior motives for assembling. But following the Lord’s commands, his plan for the salvation of the world and the traditions of the Church, Christians assemble to make the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ present in the world today.
When I hear the word “epiphany” my brain usually takes me to the great feast that we celebrate twelve days after Christmas, “The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.” My head will play the hymn “We three kings of Orient are.” I think Christmas flowers. I think of the
statues that are moved around the church building to the Christmas Crèche. But the word has a deeper general meaning, “a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by something simple” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1990). Again, we come together for the Eucharist so that an epiphany of the Lord’s death and resurrection may take place.
The Roman Catholic theologian Romano Guardini (1885 –1968) articulated this liturgical insight for our generation. It is the insight that unlocks Christian prayer and experience. Easter is at the heart of Christian worship and it is the mystery at the center of humankind’s history. Any sermon on any occasion can correctly begin with the words, “We are here to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” When any Christian community is not clear about why it has gathered, the Easter Mystery can be obscured all too easily.
The Eucharist is not a drill. It is not a series of prescribed words and actions that mechanically require the Creator to make Christ present among us – that is blasphemy. Sunday Mass is not an exercise in connoisseurship. It is the particular opportunity we have to experience and enjoy the Easter Mystery. Our desire to offer our best to God is our response to his gifts of life and love –anyone in love ought to get carried away more than a little on a regular basis. And we do get carried away by our love of the Lord in this place.
I think it is probably all right for us to talk with each other about how wonderful certain things were on Sunday, a feast day or any day. This is even fitting, because its’ hard to talk about life and death – the central reality of our assembly.
One of my friends urges me never to sound as if I am apologizing when I make announcements at the end of Mass to welcome people. He’s right. There is something very powerful here for which we need never apologize or be ashamed. This is the Body of Christ. For all of our failings, I have never known a Christian community with any clearer sense of its identity and mission. Come to Saint Mary’s to join in the mystery. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Sarah, Julia, Grover, Annie, Paul, Robert, Eileen, Gloria, Jerri, Myra, Tessie, Margaret, 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 . . October 15: 1957 Lynda Beatrice Roberts; 1971 Florence F. Scheftel; 1987 Harold Polit; October 19: 1993 Jerome Branch-Terrell.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:4-13, Matthew 22:1-14 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 12, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, October 19, by Father Smith.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . .The prelude before the Sunday Solemn Mass will be Saraband (In Modo Elegiaco) by Herbert Howells (1892-1983) and the postlude will be Prelude from Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 27, by Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Il bianco e dolce cigno’ by Stefano Bernardi (c. 1585-1636). This is an example of the type of Mass setting called a “parody Mass.” A parody Mass is based on another piece of music by the same or another composer, or even a folk song. This Mass by Bernardi is based on Il bianco e dolce cigno (“The white and lovely swan”), a madrigal by Jacques Arcadelt (c. 1505-1568). There are many parody Masses, and our choir has sung number of them recently, including the Palestrina Missa ‘Assumpta est Maria’ which Palestrina based on his own motet of the same name. The motet at Communion is Jerusalem surge by Henrich Isaac (c. 1450-1517). We continue our organ recital series before Solemn Evensong & Benediction. This week, we welcome Mr. Andrew Henderson, assistant organist at the Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Manhattan, who will play Suite pour orgue, Op. 5, by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: The Walking Tour of Upper West Side Churches is Saturday, October 12. The tour departs from Saint Mary’s at 10:00 AM . . . Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, October 27. Please call the parish office to sign-up . . . Many thanks to all who helped make the Gospel 2002 concerts possible last weekend. The concerts, by Broadway Inspirational Voices, benefited Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS . . . Attendance last Sunday 310.
THEATER NIGHT FOR THE Twenty and Thirty-Something . . . There are just a few tickets remaining for the 8:00 PM October 17, 2002 showing of a new funny, yet touching Broadway play called “Hollywood Arms,” which recently opened at the Cort Theater on 48th Street. All twenty and thirty-something members and friends of Saint Mary’s are welcome to join Father Weiler and other younger parishioners who are going to show. The tickets are only $15. Please contact Father Weiler no later than Sunday, October 13 by phone (212-869-5830 ext. 16) or email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for ticket information.
SUMMARY OF THE SEPTEMBER 23, 2002, BOARD MEETING . . . At its September 23, 2002, meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Heard that a large number of people attended the Solemn Evensong on September 10 and the Requiem Mass on September 11, 2002, in remembrance of the innocent victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, in one year’s mind. 2. Heard a report from Mr. Peelen and the Mission House Committee about building development. 3. Heard plans for the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of Saint Mary’s Aeolian-Skinner Organ, with a concert to be given by Mr. McNeil Robinson, a former Music Director at Saint Mary’s, on Saturday January 11, 2003. 4. Designated Ms. Fitzgerald and Mr. Christian to assist the Rector with the Stewardship Campaign this year. 5. Heard plans for a new member event, which will take place in the Rectory on Monday October 7, 2002, beginning at 7 PM. 6. Learned that the Rector will be away for a brief time during the month of December, including Sunday, December 15, 2002. 7. Learned that Mr. Peter Pennoyer has recommended an architect for the organ gallery project. The railing of the gallery needs to be properly supported. 8. Learned that new hand railings are needed for the front of the Church, on the 46th Street side. Leroy Sharer, secretary
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, bishop
Columbus Day: Federal Holiday Schedule, One Mass only 12:15 PM
Tuesday Saint Teresa of Avila, religious
Thursday Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop & martyr
Eve of Saint Luke’s Day 6:00 PM
Friday Saint Luke the Evangelist Abstinence
Saturday Henry Martyn, priest & missionary
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.