FROM THE RECTOR: THE YEAR AHEAD
I think the average member of the Church would be amazed at how much time rectors spend on the details of worship. One of the significant downsides to General Convention’s ongoing liturgical revisions since 1979 has been to create what can only be called calendar and lectionary chaos. There are so many options now that if you care even a little about worship you have to spend a lot of time sorting it out. This is especially true in parishes where there are daily services.
One of the projects I take on in the summer is to prepare a draft of the calendar for the year ahead. It’s not an easy thing to do. I’m very thankful Mother Mary Jett has a real gift for editing my calendar work. Because we put a lot of work into the calendar, the occasional mistake may still be found, but in the big scheme of things, there are very few of them. There are just a lot of variables from year to year—and just a little math will increase your respect for calendar editors
There are 365 days in the year, most years. There are a minimum of five different services to be listed for almost every day of the year—the few exceptions being federal holidays. Some days begin as one celebration but end as another. This Friday, August 23, will dawn as a “Weekday.” The day will become the “Eve of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle” at Evening Prayer since Saturday, August 24 is his feast. The same kind of thing happens the very next night when the celebration of Saint Bartholomew’s day gives way to the Eve of the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost at Evening Prayer.
Nowadays there are more optional commemorations ("lesser feasts") through the year that we omit than use. In 2014, the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29, and Holy Cross Day, September 14, fall on Sundays. When this happens, as the Prayer Book permits, we observe them in preference to the ordinary Sunday celebration. Since All Saint’s Day is Saturday, November 1, our Solemn Mass will be held on the eve. All Souls’ Day will be transferred to Monday, November 3.
Working through the calendar this way gives me a real sense of the rhythm of the year ahead. Easter Day will be April 20 in 2014. This means more time between Christmas and Lent—which usually makes preparations for Holy Week less frantic. When it comes to planning for music expenses, there are more Sundays in 2014 when the choir will sing than were in 2013. Our final spring 2013 Sunday Evensong & Benediction was on Trinity Sunday, May 26, Memorial Day weekend. In 2014, Trinity Sunday will be June 15, three Sundays after Memorial Day.
As I write on Friday morning, after a wonderful Assumption celebration yesterday, I’ve just received word that my mother’s younger brother, Donny Matthews, is gravely ill and his family is preparing for the end of his life. I know it is very hard for my aunt and their family, and for my mother’s older brother, his wife and all of us. Frankly, it’s a little hard right now for me to concentrate any more on calendars. But this news makes the words I had planned as a conclusion for this article have a particular meaning for me.
I am always moved at the Easter Vigil by the traditional words and gestures used in the preparation of the Paschal Candle. With the light of the newly kindled fire rising, the celebrant cuts into the wax a cross, the Greek letters alpha and omega, and then the calendar year. As this is done, these words are proclaimed to the congregation, “Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age for ever.” At this point in my life, my understanding and conviction about time and eternity are captured by this symbol of Christ’s light and these words. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Donny, Shirley, John, Ida, Maggie, Takeem, Babak, Tyler, David, Emma, Mary, Sean, Casey, Eloise, Sharon, Linda, Diana, Eileen, Arpene, Rebecca, deacon, Paulette, priest, and Thomas, bishop; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Alex, Elizabeth and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 18: 1915 Mary Augusta Ward; 1934 Ida Virginia Goodall; 1940 Myrna French Cloudman; 1955 Louis Herbert Gray; 1961 Lois Rogers Hayden.
FRIDAY ABSTINENCE . . . The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Stewardship Committee has met and begun to make plans for this year’s Stewardship Campaign. Stewardship packets will be mailed on Monday, October 28. Commitment Sunday is November 24, the Last Sunday after Pentecost. Stewardship of time, treasure, and talent means more than participating in a fundraising effort, although the campaign certainly involves fundraising. Rather, it is a prayerful and intentional act of mission and ministry on the part of the members of the Body of Christ, who are called to be Christ’s disciples. We invite you to pray for the success of the campaign and to begin now to consider how you might be a good steward of all your gifts in the coming year. We thank all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously. Our doors remain open because of you.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, August 19, at 6:30 PM . . . Saturday, August 24, is the Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 17, by Mother Mary Julia Jett, and on Saturday, August 24, by Father Stephen Gerth.
FROM DEACON WEINER TOMPKINS . . . Five weeks ago, I had unexpected surgery to explore some suspicious findings—which went well with no follow-up procedure needed, I’m thankful to say. Since then I have been recuperating. I assumed I’d pretty quickly resume the routine of my life. However as is often the case, real life has its own timetable and things have proceeded a bit more slowly than I had hoped. I am still not quite as strong as I need to be to serve at the altar. I expect to return very soon and I look forward to that time eagerly. I have missed you all. Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to all those who did so much to make the Feast of the Assumption such a glorious day here at Saint Mary’s. The hard work on the part of our sextons and our many volunteers, as well as our ushers, musicians, acolytes, and artists is very much appreciated. Taken together, it was all a great ministry of prayer, worship, creativity, and hospitality . . . Altar flowers are needed for most Sundays in September. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Tuesday, August 20. He returns on Friday, August 23 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 176; Assumption 343.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . An Italian master provides organ music for Solemn Mass this Sunday. Domenico Zipoli (1688–1726) was a composer of the Italian Baroque period. Born in Prato, Italy, he received training at the Cathedral school there and later in Florence. He studied with the great Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples, and finally with Bernardo Pasquini in Rome. In 1715 he was named organist at the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, in Rome. He became a Jesuit in order to work in the Reductions of Paraguay, where his musical expertise contributed to developing the natural musical talents of the Guaraní people. His Italian compositions have always been known, but recently some of his South American church music was discovered in Chiquitos, Bolivia: two Masses, two psalm settings, three Office hymns, and a Te Deum laudamus, among other pieces. His music has been highly regarded, if not often performed, and he very decisively influenced later composers. At the ministration of Holy Communion, soprano Emilie Williams sings Bekennen will ich seinen namen (“I shall acknowledge His name”), originally written by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690–1749) in 1720 and arranged in 1742 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Though just a fragment, the work exists as Cantata No. 200 in Bach’s catalogue of works. Mark Peterson
THE VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM (VAP) . . . A new exhibition of work by Pakistani-American artist, Qinza Najm, is now on view in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Ms. Najm’s paintings have been shown in exhibitions in Atlanta, Dubai and New York. The exhibition, “Sublime Allegory,” had its official opening on Thursday, August 15. Ms. Najm tells us that “I am eager to break stereotypes. My works embody the struggles and conflicts that surface when one inhabits a world [that exists] between the two extremes of East and West, trying to stay true to her traditional Pakistani roots, while simultaneously navigating life in New York.” Ms. Najm is convinced that “spirituality exists within the self, and not in any one or any particular kind of religion.” She says, “The works are meditations that interrogate personal demons in order to conquer them . . . The adaptation of religious imagery represents a battle between ‘ego’ and ‘empathy’ between the two cultures.” She hopes that her large-scale paintings will invite the viewer to form his or her own stories and to connect to the work with an open mind.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The reception after the Solemn Mass on August 15 was a great success, because of the generosity of those who made cash donations, as well as donations of food, and because of the many friends and members of the parish who helped organize the event and serve refreshments. Even though the reception was very well attended, we still stayed close to our budget because of the thoughtfulness and generosity of our donors. The next reception will take place on Friday, November 1, All Saints’ Day. If you would like to make a donation, or if you would like to volunteer to help with hospitality, please contact José Vidal, Aaron Koch, or Father Jay Smith.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on September 18, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, will be reading the Acts of the Apostles this year. The class will not meet on October 16 or November 6 . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, October 6, at 1:00 PM in the church (note later time on this date). We kick off the adult-education season with a presentation and tour led by Dr. Dennis Raverty and Mr. Dick Leitsch, The Art of Saint Mary’s in Its Architectural and Historical Context. All are welcome at our adult-education classes and no prior preparation or experience is necessary . . . Adult Forum: October 13, 20 & 27, at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House, The Poetry & Hymnody of Syriac Christianity, led by Mother Mary Julia Jett . . . Adult Forum: November 3, 10, 17, “The Book of Exodus,” led by Father Pete Powell; Adult Forum: November 24, Anglican History & Tradition: Archbishop Michael Ramsey, a lecture-presentation by the Rev. Canon John G.B. Andrew, rector emeritus, Saint Thomas Church, New York City.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Electronic versions of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s Guide to Free Food and Assistance are available here . . . We continue to gather non-perishable food items for Saint Clement’s Pantry. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work . . . We are already gratefully accepting donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks. We send some items of clothing to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Other items are kept here for distribution to those in need . . . The Book Sale continues on Sunday. All proceeds are used to help those in need. Books cost only one dollar, unless otherwise marked—though we are always happy to receive a larger donation! Thank you to all who have donated books and kept the Sale going!
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street: “Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art,” May 17–September 2, 2013. From the Morgan website, “Featuring more than sixty-five exquisitely illuminated manuscripts, Illuminating Faith offers glimpses into medieval culture, and explores the ways in which artists of the [medieval] period depicted the celebration of the sacrament and its powerful hold on society. The exhibition presents some of the Morgan’s finest works, including the Hours of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, one of the greatest of all Books of Hours; the exquisite Preparation for Mass of Pope Leo X, which remained at the Vatican until it was looted by Napoleon's troops in 1798; a private prayer book commissioned by Anne de Bretagne, queen of France, for her son the dauphin, Charles-Orland; and a number of rarely-exhibited Missals. Also on display will be objects used in medieval Eucharistic rituals, such as a chalice, ciborium, pax, altar card, and monstrances.”