FROM THE RECTOR: “MOST HOLY OF SEASONS”
This morning when I read an advertisement which describes Lent as “the most holy of seasons,” I read it again to make sure I was reading it correctly. I was—and it made me wonder if someone had unintentionally said something about his or her experience of the church year. Lent “more holy” than Easter, Christmas or Advent? Then I thought about what Saint Mary’s will be like on March 5, 2014, the First Day of Lent.
If you are new to New York, you probably have no idea what this day means for many churches in the city. At Saint Mary’s, more people will enter on Ash Wednesday than on any other day of the year. Most who come will stand before a priest, sister, or seminarian to be marked with ashes and to hear these words, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”
I would not describe Lent as the most holy season of the year, but it is the only season when we schedule six extra services, Stations of the Cross on Fridays after Evening Prayer. The parish’s full professional choir will sing at the Sung Mass at 12:10 PM (one of the larger services of the year) and at the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. At both the incredibly powerful setting of Psalm 51, Miserere mei, Deus, by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) will be sung. If we do our spiritual work during Lent well, it will be Eastertide, not Lent, that will be the holiest season of our year.
My first Ash Wednesday at Saint Mary’s was just two weeks after I became rector. I only participated in the Solemn Mass that year. In 2000, I was celebrant—along with one server and one usher—for the 12:10 PM Mass and we were totally unprepared for the hundreds who just kept coming, not only for the Mass, but also for ashes. It’s worth remembering that the city generally, and Times Square in particular, changed radically as the new century was upon us.
On Ash Wednesday 2001, our new bishop suffragan-elect Allen Shin was our curate. After the early Masses in the morning, we visited a number of neighboring parishes that were “ashing” all day to see how it was being done. The winner, as it were, was Saint Thomas Church. Canon Harry Kraus was on duty as we walked in. He stood at the chancel steps in cassock, surplice and purple stole—and he had a smile on his face that invited all who entered to come forward. It’s been our model at Saint Mary’s ever since.
What made it work at Saint Thomas and what has made the day work here since then have been the volunteers and staff who are in the church to welcome and help those who come for whatever reason on that day—read on in this newsletter for details on how you can volunteer to help. The great majority do not come for the Eucharist. A significant number will not be actively practicing Christians. That said, they come. Many are visibly moved by the church itself, not to mention this very simple ritual.
The words used with the imposition of ashes come from the story of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:19). A more important point of reference are the words that are used at the grave after a coffin is lowered. While dirt is cast upon the coffin, the officiant prays, “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother (Name), and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (The Book of Common Prayer  501).
Knowing Jesus Christ is always more than knowing Lent. It’s knowing Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s about sharing his risen life, becoming in him, a new man, a new woman, a child of God reborn to eternal life. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Gloria, Dick, Richmond, Gypsy, Rick, Jack, Michael, Heather, Rob, Takeem, Linda, Eloise, Arpene, Margaretta, religious, Paulette, priest, Harry, priest, and for Don, bishop; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth; and for the repose of the soul of Mary Jean Yates . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 23:. 1885 Sophia D. Clark; 1908 Kate Cecelia Brinkerhoff; 1822 Samuel Pratt; 1956 Marie Lawrence Hunting; 1996 Mary Virginia Denworth; 1999 George Everson Dix.
SAINT RAPHAEL’S GUILD OF USHERS . . . Please contact Randy Morgan to let him know if you are available to serve as usher on Ash Wednesday (March 5), the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25), Fridays in Lent at 6:30 (Stations of the Cross), or during Holy Week (April 13-20). Thank you so much for your ministry!
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, February 23, the atrium; the Church School for the older children will meet on Sunday in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, February 23, at 10:00 AM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. The class will be led by Professor Bruce Mullin . . . Sunday, February 23, 5:00 PM, Evensong & Benediction, Guest Choir from the Church of Saint Luke, Darien, Connecticut . . . Monday, February 24, The Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle: Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on February 26 or on March 5 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 22, by Father Jim Pace, and on Saturday, March 1, by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Congratulations to Dr. Deirdre Good, professor of New Testament at General Theological Seminary, was who invested on January 24, 2014 as Honorary Canon of the diocese of Central Pennsylvania and Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, Harrisburg . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for Sundays, March 30 (The Fourth Sunday in Lent). We also hope to receive donations to defray the costs of the reception on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish Friday, February 21, through Saturday, March 1. He will be in church on Sunday, March 2 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 188.
BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION & RECEPTION . . . If you, or someone you know, would like to be baptized at the Easter Vigil on April 19 please speak to Father Smith or Father Gerth. If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, you may also speak to a member of the clergy. Confirmation & Reception will be celebrated at the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 29, at 6:00 PM by our newly ordained bishop suffragan.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), illustrious Austrian composer, popularly known as the “Father of the Symphony,” was, in fact, one of the greatest catalysts of classical music in his or any other age. He did much to develop the symphonic form, thought to be the formulation of Johann Stamitz and other members of the Mannheim School, created the string quartet as an outgrowth of the trio-sonata, and wrote for virtually every instrument and ensemble group known at his time. Situated as he was at the center of Europe’s cultural advancement, Haydn collaborated with a much older Mozart, and was in time to take Beethoven under his wing as a student. He served the court of the Esterházy for much of his life, dividing his efforts between music of entertainment and music for the church. The extent of Haydn’s output will never be known precisely, but we have 104 symphonies under his signature, 83 string quartets, countless keyboard works, oratorios, and operas. Haydn is known to have composed some 20 Masses, though not all are extant. A man of deep religious faith, Haydn wrote that all his work redounded to the greater glory of God, and he signed most of them with the words, Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriam (“Everything to the greater glory of God”). The Missa brevis we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is thought to date from 1775. Thomas Attwood (1765–1838) was an English organist and composer, and founder of the London Philharmonic Society (1813). With the sponsorship of the Prince of Wales (later, George IV), Attwood was sent to Italy to study, then to Vienna where he studied with Mozart. Returning in time to England, Attwood was an enthusiastic proponent of the music of the young Felix Mendelssohn. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we hear Attwood’s best-known motet, Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy Statutes . . . On Sunday, February 23, at 4:40 PM, Neal Campbell will play the organ recital. Mr. Campbell is the organist and music director at the Church of Saint Luke, Darien, Connecticut. His program includes works by Théodore Dubois (1837-1924) and César Franck (1822-1890). At Evensong, which begins at 5:00 PM, the service will be sung by the Saint Luke’s Parish Choir of Senior Boys and Girls and Adults. Mr. Campbell will conduct. Mark Peterson
PLEASE WELCOME OUR GUEST CHOIRS . . . A number of choirs from parishes in the metropolitan area—and from England—will be joining us on Sunday evenings in the next few months for Evensong and Benediction. On Sunday, February 23, the Parish Choir of the Church of Saint Luke, Darien, Connecticut, will sing the service. On March 2, the Choristers of the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, New York City, will join us at Evensong. On Sunday, March 30, the Choir of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, will sing the service. On Sunday, April 27, the Choir of Men & Boys from The Church of the Transfiguration, New York City, will be with us. Except during Lent, Evensong is preceded by an organ recital at 4:40 PM. The service itself begins at 5:00 PM. Refreshments are served in Saint Joseph’s Hall following Evensong from 6:00-6:30 PM. We invite you to join us.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, February 23: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will take place in the Atrium at 9:45 AM; Church School for the older children will meet with Peter Secor at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will meet on the second floor of the Mission House. Prof. Bruce Mullin will lead the class (see below for more detail) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on Wednesday, February 26 or on March 5. Jay Smith
STUDYING CHURCH HISTORY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . This coming Sunday, Professor Bruce Mullin will continue his three-part series on the history of Anglicanism and the birth of the Episcopal Church: February 23, “The Challenge to the Elizabethan Compromise”; March 2, “The Rise of the Episcopal Church in America”. Dr. Mullin teaches church history at the General Theological Seminary. He has advised the Episcopal Church on a variety of historical and canonical matters and he is known to be an excellent lecturer. We hope that you will join us. No prior study or experience is necessary. All are welcome.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . March 5, Ash Wednesday . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Monday, March 24, Eve of the Annunciation, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, March 25, The Annunciation, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, April 13, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.
AIDS WALK 2014 . . . Last year, the Saint Mary’s team did very well in its fundraising efforts. This year we hope to do even better! This year’s Walk will take place on Sunday, May 18. We are hoping to be able to add more members to our team this year. It is already possible to register and begin fundraising. Simply go to the GMHC/AIDS Walk website. Ask to join an already existing team and select the Saint Mary’s team. Teams are listed in alphabetical order. We are listed as “Saint Mary the Virgin – 0445”. If you have questions, please speak to MaryJane Boland or Clark Mitchell.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Holy Cross School and its Scholarship Fund at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery, Grahamstown, South Africa, a house of the Anglican Order of the Holy Cross. Donations may be made c/o Brother Robert Sevensky, OHC, Superior, Holy Cross Monastery, PO Box 99, West Park, NY 12493. When making a donation, it would be helpful if you could let the brothers know that you heard about the school through Saint Mary’s . . . The New York City Coalition Against Hunger is in the midst of its Annual Appeal for donations. Please visit the Coalition’s website for more information or to make a donation . . . We are 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. We also continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Food Pantry. J.R.S.