FROM FATHER PACE: STATIONS
Last week as a member of the congregation I attended Stations of the Cross, which is offered here during Lent on Friday evenings at 6:30 PM. I have been present at many Stations of the Cross services during Lent over the years both as officiant and as observer; but, for several reasons that I will explain below, the service really moved me on this particular evening.
First, I watched as the cross and candles made their way into the church at the beginning of the service. Once again, I cannot help but express pride in the way that we “do church” at Saint Mary’s. The demeanors of the servers and the officiant were clearly evident to all in attendance. Our approach here lends to what I can only call a sense of dignity, credibility, and orderliness to worship. It was truly the start of a quiet and a “holy” moment in time and that is a special gift after a busy workweek that for many is rushed and chaotic.
After the initial prayers, those in attendance joined the officiant and servers and each of us began our individual “W of the Cross.” The verses of the hymn “At the cross her station keeping” is sung between our journey to each of the 14 stations. The organist introduces the hymn with a series of notes that then allow the verses to be sung effortlessly. In so doing, one is encouraged to concentrate on the words and the themes of the verses; as a result, one enters the passion of the way of the cross more deeply.
At each station all are invited (as they are able) to kneel in place during the versicle and response, “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world”. On that particular evening, I found the floor to be very hard indeed! And for some reason, my knees weren’t quite as flexible as I had hoped and kneeling down and getting back up were a bit taxing. Curiously, I found the discomfort added to the depth of the feelings that I was encountering and I was actually thankful for them. I was aware of my own “discomforts” as I looked upon the pain and the suffering being experienced by each of the characters portrayed in each of the stations.
Second: The Stations themselves. Wow! Each station is an incredible, individual work of art. I am going to make a point of going to each station at some point this Lent to just look and contemplate each of the characters in each of the scenes and how they are so beautifully (and painfully) portrayed. I am suddenly interested in learning the history of the stations: Who “sculpted” them? Were they an original part of the construction of Saint Mary’s? How are they attached to the wall (and each looks very heavy)? And, how have they been regarded and cared for over the years?
I find each of them fascinating because “the stuff” of life and death are portrayed with great detail and so realistically. When at each station, it is interesting to look at who is looking at whom and what their body language conveys. In the very first station, when Jesus appears before Pilate, there is one character (a chief priest?) who has his thumb and forefinger to his chin: he is pondering what this meeting might mean to the life of this man who has been bound and leashed like a dog. The phrase: “He deserves to die” really affected me deeply. And in succeeding scenes where Jesus falls and drops his cross (he falls 3 times), its weight has never been so heavy on my soul. At the Tenth Station, Jesus is stripped of his clothing. The words are gruesome: “he gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon.” And I looked up at the crucifix attached to the rood screen above the main altar. The light that evening brought out the details of the corpus more clearly than I had noticed before. It is quite a large crucifix to be sure. It is startling to really see.
Third: I don’t know which station it was, but something really odd happened to me. When I looked up, there was this one character to the side of the scene who was literally looking me in the eyes! I was captured in his line of sight. It was as if he was asking me if I was truly a part of the horror of what he was experiencing. I really can’t put it any other way. Our group of 25 or so finished our devotions that night and we then rejoined the world. But for those few moments in time, I was truly there when they crucified Our Lord. I commend the Stations to each of you this Lent. Jim Pace
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Barbara, Ben, Rick, Gloria, John, David, Gregory, Babak, Jack, Rob, Takeem, Linda, Eloise, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 30: 1880 Henri Gordon Carey; 1909 Francis C. Hoyt; 1915 Renis Migasaki; 1968 Mabel Helen Arends.
THE ORDINARY WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial. The Fridays of Lent are also observed by abstinence from flesh meats. Abstinence is not observed on Sundays in Lent.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Christian Education for children and adults meets on the regular schedule on Sunday, March 30 . . . Sunday, March 30, 4:30 PM, Organ Recital, Adam Mathias and George Lacey, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, United Kingdom; 5:00 PM, Solemn Evensong & Benediction: The service will be sung by the chapel choir of Emmanuel College, directed by Mr. Richard Latham. Father Jim Pace will preach the sermon . . . Friday, March 28, and Friday, April 4, 6:30 PM, Stations of the Cross . . . Artist’s Talk & Reception, Friday, April 4, 7:00-9:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Friends and members of the parish are invited to come and meet Steve Pauley, whose work will be on view beginning this week in the parish gallery . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 29, and on Saturday, April 5, by Father Smith. Confessions are also heard by appointment.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Tuesday, April 1, is Father Jim Pace’s twenty-fifth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. Please share your thanks for his ministry in the church and in this parish when you see him this week . . . The Feast of the Annunciation was a wonderful and prayerful day here at Saint Mary’s. We are grateful to all those who worked so hard to make the day a great success . . . We plan to mail our annual Easter Appeal packet to the friends and member of the parish next week. We invite you to give the appeal your prayerful consideration and to be generous . . . Father Jim Pace’s sermon from last Sunday has been posted on the parish webpage . . . If you are interested in helping to decorate the church for Easter, please speak to Rick Austill, Dexter Baksh, or Marie Rosseels . . . The Narthex Gift Shop is still undergoing renovations. Please stay tuned! If you have questions, please speak to Dexter Baksh, shop manager . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish Monday, March 31, until Wednesday afternoon, April 2. He will be attending the diocesan priests’ conference. He will be returning to the parish in time for the Wednesday evening Bible Study Class at 6:30 PM . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 216; Annunciation 180.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We still hope to receive donations to help defray the costs of the special feast-day receptions on Easter Eve (April 19), and Ascension Day (May 29). These receptions are always great events at Saint Mary’s. We have many visitors and the receptions give us an opportunity to welcome our visitors and talk about the parish, its history and its ministries. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office.
AIDS WALK 2014 . . . This year, the Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk Team thinks it’s important that our community knows more about where their donations go. Be sure to check this space every week for a new statistic about the AIDS Walk and the organization that benefits from it, GMHC (“Gay Men’s Health Crisis”). And please donate to our team here! . . . Did you know? GMHC’s Meals Program provides lunches Monday through Thursday, and dinner on Friday evening. 10,000 meals were served last year. The Nutrition Education Program offers food pantry services, nutrition counseling, nutrition groups, cooking classes, body mass assessments, and information about herbs and supplements.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The Fourth Sunday in Lent: Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) was one of the great French composers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He single-handedly brought French chamber music to a level where it could be considered alongside the German tradition. He is the locus classicus of the French art song, and was as essential to that tradition as Franz Schubert was to German Lieder. Fauré studied, not at the Paris Conservatoire, but at the École Niedermeyer until 1865, and intended to become an organist and choirmaster. The school, specializing in religious music, set out a curriculum of plainchant, Renaissance polyphony, and organ studies, as well as a strong literary component. Fauré composed his first masterpiece, the Cantique de Jean Racine (1865), while still a student. Unlike his contemporaries, Fauré avoids standard harmonies, employing instead a modal style, with a leaning toward enharmonic modulations. Upon graduation, Fauré held a number of church-organist posts, but it was at the great Jesuit Church of the Madeleine in Paris where he truly made his mark. It was there that he composed his famed Requiem, the work for which he is most universally known. The Messe Basse, which we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, was composed in 1881, scored for upper voices only, with nominal organ accompaniment. The title means “Low Mass” or Missa brevis, containing only the Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. The graceful lyricism and subtle harmonic shifts are characteristic of much of Fauré’s writing. In a number of places the Mass hints at the much more famous Requiem, written just seven years later. At the ministration of Holy Communion on Sunday, we will hear a two-voice motet, Ave verum corpus, by the Franco-Belgian composer Henri Dumont (1610–1684). A musician of humble origins, he became maître of the Chapelle Royale at Versailles in 1663; in 1672 he was named “Sous-maître de la musique du Roy” and in 1673 became Master of the Queen's Music. Today he is only vaguely remembered. Mark Peterson
A NOTE FROM BISHOP FRANK GRISWOLD . . . “This link to the Philadelphia Theological Institute describes a ten-day pilgrimage to England that I will be leading this summer from July 18 – 28, 2014. I am sending this along with the thought that this might be of interest to some people at Saint Mary’s. Special attention will be paid to George Herbert and to Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding - who have been particular spiritual friends of mine since I was a student at Oxford. The group will be limited in size so it does not become too large for easy movement or unwieldy in the intimate spaces of some of the churches we will visit.”
FROM SR. DEBORAH FRANCIS: CONFERENCE REPORT . . . Anglican Women At Prayer Conference was held on March 14-16 at Virginia Theological Seminary. Planning took four years. The idea for the conference began with Phoebe Griswold and the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. It grew to include the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, Episcopal Church Visual Arts, Centre for Anglican Women's Studies in New Zealand, International Anglican Women’s Network and Msalato Theological College at St. John’s University of Tanzania.
These words helped to introduce participants to our time together, “It is surprising that more focus is not given to prayer. It is the bedrock of our work as people of God. Women from the Global Anglican Communion, women leaders and representatives of organizations whose focus is of women and prayer have come together to share their experience of prayer, the ways they pray, for what they pray and to whom they pray.” The 150 women in attendance were from many parts of the Anglican Communion, several from the United States and Canada, Africa was represented by women from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa. Seventeen women from Tanzania participated via SKYPE, along with others from Japan, Pakistan, The Philippines, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands, Haiti, Australia and New Zealand.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Eleanor Sanderson, an Anglican priest from Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. She used the metaphor of weaving to describe how women relate to God and each other in prayer. She spoke of how the task of weaving women’s work in many cultures can be a metaphor for women’s call to be agents of reconciliation and understanding in their homes and communities. Saturday afternoon’s plenary session was a conversation about Christian and Muslim prayer between Dr. Sanderson and Zeyneb Sayilgan, a visiting scholar of Turkish/Kurdish descent.
The opening and closing Eucharists included a variety of hymns, along with intercessory prayers written by participants. There was also Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer and Compline. The bulk of the time was spent in small groups of eight or nine, using stories and prayers of Biblical women. In addition, we told stories of our own prayers of petition and thanksgiving and of our experiences of companioning others. It was very moving to hear women sharing so deeply with each other about prayer. I came away from this conference with a new appreciation of the diversity and the commonalty of the Anglican Communion and women at prayer. Sr. Deborah Francis, CSJB
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.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, March 30: 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 at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. Father Peter Powell continues his series on the Book of Exodus . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet in Saint Joseph’s Hall, on April 2, at 6:30 PM. On April 2, we will begin reading at chapter 22.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, April 13, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday . . . The Triduum: April 17, Maundy Thursday; April 18, Good Friday; April 19, The Great Vigil of Easter; April 20, Easter Day . . . Saturday, May 17, Consecration of Suffragan Bishop-Elect Allen Shin . . . Sunday, May 18, AIDS Walk 2014.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . . The weather is beginning to warm, but donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks are still needed. We also welcome donations of: hand sanitizer; granola bars; applesauce, sold in small, plastic cups with peel-off tops; water; peanut butter and crackers; and other small items that can be packed in bags for distribution to those who are homeless . . . 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’s website is a valuable resource for learning more about hunger and homelessness in the City of New York. James Ross Smith
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, New York, New York: Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral, February 25–May 18, 2014. There is more information about the exhibition on the museum’s website . . . Last Chance: at the Met, Piero della Francesca: Personal Encounters, January 14–March 30, 2014: “The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting a focused presentation of the devotional paintings of Piero della Francesca, addressing Piero's work for private devotion for the first time. The four works on view have never before been brought together; the exhibition, therefore, promises to make an important contribution to the study of this major figure of the Renaissance. It consists of: Saint Jerome and a Donor, Madonna and Child with two Angels (the Senigallia Madonna), Saint Jerome in a Landscape, and Madonna and Child.”