FROM THE RECTOR: EASTERTIDE CHANGE
On May 2, 1965 the new rector of Saint Mary’s, the Reverend Donald Garfield, decided that communion would be offered to congregation at the 11:00 AM Sunday Solemn Mass. In 1965 this was “Good Shepherd Sunday,” the Eastertide Sunday when the gospel was John 10:11-16. This is from the note he wrote in the bulletin:
To be a good shepherd, I must feed the sheep. Therefore, at every Mass, including High Mass on this and every Sunday, Holy Communion will be offered to all who have been confirmed and have made preparation . . . Holy Communion is a great privilege, a precious feast. But the host invites us all.
Father Garfield served as rector until 1978. No decision he made was more important than this. With respect, he was a pastor who was determined to let God’s people eat and drink.
Since our doors opened in 1870 only the celebrant received communion at Solemn Mass, unless the Mass was celebrated early in the morning on a weekday feast. When Father Garfield became rector there were three earlier Masses, Sundays at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM when communion was offered to everyone.
The issue was reverence for the Eucharist through fasting. Anglo-Catholics were expected to have nothing to eat or drink (water was okay) in the morning before receiving the Eucharist. This kind of commitment and reverence became widespread in the wake of the Oxford Movement. Fasting before communion began to decline in the 1950s as theological and liturgical studies offered the church a renewed understanding of history and of the Lord’s Supper.
In a lecture given at the Gregorian University in Rome in 2004, Anglican liturgical scholar Paul Bradshaw pointed out that first and second century Christians didn’t think of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. For the early church, “the focus of their ritual meal was instead on feeding on the life-giving Jesus” (“The Eucharistic Sayings of Jesus,” Studia Liturgica  11). Father Bradshaw’s phrase, “feeding on the life-giving Jesus,” has become a part of my own communion devotions. It’s what you and I do when we receive communion. With respect, if the Eucharist isn’t eaten, one is not feeding on the life-giving Jesus. Looking at Christian history, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus’ words, “Take, eat” and “Drink this, all of you,” are the most disregarded words he spoke.
I confess I go a little crazy in my head when I worship in a parish or cathedral where the Eucharist is not celebrated with love and care. These days I also find myself going crazy when someone gives me a Host that is so small, so thin, and so white that any real relationship to the words “bread” and “food” is hard to perceive.
Let me hasten to add that we do use individual whole wheat wafers for most services but for Evening Sung Masses and all Solemn Masses we use bread baked by parishioners (using the recipe from Saint Gregory’s Abbey, Three Rivers, Michigan). But maybe someday it will be practical for us to use real bread daily. Our eucharistic wine is a New York state red table wine, good enough to drink with an everyday dinner.
As celebrant at the Easter Vigil, while I proclaimed in words that I was baptizing Aaron and then Julius, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” I poured a lot of water three times on each of them in turn. It was a very generous amount; they were wet. After the words with water were complete, I quietly reminded each of them in turn that the word “baptism” means “washing.”
Then, I poured a good amount of Chrism from a flagon on their heads, I rubbed it in while tracing on their foreheads the sign of the cross and proclaiming they were “sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever.” With oil and water still dripping from them—and from my own hands—I reminded them that the word “Christ” means “oiled, greased, a sign of being chosen.” They smelled of the rich perfume that was added to this oil when it was consecrated a few days earlier at the cathedral by the bishop.
Later at the altar, I made sure both of them received a good-sized piece of Bread and drank from a full chalice. Jesus said, “My flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed,” (John 6:55). It wasn’t just bread and wine that changed during the liturgy. Jesus Christ died and rose in his brothers and ours, Aaron and Julius, who were being born among us from above. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Andrew, Sydney, Bruce, Charles, Elizabeth, Darrell, David, Sharon, Sylvia, Kenneth, Rick, Gloria, Jack, Takeem, Linda, Arpene, Hugh, priest, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Alex; and for the repose of the soul of Mary Joan Picken . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 4: 1884 Boyce Lane; 1909 Garret Wilson Pier; 1914 Philip Verplanck Richardson; 1917 Francis Fraser Ahern; 1984 Robert Wood; 1995 Alexandrina Patricia Hunte.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Mary Joan Picken, sister-in-law of parishioner Robert Picken died on April 30 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Please remember her, Bob and all who mourn in your prayers.
DIOCESAN CHOIR OPPORTUNITY . . . Individuals are invited to join the massed diocesan choir at ordination of the Reverend Allen Shin as bishop suffragan of New York on Saturday, May 17, at 11:00 AM. Details about the schedule, music and rehearsals are available on the Diocese of New York webpage.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Annual Meeting of the Parish, Sunday, May 4, 1:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will not meet on Sunday, May 4. Church School for the older children will not meet on Sunday, May 4. The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, May 4 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on May 7 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . On Saturday, May 3, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith and on Saturday, May 10, by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The episcopal ring, given by the people of Saint Mary’s, will be presented to Father Allen Shin at his ordination on Saturday, May 17. We mailed a letter this week asking for donations to support this effort. If donations exceed the cost of the ring, the surplus will be given to Father Shin for his discretionary fund. If you do not receive a letter, but would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Friday, May 2, is the fifth anniversary of the Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins’s ordination to the diaconate. Congratulations and thank you for your ministry here! . . . Bruce Mullin is a professor of church history at the General Theological Seminary. He taught a class here at the parish this year that was very well received. Prof. Mullin fell ill recently and has been hospitalized. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Stewardship Campaign: We received two new pledges this week, reminding us that our campaign continues. It’s never too late to make a pledge for 2014. If you would like to make a pledge or receive a pledge card, please contact the finance office. We welcome, and need, your support! . . . Once again this year, a group of Saint Marians and their friends are making plans to attend a New York Philharmonic Concert in the Park. The concert will take place on Friday, July 11, at 8:00 PM. The orchestra will play music by Strauss, Smetana, and Tchaikovsky. Please speak to Grace Bruni for more information . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 208.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult-Education class resumes this coming Sunday, May 4, when Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will begin a three-part series (May 4, 11 & 18), entitled Readings in Poetry Inspired by the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. Rebecca writes, “Perhaps Milton got it right when he wrote, ‘There are no songs comparable to the songs of Zion;/no orations equal to those of the prophets;/and no politics like those which Scriptures teach’; and Ezra Pound, who once said that T.S. Eliot preferred Moses to Muses, certainly had a point. On these three Sundays in Eastertide we will make our way from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, through and into some prime examples of poems that are clearly in relationship to scriptural passages, the latter always being our starting point” . . . Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) will not meet on Sunday, May 4, 11, or 18, since Rebecca will be leading the Adult Forum on those days. Please speak to Rebecca about plans for the 2014-2015 academic year. CGS will resume in October. Church School will not meet on May 4, since Peter Secor needs to be away from the parish. Church School for older children will meet on May 11 and 18 . . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on May 7 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class will be reading Acts 28, the book’s final chapter, and discussing the book as a whole, reviewing what we’ve learned this year, focusing on such issues as faith, conversion, commitment, risk-taking, discipleship and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the disciple. Jay Smith
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525–1594) was an Italian composer and a major proponent of the Roman school of musical composition. Palestrina played a pivotal role in the development of Roman Catholic Church music, and his works can truly be considered a summation of Renaissance polyphony. His work was particularly well thought of by Johann Sebastian Bach, who studied and performed it while he was writing his own masterpiece, the B minor Mass. Conservative in his approach to choral polyphony, Palestrina was very forward-thinking in his treatment of text, being conscious of the needs of intelligible text in conformity with the doctrine of the Counter-Reformation. Palestrina’s Missa Aeterna Christi munera, which we hear on Sunday morning, is principally for four voices and takes its title from the Matins hymn for commemorations of the holy apostles. This melody is now found in a modified form as Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus. The Mass was published in Rome in 1590 in the fifth collection of Palestrina’s Mass settings. Palestrina was immensely famous in his day, and his reputation increased after his death. Conservative music of the Roman school continued to be written in his style (known as the prima pratica in the seventeenth century), by such students as Giovanni Maria Nanino, Ruggiero Giovannelli, Francesco Soriano, and Gregorio Allegri. We will also hear a four-voice motet by Palestrina at the ministration of Holy Communion during the Solemn Mass on Sunday. The motet, Ego sum panis vivus, utilizing a single verse from the Gospel of John, is a prime example of the compositional techniques initiated by Palestrina and then taken up by so many others . . . On Sunday, May 4, at 4:40 PM, John Edward Cantrell will play the organ recital. John is the organist and choirmaster at Saint Michael’s Church, New York City. Mark Peterson
FROM FATHER JAY SMITH . . . Last November, I learned that I had been awarded a pastoral study grant from the Louisville Institute. I will be using the grant to study models of ministry to the Hispanic community in the diocese of New York and in the wider church. The grant has helped make it possible for me to take a three-month sabbatical this summer (June-August 2014). During the month of June, I will be away from the parish and the city working on my Spanish at an immersion course in Mexico. When I return to New York, I will be visiting parishes in Manhattan, Westchester County and the Hudson Valley to learn what others are doing in this area. I am grateful to Father Gerth, who has for some time encouraged me to take a sabbatical and who has made it possible for me to do so. It was he who brought the work of the Louisville Institute to my attention. (A portion of the grant monies will be used to pay for the costs of supply clergy during my absence.) I am also grateful to the parish clergy, my fellow staff members and to the parish volunteers who will be taking on additional work while I am away. I am excited about this opportunity and I look forward to telling the Saint Mary’s community about my experiences and what I’ve learned when I’ve returned. Please keep me in your prayers. J.R.S.
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? Despite the name, GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) is not just for gay men. A full 25% of its clients are women. And 32% of its clients are heterosexual. The organization’s name comes from the history of its founding within New York’s gay community—a group hard hit by the AIDS crisis at a time when gay people were already heavily stigmatized—but today, GMHC serves nearly 10,000 clients a year regardless of gender, sexual orientation or HIV status. It’s there to serve anyone who may be at risk of HIV infection or is living with the virus.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Outreach teams from the Common Ground Initiative have been working with those who are homeless, and who have been seeking shelter here at Saint Mary’s, to help the homeless to move off of the streets and into more stable living situations. We are grateful for Common Ground’s assistance . . . We 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. J.R.S.
THE ARTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Royal Family Productions presents the US Premiere of Four Last Things by playwright Lisa Tierney-Keogh, directed by Chris Henry, in the theater on the third floor of the Parish House. The cast includes Tony nominee, Elizabeth A. Davis (Once), Victor Verhaeghe (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”), and Justin Hagan (Film: Shortbus, Party Monster). The play’s running time is eighty minutes. The performance schedule is a bit unusual: Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 PM; Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 5:30 PM; Sunday at 7:00 PM. There is no performance Sunday, May 11; there is an additional performance on Wednesday, May 14, at 5:30 PM. Tickets are $18.00. For more information and to purchase tickets, you may visit the company’s website . . . The New York Repertory Orchestra will play its final concert of the 2013-2014 season on Saturday, May 17, at 8:00 PM. The program includes music by Panufnik (Jagiellonian Triptych), Tchaikovsky (Violin Concerto), and Hanson (Symphony No. 3). Admission is free. A $10.00 donation is encouraged.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, May 17, 11:00 AM, Consecration of Suffragan Bishop-Elect Allen Shin . . . Sunday, May 18, AIDS Walk 2014 . . . Thursday, May 29, Ascension Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Bishop Allen Shin, celebrant and preacher . . . Saturday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Said Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, June 8, The Day of Pentecost . . . Sunday, June 15, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 22, Corpus Christi . . . Friday, July 11, 8:00 PM, Parish Outing: New York Philharmonic Concert in Central Park.