FROM FATHER SMITH: A SABBATICAL
I write this late on Thursday evening, the sounds, sights, and scents of this evening’s Solemn Mass still very clear in my mind. As I walk to the laundry room on the fourth floor of the Parish House, I can smell the incense lingering in the building. This is an odd benefit of living here at Saint Mary’s: sacred things often gently insinuate their way into everyday things, blurring the distinction. The building is quiet now, the streets less so. A jackhammer vibrates relentlessly nearby. The crews in the garbage trucks have begun to make their nightly rounds. The haulers whistle sharply to the drivers, signaling to them to move on to the next stop. Those guys work hard. Whistles are more efficient than words. This is my neighborhood. These are the sights and the sounds and the smells.
Tomorrow morning, I travel to a city where I’ve never been before. I’m going to Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico. I will be working on my Spanish, trying to become a bit more fluent. I am curious about Oaxaca. I wonder what it sounds like, what the people will be like. I wonder if the people will be patient with my halting Spanish. There are beautiful Baroque, colonial churches there. I’m looking forward to seeing them, to worshipping there. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in Spanish, in different ways of worshiping, in different ways of doing things. Though I’m a bit nervous too. If truth be told, I fear the loss of the familiar.
I begin a three-month sabbatical tomorrow. The plan is this: to work on my Spanish, and then to return to New York to read, to study, to visit other parishes, to see how Hispanic ministry is done, or not done, here in the diocese of New York. I know that it’s not enough just to translate the Book of Common Prayer into Spanish, but I would like to know more. There are many Hispanic people in this neighborhood and they are wildly diverse. They come from many different countries. Some speak little English. Some speak Spanish only as a second language. Some just moved here, some grew up here in New York. Some work in our neighborhood’s restaurants, some work in the neighborhood’s office towers. Given all this diversity, I think that this thing we call “Hispanic ministry” is more complicated than it first appears.
The sabbatical was Father Gerth’s idea and I’m very grateful to him for his encouragement and his hopefulness. We’ve been talking about a sabbatical for a couple of years now. I wasn’t sure we could make it happen. A curate has never taken a sabbatical before at Saint Mary’s, as far as we know. However, I applied for, and was given, a study grant by the Louisville Institute. (Father Gerth told me about them, too, and the grant has been a big help.) I’m not sure, of course, where the study and the research will lead. I’m keeping an open mind. Decisions about the future, if any, won’t be mine to make; and, anyway, the sabbatical is not about decisions. It’s about getting away, having some time to study, but also time to rest, to pray, to think about things differently. I wonder if we might be able to welcome our Hispanic neighbors in some new ways to Saint Mary’s. I wonder how we might make our presence better known to all those who live and work in this rapidly changing neighborhood of ours, and that’s not a three-month project. That’s our future.
We’re not exactly overstaffed here at the parish and my being away for three months means a lot more work for the rector, my fellow clergy, the parish staff, and for all the parish’s lay ministers. I’m immensely grateful to all of them for their kindness, their support, and their willingness to help. I was moved on Sunday and at the reception tonight by how many people came up to me and asked me what I would be doing, wished me well, asked about José, said kind things, promised to pray for me. It made me think: if the Body of Christ is real and not just words, then “the loss of the familiar” shouldn’t be a scary thing. In Christ, we are always connected, though the connections alter and change; and so you will be in my prayers and I hope that I will be in yours. God willing, I will see you soon. I will see you in September. James Ross Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Sandy, John, Ivan, Penny, Steven, Denise, Dennis, Robbie, Polly, Victoria, Bruce, McNeil, David, Sylvia, Kenneth, Rick, Gloria, Jack, Takeem, Linda, Arpene, Clara, Paulette, priest, Stephen, priest, and Harry, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Alex; and for the repose of the soul of E. Don Taylor, bishop . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 1: 1881 Joseph Toxy Fearing; 1925 Ebenezer Appleton; 1930 Thomas R. Dawley; 1935 Clara Disbrow Moore; 1938 Gladys McAdams Finn; 1944 Santiago Perez; 1949 Henry Brettman and Annie Hand; 1993 Kenneth William Cloughley.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Rt. Rev. E. Don Taylor, retired Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of New York, died on Saturday, May 24, after an illness of several months. Bishop Taylor visited Saint Mary’s on a number of occasions and was well known to many Saint Marians. Bishop Dietsche’s office made the following announcement on Thursday evening: “Bishop Taylor’s body will be received by Bishop Dietsche at 11:30 AM on Tuesday morning, June 3, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. He will lie in repose in St. James’ Chapel. A Vigil will be held in Saint James Chapel at the Cathedral from noon on Tuesday until 9:00 PM that evening, and then again on Wednesday from 7:30 AM until noon. In addition, Saint Luke’s Church in the Bronx is holding a wake on Tuesday evening, beginning at 7:00 PM. On behalf of the Rev. Pierre Andre H. Duvert and the people of Saint Luke’s, the clergy and people of the diocese are invited to attend the wake. Saint Luke’s is located at 777 E 222nd St., Bronx, NY.” Please keep Bishop Taylor, his daughter Tara, his family and friends and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not special days to be observed by acts of discipline and self-denial. This year abstinence will be observed on ordinary Fridays beginning June 13.
SCHEDULE CHANGES FOR SATURDAY, MAY 31 . . . If you were not able to be here for the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day you probably do not know that I have bronchitis. By the time I went to bed on Wednesday night I knew I was sick. I had hoped on Thursday to be able to be here at 6:00 PM to welcome the Shins. I could not. My internist tells me I should be significantly better by Monday. In the meantime, Father Jim Pace is taking the Friday, May 30 12:10 Mass for me and the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday. Father Park Bodie is taking the 12:10 PM Mass on Saturday. I’ve canceled confessions on Saturday, both before the 12:00 PM Noonday Office and at 4:00 PM before Evening Prayer. I do not expect to be here Sunday, but my physician tells me I should be much better by Monday. Thanks to all who helped make Ascension Day so wonderful, especially for Father Jay Smith on the day before he left for sabbatical. As always, thank you for your prayers. Stephen Gerth
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Sunday-morning education classes for both children and adults have now begun their summer break. Classes will resume in the fall . . . Saturday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Said Mass 12:10 PM . . . Confessions are canceled for Saturday, May 31. On Saturday, June 7, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Thursday night Aaron Kinchen and Sébastien Delenclos received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Please keep them in your prayers . . . The reception after the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day was sponsored by the members of the AIDS Walk Team. The Team wanted to welcome Bishop Shin and his wife, Clara Mun, back to Saint Mary’s. They also wanted to express their gratitude to the Saint Mary’s community for their generous support. We are grateful to the Team for their generosity. If you, your friends, or your fellow guild members would like to support the parish’s ministry of hospitality, please contact the parish office. We hope to receive donations to help defray the costs of the reception following the Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Assumption on Friday, August 15 . . . Please remember that while Father Smith is away The Book Sale will not take place; also, if you have an addition or change to the prayer list, please contact the parish office . . . Visual Arts Project: The exhibition of Maria Dominguez’s paintings, The Healer’s Series, continues in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Evensong & Benediction: There are only three more services of Evensong on Sundays before the summer break begins (June 1, 8, and 15). On June 1, the choral music will be sung by the parish choir of Saint Philip’s Church, Harlem, and on June 8 the choral music will be sung by the members of New York Polyphony . . . Stewardship Campaign: If you have not yet made a pledge for 2014, but would like to do so, please contact the parish office . . . Donations for altar flowers are needed for all of the Sundays in July, August and September. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . This year the Gay Pride March is on Sunday, June 29. If you would be interested in forming a Saint Mary’s contingent to march together in the parade (or if you feel called to help make a banner for the parade!), please speak to Rick Austill. Please note: the parade, and the parish contingent, is open to all. You don’t have to be gay to march! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 207.
TAKING THE SISTERS TO LUNCH . . . On Sunday, June 22, please join us after Mass for lunch with Sister Deborah Francis and Sister Laura Katharine of the Community of St John Baptist, who will be our guests. We would like to show our appreciation to the sisters for their work and ministry here at Saint Mary’s. Lunch is at Tommy Bahama, 551 Fifth Avenue at 45th Street. Please contact Renée Pecquex for further details and to make a reservation.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525–1594), the great Italian composer, is often considered the summation of Renaissance polyphony and the major proponent of the Roman school of composition. 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. Of Palestrina’s 104 universally accepted Masses, almost half are examples of the so-called “parody mass,” taking pre-existing bits of polyphony as their starting point, and by way of adaptation and development, threading the five Mass movements together into a related whole. In several cases, Palestrina’s own motets provided that musical material; and such is the case with the Missa ascendo ad Patrem for five voices, published in 1601 and based on a motet composed in the early 1570s. Ascendo ad Patrem is a sacred Latin motet composed for use during Ascensiontide. Gloria in excelsis is divided into two sections, and derives much from the motet’s first part. Sanctus utilizes the octave leaps that characterize the openings of the motet. A four-voice Benedictus makes good use of the motet’s second part before making room for the fuller, five- voice, “Hosanna in excelsis Deo.” As usual, the Agnus Dei is divided into two movements; after the exuberance of the Sanctus and Benedictus, the music exudes a certain sublime calmness. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we will hear a motet attributed to the English composer, Thomas Morley (1557–1603), which takes its text from an intriguing macaronic poem dating from the fifteenth century or earlier. The texts are connected by the “burden” or refrain: Nolo mortem peccatoris—I do not desire the death of [any] sinner. Mark Peterson
A WORD OF THANKS . . . On Wednesday, May 28, the Eve of Ascension Day, Evening Prayer was sung in the church. A quintet of singers, drawn from the parish choir, sang the canticles and a short motet; and they supported the congregation’s singing of the psalms. There were about forty-five people in the church. It was a very beautiful and prayerful service. At the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, the choir again sang very beautifully. We are grateful to the members of our choir and to our interim organist and music director for helping us to worship. We are grateful to all those who made Ascension Day such a success: our hardworking sextons, our friendly and efficient ushers, our faithful and extremely able acolytes, our creative hospitality team, who were hosts at the reception, and, of course, to Bishop Allen Shin, who was the principal celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass.
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. The Episcopal News Service (ENS) recently posted a short video about the monastery and its school here . . . 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 . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please place your donations in the basket near the ushers’ table on Sunday mornings. You may also make cash donations. Please speak to Sister Deborah Francis. J.R.S.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, June 8, The Day of Pentecost . . . Wednesday, June 11, Saint Barnabas, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Sunday; June 15, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 22, Corpus Christi (Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Solemn Mass, Procession to Times Square and Eucharistic Benediction 11:00 AM, Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM) . . . Tuesday, June 24, Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul . . . Friday, July 11, 8:00 PM, Parish Outing: New York Philharmonic Concert in Central Park.