FROM THE RECTOR: PETER AND PAUL
In the older Prayer Book tradition there were many fewer holy days. If a holy day fell on a Sunday, during most of the year it was celebrated in some way on a Sunday. A generation ago, for example, Saint Michael and All Angels—especially with its great hymns—was a popular celebration throughout the Episcopal Church in the years it fell on a Sunday.
The new Prayer Book restored a greater primacy to Sundays generally. No celebration now supersedes Sundays during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. During the rest of the year only three “feasts of our Lord” take precedence of a Sunday when they occur on a Sunday: January 1, The Holy Name; February 2, The Presentation; and August 6, The Transfiguration.
That said, in the Season after the Epiphany and the Season after Pentecost “Other Feasts of our Lord” and “Other Major Feasts” may supersede an ordinary Sunday. (For details see: The Book of Common Prayer  15-180.)
At Saint Mary’s we keep the following feasts on a Sunday when they fall on a Sunday: June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist; June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul; August 15, Saint Mary the Virgin; September 14, Holy Cross Day; and September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels. This year Holy Cross Day will fall on a Sunday as does this coming Sunday’s celebration, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles.
Massey Shepherd wrote, “In the year 259, during the persecution of the Church by the Emperor Valerian, the Roman Church instituted on June 29th a feast of its apostolic founders, SS. Peter and Paul” (The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary  234-244). It was a commemoration of their martyrdom. One notes that evidence for this celebration predates evidence for the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25 by over half a century (Bradshaw and Johnson, Origins  123).
At the Reformation Thomas Cranmer omitted Saint Paul from the June 29 celebration and retained the feast of Paul’s conversion on January 25—a celebration dating from the fifth century. The new Prayer Book keeps Paul’s conversion in January and restores the older tradition of commemorating the martyrdom of both apostles on June 29.
Unlike Peter, Paul was educated. We know a number of things about Paul from the Acts of the Apostles and from his letters that are a part of the New Testament. We know much less about Peter. In Mark, Matthew, Luke and Acts—remember, Luke is also the author of Acts—Peter has a particular prominence. In all of the gospels Peter can be said to be a leader, yet not the kind of leader he will be made out to be in the Christian West in the centuries to come. In the New Testament Peter is not in charge of the emerging Christian community.
In John, Jesus himself is the shepherd of the sheep. In the last chapter of John, when Jesus tells Peter to feed “my” sheep, the pronoun “my” refers to Jesus, not Peter. It’s worth noting that in Matthew 16:18 after naming Simon “Pétros,” that is, “rock,” upon which Jesus will build his ekklesía (the New Testament Greek word means “those who are summoned, the assembly, the gathering”), the ekklesía belongs to Jesus.
At the end of the Acts of the Apostles Paul is in Rome. Surprisingly, no mention is made of Peter in Rome who has such a prominent role in the early part of Acts. He appears for the last time in the fifteenth chapter when the apostles and elders are assembled to deal with the admission of Gentiles to the community, a meeting over which James, the brother of the Lord, presided (Acts 15:1-29).
Unlike for Paul, there is no reliable historical evidence for Peter being in Rome. We only have tradition to guide us. That tradition is early enough for me to think that Paul and Peter were both there and they both died for the name of Jesus. On Sunday we will celebrate the witness of Peter who walked with Jesus, denied knowing him, and went into hiding when he was condemned to death. We will celebrate the witness of the apostle born Saul the Pharisee, the persecutor of believers, to whom the risen Lord appeared on the road to Damascus, who is known to us as Paul. (There will be great hymns, too.) Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Reha, Rebecca, Steven, Rasheed, Sandy, John, Bruce, McNeil, David, Sylvia, Kenneth, Rick, Jack, Takeem, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 29: 1886 John Brown Coddington; 1942: Marilyn Anne Romano.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, July 4, Independence Day: The church will be open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. The noonday services will be offered. The parish office will be closed . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 5, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, July 12, by Father Pace.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sharon Singh continues at Calvary Hospital Hospice, Bronx. Please keep Sharon in your prayers . . . Rick Austill fell last Sunday and broke his ankle. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Former parishioners Michael Innis-Jiménez and Heather Kopelson, historians who both teach at the University of Alabama, and their sons have visited recently. Heather’s book Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic will be out on July 18 . . . Recent sermons, including Father Powell’s sermon for the Solemn Mass on Trinity Sunday, are now posted on the parish webpage . . . Attendance: Corpus Christi 210; Nativity of John 70.
REPORT: AIDS WALK 2014 . . . This year, Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team raised $39,883, which puts us #1 among religious organizations in fundraising and 11th overall—an extraordinary feat. Our team of 14 walkers received donations from more than 250 people. Our generous donors live in states like Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Donations also came in from across the globe, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada. Our donors are lay people, priests, nuns and just everyday people who believe in this great cause. Every donation made a difference in getting our team to 11th place this year. The smallest donation made was $2. The largest was from our congregation’s generous giving at Maundy Thursday—$1,280 went to the AIDS Walk from the plate on this day. A big thank you to all who donated and all who walked this year!
HELP NEEDED . . . Every week many small linens are used at the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist. They are, in fact, made of linen. After Mass, they are rinsed in a special sink in the sacristy. Then they are laundered (gently) at home by hand or in a washing machine with soap and without bleach. The “purificators”—the linen used to wipe the chalice—are twelve inches square; lavabo towels are eleven by seventeen inches. They need to be ironed when damp; and then folded. It’s not hard, but it is a ministry for someone who enjoys ironing. If you would like to give it a try, please speak with or email the Rector.
A SUMMER CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Choir of Men and Boys of Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, Canada, will present a concert of sacred music here on Monday evening, June 30, at 8:00 PM. The program includes works by James MacMillan, Jonathan Dove and Herbert Howells. Matthew Larkin is the director. Stephen Buzard will be the organist. A free-will offering will be taken at the door.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian hermit, a priest, a lawyer, a hymn-writer, and a well-regarded lecturer in dialectics, physics, and eventually theology. His life and work had a tremendous influence on the church, the German people, and in time, the world. He gave the German people a bible in their own language, as well as a German Catechism and several hymnals. He wrote a total of 37 hymns, but unlike nearly every other hymn-writer, he composed the music to go with his texts. Such is the case with “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” a paraphrase of Psalm 46 written in 1529 and appearing in its first hymnal by 1531. Known as the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation,” it has appeared in more denominational hymnals than all but perhaps three other hymns. It has been used in a variety of treatments by Bach, who based one of his Cantatas on the tune, Dietrich Buxtehude, whose timeless organ prelude on the tune we hear on Sunday at Solemn Mass, and by such notables as Pachelbel, Handel, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Peeters, Stokowski, and easily another dozen such composers. It is a mark of the hymn’s great appeal that it can now be found in virtually every Roman Catholic hymnal currently in print. At the ministration of Communion, soprano Suzanne Woods will sing “Song of Devotion” by John Ness Beck (1930-1987) on one of Paul’s letters to the Philippians. Mark Peterson
OUTREACH . . . 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.