FROM THE RECTOR: VICTORS, NO LONGER VICTIMS
Next year the Armenian Apostolic Church, for the first time in six hundred years, will recognize a new group of saints, the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide during World War I. Some of these are known by name, but more are not. The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire began on April 24, 1915, while the Ottomans were fighting alongside the empires of Austro-Hungary and Germany. By the time the Republic of Turkey was established after the war, it is probable that one-and-a-half million Armenians had been killed, a countless number of those for their faith. When it was over, the Armenian community had essentially ceased to exist.
I knew about this, but like so many of the evil events of the twentieth century, I just don’t think about it very often. There were mass exterminations in China of Christians after Mao and his Communists took over. I will never forgot being stopped in amazement the first time I saw the Andy Warhol portrait of Mao in the Art Institute of Chicago. Would they hang one of Hitler who killed far fewer millions of people? What I really don’t like to think about is how hard it is for countries and communities to stop evil once it starts.
Last Thursday the Reverend Dr. Maxwell Johnson, professor of liturgical studies, the University of Notre Dame, spoke at Saint Vartan’s Armenian Cathedral on “The Blood of the Martyrs—Seed of the Church Yesterday and Today.” He spoke not only about the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, but the early martyrs of the Armenian Church. Some years ago as this new recognition was being contemplated, a deacon of the Armenian Church wrote that once this happened the church would no longer be able to remember them as victims: they were now, like Christ himself, victors. I learned that among the proposed and authorized commemorations for our Episcopal Church calendar is “Genocide Remembrance” on April 24. It will become a part of our parish calendar next year.
Dr. Johnson showed a very few photographs. Two I will never forget: one, the hanging of two men before a very large crowd; the other a group of women being crucified, as Jesus was, naked, alone on a hillside. I found myself thinking of the words of Jeremiah that echo through time, which Christians associate with the cross, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by” (Lamentations 1:12). I quickly tried to block out in my mind the reports of crucifixions and even more terrible cruelties being inflicted on Christians and others today in the same region of the world. In baptism we believe Christ still dies and rises in those he is bringing to new birth. No water baptism has ever been needed by those who die because they believe in the Son of man. They are victors, no longer victims.
In Genesis, God breathes life into man and woman. Their blood, and the blood of their children, belongs to God. Sin and death are the terrible companions we human beings have along with the gifts of life, love, and all the other gifts we know through the gift of God. When all is said and done, I don’t think God has ever explained to Mary why her son had to die. What we do have is the revelation of eternal life, of victory over death. This is why even on Good Friday the church cannot celebrate Christ’s death apart from the knowledge of his resurrection. In Christ, victims share in eternal victory. Death has been wrong and evil since Cain killed Abel. That said, it will always be hard in this life to remember that it wasn’t Jesus’ sacrifice, but his victory over death that took Jesus’ disciples to believe in him.—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR George, David, Robert, Thomas, Mazdak, Babak, Barbara, Samantha, Pauline, Suzanne, Rebecca, John, McNeil, Takeem, Sylvia, Rick, Jack, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the General Theological Seminary; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the souls of Rebecca, Richard and Gary, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 12: 1925 Philip Wild; 1933 Helen M. Fallon Strothkamp; 1935 Fred William Davis; 1940 Matilda Elizabeth Turner; 1950 Amy Ira Wilbert King.
PLEASE KEEP IN YOUR PRAYERS . . . The people and clergy of Saint Mary’s have close relationships with many of those who teach, work, and study at the General Theological Seminary. Some of the members of both the faculty and the staff are members of the parish. We have listened with great sadness to the reports of the serious difficulties and challenges which the seminary now faces. Please keep the seminary community in your prayers.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Rebecca Leighty, the grandmother of parishioner Jay Kennedy, died this week after a long illness . . . We recently received news that Richard Rodgers, a former parishioner at Saint Mary’s, died on May 26. A Requiem for him will be celebrated at the Church of the Resurrection, New York City, on Saturday, October 25, at 12:00 PM . . . The Reverend Gary Peter Fertig, who served as vicar at the Saint Thomas Church, New York City (1977–1995), and then as rector of the Church of the Ascension, Chicago (1996–2012), died in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on October 2. Please keep Rebecca, Richard, Gary, priest, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
FROM FATHER SMITH: STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . On Saturday morning, October 4, I welcomed a group from the Church of Saint Hilary, Toronto, Ontario, for a tour of the church. The group was impressed with the building and its great beauty. One comment stood out: “I can tell that this building is used a lot. Your doors are open. And there’s so much history here. But I also can’t help but notice how well cared for this building is and how clean it is!” We are grateful to our sextons and to all those who continue to support the mission of the parish. We are so very grateful . . . Pledge packets will be mailed early next week. We invite you to read the information contained in the packet carefully and to make a generous pledge for 2015. If you have questions about stewardship, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith, or to one of the members of the Stewardship Committee: MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, and Marie Rosseels.—Jay Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Monday, October 13, Columbus Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM, only the noonday services are offered, and the parish offices are closed . . . Saturday, October 18, Saint Luke, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 11, by Father Jim Pace and on Saturday, October 18, by Father Jay Smith.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Blair Burroughs and Renée Pecquex were married here on Saturday, October 4. Please keep them in your prayers . . . George Taitt was admitted to the Bronx Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care, 1010 Underhill Avenue, Bronx, NY 10472 this week. David Jette is recovering at home following surgery this week. Please keep David and George in your prayers . . . The Reverend Jedediah Fox recently accepted a call to serve as rector of the Church of the Redeemer, Kenmore, Washington. Jed served here at Saint Mary’s while he was at the General Theological Seminary. Jed, his wife Mary Beth, and their newborn son Jaeger, will be moving to Washington later this year in time for Jed to begin his ministry at Redeemer on January 1, 2015 . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church this year, or if you or somebody you know is thinking about being baptized, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith . . . Flowers are needed for the Eve of All Saints’ Day, Friday, October 31. Please contact the finance office if you would like to make a donation . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 234.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & SPIRITUALITY . . . Sunday, October 12, 19 & 26, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor: “For All the Saints”—The Origins & History of the Veneration of the Saints. On October 12 and 26, the class will be led by Father Jay Smith, and on October 19 the class will be led by Grace Bruni . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on October 15 at 6:30 PM. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, is normally held in Saint Joseph’s Hall, 145 West 46th Street. We will be reading the Book of Isaiah this year.—J.R.S.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525–1594) was an Italian composer and a prime proponent of the Roman school of musical composition. Palestrina was pivotal to the development of 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 that we hear at Solemn Mass on Sunday, is principally for four voices and takes its title from the matins text for the commemoration of the apostles. It uses a melody 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. 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 Nanino, Giovannelli, and Allegri. At the ministration of Communion we will hear a motet of Canadian composer, Healey Willan (1890–1968), O Sacred Feast.—Mark Peterson
SACRISTY TEAM LEADERS . . . For some years now, Dick Leitsch has been the team leader for the Sung Mass on Wednesdays. He knows those who are able to serve, trains them, finds vestments for them, and marshals them as they are available—Dick does many other things too. It became clear to me this summer while Father Smith was away that I needed help with those who serve on Sundays. I’ve asked MaryJane Boland, Brendon Hunter, and Marie Rosseels to be team leaders for Sunday Masses and the greater weekday evening festivals. MaryJane has been proofing the server schedules I’ve been doing for some years now—and she’s figured out the sometimes obscure logic of balancing positions, skills, and availability. Brendon is gifted as a teacher for new servers. Marie had a special interest in the care of the vessels and vestments of the altar. All four of these people help make the sacristy a happy place to be. Over time I plan for us to help others step into these leadership roles. MaryJane, Brendon, Marie, and Dick, I thank you for the work you have been doing and the work to come. S.G.
MIGHT God BE Calling You to be a Priest or Deacon? . . . If so, you are invited to join a conversation on conversation on Vocations, Discernment, and Ministry with the Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche, bishop of New York, on Saturday, November 8, 2014, 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 PM in Diocesan House on the cathedral close. Pre-registration is required.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . October 23, Saint James, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, October 31, The Eve of All Saints’ Day, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, November 2, 2:00 AM, Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Monday, November 3, All Souls’ Day (transferred), Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass & Blessing of the Vault 6:00 PM.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . October 18, 2014, New York Repertory Orchestra (Annual Benefit Concert). Tickets are required ($10 at door). Program: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante (with Sheryl Staples, acting concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, violin, and Cynthia Phelps, principal viola of the New York Philharmonic, viola); and Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West
at 77th Street, New York, NY 10024, Phone (212) 873-3400: What Does It Mean to Be an American?—Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion, September 26, 2014–April 19, 2015 . . . At the New York Solo Theater Festival, “Saint Mark’s Gospel: The Inspiration Begins,” solo theater piece performed by Tom Bair and directed by Kathleen Conry, on Saturday, November 15, at 4:00 PM, at the United Solo Theatre Festival at Theatre Row, 410 West Forty-second Street. Call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400 for reservations and tickets. Tom Bair, the husband of Bishop Geralyn Wolf, is a good friend of Saint Mary’s and worships with us frequently.
OUTREACH . . . The spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia and in other parts of West Africa has been rapid in recent months, and, according to recent news reports, the numbers of those affected continues to mount. We have received requests from Liberian clergy working in our diocese to publicize ways that New York Episcopalians can help. You may visit the website of the Liberian Episcopal Community USA (LECUSA) to obtain more information . . . We continue to collect nonperishable 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. Thus far in 2014, we have been able to send $2,230.00 to the Food Pantry . . . We are also happy to receive donations of new white socks and underwear, protein bars, hand cleanser, small bottles of shampoo and other toiletries, for distribution to the homeless and others who are in need. This will become increasingly important as the weather grows colder.