FROM THE RECTOR: AIDE MEMOIRE
If memory serves, while speaking to my senior Nashotah House Seminary class, our liturgics professor, the Reverend Dr. Louis Weil, called the altar book an "aide memoire"--a memory aid for the presider while he or she presided at Mass. The appointed words of our common prayer certainly aren't an incantation, a magic spell; they are words of worship. The Eucharistic Prayer is the primary proclamation of our faith when we gather for Mass. From the fourth century forward, in the wake of Christianity's legalization and great growth in numbers, we begin to have written texts for the bishops and priests who presided at Mass. They needed them. The church was growing fast, and texts helped presiders proclaim the gospel faithfully.
In our time, the altar book serves many practical purposes. It allows the presider to read or sing the prayers that change with the days and seasons of the church year--the collect of the day and, when appointed, a preface to be included in the Eucharistic Prayer. When distractions occur during the liturgy or when one's mind wanders, the book helps a presider do the job the church has ordained him or her to do.
I will never forget the Sunday in Advent when I was a rector in Michigan City, Indiana, when the altar book had not made it to the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer—and I had not noticed until I was already facing the altar and had already begun to sing the Advent preface. Without thinking, I just kept going. I knew the chant, but I knew that if I stopped to think anything about it, I would have had to stop singing. The book made it to the altar during "Holy, holy, holy Lord." I hope not to repeat that experience. I've been a priest long enough that the book has become for me not a text, but an aide.
Some time ago, I came across a picture online of the gospel being proclaimed in the midst of the congregation during a Sunday Eucharist. I was very tempted to save it. Everyone old enough to read in the photograph was following along in their bulletins. No one seemed to be really listening to the gospel along with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course, there's nothing at all wrong with people using texts when they need them-Lord only knows when my hearing eyesight and/or eyesight will be thankful for help. But listening is different from reading. No gospel lesson is unfamiliar to a regular worshiper after a few years. But the Word of God washes over us, as it were, in a different way as the years of our lives pass. It's the great aide memoire of our lives in Christ.
During the course of this year, I have found myself connecting the words of our liturgy more deeply to the narratives of the Bible. An interior thing, a new awareness for me. Perhaps this is mostly about my age-now closer to 65 than 64. I have written before about sensing a physically larger interior space for faith, as it were, in the wake of my parents' deaths. Nowadays this space sometimes seems to bring forward the stories of the Bible into my present, to help my awareness that our humanity is deeply connected to those who have gone before. — Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Shauna, James, Karen, Timothy, Ilona, Robert, Alex, Sheila, Eloise, Angie, Maxine, Carlos, Susan, Marilouise, Dennis, Bob, Abe, Randy, Burt, Mike, Eugenia, Kyle, Greta, Karen, John, Melissa, May, Heidi, Takeem, Ridhima, and Sandy; for Horace, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 4: 1891 Clara Louise Ross; 1931 Jessica Braidford; 1941 Louise Crater Mudgett; 1959 Carrie Stringham; 1960 Doris Thomas, 1966 Harold Warrell.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEARare observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of Monday, July 23, $385,674 has been pledged by 120 households. This 90.7% of our pledge goal. It is not too late to make a pledge for 2018. If you would like to do so, please contact the parish office or speak to Marie Rosseels, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Brendon Hunter, members of the Stewardship Committee.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Monday, August 6, The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Father Gerth will be the celebrant and homilist for the 12:10 PM Mass; Father Matt Jacobson will be celebrant and preacher for the 6:00 PM Sung Mass . . . Wednesday, August 1, Sung Mass 12:10 PM . . .Friday, August 3, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor.
SAINT MARY'S 2018-2019 ORGAN RECITALS. . . All recitals begin at 5:30 PM: Wednesday, August 15, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mr. George Bozeman, Deerfield, NH; Thursday, November 1, All Saints' Day, Dr. Paul-Martin Maki, Saint John's Church, Larchmont, NY; Friday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dr. Judith Hancock, New York City; Friday, February 1, Eve of the Presentation of Our Lord, Dr. Timothy Pyper, Church of the Holy Apostles, New York City; Monday, March 25, Annunciation of Our Lord, Mr. Larry Long, Church of the Epiphany, New York City; Thursday, May 30, Ascension Day, Dr. David Hurd, organist and music director.
A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY . . . On August 9, 1960, The Reverend Canon Edgar Fisher Wells, Jr., Rector Emeritus, was ordained priest in the diocese of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He became the eighth rector of Saint Mary's in 1979 and retired in 1998. We are always honored when he is able to be with us for Mass. He led Saint Mary's through some of its most challenging years, especially when Times Square was synonymous with crime and pornography. He led the restoration campaign that produced the wonderful redesign of the church interior in 1997. Under his leadership the parish moved to the present Prayer Book, the use of Rite II, and the welcoming of women priests to the altars of Saint Mary's. In my early years here, he was a great source of information about the work of a priest at Saint Mary's. On occasions too many to remember, he has shown great kindness to me. We will be praying for him and with thanksgiving for his ministry at the 12:10 Mass on Thursday, August 9, of this week. —S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Pledge to keep up with your pledge! During the summer months we sometimes experience cash-flow problems as many friends and members of the parish are away, taking much-needed vacations. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the mission and witness of this parish . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on vacation from Monday, July 30, until Monday, August 13. He returns to the office on Tuesday, August 14 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 145.
ALTAR FLOWER DONATION OPPORTUNITIES . . . The following Sundays have not been covered by donations: August 19, September 2 and 23, October 14, 21, and 28, November 4, 11, 18, and 25, and Sunday, December 16, Gaudete Sunday. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Parish Office.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our next Drop-in Day on Wednesday, September 26, and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. We are in particular need of basic items such as the following: packs of new underwear in various sizes for both men and women; slacks for both men and women, including jeans, chinos, khakis, etc.; packs of new socks, white and black; rainwear; knapsacks; and toiletry articles. Please contact Sister Monica Clare if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The "guest" organist this morning is, in fact, a member of Saint Mary's, Clark Anderson, whom we welcome to the consoles today. The cantor is Heather Meyer, who has sung frequently in the choir and as cantor at Saint Mary's in recent years. During the ministration of Communion, she will sing an aria from Theodora by George Frederick Handel (1685-1759). Theodora is normally classified as one of Handel's oratorios. Oratorios are usually multi-movement musical works intended for concert performance which employ various configurations of vocalists and instrumentalists in the service of a biblical narrative. Works classified as operas have been known to engage religious subject matter and have been known to receive concert performances without staging or costumes. Theodora,whose subject matter touches upon Christian religious subject matter, but cannot be said to be biblical, is an example of a work which confounds standard categories. (The oratorio concerns the Christian martyr Theodora and her Christian-converted Roman lover, Didymus.) Perhaps for that reason, it was not well received as an oratorio in Handel's own time. Nonetheless, the merits of its music have been recognized in more recent times, and Theodora has even received fully staged operatic performances, which further confounds its categorization. The aria sung today is a prayer set in da capo aria form, that is, two contrasting musical sections are followed by a concluding repeat of the first in an ABA shape. —David Hurd
FROM CLARK ANDERSON & ZACHARY ROESEMANN . . . Like Bach, his contemporary across the Channel, Handel was a formidable keyboard player, once described as "a very devil" at the keys. But unlike Bach, and much to organists' sorrow, Handel wrote hardly any works specifically for the organ. Even the works he did compose, the organ concertos, were used primarily in secular settings, including during the intermissions of his oratorios. But Handel did write a number of works for harpsichord that adapt well to the organ. The voluntaries today are two of those works. The first, the F-Major Chaconne, is a lovely dialogue, originally to be played on the two keyboards of a large harpsichord. The Saint Mary's organ allows for a more colorful alternation between flutes and oboes, reminding us of one of Handel's specialties in his orchestral writing. The G-minor Passacaglia closes his seventh suite for harpsichord and creates a grand effect, building variations on the theme to a satisfying climax. The oratorio Theodora (1749), a Christian religious drama about early martyrs in Rome, was the biggest commercial failure of Handel's career; as Handel wryly put it, "The Jews will not come to it because it is a Christian story; and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one." But Handel himself felt a special regard for Theodora, and it was greatly admired in cultivated musical circles, if not by the general public, and is now seen as one of Handel's masterpieces. —C.A. & Z.R.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Tuesday, August 14, The Eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Wednesday, August 15, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Friday, August 24, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle . . . Monday, September 3, Labor Day . . . Friday, September 7, Eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Friday, September 14, Holy Cross Day . . . Friday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist . . . Friday, September 28, Eve of Saint Michael and All Angels.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . "Learning to Remember" at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280, until August 26, 2018. From the Museum website, "The Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is commemorating twenty years of serving as New York's Holocaust Memorial Museum with a series of special exhibitions and installations, public programs, and community events. Learning to Remember offers a glimpse of some of the most compelling, thought-provoking, and historically significant exhibitions presented by the Museum in the last two decades. These exhibitions explored important topics-from Jewish resistance against the Nazis to the American Jewish connection to Lady Liberty-and attracted diverse audiences to what is now the third largest Holocaust museum in the world."