FROM THE RECTOR: MEMORY AND HOPE
I’ve just discovered a book that I’m pretty sure would have influenced a lot of the thinking and writing I have done over the last decade or so if I had read it earlier. The book, Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year (2000), was edited by Notre Dame Professor Maxwell Johnson. It is a collection of essays by fourteen liturgists and theologians from different denominations. Johnson takes his title from an essay in the book by the late Thomas Talley (1924-2005), who for many years was professor of liturgics at the General Theological Seminary. As Christians we live with the memory of Christ’s saving work and the hope for Christ’s coming at the end of time.
I bought the book because of a reference to one of those essays in another book, Johnson’s and Paul Bradshaw’s The Origins of Feast, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011). The essay, “The Three Days and the Forty Days,” was written by Patrick Regan who now teaches at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome. Between Memory and Hope arrived on Ash Wednesday. That title is itself a meditation, a proclamation, about the way we who believe in Jesus Christ are called to live.
So far, I have looked briefly at Regan’s article—how to count the “Three Days” of the Easter or “Paschal” Triduum—the name, as well as the counting, are worth reviewing at another time; and I have also read Johnson’s introduction. He writes about Easter and Lent:
Easter and Pentecost are about our death and resurrection in Christ today, our passover from death to life in his passover, through water and the Holy Spirit in baptism. Lent is about our annual retreat, our annual re-entry into the catechumenate and order of penitents in order to reflect on, affirm, remember and re-claim that baptism. (page xii)
I haven’t made a study of the classic texts for the admission of unbaptized adults to the historic formation program known as the catechumenate. The Episcopal Church’s version is found in The Book of Occasional Services 2003. The rite begins with one question to those who are coming to faith, “What do you seek?” The answer is “Life in Christ” (page 117).
I far prefer the questions now used by the Roman Church for the beginning of the rite—why we use different questions and answers I suspect is more than a matter of translation, but I really don’t know why they are different. Their rite begins with the celebrant asking each person, “What is your name?” Then, the celebrant asks, “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The answer is, “Faith.” Then, “What does faith offer you?” The answer, “Eternal life” (The Rites of the Catholic Church , 41).
Saint Paul writes, “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). The Greek word for ‘end,’ telos, carries the meaning both of ‘end of time’ and the ‘goal toward which we move.’ In the words “faith” and “hope,” the Church remembers Jesus’ promise that the end of all things (in both senses of telos) is in him, when he will be “all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). The journey to death and resurrection is God’s plan for all human life; we make it our own through Christ with memory and with hope. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Chandra, Julie, Pat, Tony, Wayne, Bob, Betty, Gerald, Aston, Amy, Barbara, Jim, Odin, Arpene, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Richard, Linda, Gert, and Rick; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew, Mark, and Rob . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 26: 1902 Ada Maria Chauncey; 1921 Emily Patten Peters; 1942 Mary Louise Denver Lindley; 1994 Milledge Polo Mosley.
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE IN LENT . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Fridays in Lent are observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday, February 26, in the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM, on the second floor of the Mission House, Father Peter Powell begins his Lenten series on Genesis 1-11 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on February 29 at 6:30 PM, in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Wednesday, February 29, at 6:30 PM in the Rectory . . . Stations of the Cross are offered every Friday in Lent at 6:30 PM . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, February 25, and on Saturday, March 3.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to all the members of the parish who worked so hard throughout the day on Ash Wednesday, one of the busiest days in our calendar. We are also grateful to Bishop Frank Griswold, who was with us on Wednesday evening as celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Pontifical Mass. It is always a great pleasure to have him here at Saint Mary’s . . . The Reverend David Sibley, priest-in-charge, Saint John’s Church, Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, will be celebrant and preacher for several Masses in February and March. Father Sibley is a 2011 graduate of the General Theological Seminary. We welcome him to the altar of the parish . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the collection basket in the back of the church on Sunday mornings . . . Confirmation and the other rites of Christian initiation will be celebrated at the Easter Vigil. For more information, please speak with one of the parish clergy . . . If you would like to sponsor a reception after the Solemn Masses on Annunciation, Monday, March 26, Easter Eve, Saturday, April 7, or Ascension Day, Thursday, May 17, please speak to Father Jay Smith or contact the parish office . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish from Thursday, March 1, until Friday, March 9 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 224, Ash Wednesday 456.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary at the Solemn Mass is Missa brevis in D minor, Op. 83, by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839–1901). Rheinberger, an important composer and teacher of the German Romantic period, is known especially for his organ and sacred choral music. Much of his output, including today’s setting, can be described as Gebrauchsmusik. This early twentieth-century German term essentially translates as “utility music”—music that was composed for a specific purpose, rather than for the general advancement of the composer and his art. The Communion motet is Hear my prayer, O Lord by Henry Purcell (1659[?]–1695). The work, for unaccompanied eight-part choir, is essentially a passage of increasing intensity, whose tension is only resolved in the closing bars. It is believed that the motet was intended to be the introduction to a larger work, which Purcell may not have finished or which may now be lost. James Kennerley
SUNDAY ADULT FORUM IN LENT . . . On Sundays during Lent, Father Peter Powell returns to Saint Mary’s to lead a five-part series on Genesis 1-11, the first part of the Bible’s first book. Father Powell says, “The class will dwell on the creation stories and the flood both to understand what they meant in their historical context and how they inform faith today. We will observe that the two creation stories are not complementary and that the story of the flood is confusing. Scripture looks very different when we remove the tours de force imposed by those who accept it literally. Along the way we will talk about stewardship, the big bang theory, sexual awareness, temptation and original sin. The Bible as a whole and the New Testament in particular essentially ignore the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Nevertheless they have contemporary significance in modern culture wars.”
LENTEN QUIET DAY . . . Led by Father John Beddingfield, Saturday, March 3, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, The Fear of God: Our Troubles Transformed—Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), but what does it mean to “fear” God? How does our relationship with God affect other parts of our life in which fear plays a part? Are faith and fear connected, or are they opposed to each other? Using scripture, tradition, story, and silence, this year’s Lenten Quiet Day will allow us to reflect on these questions together. Father Beddingfield will offer three meditations. There will be opportunities for quiet, prayer, and silent meditation. Those attending are invited to celebrate the Eucharist together at noonday. Coffee and tea will be served in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning at 9:30 AM and a simple lunch will be provided following Mass. Please send an e-mail to Father Jay Smith if you think you would like to attend so he can make plans for lunch.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, March 3, 8:00 PM, The Dessoff Choirs: Midwinter Festival: Refracted Bach. . . Saturday, March 17, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre Early Music Series, Tenebrae, with Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre, conductor . . . Saturday, March 31, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director. Music by Mozart and Shostakovich. Admission is free . . . Saturday, April 21, 8:00 PM, Miller Theater Early Music Series, Treasures of the Renaissance, with Stile Antico.
DONATIONS FOR ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We hope to receive donations for flowers for the Annunciation, March 26, and for Palm Sunday, April 1, as well as for the following Sundays, April 15, 22, and 29. We also welcome donations for Easter flowers. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, March 10, 10:30 AM, Consecration of Canon Andrew Dietsche at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New York . . . Monday, March 26, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend R. William Franklin, bishop of Western New York, celebrant and preacher.