FROM THE RECTOR: A NEW HOLY WEEK
It turns out that “tradition” is a word I haven’t used very carefully for a long time, if ever. Tradition is not just what was done in the past. Tradition is what we are doing today with what has been handed on to us by those who have gone before. I picked this up after reading and rereading the conclusion of an article on daily Mass by the Jesuit liturgical scholar Robert Taft. He writes that tradition is “a living force whose contingent expressions, in liturgy or elsewhere, can change” (Between Memory and Hope, ed. Maxwell E. Johnson  96). Christian worship is traditional because it is about today. Christian worship is never historical reenactment. Our faith is about the Risen One whose presence shows and brings eternal life into our lives today.
Since starting to attend the Episcopal Church during my college years, I have looked forward to Holy Week. The services of this week helped draw me into this part of Christ’s Church. I’m sure part of the attraction was the historical perspective the rites of this week seemed to me to carry. It would be a long time, well into my second decade of service as a priest, before I would begin to see worship as something that was fundamentally about Christ’s presence among us now. Holy Week is about God’s work today, and it begins with “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday”—the name alone suggests how much will be going on that day and through the week, until the sun has set on Easter Day.
There are three Masses for Palm Sunday. The 5:00 PM Saturday Vigil Mass and the 9:00 AM Sunday Mass are identical services: The Liturgy of the Palms & Sung Mass. The principal liturgy of the day is the 11:00 AM Sunday morning service: The Liturgy of the Palms, Procession through Times Square & Solemn Mass of the Passion. During the 11:00 AM service, perhaps more than at any other liturgy of the year, we revel, if you will, in Saint Mary’s vocation as an urban liturgical parish. You can’t do what we do without the location, the building, the congregation, the music, the clergy and the living tradition of the Church. It all comes together. There is no 10:00 AM Mass on Palm Sunday because there is simply not enough time. Of course, Matins will be sung at 8:30 AM and Solemn Evensong & Benediction will be offered at 5:00 PM. (How a “Sunday of the Passion” is a “Passion Sunday” and a “Palm Sunday” is a subject for another article on another day—the Mass, of course, is the main thing.)
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week we follow the regular daily schedule. This year, Father Smith will be attending the Chrism Mass at the cathedral on Tuesday in Holy Week. I will be leading the noon services here—we alternate years in attending. At this Mass, the bishop consecrates the new oil of chrism that will be used throughout the diocese during the coming year at Holy Baptism.
The calendar gets more complicated with the great rites of the Easter Triduum—the “Three Days.” One way, but not the only way to think of these as three days—the historical pattern is varied–is to count the first day, Maundy Thursday, as beginning with sunset on Thursday. In any case, that’s when the Mass of the day is celebrated. The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins at 6:00 PM. Following the Mass, the Eucharist is reposed in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy for prayer until the services of the next day.
On Good Friday, the liturgy is celebrated twice: at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM. The services are identical. Confessions are heard following both services. The second day of the Triduum begins with sunset on Friday.
The third day begins with sunset on Saturday. The principal service of the year is the Great Vigil of Easter. It begins at 7:00 PM. The Right Reverend Charles E. Jenkins, X Bishop of Louisiana, will be with us to preach and to preside at the rites of Christian initiation. A reception follows the Mass.
On Easter Day, Morning Prayer is sung. The 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM Said Masses include Easter hymns. Solemn Mass is at 11:00 AM. Bishop Jenkins will preach at Solemn Paschal Evensong at 5:00 PM—at which our largest choir of the year will sing. It will be a glorious conclusion to the Triduum.
I hope there will be many moments of grace for all of us as we gather to celebrate God’s gifts to us of life and eternal life. I hope it will be easy for us as a community to let the rites speak for themselves this week and for Christ to be alive in us today. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Patrick, James, Victoria, Tatiana, Kenneth, Gayle, Kean, Helen, Joyce, Susan, Mary, Lee, Wayne, Betty, Gerald, Amy, Gloria, Jim, Barbara, Odin, Chandra, Sharon, Arpene, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Richard, James, religious, Ronald, religious, and Robert, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Gene, Matthew, Mark, and Rob . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 1: 1889 Charles Hermann Sundermeyer and George Alfred Denslow; 1890 George Charles Edward Mortimer Nicholas; 1900 Ricia Eckstrum; 1912 Charlotte Standbridge Emmens; 1920 John Prince Ray; 1922 John Ballot; 1924 Charles Edgerton Horner; 1937 Harriett Holley Dall Aldrich; 1974 Homer Alexander; 1993 Charles Christian.
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE IN LENT & HOLY WEEK . . . 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. Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Members of the Flower Guild will gather to prepare the palms for Sunday’s liturgies on Saturday, March 31, from 10:30-11:45 AM and from 1:00-2:15 PM. Volunteers are most welcome! . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, April 1, 8, or 15 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on Wednesday, April 4. The class resumes on April 11 . . . On March 31, Father Smith will hear confessions at 11:30 AM and Father Gerth will hear confessions at 4:00 PM. Confessions are heard by the parish clergy after both services on Good Friday. The clergy do not sit for confessions on Easter Eve, April 7, or on Saturday in Easter Week, April 14. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 21.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Saturday, March 31, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Admission is free . . . April 1, is the twenty-third anniversary of the ordination of the Reverend James Clive Pace to the priesthood. Father Pace, congratulations! . . . Thank you to all who helped with the celebrations on the Annunciation! . . . Parishioner Carol Pepper died in June 2011. Carol had formerly served as a pastor of the United Church of Christ. Her family recently donated Carol’s liturgical stoles to Saint Mary’s. They also donated her clothes to our outreach partner, the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. We are very grateful to them for their generosity . . . Our young acolyte and boat bearer Jeremiah Burch will be appearing in an Off-Broadway production of Pippi Longstocking: The Musical on the weekend of April 20-22. Performances are at the Theatre at Saint Peter’s, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 253; Annunciation 216.
GIFTS OF MONEY ARE NEEDED for the reception after the Great Vigil of Easter. Donations will be most gratefully received by the treasurer—or the clergy.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . On Palm Sunday, the music includes numerous chants specific to the day, many of which are among the Church’s great musical heritage and have been associated with the Palm Sunday liturgy for centuries. In addition, the setting of the Mass ordinary (on Palm Sunday, only the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are sung) is Missa in die tribulationis by Orlande de Lassus (c. 1532–1594). Little is known about his early life apart from the fact that he was kidnapped three times because of the incredible beauty of his singing voice! The Gradual, Christus factus est, is sung to a polyphonic setting by Spanish composer Hernando Franco (1532–1585) . . . On Maundy Thursday, the hymns and chants sung this evening by choir and congregation are music that has been associated with the Maundy Thursday liturgy for centuries. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis, Opus 50, by Kenneth Leighton (1929–1988). This striking setting for unaccompanied choir was written in 1968 for the choir of Liverpool Cathedral . . . Nearly all of the music sung on Good Friday comes from the Church’s ancient chants for the day. Much of this music has been associated with Good Friday for hundreds upon hundreds of years. During the Veneration of the Cross, the choir sings a familiar setting of the Reproaches by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611), the Spanish priest and composer of the late Renaissance. The gradual, Christus factus est, is sung to a setting that I composed for this service. James Kennerley
AIDS WALK 2012 . . . The Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team is in action again, our seventh year in a row, walking in the 27th AIDS Walk New York on Sunday, May 20. Our team will raise money, and most of us will walk on Saturday, May 19, in order to be in church the following day. We are small but successful: in 2011, there were only 10 of us, we raised over $16,000, and we ranked 32 among 3,641 teams in the Walk! We need your help to do even better this year. Join our team or contribute to our team by clicking here. To join, click on “Join our Team.” To contribute, in the Team Members box next to our picture, click on “General Team Donation” (if you prefer to write a check made out to AWNY, you can give it to Father Smith or to MaryJane Boland). Team members raise money from their friends and colleagues. Ask questions of our team by e-mailing the team leader MaryJane Boland or speak to her or Father Smith on Sunday.
SUNDAY ADULT FORUM IN LENT & EASTERTIDE . . . On Sunday, April 22, Dr. Dennis Raverty, art historian and good friend of Saint Mary’s, will lead a class entitled “Rembrandt and the Jews of Amsterdam” . . . On Sunday, April 29, Father Jim Pace, assisting priest here at the parish, will lead a class on the Rosary. He will discuss the history and practice of this devotion and will look at both the Anglican and Roman Catholic rosaries and will discuss the differences between the two . . . In May, Father Jay Smith will continue his series, “What Do Episcopalians Believe?”
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, April 21, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre Early Music Series, Treasures of the Renaissance, with Stile Antico.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . December 7, 2011–May 14, 2012, Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, Third to Seventh Century AD, at the Onassis Cultural Center, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, entrances on 51st and 52nd Streets, between Madison and Fifth Avenues . . . February 3–May 20, 2012–Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière, at the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street. This exhibition presents the liturgical work of Hildreth Meière (1892–1961), who was one of the best known and most prolific Art Deco muralists of the twentieth century. Recognized during her lifetime for both her liturgical and secular work, Meière completed over 100 commissions from 1922 to 1961. Though Meière is little known today, her commissions are very well recognized and include several New York City attractions like the Red Banking Room at One Wall Street, the lobby of the Walker Lispenard Building, the 50th Street façade of Radio City Music Hall, and religious art and decoration at the Church of Saint Bartholomew and Temple Emanu-El.