FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER WORDS
Jesuit liturgical scholar Robert Taft recounts a conversation between a Russian Orthodox priest and a French Jesuit about the role of teaching for conversion in Christ in an article published last fall that I found myself thinking about more than once during Holy Week. In the conversation, the French priest stressed the role of teaching. The Russian priest replied, “The liturgy is our common prayer, it initiates our faithful into the mystery of Christ better than all your catechisms . . . to understand the mystery of the Risen Christ, neither your books nor your sermons are of any help. For that, one must have lived with the Orthodox Church the Joyous Night (of Easter)” (“Mrs. Murphy Goes to Moscow,” Worship 85 [September 2011] 403).
I don’t think Episcopalians make it an “either/or” situation. We want words and worship. They both matter. Sometimes words, especially Scripture, touch us and move us to awareness, understanding and new conversion of life. Worship allows us to praise God as it opens our words and lives to God’s presence through rite. The words, “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ” take on particular meaning and become “rite” when spoken as a priest casts dirt onto a coffin lying in the grave. There’s no reason not to be knowledgeable, critically and intellectually honest about the faith, and there’s no reason not to give oneself to worship and the many graces that flow from it.
At Morning Prayer on Easter Day one of the lessons is always the prologue of John which is always the gospel for Christmas Day, and I can honestly say this has puzzled me for many years. It’s not a short reading—and I am still waking up in some ways during Morning Prayer in church on Easter Day. This year, an observation I had read the day before by Sandra Schneiders in her book Written That You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (2003) suggested why this reading may have been associated with Easter morning in the new Prayer Book.
At the tomb in John’s gospel Jesus speaks to Mary Magdalene—not to Peter or the disciple Jesus loved who go away pretty quickly once they see Jesus is gone. Mary remains, weeping. She asks one she believes to be the gardener where his body has been taken. Jesus speaks to her but she doesn’t recognize who he is until he calls her by her own name. Then he says, “Go to my brothers and sisters and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). This is the first time in John’s gospel, Professor Schneiders remarked, that Jesus calls his disciples his sisters and brothers (page 221).
This is the connection: John begins his gospel by proclaiming, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). The resurrection is the day of the creation of new relationships for humankind with our God and with each other. Transformed relationships are part of Jesus’ Easter message in John. But, when and how can Jesus’ gift of relationship help me be in the relationship? I’ve got the words, if you will, but how can the words be transformed and used in my life?
As always, our parish community made a good beginning to a new year of Easter grace this year. The Liturgy of the Palms seemed especially joyous on the Sunday of the Passion, especially welcome in a year when we read Mark, the passion that lays the cross before us more plainly than any of the other gospels. Maundy Thursday let us experience the fellowship of the washing of feet. On Good Friday, the wood of the cross brought us to Communion. Bishop Charles Jenkins’s sermons on Easter Eve and at Easter Evensong proclaimed resurrection and God’s presence in our lives today. May “Easter words” and “Easter worship” describe not only what you and I do this year in church but also describe our lives in some new way. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Vera, Patrick, James, Tatiana, Marcia, Al, Kenneth, Gayle, Kean, Helen, Joyce, Susan, Mary, Lee, Wayne, Betty, Gerald, Amy, Gloria, Barbara, Chandra, Sharon, Arpene, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, and Richard; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Gene, Matthew, Mark, and Rob . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 15: 1883 Alberta Swan; 1906 William P. Baker; 1910 Jennie Going; 1938 Frances Petty; 1941 Elizabeth Wagner McKesitt.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, April 15 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on April 18 at 6:30 PM in the Mission House . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish from Monday, April 16, until Wednesday, April 18, attending a Leadership in Ministry conference. He returns to the office on Friday, April 20. The parish clergy do not sit for confessions during Easter Week. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 21.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner George Handy was admitted to Roosevelt Hospital late last week. Please keep him in your prayers . . . At the Easter Vigil, on Saturday Evening, April 7, Charles Martellaro, Joshua Miller, Ronald Perez, and Gladys Ramos Reyes were confirmed; Elizabeth Goldsmith and Jason Mudd were received; and Jacob Kidda reaffirmed his baptismal vows. Congratulations, and welcome, to the newest members of the parish . . . Thank you to all who worked so hard and did so much here during Holy Week. It was a wonderful, beautiful, prayerful, and glorious Week! Thanks so much to our musicians, readers, acolytes, floral designers, decorators, and ushers. Thank you to all those who worked to provide hospitality, bought and hid Easter eggs, organized the dinner for our servers and readers. Thank you to those who helped out in the office and around the parish in so many different ways. It was a wonderful week and it was good to be able to welcome so many visitors. We may be tired this week, but it was all worth it! . . . Attendance: Maundy Thursday 186; Good Friday 298; Easter Vigil 220; Easter Day 585.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude on Sunday morning is the chorale prelude on Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her (a German paraphrase of the Gloria in excelsis), BWV 711, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). The setting of the mass ordinary is Missa “Ego flos campi” by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (c. 1590–1664). Padilla, greatly respected in his lifetime, was among a number of Spanish composers who emigrated to Mexico. He was appointed maestro de capilla, or “master of music,” of Pueblo Cathedral, home to a distinguished musical tradition, in 1629. (Church music in the Spanish colonies was similar to and derived from Spanish practice). Padilla composed in a style founded on sixteenth-century polyphony, including the music of Morales, Guerrero, Victoria and other composers of the time, though one hears the traits of the “new style” in his compositions. This parody Mass is for double choir (two choirs of four parts each), and is based on an unknown motet. The text of Ego flos campi (“I am the flower of the field”) comes from the Song of Solomon and has been associated, by Christians, with the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Alleluia: Dic nobis Maria by Francisco López Capillas (c. 1605-1674). Capillas was born in Mexico City in about 1605 of Spanish parentage and was thus considered to be “criollo.” His musical career took him to Puebla’s rich cathedral and there he assisted Padilla and served as an organist and bajonista. He moved in 1648 to Mexico City to be assistant to Fabián Ximeno and then succeeded as maestro and organist at the Cathedral in 1654 . . . At Evensong on Sunday, the recital will be performed by the Rodolfus Choir, United Kingdom. The choir will also sing the service. The setting of the canticles is Evening Service “For Trebles” by Thomas Weelkes (1576–1923) and the anthem is Bless the Lord, O my soul (2000), a setting of four verses from Psalm 104 by English composer Jonathan Dove (b. 1959). James Kennerley
THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE CONGREGATION will be held following the Solemn Mass on Sunday, May 6, 2012. The meeting will receive reports from parish organizations, staff and the board of trustees. The meeting will elect two delegates and two alternate delegates to serve as our representatives to the annual diocesan convention.
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 . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, April 15. 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 . . . On May 6, 20, and 27, 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 . . . Friday, April 27, 2012, 1:00 PM/Lunchtime Concert, Roseville Area High School Cantus Certus, Dean Jilek, director. Admission Free.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry. Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall. You may make a cash donation as well. If you would like more information about how the Food Pantry works or if you would like to volunteer, please speak to Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or Father Smith . . . Father Smith resumes his Book Sale on Sunday. All proceeds are used to benefit the Food Pantry and others who are in need.
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.