FROM THE RECTOR: MEMORY AND KNOWLEDGE
I’m not a diarist, but I often wish I were. I’m pretty sure that sometime in my first years as a rector in Indiana I began to realize that every Holy Week I would be learning something new. This learning would take place not because we were doing something new, but because I was hearing or seeing something familiar in a different way. Sometimes this can make me feel not-so-bright. But knowledge is a grace, and grace has a way of inviting, if not dragging, us forward in life.
At the top of my learning list for 2012 was an insight culled from reading in Raymond Brown’s The Death of the Messiah (1994): Mark, the first of the evangelists, simply felt less free to alter the story of Jesus’ death than Matthew, Luke or John did. The same, it seems to me, is true of Mark’s account of the resurrection. It’s not just that Mark’s is the earliest gospel. He and his community could live just with what they knew when it came to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus’ death in Mark is the most harrowing of all. Matthew, whose account follows Mark’s very closely, softens the story by having Jesus himself yield up his spirit. In Mark, Jesus simply breathes his last. In Luke and in John, God is present with Jesus while he is on the cross. In Mark, Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ death is surrounded by signs of God’s presence, e.g., the darkness over the earth at midday. In John, the soldier’s spear and Jesus’ rich burial show us that in this gospel we are almost in another reality.
Jonah Lehrer writes a column for The Wall Street Journal called “Head Case.” His last piece was called, “When Memory Commits an Injustice” (April 14, 2012). It’s about why eyewitness testimony can be so unreliable. It turns out that the people looking at a police lineup who are told to choose as quickly as possible—in other words, not to take their time to think about it—are far more accurate than those who are told to take their time. Best current explanation: the nature of memory. The brain, when taking its time, fills in memory. (I wonder: Is this something we watch young children actually do as they learn to talk and tell us things?)
My small group leader at the Leadership in Ministry seminar I attended last week asked my group to bring pictures from our childhood for our work together. I brought some pictures—and I brought along my baby book. I have had it for some years now but never done more than glance through it.
I was surprised to find that my mother recorded my height and weight annually until I was 15—when I was 6’1” and 140 pounds. My mother’s delight and love for me was there in her own, clear handwriting. I’m so glad I have it. It reminded me of many good things I had forgotten. Knowledge is often better than memory. Above all, it is wise to remember that there is always more to know. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Joan, George, Patrick, Gail, James, Tatiana, Marcia, Al, Kenneth, Helen, Wayne, Betty, Gerald, Arpene, Barbara, Sharon, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, and Richard; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, Matthew, Mark, and Rob; and for the repose of the souls of Jim Courtney and Cody Unterseher, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 29: 1900 George Lehn; 1920 Ellen Lundi Chapman; 1935 Clara Nulle; 1939 Emily Hayward Capron Jacocks.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Reverend Cody Unterseher died on Wednesday afternoon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after a brief illness. Father Unterseher was a priest associate at Christ Church, Bronxville, and was a doctoral candidate in liturgics at the University of Notre Dame. Father Unterseher also served as the editor of The Anglican, the journal of the Anglican Society in North America. He was a good friend of our assisting priest, Father David Sibley. At the time of his death, Father Unterseher was thirty-six years old. Please keep him, his family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, April 29, at 10:00 AM, in the Mission House. Father Jim Pace will lead the class in a discussion of the rosary, in both its Anglican and Roman Catholic varieties . . . Tuesday, May 1, Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles, Mass 12:10 PM and Mass 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on May 2 at 6:30 PM in the Mission House after Evening Prayer . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, April 28. Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, May 5.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . George Handy is now at the Kateri Residence, 150 Riverside Drive at 87th Street. Doreen Swan is still in residence at Amsterdam House; and Gerald McKelvey is finishing up his rehabilitation therapy at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Center. Please keep all these parishioners in your prayers . . . The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will preach at the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 287.
GIFTS FOR ASCENSION DAY HOSPITALITY AND FLOWERS are needed. Depending on the type of foods that are ordered, hors d'oeuvre for receptions on the greater festivals generally cost between $400 and 500 dollars, beverages about $250. Flowers for the church are ordered and prepared by the volunteer members of the Flower Guild. A donation of $200 is asked. You may contact the finance office, the rector or the curate if you have questions about these ministries or to make a donation. Thank you!
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Offertoire sur les grands jeux from the Messe pour les couvents by François Couperin (1668–1733). Music is performed by a quartet of singers drawn from the main choir. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe pour le samedi de Pâques (“Mass for Saturday of Easter Week”) by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1645/50–1704). Charpentier, one of the greatest composers of the French Baroque period, produced a large body of work, including Masses and a significant amount of other liturgical music (perhaps, most famously, the Messe de minuit pour Noël), cantatas, operas, and instrumental music. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings a setting of the Marian Eastertide antiphon, Regina coeli, H. 46, also by Charpentier . . . . Please join us on Sunday evening at 5:00 PM for Solemn Evensong & Benediction. The service is preceded by a recital at 4:40 PM, performed by Elizabeth F. Eger, Westminster Choir College, New Jersey. The preacher at Evensong is the Reverend James Ross Smith. The final service of Evensong during the current academic year will take place on Trinity Sunday, June 3. 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.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Wednesday, May 16, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 17, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Monday, May 28, Memorial Day. The parish will observe its federal holiday schedule.
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 . . . 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?” The class will not meet on Sunday, May 13.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . . The class, which is reading the Letter to the Hebrews will meet on May 2, 9, and 23 at 6:30 PM. On May 23, the final class of the 2011-2012 academic year, the members of the class will share a potluck supper. All are invited to join us for these final classes—and for the potluck! Jay Smith
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.