FROM THE RECTOR: MORE THAN A DAY
Until the 1928 Prayer Book, Pentecost was known in The Book of Common Prayer simply by its earlier name, “Whitsunday”—“white Sunday”—referring to white baptismal robes. Whitsunday, in the late spring, was a day when baptisms were celebrated. In 1928, all of the Prayer Book’s collects, epistles and gospels were labeled by seasons: Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany Season, Pre-Lent, Lent, Eastertide, Ascensiontide, Whitsuntide and Trinity Season. In the wake of the liturgical renewal in the last half of the twentieth century, Pre-Lent, Ascensiontide, and Whitsuntide would go; Trinity would get a new name.
The calendar we have today was shaped by the scholarship and pastoral decisions of the 1960s and 1970s. People knew then that Pentekostē had originally been the period of fifty days beginning with the Sunday of the Resurrection. What wasn’t known was that the Sunday we call Easter Day was originally a celebration of Jesus’ death. The fifty days following this celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and gift of the Holy Spirit. This first-century reckoning, though widespread in the Mediterranean world, was not universal at the time, nor did it survive the tremendous changes that took place in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The calendar evolves. Its history is rich and complicated, like the history of humankind.
The 1979 Prayer Book’s attempt, along with the attempts in other Western Christian denominations, to recover a fifty-day Easter Season may yet bear fruit. But we have a long way to go. To begin with, a simple, minor, but significant outward sign would be to change the liturgical color for Pentecost from red to white. Red vesture on this day inevitably suggests that Pentecost is not a part of Easter Season.
There is also probably a need for a fundamental reform of Lent. How can it be that more people come into our churches in New York City on Ash Wednesday than any other day of the year? A century ago, few Episcopal parishes ever had ashes on Ash Wednesday—remember the gospel for the day is pretty explicit about not marking one’s face. I don’t want to turn people away, but how do we, how should we, move on, move deeper, move closer to Christ? How can the Holy Spirit work to do something new in our lives today?
Looking back, there are periods when there are fundamental changes in the spirituality of Christian people. The great hymnody of the Reformation, for example, altered how people believed and worshiped in profound ways. The printing press made the celebration of uniform liturgies possible and it made the Bible widely available. The collapse of the classical world shifted human experience, as did the advent of the Black Death, the fall of Constantinople and the discovery, for Western Europe, of the New World.
I expect the world in which we live, like the Episcopal Church in which I worship, to change over the course of my life. I want to know more about the past, not to live there, but to expand my understanding of where we are today. Life moves on. The Holy Spirit drives it forward. The Day of Pentecost invites us to see and understand how the Holy Spirit is present and speaking in the lives and words of others. In the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christians continue to be amazed that the Spirit is doing new things. We, whose lives are changing every day, should not be afraid or surprised by the new things Christ’s Spirit is doing for us. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ivan, Susan, Brenda, Philip, Wayne, Michael, Henrietta, Jananie, Pearl, Joseph, Jan, Andrew, James, Gail, Helen, Joyce, Betty, Arpene, Sharon, Chandra, Randolph, and Dorothy; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 27: 1888 Eugene G. Barrows; 1933 Edith St. John; 1954 Caroline Elizabeth Kindred; 1957 Charles Wesley Barney.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, May 27, which will be the final class of the academic year. The class, led by Father Jay Smith, will conclude the series, “What Do Episcopalians Believe?” The Adult Forum will resume in the fall . . . Monday, May 28, Memorial Day. The parish will observe its federal holiday schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. The parish offices are closed . . . Thursday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Said Mass 12:10 PM, Father Smith, celebrant & preacher; Sung Mass 6:00 PM. Father Pace, celebrant & preacher . . . Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, May 26. Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, June 2.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We still hope to receive donations for altar flowers for Trinity Sunday (June 3) and for two other Sundays in June (June 17 and 24). If you would like to donate flowers on those dates, or for other Sundays this summer, or for the Feast of the Assumption, please contact the parish office . . . Many thanks to all who helped make the funeral and reception for George Handy such a wonderful and glorious celebration of the life and faith of George and of this parish community . . . Attendance: Ascension Day 235; Last Sunday 224.
BABY SHOWER . . . There will be a baby shower for parishioner Jananie Nair, whose baby will be born in mid-August. Please join us after Coffee Hour on Sunday, June 3, in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House. Everyone is welcome. This is a great way to meet other Saint Marians, including Jananie. We welcome your contributions to the potluck and a gift for the baby. Jananie is registered at buybuybaby.com, but there are other options, too. Please contact MaryJane Boland or Grace Bruni to RSVP or for more information.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is En taille a 5 and Fugue a 5 from Hymne sur “Veni Creator Spiritus” by Nicolas de Grigny (1672–1703). The choral music sung at the Solemn Mass is by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611), the greatest composer of the Spanish sixteenth-century “golden age” of polyphonic music. Victoria was born in Avila in 1548. Around 1558, he became a choirboy in Avila Cathedral, where he received his earliest musical training. When his voice broke, he was sent to the Collegium Germanicum at Rome where he was enrolled as a student in 1565. He was to spend the next twenty years in Rome and he occupied a number of significant posts there. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa “Dum complerentur.” The work is a parody mass, that is, a work whose principal musical ideas are based on an already existing piece–in this case, Victoria’s own motet Dum complerentur, sung on Sunday as the Communion motet. The motet tells of the descent of the Holy Ghost as portrayed in Acts 2:1-2, and the musical setting is appropriately animated. After a series of lively imitative entries, the voices break into sudden homophony at the words omnes pariter (“all with one accord”). The second section of the work begins in a similar way to the first, returning to homophony at the words in unum discipuli; following this is a set of running entries representing the “sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind.” The motet concludes with a restatement of the second half of the first part, ending with the same exhilarating set of Alleluias, this time with the soprano parts exchanged. James Kennerley
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Thursday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM & Mass 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, June 3, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 10, The Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Corpus Christi . . . Sunday, June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist . . . Friday, June 29, Saint Peter & Saint Paul, Apostles.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . If you would like to make a donation to help cover the costs of the reception on August 15, please contact the parish office. We are also happy to receive donations to support our hospitality efforts on Sunday morning!
AIDS WALK 2012 . . . A hearty thank you to the members and friends of Saint Mary’s from the parish’s AIDS Walk team. As of Wednesday, May 23, we have raised $15,768, a mere $400 shy of last year’s total, a total which we still hope to surpass, once our fundraising efforts have been completed. We have until mid-June to finish our fundraising. Our success is due to the many friends and parishioners of Saint Mary’s who supported us. Final numbers from the AIDS Walk will be available in late July, and we will provide an update at that time. If you would still like to make a donation, please contact the parish office.
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 to Father Smith . . . Panel Discussion: “Why Food Matters: A Conversation about Food, Faith & Farming.” Wednesday, June 13, 6:30 PM, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Bishop Mark Sisk will host the discussion with brief talks from Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer and President of Stone Barn Center in Westchester County; Norman Wirzba, Professor of Theology and Rural Studies at Duke Divinity School; and Kristin Kimball, upstate farmer, former journalist and author of The Dirty Life. A question-and-answer session will follow the panel discussion. For further information please contact the Reverend Stephanie Johnson at email@example.com.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . . The class met for its final session on May 23. We succeeded in our goal of doing a close reading of the Letter to the Hebrews, a challenging but very rewarding text. I would like to thank the members of the class for their faithful and active participation this semester, and this year. Our discussions were always lively and I learned a great deal from all of the members of the class. Thank you also to all those who contributed to the delicious potluck dinner last Wednesday. The class will resume in the autumn. Stay tuned for an announcements about what we will be reading; and please remember, all are welcome: no prerequisites, no pre-registration, no homework, just a willingness to read carefully and prayerfully, to share your thoughts, and to learn from one another. Jay Smith
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art (Mobia), 1865 Broadway, New York, NY, “The Adoration of the Magi: A Masterpiece Reconstructed.” This exhibition features the work of Bartolo di Fredi (c. 1330–1410), a Sienese master of the Italian Renaissance. The exhibition is on view June 8–September 9, 2012 . . . Illuminated: The Art of Sacred Books. April 6–September 3, 2012. At the Rubin Museum, 150 West 17th, New York City. “[This exhibition] explores the aesthetic and technological approaches used in creating and adorning sacred books from a variety of cultures [while] presenting Tibetan sacred books in a broad cross-cultural context. Among featured objects are several never before displayed illuminated Tibetan manuscript pages and complete books dating as early as the thirteenth century and written in gold and silver on dark blue and black paper of various sizes in the traditional Tibetan book format.”