FROM THE RECTOR: LOOKING AT JULY
I think of July and October as easy months, liturgically speaking. Apart from three “Major Feasts,” two of which get an additional celebration of the Eucharist after Evening Prayer, there are no weekdays observed by an evening sung or solemn Mass. As I have written recently, I’m trying to look at our principles for sorting through the hundreds of optional commemorations now available to us. As part of that work, I thought it might be helpful to write about the calendar at Saint Mary’s for July.
Major Prayer Book Feasts: In addition to Sundays, three other days are appointed to be observed. Independence Day is observed on July 4 and is one of two national holidays celebrated by the Episcopal Church—the other is Thanksgiving Day. There is one feast of an apostle, Saint James (July 25), and the feast of the first witness and preacher of the resurrection, Saint Mary Magdalene (July 22). Again, the observance of these three days is not optional.
Additional New Testament Commemoration: This month there is now only one additional New Testament commemoration, the optional observance of Mary and Martha of Bethany (July 29).
Pre-Reformation Commemorations: There are three pre-Reformation commemorations. The Prayer Book calendar lists Macrina, Monastic and Teacher, 379, and Benedict of Nursia, the father of Western monasticism (July 11). Additionally, we celebrate the life and witness of another religious, Bonaventure, Bishop and Friar, 1274 (July 15). He is included in the calendar of the Church of England. For reasons I cannot discern he is not included in any of the American Church calendars. He was an important theologian and the Roman ecclesial community counts him as a “doctor of the church.” And he came down on what became the Anglican side of the question of Mary’s immaculate conception—conceived, yes; immaculate, no.
Other Commemorations: William Wilberforce is commemorated on July 30. As a member of the British Parliament, he spent most of a lifetime fighting for the abolition of slavery and slave trading. He has been included in the Calendar since the first edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1963). His work in England was widely known in the United States and was an important witness for those who advocated for the abolition of slavery in this country. Wilberforce was a member of the Church of England.
Joseph of Arimathea was also added to the calendar in 1963. He was commemorated on July 31 until Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order in the Roman Church, was added to our calendar as an optional observance in 1994. Then, Joseph of Arimathea was moved to August 1. Since I have been rector, some years we have observed Ignatius of Loyola, some years not. Especially in light of the real anti-ecumenical turn the Roman Church has taken since the pontificate of John Paul II, I am now inclined against the commemoration of a leading figure of the Counter-Reformation. Joseph of Arimathea is observed here on August 1.
Two Episcopalians complete our observances. William White was the first bishop of Pennsylvania. He died on July 17, 1836. His remarkable learning and gracious and wise leadership shaped the establishment of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The other Episcopal Church commemoration is William Reed Huntington, rector of Grace Church, New York City, from 1883 until his death on July 27, 1909. He served not only his parish, his diocese and the Episcopal Church, but also the wider Christian community. He held high a vision of Christian unity across denominational lines. He was a gifted and influential liturgist—greatly admired and appreciated throughout the church.
There remains one other commemoration, traditional but not scriptural, the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (July 26). Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2009) calls the day, “Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” I prefer the original title because there is no historical evidence that her parents’ names were Joachim and Anne. Earlier Standing Liturgical Commissions resisted legends in our calendar—this sensibility is not strong today.
Trial Use: Holy Women, Holy Men has one new commemoration for July I think we should observe: Jan Hus, Priest and Martyr, 1415 (July 6). He was condemned and burned at the stake for preaching the New Testament as a standard for Christian faith—not to mention his condemnation of the morality of the clergy of his day and his belief that the church included laypersons, not just the clergy. In 1999 John Paul II would “express deep regret for the cruel death inflicted on John Hus,” but, I note, the pope included no words about the truth in any of Hus’s theological convictions (“Address to an International Symposium on John Hus,” 17 December 1999).
So, in addition to the three appointed days for observance (Independence Day, Saint James the Apostle, and Saint Mary Magdalene), there are ten optional commemorations on our parish calendar. Holy Women, Holy Men offers many additional commemorations. In August, I will try to write about the ones we don’t use that month—and why. The larger question is what we should mean today when we speak of commemorations in our calendar. Recent research on the veneration of martyrs and of Mary in the first centuries of the Christian era opens, I think, some new opportunities for enriching our understanding of God’s work. Stay tuned. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mary, Janine, Robert, Nicholas, Linda, Casey, Angeline, George, Ben, Anna, Jeanne, Wayne, Barbara, Joseph, Jan, James, Helen, Arpene, Joyce, Betty, Sharon, Chandra, Dorothy, and James, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the souls of Neil, Azalee and Connie . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 29: 1892 Elizabeth Wood; 1913 Alice Dunklin Pegram; 1944 Keith Watt Morris; 1944 Thomas D. Burrill; 1954 Edward Rogers Tulfree.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Gerth on Saturday, July 28, and on Saturday, August 4.
CLERGY NOTES . . . The Bishop of Montana will ordain the Reverend Mary Julia Jett to the priesthood on Wednesday, October 3, here at Saint Mary’s at 6:00 PM. Please mark your calendars today. It will be a very happy occasion in our common life. Mary completed the work for a master of divinity degree in two years, instead of the usual three. She is using her third year to complete a master of sacred theology in Old Testament and liturgy. After ordination as priest, she will continue with us as an assisting priest. Mary is a gifted and joyful person. I am so glad she is with us . . . In addition, I’m pleased to announce that the Bishop of New York has given the Reverend David Sibley a License to Officiate in the diocese of New York. David is priest-in-charge, Saint John’s Church, Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn—in the diocese of Long Island. David and Mary are younger members of the clergy who give me great pride in the future of our Episcopal Church. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Donations are needed for altar flowers for the following Sundays: August 5 and 19. If you would like to donate flowers on one of those dates, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith is on vacation and away from the parish. He returns to the office on Monday, August 6. Sister Deborah Francis is away on vacation. She returns on Friday, August 10 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 183
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass is the Adagio from the Troisième symphonie en fa dièse mineur, Opus 28 (1911) by Louis Vierne (1870–1937). I am the cantor this week. The motet, sung at the ministration of communion, is O quam pulchra es by Alessandro Grandi (1586–1630). It was published in Venice in 1625, and is a setting of text from the Song of Solomon that was particularly popular. Grandi was one of the great northern Italian composers of his time, second only to Monteverdi. He studied with Giovanni Gabrieli in Venice, and later became Monteverdi’s assistant at St. Mark’s in Venice. The motet incorporates several innovative features, including recitative (a form adapted from opera), and, most notably, an early form of ritornello, whereby a short passage of music is repeated several times throughout the work . . . James Kennerley
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Major Feasts in August: Monday, August 6, The Transfiguration of Our Lord; Wednesday, August 15, The Assumption of Mary; Friday, August 24, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are still receiving gifts 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!
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 contact Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or Father Jay Smith . . . We recently updated and printed a new edition of our brochure, “Resources and Assistance for Those in Need.” (Thank you, Deacon Mary Jett, for revising and re-designing the brochure!) Look for copies on the ushers’ table and in the sacristy.