FROM THE RECTOR: SAINT MARY THE VIRGIN
Wednesday, August 15, is the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin. At Saint Mary’s it has long been observed as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it was not until 1972 that it was observed with Solemn Mass. This is the announcement as it appeared in the Sunday bulletin for August 13, 1972:
THE ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY is celebrated this Tuesday, August 15, with Mass at 7:30 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. and High Mass with Procession at 6:00 p.m. We have not heretofore had Mass sung when August 15 was a weekday, but it seems right to keep holy-day with full solemnity, since it is our feast of title, Saint Mary the Virgin, in the new Calendar of the Episcopal Church. Let us all rejoice in the Mother of our Lord, and keep holy-day in honour of her heavenly home-coming.
It must have been a success as this parish has had a full Solemn Mass on Assumption ever since. It has become a night when many members of our wider parish community join us for the celebration. Weather does not seem to matter. There is something about this feast that touches human hearts. The church is usually pretty full. It’s just great.
In 1972, there was no mention of an organ recital before Mass. Instead, Evening Prayer was read at 5:30 PM—organ recitals before evening Solemn Masses began on All Saints’ Day 1989 while Father Edgar Wells was rector. I seem to have a memory that when I first came the custom of one of the priests reading Evening Prayer quietly in a chapel during the recital had continued. I confess I dispensed with that tradition. (The late Michael Ramsey [1904-1988], who taught at Nashotah House in retirement, had been instrumental in getting the seminary to have one liturgy of the word, that of the Mass, when there was Solemn Mass to be celebrated. That just seemed right for this parish too.)
I have been reluctant to invite guests to be celebrant and preacher on this festival because the weather can be so uncertain. We have had a few. Bishop Andrew St John (the summer of the blackout) and Bishop Christopher Epting come to mind. On Sunday, August 15, 2010, we had a wonderful celebration for Father Wells’s fiftieth anniversary of ordination—he was ordained on August 9, 1960—too close for a rector of Saint Mary’s not to celebrate on Assumption. Many may remember the wonderful sermon preached that morning by Father David Wood, Grace Church, Joondalup, Perth, Australia.
As we sing Morning Prayer during the academic year, we also sing it on our greatest festivals. So, on Wednesday this week, Morning Prayer will be sung at 8:30 AM, the 12:10 Mass will be a simple sung Mass. James Kennerley will play a recital at 5:30 PM. Solemn Mass will be at 6:00 PM. A reception will follow in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
There are two “Major Feasts”, Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Michael and All Angels (September 29) for which the 1979 Prayer Book provided an extra set of Evening Prayer lessons without appointing them to be used on the eve of the feast as the Prayer Book does for “Feasts of Our Lord”—for example, the Transfiguration. We will use those lessons on Tuesday night as our celebration begins with Evening Prayer—said, not sung.
If you are near, I hope very much you may be able to be with us for Assumption. If you are far away, please remember the work of the parish in your prayers. There just aren’t a lot of places where daily worship shapes the common life and the ministry of the congregation. Saint Mary’s remains, with your prayers and support, such a place. Stephen Gerth
WORD OF THANKS . . . On Saturday night, July 28, it became clear to me that I was very sick. A phone call to Father Jim Pace put me at ease. He and Deacon Mary Jett simply took care of Sunday morning—by many reports, splendidly, seamlessly. On Wednesday, August 1, when it seemed I might not be well enough to work on August 5, I put out the word to three priests who are regular worshippers—Father Smith was still on vacation and he would be away for the ordination of the new bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire on Saturday, August 4. Father Kent Johnson happened to be free. On Sunday, August 5, he and Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins simply took care of Sunday morning—again, by many reports, splendidly, seamlessly. Mary Jett and Sister Laura Katharine took many of the offices while I was not well. Father Jay Smith, officially on vacation, said some weekday Masses too when I could not.
In addition to visits to the Emergency Room at NYU and to my own internist, when my fever did not break, I saw an internist who is also board certified in infectious disease. The test results were basically negative. As I write on Thursday, August 9, I am close to being well. I expect to be in church on Sunday. My physician’s current diagnosis is that I picked up some kind of virus—perhaps from an insect bite.
Again, many thanks to Kent, Jim, Mary and Rebecca for all they did on the Sundays Jay and I were away. Thank you also for your prayers. S.G.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Janet, Jananie, Mary, Janine, Robert, Nicholas, Linda, Casey, Angeline, George, Ben, Anna, Jeanne, Wayne, Barbara, Joseph, Jan, James, Helen, Arpene, Joyce, Betty, Sharon, Chandra, Dorothy, James, priest, Edgar, priest, and Robert, bishop; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the soul of Milton, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 12: 1897 Reginald Woodward Kirby; 1903 Antoinette LaValle Russell; 1904 Edward Fallon; 1914 Natalie Higman; 1962 Beatrice Mary Wheeler; 1987 Anne Tsutsumi Toyoko.
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 . . . Wednesday, August 15, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 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 . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, August 11. Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, August 18.
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!
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Bob Picken is recuperating at home after breaking a bone in one of his feet. He is doing well and hopes to be back at Saint Mary’s soon. Rita Johnson is scheduled to have surgery on her right shoulder on Friday, August 10. This is day surgery, but her recuperation is expected to be somewhat protracted. Rita will not be able to usher or perform her work as an assistant sacristan for some weeks. We look forward to her swift recovery – and not only for selfish reasons! We are grateful to Bob and Rita for their ministry. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Donations are needed for altar flowers for the following Sundays: September 9, 16 and 23. If you would like to donate flowers on one of those dates, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 197; Transfiguration 78.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Emily Werne, soprano. The prelude is the Intermezzo from the Troisième symphonie en fa dièse mineur, Op. 28 (1911), by Louis Vierne (1870–1937). At the ministration of Communion, Emily and I will sing the duet Domine Deus from Gloria in excelsis of the Messe in h–Moll (Mass in B minor), BWV 232, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary on the Feast of the Assumption is Messe für zwei vierstimmige Chöre (“Mass for Double Choir”) by Frank Martin (1890–1974). Martin, a greatly respected Swiss composer, completed this work (his only unaccompanied choral work) in 1922 and 1926. It was not performed, however, until 1963–Martin kept the manuscript locked in his desk drawer–due to his perception that it stood as a manifestation of his own devout faith rather than a piece to be heard publicly. In the intimacy of its musical language and the deep emotion inherent in every bar it stands today as one of Martin’s finest creations and one of the greatest a cappella works written this century. At the ministration of Communion on August 15, the choir sings the motet Ave Maria by Paweł Łukaszewski (b. 1968). Łukaszewski was born in Częstochowa in southern Poland, and subsequently studied musical performance and composition at the Academy of Music in Warsaw and at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. Łukaszewski’s compositional output includes a great deal of choral music. Acclaimed Polish music scholar Adrian Thomas states that the composer is best known for his “resolutely anti-modern sacred choral music.” The motet was written in 1992, and dedicated to the composer’s mother. James Kennerley
HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE . . . Father Matthew Mead, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Granite Springs—who served here as curate from 2004 to 2009—will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land June 28 to July 8, 2013. Father Mead will be with us for the Solemn Mass on Assumption, Wednesday, August 15. During the reception after the Mass he will be available to answer questions about the pilgrimage and to share details, including costs and itinerary. The pilgrimage is open to anyone, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Holy Land with a great group of Episcopalians. Please feel free to contact him at email@example.com.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Friday, August 24, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle . . . Monday, September 3, Labor Day . . . Friday, September 7, Eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . Friday, September 14, Holy Cross Day . . . Friday, September 28, Eve of Saint Michael and All Angels . . . October 3, The Ordination of a Priest.
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.” Please look for copies on the ushers’ table and in the sacristy. One useful item that we added to the latest edition of our brochure is a link to the Coalition for the Homeless website’s resource guide — www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/resource-guide. The Coalition describes this digital guide as “an online version of the widely popular Coalition for the Homeless Resource Guide. In it, we provide the most comprehensive catalog of emergency services – shelter, outreach, soup kitchens, etc. – available for homeless families and individuals in New York City.”