The Angelus

Volume 14, Number 43


This summer I’ve been reading Lawrence Powell’s The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (2012). It’s about New Orleans from the time of its founding, officially in 1718, until the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. It’s more than a good read. The city’s history is fascinating and far more complex than I had known. Its history was shaped by European colonization as it met Native America and by the force of geography. I had no idea that it was so hard for explorers to find the mouth of the Mississippi.

From reading historical plaques, as I have done in New Orleans, one might think it was founded by a member of the French upper class, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. Well, it turns out Le Moyne’s father was the son of an innkeeper and a recent immigrant to French Montreal. He became an ambitious merchant. He had twelve sons, one of them, Jean-Baptiste. It was a family on the make. Many legal corners were cut; members occasionally fell afoul of the administration. In Canada, the family would eventually hold the only title from France that carried over with British rule.

Among the subjects that are crucial to New Orleans’s history, slavery is as important as any. Native Americans were enslaved through conquest, Black Africans through the slave trade. The French colonial government made it very difficult to manumit slaves. Surprisingly for me, given the terrible cruelty of Spanish slavery, the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain would make it very easy legally to free a slave during the period of Spanish rule, 1762-1803. The colonists, of course, hated that for the most part.

Who got set free? Women slaves were set free by a roughly two to one ratio over male slaves. It’s not hard to figure that one out. Compassion seems to have trumped evil, even the evil of coercion that was always in play in such intimate relationships between masters and the enslaved. The children of such relationships were also often freed. Reading Powell I realized that the predominance of African American households headed by women is not a phenomenon of the last decades of the twentieth century.

Christian slavery comes up in another book I read this summer, Robert Crowley’s City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas (2011). The church said Christians could not be enslaved, so Venice kept its slave trading away from its city, but it was so profitable that they could not resist keeping and trading in slaves, Christian and non-Christian. But Venice was second in the slave trade to Genoa. Crowley writes, “It was also characteristic that one of [Genoa native] Columbus’s prime objectives in crossing the Atlantic was to find a fresh stock of human beings to enslave” (iBook ed., 170).

Many years ago I heard my uncle, the Reverend Dr. Lawrence Matthews—whom I have followed into Bowen Family Systems Theory work (a story for another day)—remark how few African American pastors who started this work continued in it. Slavery is a deep evil and its scars still mark human beings beyond the third and fourth generations—as will, I suspect, the Jewish holocaust in Europe mark especially the descendants of those who suffered most.

Brief reflections: It’s important to name evil, past and present, not to pretend it didn’t happen. The secrets of evil are never really secret, and they only have great power as long as they remain secret.

It’s important to remember Jesus’ proclamation, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). A more careful translation of the Greek would be something like, “The appointed time has come. The sovereign power of God is here. Turn your life in a new direction and believe in this good news.”

In relationship to slavery, two verses of Scripture come to mind, “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10) and “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Michelle, Daniel, David, Sylvia, André, Marie, Noël, Jananie, Sal, Mattie, Sharon, Chandra, Linda, Phillip, Ben, Janet, Rita, Robert, Janice, Casey, Angeline, George, Anna, Barbara, Joseph, Arpene, Thomas, Judi, Anneke, José, Barbara, Timothy, Joyce, and Matthew, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the souls of Floread Brown Lee, Monique Williams, and Mercedes Figueroa . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 16: 1907 Mary Mildred Grant; 1917 Mary Lavinia Wheeler; 1935 Sarah Emma McFall.


IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Floread Brown Lee, the grandmother of parishioner Chris Lee, died on Monday, September 10, after a long illness. Monique Williams, a parishioner of Father Matthew Mead’s, died last week after a long illness. She was thirteen years old at the time of her death. Please keep Floread, Monique, their family and friends, and all who mourn, in your prayers.


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for David Victor Baxter, of Princeton, New Jersey, and Michelle Jeanne McDonagh, of Princeton, New Jersey. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the first time of asking. J.R.S.


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 . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, September 17, 6:30 PM . . . Friday, September 21: Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, September 15. Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on September 22. If you do not see a priest in the church at the appointed times for confession, please speak to the sexton on duty and he will call the priest on duty; or you may call the parish office ahead of time to make an appointment.


ALL SAINTS’ DAY HOSPITALITY . . . Donations for the reception on November 1, All Saints’ Day are needed. The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop, will be celebrant for the Solemn Mass. Please contact the parish office. We are also happy always to receive special donations to support our hospitality efforts on Sundays! Thank you to all who have made contributions to this very important ministry!


AROUND THE PARISH . . . If you are thinking about volunteering to work with the children in the Church School here at Saint Mary’s, this might be the right time for you to take the Safe Church workshop, “Safeguarding God’s Children,” required by the Diocese of New York.  The next workshop will take place on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, in Donegan Hall in Diocesan House on the close of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Please contact Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins or Father Smith for more information . . . The Right Reverend C. Franklin Brookhart, Jr., bishop of Montana, will ordain the Reverend Mary Julia Jett to the priesthood on Wednesday, October 3, at 6:00 PM. The Reverend Canon John G. B. Andrew, Rector Emeritus, Saint Thomas Church, New York City, will preach the sermon. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Attendance: Nativity of Mary 55, Last Sunday 171.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is the Fantasia by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625). The cantor is Daniel Neer, tenor. The communion motet is the second of three settings of Salve regina by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) for two tenors and organ continuo. Monteverdi wrote a great deal of music, both sacred and secular, and served as maestro di cappella of Saint Mark’s, Venice, from 1613, where he revolutionized a deteriorated music program. This work was published in Venice as part of Selva morale et spirituale (1640/41), a large collection of Monteverdi’s liturgical and secular music. James Kennerley


PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Friday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist . . . Friday, September 28, The Eve of Saint Michael and All Angels . . . Sunday, October 7, the Sunday fall, winter and spring schedule returns: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Church School 9:45 AM, Adult Education 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM (choir returns), Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Saturday, October 13, Oktoberfest, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM.


VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM (VAP) . . . On Thursday, November 1, All Saints’ Day, VAP will present a new exhibition in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall, “Genesis: Paintings by Erick Sánchez.” Sánchez’s pictures are meditations on some of the biblical stories in the early chapters of the Book of Genesis and all have been created for this exhibition. VAP is seeking to support the artist in his preparations for the exhibition and hopes to assist him with the cost of supplies, crating, moving, and transportation. Saint Marians and their friends, and all those who support artists who are inspired by religious, biblical and spiritual themes, are invited to contribute to this effort by making an online donation. If you have questions, please contact José Vidal.


OKTOBERFEST & HYMN SING 2012 . . . Our annual Oktoberfest and Hymn Sing is on Saturday, October 13, 6:00-9:00 PM.  Dinner is potluck.  Please contact Grace Bruni or Father Smith if you think you might be able to bring a dish to share. Beverages will be provided. Invite a friend! All are welcome!


ADULT EDUCATION, OCTOBER 2012 . . . Sunday, October 7, 10:00 AM: Dr. Dennis Raverty will introduce the class to the life and work of Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937), an African-American painter who specialized in religious and biblical subjects . . . Wednesday Night Bible Study Class (October 17, 24; November 7, 14, 28; December 5, 12, 19): Father Jay Smith will lead the class in a study of the Lord’s Prayer. The class will discuss contemporary Jewish prayer forms, the text of the Prayer in the gospels, and early patristic interpretations of the Prayer, hoping to understand what the Our Father has to teach us about the act, goals, life, and discipline of prayer . . . Sunday, October 14, 21, 28: Father Jim Pace will draw on his pastoral, theological, and medical knowledge and experience as he leads the class in a discussion of three Prayer Book rites, the Reconciliation of a Penitent, Ministration to the Sick, and Ministration at the Time of Death.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Inpatient Detoxification Program at St. Luke's Hospital is always in need of Bibles (editions with both the Old and the New Testaments), new basic personal items (especially t-shirts, socks, and small backpacks or totes), and ink pens for journaling (bank pens, hotel pens, all are fine). If you are willing and able to help, a box will be available in St. Joseph's Hall on Sunday mornings. If you have any questions, please contact Deacon Mary Jett.  We are beginning now to gather toys and other gift items for children of all ages. They will be donated in November to the New York Foundling Hospital and AIDS Action International. Donations can be left, with a note on them explaining what they are for, in the parish kitchen or you may give the items to Father Jay Smith . . . We are also receiving donations of small- or medium-sized luggage to be used by children in foster care. The luggage is given to the Foundling Hospital. Please speak to Father Smith . . . If would like to volunteer, please contact Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or Father Jay Smith.