FROM THE RECTOR: ESSENTIAL PURPOSE
I’ve been thinking about our parish’s observances of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and about questions like, “Why do we worship as we do?” Very few parishes now celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1—instead the celebration is transferred to the following Sunday. Even fewer parishes make much of the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, commonly called All Souls’ Day, on November 2. But here at Saint Mary’s we follow the ordinary calendar of the church year and these are important days in our common life. If parishes can have a spiritual patrimony, Prayer Book worship is ours.
The founding rector of the parish, Thomas McKee Brown (1841–1898), was clear about a vision for Saint Mary’s from its beginning. For him and his first assistant priest, Flavel Scott Mines (1843–1878), Saint Mary’s was to be more than a place for preaching the gospel and ministering the Sacraments—that wasn’t enough. The parish was founded for “restoring to its proper place and importance the Worship of God” (Newbury Frost Read, The Story of St. Mary’s  17). It’s fair to say that vision still shapes our common life.
Some people look to church for things other than worship. Certainly churches are usually places of service and caring for those in need. The national political discourse of my childhood and teenage years was shaped by the prophetic voices of Christian preachers and ordinary Christians who spoke out against racism and poverty, even at the cost of their own lives. It’s hard to find a church that doesn’t have a ministry of food in some form or another for those in need—a sign of Christian ministry since the days of the New Testament. What has sustained Christians since the resurrection has been their fellowship of prayer and worship.
Details for all of the special services of this week follow in this newsletter. Of note, at the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM on All Saints’ Day we will celebrate the rites of Christian Initiation. The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher. That the worship will be glorious is almost a given—though lots of work remains to be done as we go to press. More than anything, I hope the essential purpose of our worship: those coming to faith will be washed; those coming to the table will be fed.
Sofia Cavalletti (1917–2011), in her book The Religious Potential of the Child (1992), draws attention to Jesus’ words in John about the grain of wheat (John 12:24). She wrote, “Life develops through a series of successive ‘deaths,’ which lead us to live always more fully, because in each death there is the seed of resurrection” (176). We gather for worship in the end, I think, for the same reasons the first Christians gathered for worship. We all know we will die, but Christ has shown humankind that in dying in Christ we are born to eternal life. All of us have souls and in Christ all of us are his saints. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Emil, Robert, Mark, Richard, Lou, Jian Guo, Noël, Corey, Jananie, Timothy, Joseph, Harriet, Sharon, Linda, Arpene, and Rowan, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the soul of Duane Smith . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 28: 1871 Thomas Williams; 1884 Martha Elizabeth America; 1923 John Collins; 1958 Annette Bertha Dourdan.
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 . . . Sunday, October 28, 10:00 AM: Father Jim Pace concludes his three-part series on the pastoral rites in the Book of Common Prayer. This week he talks about Ministration at the Time of Death . . . Monday, October 29, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles: Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday Night Bible Study will not meet on October 31 . . . Wednesday, October 31, All Hallows’ Eve, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . All Saints’ Day: Thursday, November 1, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Holy Baptism, Confirmation and Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM. The exhibition of Erick Sánchez’s Genesis paintings opens in Saint Joseph’s Hall on All Saints’ Day at the reception following the Solemn Mass . . . All Souls’ Day: Friday, November 2. Solemn Mass will be at 6:00 PM. Full details about the service schedule for these days and the choral music can be found on the parish webpage . . . On Saturday, November 3, the parish clergy and its elected lay delegates will be attending Diocesan Convention in Tarrytown, New York . . . Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, October 27; Mother Mary Julia Jett will hear confessions on Saturday, November 3.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, November 4, 18, and for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 16. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch . . . Father Pete Powell’s sermon from the Solemn Mass on Sunday, October 21, is now online . . . Please return the names of the departed whom you’d like to be remembered at the Parish Requiem Masses on November 5, 6, 8 and 9 as soon as possible. Donations accompanying the prayer requests are gratefully accepted . . . Thank you to Lisa Bell for the gift of her calligraphy and artwork which was used on the All Souls’ Day postcard. Lisa is a friend of the parish, who has shown her work at the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Stewardship Campaign: The Stewardship Committee plans to mail the annual stewardship packet on Monday, October 29. Commitment Sunday is November 25, the Last Sunday after Pentecost . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 216.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is the Sicilienne from Suite pour orgue, Op. 5, by Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa “Ego flos campi” by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (c. 1590–1664). Padilla, greatly respected in his lifetime, was among a number of Spanish composers who immigrated to Mexico. He was appointed maestro de capilla (“master of music”) of Pueblo Cathedral, home to a distinguished musical tradition, in 1629 (church music in the Spanish colonies was similar to and derived from Spanish practice). Padilla composed in a style founded on sixteenth-century polyphony, including the music of Morales, Guerrero, Victoria and other composers of the time, though one hears the traits of the “new style” in his compositions. This parody mass is for double choir (two choirs of four parts each), and is based on an unknown motet. The text, “Ego flos campi” (“I am the flower of the field”), comes from the Song of Solomon and has specific Marian associations. The motet, sung during the administration of Communion, is Exsultate justi in Domino, a lively, eight-voice setting of verses from Psalm 33; it is also by Padilla . . . The organ recitalist on Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM is James D. Wetzel, organist and choirmaster of the Church of Saint Agnes in Manhattan. The recital precedes Evensong and Benediction, which begins at 5:00 PM. James Kennerley
ADULT EDUCATION IN NOVEMBER . . . Father Peter Powell begins a three-week series Sunday mornings beginning November 4 in the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM on the Letter to the Romans. Father Powell writes, “Like Rome in Paul’s day Saint Mary’s sits at the ‘crossroads of the world.’ Realizing the sophistication of his audience, Paul introduces himself to the Romans and plunges into the issues of being Christian. His letter is as relevant today as it was in the middle of the first century; it is usually the starting point for scholars seeking to establish what it means to be a Christian. “Many things we take for granted as part of Christianity were not clear to Paul or to the Romans. There is, for instance, no developed doctrine of the Trinity in Paul. In Romans, Paul writes about God’s faithfulness, not Christ’s. The Risen Lord is clearly subordinate to the Father. In Romans Paul argues that one can be Christian without being Jewish. While this is obvious to us it raises the question of whether we have to meet the current requirements of Christianity to be faithful. In other words, can one be ‘spiritual but not religious’? This is very much a contemporary question as many people we know reject the church but embrace spirituality. I believe that Paul would argue that spirituality needs a context in order to be viable. In this course we’ll examine Paul’s letter to the Romans as an introduction of the implications of Christianity for us.”
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Thank you so much to all those who have been donating books for the Book Sale. Your assistance and generosity are much appreciated . . . 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 contact Father Jay Smith if you would like to make such a donation.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . The Anglican Society of the United States is the publisher of The Anglican, a journal dedicated to Anglican theology, history, and spirituality. The mission of the Society, and of the journal, which is edited by the Rev. Robert Solon, is “to promote and maintain the Catholic doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church in accordance with the principles and contents of the Book of Common Prayer and in the context of an on-going exploration and affirmation of Anglican identity and self-understanding.” For more information about the Society and about the journal, please visit the society’s website or speak to Mary Robison . . . On Tuesday, November 13, the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire, will visit the General Theological Seminary for a screening of Love Free or Die, a documentary about the bishop’s life, ministry, and advocacy on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. After the screening, Bishop Robinson will be available to speak with the audience. Admission is free and open to the public. The screening begins at 7:45 PM in Seabury Auditorium . . . Sunday, November 18, 3:00 PM, the Church of the Transfiguration, 1 E. 29th Street, Episcopal Actors’ Guild Memorial Service, to honor all those artists and those working in the theatre and film and music industries who died in the past year.