The Angelus

Volume 14, Number 8


“Ordinary Time” is a phrase that has been used in the liturgical books of the Roman Catholic Church since 1970.  It is a phrase that entered the Prayer Book when our new lectionary was adopted in 2006.  The words “Ordinary Time” are now being used to describe “The Season after Pentecost” and what is now called the “Season of Epiphany.”  There is no particularly good reason for “Ordinary Time” to be included as well.  (For the record, “Season of Epiphany” is new to the Prayer Book.  It has been called simply, “Epiphany Season.”)

“Ordinary Time” is used by the Roman ecclesial community to translate the Latin phrase “tempus per annum,” that is, “time through the year.”  The English word “ordinary” comes from ordinarius, which means, “regular, of the usual order.”  That seems to be the source for the current Roman usage.  However, that’s not the way most English speakers understand or use the word “ordinary.”

The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary [1995] defines “ordinary” as: of no special quality or interest; common place; unexceptional.  You will not find the phrase “Ordinary Time” in a bulletin at Saint Mary’s.  No Sunday or liturgical celebration is ever “ordinary” in the sense of being “unexceptional” or of “no special interest.”  I think that the Prayer Book would be fine if the phrase were simply omitted in future printings.

The September 2011 issue of Worship contains several articles by Roman Catholic scholars that are remarkable, not so much for their content—good, straightforward academic writing, but for the commentary the articles offer in an indirect way on the worship in their denomination.

There is a very appreciative piece on the liturgical theology of the seventeenth-century English bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626).  Another is an article on Thomas Cranmer’s (1489-1556) translation of a Latin prayer that is known throughout our Anglican Communion because of its use at Evening Prayer (Thomas A. Krosnicki, “How Dark the Night: the ‘Ilumina Prayer,’” Worship 85 [September 2011], 447-454).  Cranmer’s original version is still in our Prayer Book with only the spelling modernized:

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.  (The Book of Common Prayer [1979], 70)

The contemporary version in the 1979 Prayer Book reads very well also:

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.  (123)

Cranmer’s work is not a direct translation of the Latin.  Literal translations are almost always problematic.  They carry their own agenda; everything does to some extent.  Cranmer’s gifts as a translator, writer and theologian were extraordinary.  Language will continue to change—it always does.  Because of the role The Book of Common Prayer and the Authorized Version of the Bible have had over the centuries, I expect it will be a very long time before whatever English becomes doesn’t show this linguistic heritage.  Both of these great works were written, translated and edited with great care, of which I sincerely wish more was in evidence in the new lectionary.

I confess that I might not be so bothered by the phrase “ordinary time” if the new lectionary were less problematic.  When I complained once to a person who worked with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music about the really large number of editorial problems with the new lectionary—not to mention new theological agendas—I was told something like, “Well, no one really expected it to pass the House of Bishops”—the House of Deputies had been passing it for years and the bishops had always stopped it.  Well, because the care required for such a project was not forthcoming, we now have “Ordinary Time” and lots of editorial, not to mention other issues, in the Prayer Book.

One of the reasons the 1979 Prayer Book is so good, and was so readily accepted throughout the Church, was that it respected traditional language where it made sense and made changes where it didn’t.  In the 1928 book, we still asked that God’s grace would always “prevent and follow us” (1928, 213).  In the present book we pray that this grace may always “precede and follow us” (1979, 183).  It works well because it makes sense.  We Episcopalians do not have an ordinary tradition; I do not think we have a need for ordinary time.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mary, Andrew, Michael, Arpene, Susan, Lawrence, Paris, Chandra, John, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Richard, Peter, Linda, Odin, Jim, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, and Deborah Francis, religious; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew, Mark, John, and Rob . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 15: 1882 Elizabeth L. Kintzing; 1890 Maria Maduro Van Epp; 1903 Mary A. Glover; 1918 Beatriz Mallet-Prevost; 1983 Faith Trumbull Cleveland Booth.


THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. 


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2012 . . . As of January 10, we have received 176 pledges, 29 of them new pledges or pledges from households that were not able to make a pledge for 2011.  Our goal for the campaign this year is $425,000.00.  $408,798.00 has been pledged to date, which is 96% of our goal.  A number of pledges made at the end of the year has brought us closer to our goal.  If you have not yet made a pledge for 2012, we hope that you will do so soon.  If you need a new pledge card or have questions about pledging or how to pledge, please contact Father Jay Smith or call the Finance Office.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for our outreach partner, the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Please look for the collection basket in the back of the church on Sunday mornings.  We are grateful to all those who continue to support the Food Pantry so generously.  Your gifts are exceedingly important at the moment due to state and local budget cuts.  Jay Smith


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday, January 15, at 10:00 AM, Father Jim Pace will begin his three-part series, Comfort and Suffering.  Father Pace is an assisting priest here at Saint Mary’s.  He also serves as associate dean for Undergraduate Programs at New York University’s College of Nursing . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, January 15, at 9:45 AM . . . Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM; only the noonday services are offered and the parish offices are closed . . . Wednesday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter, the Beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 14.  Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 21.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to José Vidal, who helped organize and provide hospitality at the reception on January 6, and to Dick Leitsch, who helped to greet our visitors and serve refreshments . . . Thank you very much to all those who helped to “un-decorate” the church last weekend: Rick Austill, Dexter Baksh, Sher Engbers, Tom Heffernan, Brenda Morgan, Ronald Perez, Mary Robison, Marie Rosseels, Julie Kuipers Sandri, Charlie Walsh, Cooki Winborn, and our sexton, Emmanuel Grantham.  There is always something a little bittersweet about seeing the beautiful decorations come down at the end of the Christmas season and so the hard work and long hours involved in making this happen are very much appreciated . . . Episcopal Church calendars will be on sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall during coffee hour on Sunday . . . Altar flowers are needed for January 22, January 29; and for February 12.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Father Jay Smith will be on retreat and away from the parish between Wednesday, January 18, and Saturday, January 21.  He returns to the parish on Sunday, January 22 . . . Attendance: Epiphany 223; Last Sunday 222.


CONFIRMATION & RECEPTION . . . If you believe that the time has come for you to make an adult affirmation of faith by getting confirmed or being received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith.  Bishop Charles E. Jenkins, X Bishop of Louisiana and a great friend of Saint Mary’s, will preside and preach at the Easter Vigil, on Saturday, April 7.  This is a wonderful time for confirmation, reception, and, of course, for baptism!


PALM SUNDAY BRASS . . . Music costs money.  Brass players for our procession on Palm Sunday through Times Square will cost $1,750.  Contributions are needed and will be received with great thanks.  No other service of the year reveals Saint Mary’s vocation as a liturgical, urban parish more than this one does.  Please make your gifts payable to Saint Mary’s and indicate it is for “Palm Sunday Brass.”  Thank you.  S.G.


MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Thursday, February 2, 6:00 PM, The Presentation, Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Pontifical Mass.  The bishop of New York will be celebrant and preacher . . . Monday, February 6, 6:00 PM, The Ordination of a Deacon, Mary Julia Jett.  The bishop of Montana will be celebrant and preacher.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before Mass this Sunday is Ricercar quarto by Jacobus Buus (c. 1500–1565).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa “O magnum mysterium” by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611).  The Spanish Victoria, one of the greatest musicians of the late Renaissance, lived and worked for many years in Rome, though he is recognized as Spain’s finest composer of that period.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1575 by the last surviving English Roman Catholic bishop.  This parody mass, based upon one of the composer’s own motets for Christmas (sung today at Communion), conveys the mystery of the Incarnation with quiet beauty and a profound sense of awe.  James Kennerley


SUPER BOWL PARTY . . . This year’s party will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday, February 5, beginning at 6:00 PM, after Evensong and Benediction.  Kickoff is at 6:30 PM.  Grace Bruni is organizing the event.  If you would like to bring something to eat and to share, please speak to Grace.  Beverages are provided.  This is always a good opportunity to bring friends or those looking for a parish home to Saint Mary’s.


LENTEN QUIET DAY . . . Led by Father John Beddingfield, Saturday, March 3, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, The Fear of God: Our Troubles Transformed—Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), but what does it mean to “fear” God?  How does our relationship with God affect other parts of our life in which fear plays a part? Are faith and fear connected, or are they opposed to each other?  Using scripture, tradition, story, and silence, this year’s Lenten Quiet Day will allow us to reflect on these questions together.  Father Beddingfield will offer three meditations.  There will be opportunities for quiet, prayer, and silent meditation.  Those attending are invited to celebrate the Eucharist together at noonday.  Coffee and tea will be served in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning at 9:30 AM and a simple lunch will be provided following Mass.  Please send an e-mail to Father Jay Smith if you think you would like to attend so he can make plans for lunch.  Father Beddingfield, formerly a member of the clergy of the United Presbyterian Church, was sponsored for ordination by this parish.  He worked here as the parish administrator before his ordination and as curate thereafter.  We are very happy, and grateful, that he has agreed to be with us in March.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, January 15, Father Jim Pace will begin a three-part series, Comfort and Suffering.  The objectives of the class are, first, to explore the nature of comfort and suffering as human experiences at both the personal and the global levels and, second, to place the concepts and their meanings within the context of the sacramental life and the teachings of the church, particularly the church’s healing ministries.  The class will address such questions as "Why does suffering exist and why does horrible suffering happen?  The class will also discuss such issues as advanced-care directives and their component parts, illness-wellness trajectories, and the corporate nature of suffering and comfort . . . On Sunday, February 5, Father Jay Smith will begin a three-part series entitled What Do Episcopalians Believe?  For this series, Father Smith will be working with a new book, What Episcopalians Believe: An Introduction (Morehouse Publishing, 2011), written by Samuel Wells, the Dean of the Duke University Chapel and Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School.  Copies of the book can be purchased at or in the parish gift shop.  There are now several copies of the book in the Gift Shop and more have been ordered . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on February 8 at 6:30 PM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House.  The first 4 sessions of the class will take place on February 8, 15, 29, and March 7.  We will be reading the Letter to the Hebrews this semester.  J.R.S.


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . December 7, 2011–May 14, 2012, Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd-7th Century AD, at the Onassis Cultural Center, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, entrances on 51st and 52nd Streets, between Madison and Fifth Avenues . . . Sunday, January 15, 10:00 AM, Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street: Angeline Butler presents a forum considering the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the heritage of the civil rights movement.  Ms. Butler is a good friend of Saint Mary’s.  She was deeply involved in the civil rights movement during the 1960s.