FROM THE RECTOR: SICK AND TIRED
There are a couple of expressions I associate with my parents. My dad was fond of saying to me and my siblings when we were children, “Be aware of the world around you.” It made me think it was my job to be on top of things—not for other people to take care of me. Of course, they did. But it was the kind of statement that suggested I could do things for myself and didn’t have to wait for things to be done to me or for me.
My mother used the expression “I am sick and tired of…” to let us kids know we had done something wrong. Until the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, my mother was never at a loss for words. Her remarks beginning with the phrase in question could go on for quite a while. I was pretty healthy as a child. It’s only as an adult that I have come to associate the phrase “sick and tired” with reality, in myself and for others.
Last Saturday I came down with some kind of virus that has kept me on my back for almost a week now—literally, “sick and tired.” I’m glad it’s not Holy Week—and I’m glad I’m getting better. I hope to be at church on Sunday at least to preach, but I can’t be sure as I write on Friday morning. I’m sick. I’m tired. And, I’m tired of being sick. That said, I know that we human beings grow through challenges, both physical and spiritual. When we are younger, sickness can challenge our bodies to grow stronger. As we age, sickness often challenges our souls to greater wisdom and understanding.
Prayer Books have always contained a service for “The Visitation of the Sick.” Massey Shepherd in his Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950) said about the 1928 version of that Office, “[It] is little used today in the form here set forth, despite the extensive revisions made in it for the 1928 Book” (308). There were two big problems: (1) it failed to restore the service to its original connection of ministering to the dying and (2) the service was so unfamiliar in structure as to be a hindrance rather than a comfort. The present Prayer Book has restored the laying on of hands and the anointing of the sick. It allows for more options. I confess I prefer what is familiar, especially when I am sick, but also when I am acting as a pastor.
There is much writing in the course of Christian history that associates sickness with God’s judgment. But again, as Shepherd wrote, “Encouragement and hope are better medicines than censure and exhortation” (Ibid.). This is true, too, of the season of Lent. The present Prayer Book gives us two “prefaces” (inserts in the Eucharistic Prayer that are said or sung just before the Sanctus) which can be used during Lent. One speaks of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism. We use this preface on the First Sunday in Lent because the gospel for the day is always one of the three gospel accounts of the temptation. On the other Sundays and on all of the weekdays of Lent, we use one of the Prayer Book’s most beautiful, simple and powerful statements about what Lent can be for us:
You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast; that, fervent in prayer and in works of mercy, and renewed by your Word and Sacraments, they may come to the fullness of grace which you have prepared for those who love you.
(Book of Common Prayer, 379)
Whatever sickness or heartache of the soul that we may experience, we are not left without remedy. Encouragement and hope are indeed better medicines than censure and judgment for our bodies and for our souls. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Eleanor, Cheryl, Christopher, Jane, Scott, Mary, Charles, Diana, Kathy, James, Chelsea, Tiffany, Wendy, Stephen, Dolores, Wayne, Philip, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, Rowan, priest, Paulette, priest, Stephen, priest, and Christopher, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Elizabeth, and Nicholas . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 3: 1878 Josephine Wright; 1910 Cassius Clay Caswell; 1923 John Ross; 1929 Haley Fiske; 1940 Philip John Smith, Sr.; 1941 Cromwell Childe; 1959 Emily Schneider.
THE WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are also traditionally observed by abstinence from flesh meats.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS are offered on all Fridays in Lent at 6:30 PM, which follows 6:00 PM Evening Prayer.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Church School for younger children meets this Sunday at 9:45 AM in the Parish House . . . The Adult Forum continues this Sunday at 10:00 AM, in the Mission House . . . Members of the Hospitality Committee will meet on Sunday, March 3, at 1:00 PM, in the Nursery . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, March 6, at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Stations of the Cross, Friday, March 8, 6:30 PM . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, March 2. Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, March 9.
LITURGICAL NOTE ABOUT LENT . . . During Lent our sung and solemn Masses are marked by silence and very little use of the organ. There are also no preludes and postludes—and no recitals. Organist and music director James Kennerley reminds us, “The organ will next be heard in its full majesty at the Easter Vigil.” For some, this restraint will be new, but I think you will look forward to it, as I do, every year. This restraint gives Lenten services a marked and appropriate simplicity, in great contrast to the richness of the rest of the year. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . An unusual Sunday: Many thanks to Father Jim Pace; Mother Mary Julia Jett; Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins; James Kennerley, organist and music director; and our very capable acolytes, led by master-of-ceremonies, Rick Miranda, who “held down the fort” on very short notice last Sunday morning. Father Gerth was ill and Father Smith was attending a wake in Rutherford, NJ. Both the rector and the curate are very grateful to all concerned for their leadership and their calm and skillful teamwork . . . We welcome donations for flowers used to decorate the church at Easter. Donations are also needed for the large palms used to decorate the altar on Palm Sunday and for flowers for the first two Sundays in April. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . We also welcome donations to support our ministry of hospitality. Donations would be helpful for the Easter-Vigil reception and for the reception on the feast of the Annunciation on April 8. We are also glad to receive donations to support our hospitality efforts on Sundays. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch . . . A couple of years ago, the Digital Communication department of the Episcopal Church Center, came to Saint Mary’s on a Friday afternoon in Lent and taped Stations of the Cross. The video can be accessed here. We are grateful to our friends at the Church Center for making and distributing the video. It was a pleasure working with them . . . Acolyte Rehearsals: Saturday, March 23, 10:00 AM, for Palm Sunday; Sunday, March 24, 1:30 PM, for Maundy Thursday; Thursday, March 28, 5:00 PM for Maundy Thursday; Friday, March 29, 11:00 AM & 5:00 PM for Good Friday; Saturday, March 30, 4:00 PM for the Easter Vigil . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish on vacation beginning Thursday, March 7. He returns to Saint Mary’s on Sunday, March 17 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 220.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary on Sunday is Missa quator vocum (“Messa di Madrid”) by Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757). The sixth child of composer Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti may be best known for his sonatas for solo keyboard (though he composed numerous operas, cantatas, and other church and vocal music). Though steadfastly a Baroque composer, Scarlatti wrote this Mass in the stile antico, meaning that it is modeled after the style of Palestrina and the polyphony of the Renaissance. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet O vos omnes by Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa (1561–1613). It is the first of two settings published by the composer; the second was published in 1611 as part of a complete volume of music for Holy Week. Gesualdo is remembered, in part, for brutally murdering his wife, Donna Maria d’Avalos, and her lover Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria, after he caught them in flagrante delicto! Since the composer was of noble birth, he was immune from prosecution, but not from revenge, so he fled to his castle at Gesualdo. Written in 1603, the motet is highly demonstrative of Scarlatti’s madrigalian word-painting. At the words sicut dolor meus (“like unto my sorrow”), for example, we hear a heart-wrenching chromatic twist in the harmony that sounds shocking even now. It must have been quite extraordinary in the seventeenth century. James Kennerley
RECORDINGS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . As many of you know, Saint Mary’s is fortunate to possess one of the finest pipe organs in the United States, renowned worldwide for its colossal tonal palate and particular beauty of tone. Matched with the unparalleled acoustic of our magnificent church, the combination is one that is hard to match, even in the great cathedrals of Europe. As a result, several artists have recorded on the instrument. Most recently, David Enlow recorded the complete works of César Franck, a recording which is available for purchase from the music office. Paul Jacobs, professor of organ studies at The Juilliard School, recorded Olivier Messiaen’s monumental Livre du Saint-Sacrement in 2009. The recording won the Grammy Award for best instrumental solo performance (without orchestra). Click here for more details. Early this summer I will record the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé. Duruflé’s music has long fascinated me, and it will be a magnificent opportunity to record at Saint Mary’s. Our instrument certainly speaks with a French accent, and the colors are particularly well-matched to Duruflé’s sound-world. J.K.
CLERGY NOTE . . . Father Jim Pace is an assisting priest here at Saint Mary’s. He is also a Clinical Associate Professor and the Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program at the New York University College of Nursing. He will be on vacation and away from Saint Mary’s between March 18 and March 24, Palm Sunday. Father Pace has also been asked to celebrate and preach at the Church of the Holy Nativity, Bronx, NY, on several Sundays during March and April. (Holy Nativity is currently without a rector and is depending on supply clergy during this time of transition.) Father Pace will be in the Bronx on Sunday, March 3; Easter Day, March 31; and on Sunday, April 21 and Sunday, April 28. It is always a pleasure to have Father Pace with us on Sundays, and we will miss him while he is away, but we are very happy that he is able to help out our brothers and sisters in the Bronx in this way.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, March 3, Father Peter Powell will continue his series on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans . . . On Wednesday, March 6, at 6:30 PM, the Bible Study Class will continue its discussion of the Book of the Prophet Zechariah. The class is led by Mother Mary Julia Jett . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Palm Sunday, Easter Day, or the Second Sunday of Easter (March 24, 31, or April 7) . . . On April 14 and 21, Dr. Dennis Raverty will teach a class entitled, Christian Themes and Subjects in the Work of the Avant-Garde School of Paris 1879–1940 . . . On April 28, as well as on May 5 and 12, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will teach a class entitled Angles of Anglican Poetry: Clerics, Converts, Contrarians and Crossovers. The class will be studying the poetry of Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Rossetti, and Eliot, as well as others “who might surprise us with their aptness for the theme, often covert, or even subverted or sub-conscious.” The Sunday-morning Adult Forum takes place in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class is held, when possible, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Newcomers are always welcome at all of our adult-education classes. No prior preparation is necessary. James Ross Smith
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Saturday, March 9, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, Lent Quiet Day at the Church of the Transfiguration, 1 East 29th Street. Led by the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. Coffee and tea will be provided. Those attending are asked to bring their own lunch. For more information, please call 212-684-6770 or contact the parish by e-mail . . . Sunday, March 10, 4:00 PM, Great Lent: A Journey to Pascha. A Concert of Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Music to Benefit the Community of Saint John Baptist, 82 W. Main St., Mendham, NJ. The Spirit of Orthodoxy Choir, Aleksei V. Shipvalnikov, director. Suggested donation is $20.00 . . . Up to Jerusalem: A Day’s Retreat with Barbara Crafton, Saturday, March 23, 9:00 AM–3:00 PM, The Community of Saint John Baptist, Mendham, NJ. Cost for the day (lunch included) is $65.00. Please call 973-543-4641 x 9 for more information. A deposit of $20.00 is required to reserve a place.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to gather warm clothing—socks, coats of all sizes, sweaters, and sweatshirts—and blankets for distribution to the homeless in our neighborhood. Some of those items, as well as non-perishable food items, will be sent to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please speak to Mother Mary Julia or Jake Miller about our efforts here at the parish. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work . . . The Book Sale continues on Sunday. All proceeds benefit those in need. Thank you to all those who have donated books for the sale. Your generosity is very much appreciated . . . Donations to the Bishop Sisk Fund for the Care of Children in the Diocese of New York may be made here.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, March 10, Daylight Saving Time begins . . . Monday, March 18, Meeting of the Board of Trustees . . . Tuesday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, March 24, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday . . . Monday, March 25, Monday in Holy Week. The Feast of the Annunciation is transferred to Monday, April 8.