FROM THE RECTOR: HOLY WEEK 2013: PART III
Several years ago the short subtitle of an article in the liturgical journal Worship caught my attention. The article was by Patrick Regan, “Holy Thursday Reservation: From Confusion to Clarity,” (Worship 81 [March 2007] 98-120). The article is a really useful survey of the practices of Christians on Maundy Thursday in the cathedral and parish churches of Rome at the beginning of the Middle Ages. The subtitle has stayed with me as a point of reflection for many things. One example: How do we move from confusion to clarity in our lives?
Many forces have shaped the worship of the Christian community since Jesus taught his disciples to pray, but none more than the urban character of the cities where Christianity began, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome—just to begin a list. The idea promoted so successfully by Gregory Dix (The Shape of the Liturgy  743-5) that there was essentially a direct and consistent development of the Eucharist from the Upper Room turns out not to be right. So many different examples could be cited. Here’s one: the medieval understanding of the Eucharist as sacrifice obscured the early Christian understanding and experience of “feeding on the life-giving Jesus” (Paul F. Bradshaw, “The Eucharistic Saying of Jesus,” Studia Liturgica 35 (2005) 11). When we get to Holy Week, the richness of the rites over the centuries has often led to “confusion” rather than “clarity."
There will be a few changes as we begin the Liturgy of the Palms this year to make the ceremony less like the ceremonies of Solemn Mass. The Liturgy of the Palms is not about blessing palms but acclaiming the Lord who has come among us, welcoming him in our midst—which is what the people with their branches are about in the gospels. I think our practice of the congregation taking the part of Jesus during the singing of the passion on Palm Sunday (and on Good Friday) is a powerful reminder of God’s purpose for our lives and a call to grow in Christ. No liturgy of the year at Saint Mary’s reflects the urban character of our vocation as much as the Solemn Mass on Palm Sunday—and it looks like (as I write on Thursday morning, March 21) we will have good weather for the procession through Times Square.
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop & Primate of the Episcopal Church, will be with us as celebrant and preacher for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve. It is such an honor for us to have him with us again, especially as we gather this week.
English is one of the few languages where the accidents of history have meant that the name of the Sunday of the Resurrection is not derived from the word “Passover.” In recent years I have referred to the “Triduum” (Latin for “Three Days”: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter—since the calendar reforms of the 1970s, we count three days beginning with sunset on Thursday—these three days end with sunset on Easter Day) as the “Easter Triduum.” This year, our materials refer to the “Paschal Triduum.” “Paschal” is an English form for “Passover.”
The word “Paschal” appears only twice in the 1928 Prayer Book—once in the calendar, once in a prayer during Easter week. The word is all over the 1979 Prayer Book. It reminds us, of course, of the last and terrible plague sent by God on Egypt so that they would let his people go and of their deliverance at the Red Sea. It calls us to remember Christ’s sacrifice, his passion, and his passing over from death to life. It’s what Baptism, Eucharist and life itself are all about. I hope for all of us that our worship will lead us to a little less confusion and a little more clarity about God’s unending gift of life in Christ for all humankind. We are all destined by God to be his Paschal people. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Robert, Eloise, Sharon, Charles, Cheryl, Casey, Richard, Christopher, Jane, Scott, Diana, Kathy, James, Chelsea, Tiffany, Wendy, Stephen, Dolores, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, Rowan, priest, and Paulette, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Elizabeth, and Nicholas; and for the repose of the souls of David Dunkelberger and Winnie Sinclair . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 24: 1890 Frank Whitney Sanford; 1892 William Turrell; 1898 Helena O'Farrell; 1902 Grace Florence Smith; 1923 William Whitlock Richards; 1945 Kate Farrar Southmayd.
THE WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. This week Lent will end on Thursday at sunset. The Prayer Book makes no demands of us on Thursday evening, but Good Friday is a day of fasting. It seems appropriate that some restraint from ordinary foods be observed on Thursday evening and on Saturday until after the first Mass of Easter. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The complete service list for Holy Week and Easter Day is listed below in the Calendar of the Week and is available on the parish webpage . . . There will be no celebration of the Eucharist on Palm Sunday at 10:00 AM . . . There will be no midday services on Maundy Thursday, March 28 . . . Christian Education classes for adults and children will not meet during Holy Week or on Easter Day . . . On Saturday, March 23, Father Jay Smith will hear confessions at 11:30 AM and Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions at 4:00 PM . . . Confessions will be heard by the parish clergy following both liturgies on Good Friday, March 29.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We received word this week that James Kennerley, organist and music director, is one of the ten finalists in the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition. The competition will take place June 18-22, 2013, at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. One of the other finalists is Ben Sheen, who has played here at Saint Mary’s in the past . . . A friend of the parish, the Reverend Karen Fraioli, priest-in-charge, Saint John’s Church, Westwood, Massachusetts has written about a recent visit to Saint Mary’s. It can be found here . . . Copies of Pater Seraphicus: David Enlow Plays César Franck, recorded on Saint Mary’s organ are available from James Kennerley . . . Last Sunday, we celebrated the one-hundredth birthday of parishioner Charles Arthur Schaefer. The choir performed several appropriate musical numbers for Charles, and the video is viewable here. Attendance: Last Sunday 211.
TWO MINISTRIES, TWO BEGINNINGS . . . The Most Reverend Justin Welby became the archbishop of Canterbury on February 4, 2013. He was welcomed and installed at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday, March 21. This liturgy follows by two days the celebration in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, for the “beginning of the Petrine ministry,” of Pope Francis. Please keep Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis in your prayers.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . I have composed many of the musical items performed at the Holy Week liturgies this year. These new works were written because there is very little appropriate music available that suits our choir and the necessity of clarity in relationship to the rest of the liturgy. All the works are dedicated to the choir and parishioners of Saint Mary’s . . . The music offered during the Solemn Mass on Palm Sunday includes numerous chants specific to this day. These chants are among the Church’s great musical heritage, and have been associated with the Palm Sunday liturgy for centuries. The Mass ordinary will be Missa in die tribulationis (1980) by McNeil Robinson (b. 1943), former music director of Saint Mary’s. The passionate, mournful, prayerful and dramatic nature of the music suits the Mass of the Passion in this church perfectly . . . At the Solemn Mass on Maundy Thursday, the Mass setting is Missa syllabica (1977/1996) by Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). Pärt, whose stark and powerful music has achieved great popularity worldwide, has composed since 1976 in a style he named tintinnabuli (“little bells”). The anthems at the footwashing are sung to a setting that I composed especially for this service, and Thursday will be the first performance . . . At the two services on Good Friday, nearly all of the music comes from the Church’s ancient chants for this day. During the Veneration of the Cross, we will perform a setting of the Reproaches that I also composed especially for this service this year. James Kennerley
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Our friends at the Church of Saint Clement, 423 W. 46th Street, are producing a musical called Easter Mysteries: a contemporary oratorio on death and resurrection, which will be performed during Holy Week at the Theatre at Saint Clement's. The producer of the piece writes, “Easter Mysteries is an ageless story interpreted in a fresh, contemporary way. Through an original script with music, it tells the story of a group of devoted followers led by their charismatic leader into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. They are met by a joyously responsive crowd and the “kingdom on earth” that once seemed so unattainable, now feels imminent. What follows is radically different from that expectation.” The performances are as follows: Wednesday, March 27, 7:00 PM; Friday, March 29, 7:00 PM; Saturday, March 30, 2:00 PM. Tickets are $25.00 and the proceeds benefit Saint Clement's Food Pantry, the outreach project that Saint Mary’s has been supporting for some time now. A discount is available for Saint Mary's parishioners and their friends using the code: STMARY. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling Ovationtix at 212-352-3101.
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.