FROM THE RECTOR: PASCHAL FEAST
Before I went to seminary, I did not pay much attention to what has become one of my favorite texts during the Paschal Triduum, the first anthem at the devotions before the cross on Good Friday. It’s an antiphon with verses from Psalm 67. The verses begin, “May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance and come to us.” The antiphon is from the Middle Ages. One might expect a refrain about Jesus’ suffering, but instead it’s about joy and resurrection. Somehow, even though, over the centuries, there has been a tendency to regard Jesus more as a judge than as a shepherd, the most important thing still came through in these words: “We glory in your cross, O Lord, and praise and glorify your holy resurrection, for by virtue of your cross, joy has come to the whole world” (The Book of Common Prayer  281).
Death and resurrection are one thing for God’s Son. He is truly in the world, but he is not of the world. At the beginning of the Easter Vigil we pray, “Christ, yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, Alpha and Omega. His are all times and ages. To him be glory and dominion through all eternity.” In death Jesus is more than alive; he is the God of the living—and all live to him.
Since the liturgical reforms of the 1970s, Lent ends at sunset on Maundy Thursday and the Paschal Triduum begins. Not surprisingly, these days are counted as Jews reckon time, from sunset to sunset. Again, death and resurrection together shape everything we do on these days. We can’t and don’t go back to an upper room, to Calvary, to the grave. God’s revelation of eternal life has already been made. Thus, we proclaim joy about the resurrection on Good Friday. It’s why the liturgy of the day on Good Friday is called a “celebration,” The Celebration of the Passion of Our Lord. In a similar way, on Maundy Thursday the focus is on love and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday is always John’s account of what he calls the supper before the Passover—it’s the Passover in the other gospels. In this gospel there are no special words about bread and wine. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and tells them to do for each other as he has done for them. He speaks of his disciples loving one another and of them laying down their lives for others. He promises that he and his Father will dwell with them and will send the Holy Spirit to them. On this night he proclaims that his disciples are the branches of the vine–and he is the vine itself. He tells the women and men who are with him that they are no longer his disciples, but his friends.
The principal services of the Paschal Triduum are the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve. The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop & Primate of the Episcopal Church, will be with us on each of these days as celebrant and preacher. Because of the early date of Easter this year, I am personally so thankful he is with us.
By long tradition, Christians may receive Communion on Easter Eve and on Easter morning. There are said Masses with hymns at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM on Easter Day, and Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. Music Director and Organist James Kennerley is playing a recital at 4:30 PM. We close the Triduum with Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction (with the parish choir) at 5:00 PM. It’s a glorious service and there is something wonderful about worshipping together and hearing in the evening the stories from John and Luke’s gospels from the evening of the first day of resurrection.
Many, many threads of revelation, understanding, and tradition continue to be woven together, as it were, to form the fabric of our lives today. God continues to work among humankind, through time, as God’s purposes for creation unfold. Much of what we do during Holy Week and Easter remains the same, year after year. Still, inevitably, there are differences. Even if we were able to replicate every word and action of the services of Holy Week of a year ago, the experience would be different, because we are all different. Those of us who were here last year are now a year older; those who are new to the parish have never been among us for this week of worship; there are members of our community who cannot be here this year; and there are beloved friends, family and guests who are now in the nearer presence of God. I hope all of us will have new joy and strength as we celebrate the Lord’s Passover. I wish you the very best for this Paschal Triduum and the fifty days of Eastertide to come. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Robert, Eloise, Sharon, Emil, Charles, Cheryl, Casey, Richard, Christopher, Jane, Scott, Albert, Diana, Kathy, James, Chelsea, Dolores, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, Rowan, priest, and Paulette, priest; and for the repose of the soul of Demetrio . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 31: 1913 Elizabeth Kirby.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Demetrio Muñoz, Jr., the father of Demetrio Muñoz, III, died last weekend in Manila, the Philippines. The younger Mr. Muñoz is a good friend of Saint Mary's and has often worshipped with us in the past. Please keep Demetrio, his father, his mother, Linda, and all their family and friends in your prayers.
THE WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Lent ends on Maundy Thursday at sunset. The Prayer Book makes no demands of us on Thursday evening or Holy Saturday, but Good Friday is a day of fasting. The history of abstinence and fasting has shifted over the centuries—different traditions of the wider Christian community come together and there are simply changes. That said, it seems appropriate that some restraint from ordinary foods be observed on Thursday evening and on Saturday until after the first Mass of Easter. Friday abstinence is not observed in Eastertide, which ends on Pentecost Sunday, May 19. S.G.
EASTER APPEAL . . . Our annual Easter Appeal letter was mailed on Monday, March 18. The parish very much depends on the gifts of all its members and friends. We invite you to be generous. If you have questions, or if you did not receive a copy of the appeal packet in the mail, please contact the parish office. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the parish so generously . . . The Easter Appeal mailing was organized and processed by a group of volunteers on Sunday, March 17. We are grateful to all these eager and hard-working folks for giving of their time in this way to support the mission of the parish.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The complete service list for the Paschal Triduum and Easter Week is listed below in the Calendar of the Week and is available on the parish webpage . . . Christian Education classes for adults and children will not meet on Easter Day. The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on Wednesday, April 3, at 6:30 PM. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd resumes on Sunday, April 7, at 9:45 AM. The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, April 14, at 10:00 AM . . . Saturday, April 6, 10:00 AM, Requiem Mass for Brother Emil Denworth, FMS. The Reverend Matthew Mead, rector, Church of the Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, will preach . . . Confessions are heard on Saturday in Easter Week, April 6, only by appointment.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Casey Slone, the wife of Father Remington Slone, gave birth to a baby girl, Madeleine Elizabeth, on Friday, March 22. All are doing well. Father Slone served here at Saint Mary’s while he was a seminarian at the General Theological Seminary. Congratulations to all! . . . Many thanks to all who helped to make the Palm Sunday celebrations so wonderful . . . Monday, April 1, is the anniversary of ordination to the priesthood of the Reverend Dr. James C. Pace. Father Pace was ordained priest in 1989. We are very thankful for his ministry among us at Saint Mary’s . . . Copies of Pater Seraphicus: David Enlow Plays César Franck, recorded on Saint Mary’s organ are available from James Kennerley . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 312.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . At the Easter Vigil, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe solennelle (1951) by Jean Langlais (1907–1991), the French composer and organist who was blind from a young age. Langlais’ music, while unmistakably a product of the twentieth century, often has a certain “ancient” sound, in part due to modally–inflected harmonies. This great work is for choir and two organs. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motets Dic nobis Maria by Giovanni Bassano (ca. 1558 – 1617), and Jubilate deo a 8 by Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/1557–1612) . . . At Solemn Mass on Easter Day, the Vidi aquam is sung to the setting by little–known Portuguese composer Filipe de Magalhães (c. 1571–1652). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Paschalis by Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594). The Flemish–born Lassus, sometimes called the princeps musicorum or “main writer of music,” was one of the late Renaissance’s most cosmopolitan and respected composers. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Dum transisset Sabbatum, set exquisitely to music by John Taverner (c. 1490–1545) . . . Before Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction, I will play the organ recital at 4:30 PM. During the service, Magnificat is sung to a setting by Francisco Guerrero (1528–1599). Composed for the Office of Vespers, it is set on the fourth tone (quarti toni) of the eight church modes. One of England’s greatest composers, Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585) lived and worked through extreme religious and liturgical changes. His Nunc dimittis for five voice parts was almost certainly composed for the evening Office of Compline. The settings of the Benediction hymns Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris hostia are distinctly twenty-first century, but both are based on the ancient traditional plainsong melodies. The first is by French compose, Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986), and I composed the second as a companion piece for the Duruflé. Tonight is its first performance . . . Videos of a select number of musical performances from Holy Week and Easter at Saint Mary’s are viewable by clicking here. James Kennerley
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 . . . Donations to the Bishop Sisk Fund for the Care of Children in the Diocese of New York may be made here.