FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER NOW
When I read Patrick Regan’s remark that none of the collects for what we now call the Third through the Seventh Sundays of Easter in the pre-Vatican II Roman Rite “use the word ‘paschal’ or contain or refer to any aspect of the paschal mystery” (Advent to Pentecost  258), I went right for my copy of the 1928 Episcopal Church Prayer Book. It turns out that what was true for the old Roman Rite was also true for the old Prayer Book rite. One can say that in a real sense, apart from Easter Day and“The First Sunday after Easter,” there really was no Eastertide in the old rites in the sense of prayers and lessons pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus. There were titles, to be sure; and, surprisingly, all of the Fridays of Eastertide were days of abstinence.
If you have been an Episcopalian, Lutheran or Roman Catholic since the liturgical movement that reshaped worship in the 1960s and 1970s, like me, you may have the impression that there was a period in the past when Easter was a fifty-day celebration which got lost as the centuries passed—and Lent, and to a lesser extent Christmas, took over the heart in the Christian West. It turns out that a fifty-day Eastertide never commanded universal acceptance when it begins to appear in sources in the third and early fourth centuries of the Christian Era (Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity  69-74).
The weekly gathering of Christians, first on Saturdays and later on Sundays, originates with a focus on Jesus’ second coming (Origins, 13). As the fourth century begins, the focus is on Jesus’ death and resurrection (Origins, 25-28). Across that century, the common life of the newly legal Christian community begins to be reshaped by, among other things, a series of historical commemorations, for example, the Nativity, the Annunciation, and, following the chronology of Acts (but not Matthew and Luke), the Ascension on the fortieth day after Easter (Origins, 73).
In the wake of the liturgical movement, there is a new unity to the Easter Season, a unity that is more than just naming the Sundays as “of” Easter, not “after”Easter. The extensive readings across the new three-year lectionary cycle really can carry a celebration of the Paschal mystery through Eastertide, especially if preachers and musicians are faithful to the structure of the renewed rites. (The old prayers were not lost. All but one of the collects for the Third through Seventh Sundays after Easter in the 1928 book are there but on different Sundays.)
At the age of 59, considering I have been praying the Daily Office since before I entered seminary at 26, I probably average at least one recitation of the Apostles’ Creed for every day of my life. The last two lines are that you and I believe in “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” I’m thankful to live in a time when Eastertide is alive in a new way in the worship of the Christian community. The challenge an Easter faith presents to humankind in our time is real, but it is one you and I embrace by following Jesus Christ as his Spirit leads us through this life to the life to come. It’s Easter now. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Eloise, Sharon, Ruth, Cheryl, Wayne, Charles, Casey, Richard, Christopher, Jane, Scott, Albert, Diana, Kathy, James, Chelsea, Dolores, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, José, and John, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Elizabeth, and Nicholas . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 14: 1879 Elizabeth Davis Fletcher; 1885 Mary Petronilla Reynolds, Helen N. Hammond; 1887 Leo Garden; 1904 Caroline Muirhead; 1918 Elma Dows Thaw; 1959 Hubert M. Todd.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S. . . Sunday, April 14, 9:45 AM, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. The Adult Forum will meet at 10:00 AM in the Mission House . . . Wednesday, April 17, 6:30 PM, The Bible Study Classwill meet in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 13. Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, April 20.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Gifts continue to be received for our annual Easter Appeal. Your gifts will be used for the replacement of the church sound system, the total cost of which will be $19,000—now scheduled for the week after Ascension Day . . . Parishioner Ruth Cunningham had surgery at Beth Israel this week and is recuperating at home. Please keep her in your prayers. (We hope to see and hear her again very soon—Ruth is, of course, also a member of Saint Mary’s Choir.) . . . Copies of Bishop Michael Marshall’s book, Transforming the Power of Prayer: From Illusion to Reality (2011), are on sale in the Gift Shop . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish and attending a Leadership in Ministry Conference from the afternoon of Sunday, April 14, until Wednesday, April 17. He returns to the office on Thursday, April 18 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 277, Annunciation 151.
AIDS WALK 2013 . . . Last year, Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team did extraordinarily well. It ranked 23rd among the 3,410 teams that walked in 2012. That money continues to be used by Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in the fight against AIDS and to provide education, treatment, and care for people who are at risk of infection, are HIV-positive, or have AIDS. We contributed $19,418 to the more than $6,000,000 raised for the cause. This is our eighth year as a team, and the AIDS Walk is one of Saint Mary's major outreach efforts. Fifty percent of last year’s Maundy Thursday offering went to the AIDS Walk. Fundraising for AIDS Walk 2013 is now underway. Our team will walk on May 19 after Solemn Mass and before Evensong & Benediction. We invite you to join us again this year. You are invited to join as a walker and fundraiser. Everyone is invited to make a contribution to our team. A link to the team’s web page is here. Copies of our informational flyer can be found on the table near the church entrances or downloaded from the parish website. You can also contact Father Jay Smith or MaryJane Boland, the team coordinator. We thank you for your support. MaryJane Boland and James Ross Smith
THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE CONGREGATION will be held following the Solemn Mass on Sunday, May 5, 2013. The meeting will receive reports from parish organizations, staff and the board of trustees. The meeting will elect two delegates and two alternate delegates to serve as our representatives to the annual diocesan convention.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Electronic versions of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s Guide to Free Food and Assistance are available here . . . 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 Jett 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 . . . The Book Sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall continues on Sunday morning. All proceeds are used to help those in need.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass on Sunday is the chorale prelude on Kommst du nun, Jesu, von Himmel herunter (“Comest Thou, Jesu, from Heaven to Earth now descending?”), BWV 650, taken from theSchübler Chorales, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is the Mass in C, D. 452, by Franz Schubert (1797–1828). The choir also sings the motet Haec dies by William Byrd (c.1540–1623 . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM, Sean Jackson, organist and music director at the Stanwich Congregational Church in Greenwich, Connecticut, will play the organ recital. His program includes music by Bach and John Ireland (1879–1962). James Kennerley
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Women’s History Exhibition: As part of the ongoing efforts to document the important role of women in the history of our church, and in light of the thirtieth anniversary of the first attempts of women to be ordained in the Episcopal Church, the Christoph Keller, Jr., Library at the General Theological Seminary has mounted a new exhibition. The exhibition features recently-discovered archival material relating to the Church of Saint Mary, Manhattanville, on West 126th Street, and that parish’s sponsorship of Carter Heyward and Emily Hewitt for ordination to the priesthood in the early 1970s. Along with the vestry papers of Allen Mellen, this exhibit will feature materials from the archives of the diocese of New York, as well as materials from the Keller Library’s Special Collections. The exhibit will be in place at the library from April 8 through the beginning of June. Mary Robison, reference librarian and archivist, will lead a brief tour on Sunday, April 28 at 3:00 pm, to introduce parishioners from Saint Mary’s, Manhattanville; Saint Mark’s, Teaneck, New Jersey, and our own parish to the exhibit and to the seminary. Please contact Mary for more information.
THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST (CSJB). . . On Saturday, April 27, the community and its friends will gather to celebrate one hundred years of service in Mendham, in the dioceses of Newark and New York, and the wider Church. Sister Eleanor Francis, superior, writes: "We are calling April 27 Cornerstone Day, to mark the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of our convent in Mendham. There will be a Eucharist with our diocesan bishop Mark Beckwith as celebrant. There will be three other bishops present, including our Visitor Prince Singh, who will bless the cornerstone. Our preacher will be the Very Reverend Lister Tonge, our Pastor from England. Please come and bring your family and friends! I am looking forward to seeing you there.” For more information, please speak to one of the sisters!
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Adult Forum: The class resumes on Sunday, April 14, at 10:00 AM, with the final presentation in our Faith and Workseries . . . On Sunday, April 21, Dr. Dennis Raverty will give a presentation on The Sacralization of Nature in German Romantic Landscape . . . On Sunday, April 28, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will begin a three-part series entitled, Angles of Anglican Poetry: Clerics, Converts, Contrarians, and Crossovers. Rebecca will be discussing the work of Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Rossetti, and Eliot, among others. J.R.S.