FROM THE RECTOR: JUST A CUP
With the beginning of Advent 2011, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States began using a new translation of its Latin liturgy. The issue of how to translate the liturgy from Latin to English has been controversial within that community since Pope Paul VI revised the Roman Missal in 1969. I remember stopping into a Roman Catholic parish not so long after the recent changes took place. I found a card with the new translations printed on it. One of the changes that jumped out at me was the following: no longer does Jesus give his disciples the “cup filled with wine” at supper; he now hands them a “chalice filled with the fruit of the vine.” I found this surprising. When I returned home, I took a look at my dictionary of New Testament Greek. There I found what I already knew. The Greek word potērion, now translated as “chalice,” simply means “cup”.
I regret very much that the ecumenical spirit which was so common among Western Christians a half-century ago continues to diminish. Many readers will know that I was brought up in my mother’s Southern Baptist tradition, but my father’s family is Roman Catholic. Peter Scholtes was a Roman Catholic priest working in a distressed parish in Chicago in 1966 when he wrote the hymn, "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love." I can’t remember now when I first learned that hymn, but I’m sure it was while I was in high school. It has remained important for me and for others because it expresses a fundamental message of Jesus Christ: love for one another matters. The God who identified himself as Love in the First Letter of John is also the one who identified himself in John’s gospel as the Truth.
Paul VI summed up the fundamental ecumenical problem succinctly on April 28, 1967 in a speech to the Roman Catholic Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. He said, “The papacy, we know well, is without doubt the single most serious obstacle on the road towards ecumenism” (my translation—the speech is available only in the original French on the Vatican website). The most serious, indeed the central, ecumenical issue both then and now is papal authority—an authority that now insists a “cup” be called a “chalice.” Furthermore, in my view, the decisions of a growing number of Anglican and other Protestant Christians no longer to practice discrimination against remarried persons, women and homosexual persons are not the problem, nor are they theologically the most serious obstacle to Christian unity.
The more I have learned about the history of the Episcopal Church and the history of the diocese of New York, the more I feel the truly broad ecumenical call of our Anglican and our American religious heritage. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity actually has its origins here in our diocese. Father Paul Wattson (1863-1940) and Mother Lurana White (1870-1935) were co-founders in this diocese of Franciscan religious orders within the Episcopal Church. Christian reunion was on the minds of many in the nineteenth century, perhaps none more so than Wattson and White. They, along with the members of their religious communities, became Roman Catholics in 1909. The year before they left, Wattson started the “Church Unity Octave” (that is, “eight” days of prayer).
Before then, John Henry Hobart, bishop of New York (1816-1830), was an extraordinary missionary for this church in his work in this state. He was also an early advocate for reforms to Prayer Book worship to make it more useful in evangelizing newcomers to the Christian faith. William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) and other priests of the diocese wrote an open letter to the General Convention of 1853 that would lead to the Lambeth Conference resolution in 1888 setting out the Anglican Communion’s commitment to Christian reunion.
Last October a friend of the parish sent me a link to an article in the Dallas Morning News that Vishal Gokani, a junior in high school, had written. He’s Hindu. He was in Times Square and had, as he put it, “time to kill.” He was a little anxious, but came in to Saint Mary’s and found himself feeling something of the same thing he experiences when he enters the temple of his faith. There was peace, there was prayer, and there was welcome. It made me very happy to read that.
I will admit that I don’t have great hopes for the renewal of the ecumenical movement, at least in the near future. But I haven’t given up hope. I pray that, like our Hindu visitor, when I enter other churches and temples, I can have less judgment and more love—even about cups and chalices.
In Mark, when the disciples complained about a man doing a good work in Jesus’ name, Jesus responded, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward” (Mark 9:39-41). In the end, the cup of water we receive from others out of love may be the most important cup of all. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Cheryl, Errol, Robert, Scott, Tiffany, Wendy, Stephen, Dolores, Helena, John, Richard, Donna, George, Judy, Philip, Barbara, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, Rebecca, deacon, Rowan, priest, and Paulette, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the souls of Quentin Lane and Nellie Small . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 20: 1877 Joseph Bonner McNeill; 1886 Henry Blasson; 1888 Edward Robert Bailey; 1891 William Murray Conway; 1930 William Cochran Martin; 1935 Ellen E.C. Poe.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Quentin Lane, organist and music director at Saint Mary’s from 1982 to 1988, died on Sunday, January 13. Nellie Small, a former parishioner, also died this past Sunday. Please keep Quentin and Nellie, their families and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
2013 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of January 14, we have only reached 85% of our goal of $450,000.00. Seventy-five percent of those who made a pledge for 2012 have now done so for 2013. We recently mailed a reminder to all those who made a pledge last year, but have not yet returned a pledge card for 2013. If you have questions, or if you would like to receive a pledge card, please contact the parish office.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 20, at 10:00 AM with guest speaker the Reverend Ralph McMichael, director, Center for the Eucharist, St. Louis, Missouri . . . Church School for younger children meets this Sunday at 9:45 AM in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House . . . Monday, January 21, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Schedule: The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. The parish offices are closed . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on January 23 at 6:30 PM. The class will continue its close reading of the Lord’s Prayer . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concludes on Friday, January 25, with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 19. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, January 26.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Celebration and Blessing of Marriage for Jonathan Peter and Helena Johnson took place on Saturday, January 12. Thank you to our servers, ushers, flower guild, and to all those who helped to make the day possible . . . Altar Flowers are needed for February 10. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Our annual Super Bowl Party will take place on Sunday, February 3, after Evensong & Benediction. If you would like to bring food or beverages to share, please contact Grace Bruni. All are welcome! . . . James Kennerley will return from vacation to the parish office on Thursday, January 24 . . . Father Smith will be away on retreat from Friday, January 18, through Sunday, January 20 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 201.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 20, at 10:00 AM with guest speaker the Reverend Ralph McMichael, director, Center for the Eucharist, St. Louis, Missouri. Father McMichael preached at Saint Mary’s for the Solemn Mass on the Eve of All Saints’ Day 2003. He has a Ph.D. in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America. We are pleased to welcome him back to Saint Mary’s . . . On Sunday, January 27, we will begin a three-part series on Faith and Work in the Christian Life. Each week two members of the parish will make brief presentations on the intersection between faith and work in their own lives. The discussion—and we hope that the discussion will be lively!—will be moderated by Father Jay Smith. James Ross Smith
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Tony Furnivall directs the choir and plays the organ for the Solemn Mass on Sunday and will play for Solemn Evensong Sunday night while I am on vacation this week. Tony is a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was organ scholar under Dr Bernard Rose. He has served as assistant organist at the National Cathedral in Washington, and as organist and director of music at Christ Church Cathedral, Louisville, Kentucky, as well as at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York. He is presently retired. I am very pleased that Tony is able to be here . . . The prelude before Solemn Mass is Canzone by Flor Peeters (1903–1986). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Four Voices by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585). Tallis, who was a lifelong Roman Catholic, reached the summit of his career near the time of the English Reformation when styles of liturgical music began to change greatly. Though this setting is in Latin, it was composed after the Reformation and its relatively simple homophonic (chordal) texture is largely in keeping with the reformers’ musical guidelines. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Hostis Herodes impie, a setting of text from the Vesper hymn for Epiphany, by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM, the organ recital will be played by Harry van Wijk, Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Harry’s program includes music by Claude Debussy (1862–1918), Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1845), and César Franck (1820–1890) . . . On Wednesday, January 23, Enrico Contenti will play the Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. James Kennerley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, January 26, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre presents New York Polyphony, “Tallis & Byrd: Masses for Uncertain Times.” From the Miller Theatre website, “New York Polyphony returns to Miller’s [early-music] series with a performance of Tallis and Byrd’s uniquely intimate Masses for four voices. Written during a time of religious turbulence in England, these settings of the traditional Latin Mass text were intended for modest forces and favor a beautifully simple, straightforward style. Composed late in the sixteenth century, Byrd’s Mass was an act of courage, written for secret use by fellow Catholics forced underground by the prevailing monarchy. The program is rounded out with a handful of brief sacred works from the fifteenth century to the present.” Tickets may be purchased online or by phone at (212) 854-7799 . . . Saturday, February 9, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & James Kennerley, organ soloist. Music by Hovhaness, Jongen and Busoni. Admission is free.
A WORD ABOUT OUR INCENSE . . . Longtime parishioner and “incense-miester” Kenny Isler was with us last week to prepare another batch of Saint Mary’s best. It was great to have him with us. Kenny moved some years ago to Arizona to be with and care for his parents. But he’s still very much a member of our parish community. The primary ingredient is gum olibanum which is imported from Somalia—yes, Somalia. I don’t know of anything else that comes from that country at the present time. I hope our continuing purchase helps the people who produce this ancient product. I try to remember them in prayer whenever we use incense in worship. Kenny, many thanks for your ministry to us and to all whom this incense matters. S.G.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Donations to aid in the post-Hurricane Sandy relief effort within the Diocese of New York continue to be handled by Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York . . . For information about how to volunteer for post-hurricane relief efforts in Brooklyn and Staten Island, please visit the website of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen . . . 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 contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work . . . The Book Sale will resume on Sunday, January 20. All proceeds benefit those in need. Thank you to all those who have donated books for the sale. Your generosity is most appreciated.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Friday, February 1, Eve of the Presentation, Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass, 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, February 2, 10:30 AM, Installation of Bishop Andrew M.L. Dietsche as bishop of New York at the cathedral . . . Super Bowl Party, Sunday, February 3, 6:00 PM, following Evensong and Benediction . . . February 13, Ash Wednesday . . . Stations of the Cross, Fridays in Lent at 6:30 PM . . . Monday, February 18, Washington’s Birthday (commonly known as “Presidents’ Day”), Federal Holiday schedule.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway, at 61st Street, More Precious than Fine Gold: The English Bible in the Gilded Age: “The spirit of renewal that permeated the visual arts during the Gilded Age and is embodied in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s work was also manifest in the interconnected fields of Bible translation and Bible publication. The exhibition explores its impact on the text itself of the English Bible and on the design, printing and illustration of the volumes that made it accessible to the public. The 20 volumes on display in this exhibition include mainstream versions, such as the English Revised New Testament of 1881 and the American Standard Version of 1901, and innovative or unusual ones, such as Ballentine’s ‘Modern American Bible’ or Julia Smith’s Bible, the first woman to translate the entire text of the Scriptures. Also on display are Bibles illustrated by famous artists such as Gustave Doré and James Tissot and limited editions produced by private presses such as William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, the Doves Press, and the Essex House.” Closed Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Thursday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.