FROM THE RECTOR: JOHN, PETER AND PAUL
Before the middle of the fourth century, the church in Rome was celebrating the birth of John the Baptist and the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul at the end of June. We know this because a calendar exists for the year 354 for the church in that city (Bradshaw and Johnson, Origins of Feasts  193-5).
The celebration of John’s birth is one of the New Testament commemorations that enters the life of the Christian community in this fourth century. The dating is connected, most likely, with the fixing of a celebration of Jesus’ birth in the West on December 25. (Shepherd, American Prayer Book Commentary  242).
The celebrations of the anniversary of martyrs by local Christian communities is well attested in the third century (Origins, 174). One notes that after the death of the very first martyr, “Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2). Peter and Paul are remembered as being martyred in Rome, probably in the persecution in the year 64. Tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down and Paul, a Roman citizen, was beheaded. Originally, Peter’s death was observed in Rome on June 29, Paul’s on June 30, though we are not sure why. The commemorations were united in 258 on June 29 during the persecution of church leaders by the Roman emperor Valerian (Commentary, 243-244).
In the present Prayer Book, John’s birth is called a “Feast of Our Lord.” If it falls on a Sunday, we keep it on the Sunday. So, on Sunday, June 23, Evening Prayer will be for the Eve of the Nativity of John the Baptist. On Monday, in addition to the 12:10 Said Mass, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM, for which Father Jay Smith will be celebrant and preacher.
The “Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles” is a “Major Feast” but like John’s Nativity, because of its universal importance, we use the Prayer Book permission to keep it as a Feast of Our Lord. It is on Saturday, June 29. It will be observed on its eve, Friday, June 28, at 6:00 PM. Father Jim Pace will be celebrant and preacher for this Sung Mass. On Saturday, the feast is also observed at the 12:10 Said Mass.
Of the many traditions of this parish none has shaped its character over the years any more than the commitment of parishioners and clergy since the beginning to be a place where, every day, open doors welcome all those who enter, and the regular services of the church are celebrated, again, daily. I’m very thankful for those who help make services possible, especially on weekdays. Our particular commitment to observe feasts on their proper days is one sign that, in the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Our lives are bound up with faith not only in the gift of life for this world, but the life of the world to come.
The Letter continues, “Through [Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (13:15). And in the next verse it calls us to service with these words, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (13:16).
I invite you to be here to join in the celebration of these feasts this week if you are able to come—and of course, on Sunday—and not just for ourselves. We never know how the Lord will be using our church home or the public witness of our worship to help those who do not know Jesus. In the Episcopal Church, worship is never about “obligation”; it’s the opportunity to give glory to God and to be of service to others in Christ’s name. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dolores, Doris, Emma, Phyllis, Jim, Peter, Donn, Charles, Pamela, Henrietta, Sean, Denise, Casey, Eloise, Sharon, Linda, Christopher, Jane, Diana, Eileen, Arpene, José, Lura Grace, religious, Rowan, priest, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 23: 1891 Walter W. Doyle; 1914 Henry Charles Roscoe Ross; 1935 Graham Wallace; 1935 Thomas J. Frans.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, June 24, at 7:00 PM, following the Sung Mass, which begins at 6:00 PM . . . Monday, June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Mass 12:10 PM & Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Friday, June 28, The Eve of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, Sung Mass 6:00 PM; Saturday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, June 22, and on Saturday, June 29, by Father Jay Smith.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Donn Russell had surgery last week and is now recovering at home. Please keep him in your prayers . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the Sundays in July and for several Sundays in August. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jim Pace was ordained deacon on June 25, 1988. Happy Anniversary! . . . The New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in Central Park will take place this year on Saturday, July 13, and Monday, July 15. As in past years, a number of Saint Marians are planning to attend. For more information, you may contact parishioner Grace Bruni . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 210.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Two “working composers” complement the Solemn Mass this Sunday. Gilbert M. Martin is a freelance composer who at present is represented by nearly every music publishing house in North America. A product of Westminster Choir College, Martin has received twenty-one compositional awards, and continues to write works based on popular hymn tunes, as exemplified in today’s Prelude on Bourbon, one of the traditional melodies of the shape-note tradition. Flor Peeters was the revered Belgian organist and composer of the Lemmens Institute in Mechelen (which has since moved to Leuven, Belgium) that was named after the great nineteenth-century organist Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens. Peeter’s Toccata on Grosser Gott, our offertory hymn, is idiomatic of a contemporary compositional style that still makes reference to the compositional techniques of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition to being a much sought-after recitalist during his lifetime, Flor Peeters has instructed more American Fulbright recipients than any other teacher. Mark Peterson
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 non-perishable food items for Saint Clement’s Pantry. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work.
FROM INTEGRITY NYC-METRO . . . “Please join us Sunday, June 30 to represent the Episcopal Church in New York’s annual Pride March. The March, which commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, is the Episcopal Church’s largest and most visible witness of our inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to the population of this area. We traditionally have representation from a dozen or more congregations, as well as diocesan groups and members of Integrity, occupying two city blocks as we proceed down Fifth Avenue. Our presence in the march is organized by the LGBT Concerns Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The exact location of our muster location is not announced until a week or so before the event, but it will in all likelihood be in the Flatiron District (near Fifth Avenue and Thirty-third). The time and exact location will be posted here as soon as it is known. We will begin the day with Eucharist at the Church of the Transfiguration, 1 East 29th Street, at 11:00 AM. However we will also offer a Street Eucharist at our muster location, celebrated by the Rev. Cynthia Black, D.D., Rector of the Church of the Redeemer, Morristown, NJ, at approximately 1:00 PM. The march route proceeds down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square, then turns right and crosses the West Village on Christopher Street, ending at Christopher and Hudson. After the March, we will offer Evensong at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street, at 6:30 PM.”
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Thursday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal Holiday schedule, the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM; only the noon services are offered . . . Monday, July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle, Mass 12:20 PM and 6:20 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Adelynrood is a retreat and conference center in Newbury, MA, owned and operated by The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. The center offers retreats during the summer months for both women and men, facilitated by retreat leaders such as the Rev. Barbara Crafton and the Rev. Martin L. Smith. There is more information at the center’s website . . . At the Theatre at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West 46th Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues), June 5-July 14, 2013, the Peccadillo Theater Company presents The Silver Cord (1926), by Sidney Howard. From the company website, “Alternately hilarious and heart-stopping, Sidney Howard's The Silver Cord (1926) tells the story of the sweetly tyrannical Mrs. Phelps—the ‘mother of all mothers’ and one of the great villains in all of American drama. Pathologically devoted to her two adult sons, Mrs. Phelps is driven to new heights of manipulation and intrigue when her eldest son returns home with his new bride—a modern woman with her own career and, more important, her own ideas about marriage and family. Add the budding romance between the younger son and his unconventional ‘flapper’ girlfriend and you've got the makings of an explosive Freudian melodrama.” Call OvationTix (212-352-3101) to order tickets; tickets may also be purchased online. The play is directed by Dan Wackerman, company artistic director. The managing director of the company is Kevin Kennedy. Dan and Kevin often worship with us on Sunday mornings.