FROM THE RECTOR: NEW HEARING
I can’t remember when I first heard of Dom Gregory Dix’s book The Shape of the Liturgy (1945), but I think I knew about it before I went to seminary. I do remember quite well the impression words from this book made on me the day Louis Weil read to my class from Dix’s concluding reflections on the Eucharist—in particular, these words: “He told His friends to do this henceforward with the new meaning ‘for the anamnesis’ of Him, and they have done it always since. Was ever another command so obeyed?” (744).
As he continued, Father Weil couldn’t read aloud the passage without emotion; to this day I can’t read it to myself, much less aloud, without emotion. Though I bought the book soon after that class, I confess I have never read all of it. For the record, much of its scholarship has long been recognized as problematic. But I have read and reread Dix’s last chapter which he called, “Throughout All Ages, World Without End.”
These words from that chapter have also been important for me, “This morning I [Dix] did this with a set of texts which have not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed. Yet ‘this’ can still take hold of a man’s life and work with it” (745). Looking back, I’m sure these words captured something of my own sense of vocation in my twenties: I couldn’t get away from the Mass. And I don’t think I ever will, can or should.
At this point in my life I can’t begin to think of the number of Eucharists I have attended, much less the number at which I have served as celebrant. But I know I am going through a time when, unexpectedly, my spiritual life is more excited—I think this is the best word to describe it—by Scripture than by the Eucharist. Whole books of the Bible and many different passages have taken on new meaning for me.
One example: there are two books I have not liked hearing at the Daily Office for as long as I remember. They are the Book of Job and the Acts of the Apostles. But this year the Acts of the Apostles, which we started hearing at Morning Prayer in the middle of June, has touched me in a new way. I have wanted to hear the words, if you will, and not just get through it. I hope the Spirit moves me to a new hearing of Job, too.
Let me say, I don’t intend in any way to downplay the centrality of the Eucharist, especially the Sunday Eucharist. Before the first books of w hat we know as the New Testament were written, those who believed in Jesus ate together and knew the Lord was with them in the breaking of the bread. There are seasons in our lives when different riches of God’s creation, if you will, may speak to us in ways they didn’t speak before. Scripture has a way of being ready for us before we are ready for it.
I have been struck in the Acts of the Apostles by the willingness of the disciples to be a part of something crazy, if you will, something entirely new. It was not easy to be Peter or Paul or any of them. God spoke to them in a new way and they moved in new ways through their futures. I think God can still speak to us in new ways and when he speaks, I hope it is sometimes easier for you and me to hear than it was for Peter and Paul. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Lura Grace, religious, who is gravely ill; for André, Penny, Terri, Malik, Babak, Tyler, Emma, Phyllis, Alexander, Gene, Joseph, Mary, Jim, Charles, Henrietta, Sean, Denise, Dolores, Doris, Casey, Eloise, Sharon, Linda, Christopher, Jane, Diana, Eileen, Arpene, José, Paulette, priest, Rowan, priest, John, bishop, Paul, bishop, and Thomas, bishop; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth and Daniel; and for the repose of the souls of Mary Jane Heischman, Gilbert Jacob and Jim Welch . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 14: 1938 Bertha Cass Sims; 1943 Mary Mills; 1982 Ruth English.
FRIDAY ABSTINENCE . . . The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 13, by Father James Pace and by Mother Julia Jett on Saturday, July 20.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Saint Mary’s evening at the New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in Central Park will take place this year on Monday, July 15 . . . Flowers are needed for all the Sundays in July. Please call the parish office to donate! . . . .Sister Laura Katherine returns to the parish on Monday, July 15. Sister Deborah Francis will be on vacation from Monday, July 15, through Monday, August 5 . . . Father Smith is on vacation. He returns to the parish on Tuesday, July 30 . . . Attendance Last Sunday 190.
THIS SUNDAY’S MUSIC . . . The prelude and postlude this Sunday come from the pen of Seth Bingham (1882-1972), a notable New Yorker who upon completing his education at Yale University subsequently taught theory and composition there from 1908–1919. He was an associate professor at Columbia University from 1920–1954, and lectured at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary from 1953–1965. For much of this time, Bingham was organist at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. An active performer and prolific composer, Bingham wrote a large variety of works for the church including a series of Pastoral Psalms, programmatic works for organ which include frequent but subtle quotations from the great hymnody of the church. He also wrote a number of free works, including the Toccata on the hymn tune Leoni, which we hear at the conclusion of Mass on Sunday. At the ministration of Holy Communion we will hear tenor Chris Howatt sing Arise, My Love by American composer Richard Hundley. Mark Peterson
SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM . . . The final figures on the AIDS Walk are in, and our team was very successful. Thanks to our generous donors, we raised more than $25,000, 25% more than our goal of $20,000, and we were tied for #15 in team rankings out of more than 3,100 teams. This makes us a Gold Team, one of the Top 20! The AIDS Walk overall raised more than $5,500,000. We thank the many Saint Marians and friends of Saint Mary’s who supported us—and we invite you to join us as fundraisers and walkers on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
COMMEMORATIONS THIS WEEK . . . We keep far fewer optional commemorations at Saint Mary’s than the present calendars of the Episcopal Church permit. This week there are two, William White (1747-1836), bishop of Pennsylvania (1787-1836) on Wednesday, July 17, and Macrina (340-379), monastic, on Friday, July 19. William White was included in the very first edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1963). He was a theologically sophisticated writer and thinker, priest and rector, and second bishop consecrated for the American church. Perhaps most importantly, he played leading roles in the adoption of the church’s first constitution and first Prayer Book. He was widely regarded for helping to reconcile and rebuild the remnants of the established colonial Church of England into the Protestant Episcopal Church. Macrina was the sister of Basil (c. 329 – 379), bishop of Caesarea, and of Gregory (c. 334 – c. 379) bishop of Nyssa. Her brothers, along with Gregory Nazianzus (c. 330 – 389), bishop of Constantinople, are the three great fourth century theologians known as the “Cappadocian Fathers.” Though none of her own writings survive, her brother Gregory’s Life of St. Macrina testifies to her work as a theological teacher and as a leader of a religious community. Her name was approved for inclusion in the calendar by the General Convention in 1997. S.G.
O God, the King of saints, we praise and glorify your holy Name for all your servants who have finished their course in your faith and fear: for the blessed Virgin Mary; for the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we pray that, encouraged by their examples, aided by their prayers, and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer (1979) 504.)
CHAPEL CLEANING COMMITTEE . . . Ordinary cleaning is not an easy thing in a church home like ours. Most of our church’s fixtures and furnishings are old and require special care. Over the years, I have had to stop staff and volunteers from cleaning things because they didn’t know what they were doing—one well-meaning person once started to clean a section of the Daingerfield murals in the Lady Chapel. (I stopped it!) That said, a small committee is forming to dust and clean things that can be cleaned by people who work with care. Adam Morrow, a new member of the parish, is heading up this committee. If you are interested in joining them, please email Adam: email@example.com. S.G.
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 . . . The “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk” will take place on Sunday, October 20, in Central Park. For more information about how to participate, please visit the Walk’s website.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, August 6, Transfiguration, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, August 15, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. Father John Beddingfield will preach at the Solemn Mass.
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.