FROM THE RECTOR: RE-SEE
The other morning a word that isn’t in the dictionary came out of my mouth: “re-see.” Without thinking I used it to mean “to look again,” in the same way we use “rehear.” I smiled when I realized what I had done. It made me recall a lesson I was privileged to learn from a woman who became a parishioner when I was rector in Indiana.
Her name is Virginia McDavid. She taught English at Chicago State University for many years. She was also a usage editor for the Random House College Dictionary. It turns out that she was among the editors of the dictionary I bought when I went to college. She gave me a more recent edition, one that I still use today.
Professor McDavid’s first scholarly interest was linguistics—she was, among other things, a pioneer in recording gender differences in speech. She brought home to me like no one else had before that language is constantly changing. She liked slang. What is fundamental is that speech and language be intelligible—I’m sure Father Smith understood me when “re-see” came out of my mouth.
Since I was given an iPad I have used it mostly for reading non-theological books while I am traveling. Often books on the iPad come with a decent dictionary. And I’ve learned to be a little disappointed when the dictionary isn’t good and a writer (certainly over the objections of his or her editor) has used words most of his or her readers would not know. My vocabulary is not bad, but I’m not a regular solver of crossword puzzles. I’m not sure I ever knew that “littoral” simply means “shore”—not to mention, for example, words like: gouts, azimuth, lycanthropic or juddering.
The word “re-see” came out of my mouth because of something I had read in a recent book, The Plantagenets (2012), by Dan Jones. In part because of movies I have seen, notably Becket (1964), and perhaps because of books I have read, I believed that once the word was out that Henry II had inspired his knights to kill the archbishop of Canterbury Henry had to submit to the humiliation of public discipline by the monks of the cathedral. Well, that’s not the whole story.
It seems I had forgotten the plot of another movie, The Lion in Winter (1968)—in which Peter O’Toole also played Henry II. That movie is about how his wife and their three sons revolt against Henry’s rule. Only when his rule was threatened did Henry go to Canterbury and do penance. Among other things, he was beaten bloody by the monks. That act of submission turned the tide of the revolt in his favor. He was soon in charge of his kingdom again—though, in the end, his remaining sons would turn against him. I’ve been learning to “re-see” the bloody controversy between the king and the archbishop.
It is not always easy to be open minded about new things, to be a critical thinker but not closed to new information. One of my friends who is a dentist often says that in dental school he learned to pass the state examination for a license; but, he really learned how to care for patients—and to run a practice—on the job.
Since ordination, biblical study has often been a springboard for me to look again at what I thought I knew. Across many years and many areas, I work to look again with fresh eyes, but I hope without cynicism, at what I think I know, what I think I like. Sometimes I need to remind myself that though I am a native of Norfolk, Virginia, I never ate a raw oyster until I was twenty-eight years old. I finished not only the first dozen that was set down in front of me, but like everyone else at that lunch table, I finished a second dozen too—and many dozens since. I’m very happy that oysters are back in season. I wonder what else I may be blessed to “re-see” in the year to come. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Sharon, Rob, Carey, Roy, Gloria, Peter, James, Charles, Barbara, Takeem, Linda, Albert, Vincent, Babak, Tyler, Mary, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, Richard, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Alex, Elizabeth, Ben, and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 13: 1884 Katie Palmer; 1900 John Unger; 1965 Ada Beazley.
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 . . . Friday, October 11, 7:00 PM, Saint Joseph’s Hall, Artist’s Talk: Julia Rivera discusses her work in the new exhibition now being shown in the parish gallery . . . Adult Forum, Sunday, October 13, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Mother Mary Julia Jett begins her three-part series on “The Poetry and Hymnody of Syriac Christianity” . . . Monday, October 14, Columbus Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. The parish office is closed . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class does not meet this week . . . Friday, October 18, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 12, by Father Jim Pace, and on Saturday, October 19, by Father Stephen Gerth.
NOMINEES FOR SUFFRAGAN BISHOP of the diocese of New York were announced on Monday. The nominees are: The Rev. Kim L. Coleman, The Rev. Canon Susan Harriss, The Rev. L. Kathleen Liles, the Rev. Allen K. Shin, and The Rev. Mauricio Wilson. (Father Shin was curate here at Saint Mary’s between 1999 and 2001.) The convention to elect the bishop suffragan will take place on December 7. Saint Mary’s delegates to the convention include the parish clergy and our lay delegates, MaryJane Boland and Mary Robison. More information about the candidates and the schedule of “walkabouts,” at which one will have the opportunity to meet the candidates is on the diocesan website.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch remains in the coronary care unit at Saint Luke’s Hospital. He is able to receive visitors. Please keep him in your prayers . . . David Lapham and Clark Mitchell were joined in Holy Matrimony here at the parish on Saturday, October 5. We are grateful to all those who made the occasion such a beautiful one. Please keep David and Clark in your prayers. . . The All Souls’ Day Appeal will be mailed this week. If possible, please your return your prayer requests to the parish office as soon as you can . . . The 2013-14 Choral Music and Liturgical Recitals list has been posted on the parish web page . . . Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, October 27 and for all the Sundays in November after All Saints’ Day. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . If you would like to make a donation to help with the reception following the Solemn Mass on All Saints’ Day, Friday, November 1, please call the parish office . . . The 2014 Stewardship Appeal letter will be mailed to members and friends of the parish on Monday, October 21. If you have questions about stewardship, please speak to one of the priests on staff, or to a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish October 14-19, in order to attend a Credo conference. He returns to the parish on Sunday, October 20. Sister Deborah Francis, will be in Israel October 13-24. She returns to the parish on Friday, October 25 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 229.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Ned Rorem (b. 1923), one of America’s most renowned and prolific composers of art song, has made enormous contributions not only to that genre, but to all forms of American musical life. Highly regarded and highly decorated, Rorem received the Pulitzer Prize in 1976. Born in Richmond, Indiana, to parents of Quaker origins, Rorem was raised in Chicago. He demonstrated an early interest in composition and piano, studying with Margaret Bonds. Rorem pursued advanced musical studies at Northwestern University, the American Conservatory, the Curtis Institute, and finally at Juilliard, from which he took his Master’s degree in 1948. He also worked privately with Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson. Rorem has divided his time between Manhattan and Nantucket, continuing to add to his extensive catalogue of over four hundred songs. Rorem has also composed three operas, three symphonies, three piano concerti, and several large-scale choral works, as well as smaller-scale keyboard and chamber pieces. Although a relatively small segment of his total output, Rorem has written an effective list of sacred anthems and motets which, while demonstrating his innovative harmonic language, hark back to the stark simplicity of his Quaker roots. At the ministration of Holy Communion during Sunday’s Solemn Mass, we hear his motet, Sing, my soul, his wondrous love.
The setting of the Mass on Sunday is by the renowned Canadian composer, Healey Willan (1880–1968). It is number eleven of his set of fourteen Missae Breves, and carries the dedication, Missa Sancti Johannis Baptistae. Willan was convinced that the Gloria in excelsis Deo was a primary hymn of praise and, as such, should always be sung by the congregation and not by the choir alone. None of his fourteen Missae Breves, therefore, include a Gloria. In keeping with Willan’s instructions and understanding his sentiments, on Sunday we will be singing the Gloria from the Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena, a congregational setting written during the years Willan served the great Anglo-Catholic Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Toronto. This was the “preferred” congregational setting in the Hymnal 1940, and is one which many of us learned from our earliest years in the Episcopal Church. Mark Peterson
FROM SISTER DEBORAH FRANCIS . . . From October 13 through October 24 I will be on a pilgrimage to Israel with a group from Christ Church, Short Hills, New Jersey. I am looking forward to seeing the places that, up to now, I have only read about. I hope this will make the Scriptures more vivid for me. I also hope to be able to gain a better understanding of the conflict among the modern-day children of Abraham. To that end, we will be speaking with both Israeli Jews and with Palestinians, who are trying to bridge the gap between the two peoples. We will be visiting the usual pilgrimage sites, both Christian and Jewish, as well as two archeological digs. I look forward to sharing my experiences with the Saint Mary’s community upon my return. Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
THE VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM (VAP) . . . A new exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Julia Rivera has opened in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Rivera, who now lives in New Jersey, was born in the Bronx. She has studied in Paris, Florence, San Juan, and at New York’s Art Students League. In her work, Rivera “creates an attractive, fairy-tale universe where carefully chosen objects–clocks, fruit, little toy cars, [boots, shoes], bottles and elongated chairs–are arranged in order to let us see their essence in a surreal but celebratory manner.” For more information about Julia’s work please contact José Vidal, curator of the exhibition.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Wednesday, October 23, Saint James of Jerusalem, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, October 28, Saint Simon & Saint Jude, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, October 31, Eve of All Saints’ Day, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Friday, November 1, All Saints’ Day, Sung Mass 12:10 PM & Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, Sung Mass & Blessing of the Vault 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, November 3, 2:00 AM Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Parish Requiems: At the Parish Requiem Masses, the prayers will be offered for the departed by the last name of the person making the request, according to the following schedule: Monday, November 4 (A-G); Tuesday, November 5 (H-M); Wednesday, November 6 (N-R); Friday, November 8 (S-Z).
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, October 18, 8:30 PM, Organ Recital, Graham Blyth, recitalist, in a program of César Franck . . . Saturday, October 19, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, conductor & music director. Program: Bohuslav Martinu, Memorial to Lidice; Franz Joseph Haydn, Cello Concerto in D Major; Vincent d’Indy, Symphony No. 2. Admission is free. A $10.00 donation at the door is suggested and welcomed. For more information, please visit the NYRO website.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are gratefully accepting donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks. We send some items of clothing to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Other items are kept here for distribution to those in need.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At The Cloisters, September 10–December 8, 2013, Fort Tryon Park, New York City: The Forty-Part Motet (2001), a sound installation by Janet Cardiff. Regarded as the artist's masterwork, and consisting of forty high-fidelity speakers positioned on stands in a large oval configuration throughout the Fuentidueña Chapel, the fourteen-minute work, with a three-minute spoken interlude, will continuously play an eleven-minute reworking of the forty-part motet Spem in alium numquam habui (1556?/1573?) by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585). Spem in alium numquam habui, which translates as “In No Other Is My Hope,” is perhaps Tallis's most famous composition. Visitors are encouraged to walk among the loudspeakers and hear the individual unaccompanied voices—bass, baritone, alto, tenor, and child soprano—one part per speaker—as well as the polyphonic choral effect of the combined singers in an immersive experience. The Forty Part Motet is most often presented in a neutral gallery setting, but in this case the setting is the Cloisters’ Fuentidueña Chapel, which features the late twelfth-century apse from the church of San Martín at Fuentidueña, near Segovia, Spain, on permanent loan from the Spanish Government. Set within a churchlike gallery space, and with superb acoustics, it has for more than fifty years proved a fine venue for concerts of early music. (To get to the Cloisters by public transportation: Take the A train to 190th Street and exit the station by elevator. Walk north along Margaret Corbin Drive for approximately ten minutes or transfer to the M4 bus and ride north one stop. You may also take the M4 bus from Manhattan directly to the last stop.)