The Angelus

Volume 15, Number 49


I’ve just finished reading The Plantagenets [2013] by Dan Jones, a British author. The book received good reviews. I enjoyed reading it and it made me want to learn more about the 254-year period the Plantagenet family ruled England—and sometimes large regions of Ireland, Scotland and France. Another way to put this is to say the book helped me realize how little I know about a great deal of British history, despite a lifelong interest in history generally.

For many reasons I have thought that the roots of the American Revolution largely went back to the rebellion that cost Charles I his head in 1649. But Charles was not the first English king to lose his throne to his subjects. I was of course aware of the Magna Carta; but I did not really appreciate the role it came to play in the political life of that nation—and much later, of our own. “No taxation without representation” really does go back to the days when King John lost the support of his barons. This idea of the rights of Englishmen continues to grow over time. And it continues to shape the political culture of Western democracies across the world. At some level, it’s always about the money.

Reading the book also made me think about the Protestant Episcopal Church. For a long time my quick response to questions about the governance of the church has been to say it’s a matter of checks and balances, that the generation that gave us the American Revolution and our constitution also gave us the Episcopal Church. If Jones is correct, and I think he probably is, the Protestant tradition of the Church of England probably owes a great deal to the political history of the English people long before the Tudors came to power.

The General Convention’s House of Deputies—comprised of both lay and clerical representatives, in equal proportions—has always been an equal partner with the Convention’s House of Bishops. The big issue for the barons at Runnymede who confronted King John—as it is for our government and our state today–is the mutual responsibility between those who collect and spend the money and those who pay it.

The canons (ecclesiastical laws) of the church state that the following is one of my duties as rector of a parish:

It shall be the duty of Rectors or Priests-in-Charge to ensure that all persons in their charge are instructed concerning Christian stewardship, including:

(i) reverence for the creation and the right use of God's gifts;

(ii) generous and consistent offering of time, talent, and treasure for the

mission and ministry of the Church at home and abroad;

(iii) the biblical standard of the tithe for financial stewardship; and

(iv) the responsibility of all persons to make a will as prescribed in the Book

of Common Prayer. (Title III, Canon III, Sec. 5 (b)(2))

When presented with these words, I find myself thinking of what I usually think when I hear or read public-service announcements about why smoking tobacco is bad for one’s health. There’s nothing secret or hidden here, except perhaps the teaching of “the biblical standard of the tithe for financial stewardship.” The problem of course is that there is no “biblical standard of the tithe” enjoined on those who believe in Jesus. Like the phrase, “biblical marriage,” it may be a comfortable idea, but the demands of the gospel cannot be summed up so simply. For the record, I do tithe my salary to the parish. Some do the same. The clergy and lay leaders of this parish are all committed sacrificially to its work.

I like this question and answer from the second “Office of Instruction” first found in the last Prayer Book. And if you don’t know these words by heart, I invite you to commit them to memory:

Question. What is your bounden duty as a member of the Church?

Answer. My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom. (The Book of Common Prayer [1928] 291)

Christian stewardship begins with following Jesus, knowing him as Lord and Savior and trusting in a merciful resurrection in the life to come. Christian stewardship begins with worshiping God every Sunday in God’s church. Christian stewardship begins with working, praying and giving for the spread of the kingdom.

I hope, dear reader, you are able to worship here or elsewhere every Sunday and that you work and give to this parish for God’s kingdom. I call upon myself and you to continue to pray daily that God’s will may be done in the lives of people everywhere. Pray too for understanding for those who are afraid, or unable for whatever reason, to give, afraid to pray, afraid to worship. Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Sharon, Pierre, David, Rick, Takeem, Rob, Carey, Roy, Peter, Linda, Babak, Shannon, Christina, Cassius, Tyler, Mary, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Alex, Elizabeth, Ben, and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 3: 1897 Susan Taber Congdon; 1918 George Francis; 1937 Anthony Maler; 1957 Francis Mills Smith.


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.


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2013-2014 . . . Pledge packets were mailed this week. We invite you to prayerfully consider this year’s appeal and to be generous. Commitment Sunday is November 24, the Feast of Christ the King. Please help us to continue our mission and ministry to our members, to our community, and our diocese. If you did not receive a pledge packet, but would like to, please contact the parish office. Thank you to all who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, November 2: All Souls’ Day, Sung Mass & Blessing of the Vault at 11:00 AM. The noonday services will not be offered . . . Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 3. Turn your clocks back one hour . . . Adult Forum, Sunday, November 3, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Father Pete Powell begins his three-part series on “The Book of Exodus” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on November 6 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall (the class will also meet on November 13, and 20) . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 2, at 4:00 PM by Father Jay Smith; confessions will not be heard at 11:30 AM. Confessions on Saturday, November 9, will be heard at both 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM by Father Jim Pace.


PARISH REQUIEMS . . . At these Masses, the prayers will be offered for the departed by the last name of the person making the request: Monday, November 4 (A-G); Tuesday, November 5 (H-M); Wednesday, November 6 (N-R); Friday, November 8 (S-Z). Additional envelopes and cards for these Masses will be available on Sunday at the ushers’ table in the church.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch has returned to Saint Luke’s Hospital to continue his recovery. Please keep him in your prayers . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to a member of the clergy. Bishop Dietsche will be with us on Monday, December 9, at 6:00 PM . . . Saint Mary’s Organ Curator Larry Trupiano and parishioner Mark Risinger both have articles in the new “music” issue of the Episcopal New Yorker . . . Advent Quiet Day: Saturday, December 14, 9:30-3:00 PM. Led by Father Jim Pace . . . Donations are requested: for altar flowers on November 17 and 24 and on December 15; and for the receptions after the Solemn Masses on All Saints’ Day, Friday November 1, and on the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Monday, December 9 (transferred). If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Sister Deborah Francis returned from her trip to Israel and Palestine on Friday. We look forward to hearing about her time spent in the Holy Land . . . The Rector will be away beginning Tuesday, November 5. He returns to the parish on Friday, November 15 . . . Attendance Last Sunday: 229.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Christian education for young children, continues on Sunday, November 3, at 9:45 AM, in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. For more information, please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. If you know families with children that might be interested in a vibrant and effective church-school curriculum, please tell them about the Catechesis and invite them to Saint Mary’s . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on November 6 at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, is reading the Acts of the Apostles this year. All are welcome. No prior experience is necessary. On Wednesday, the class will begin its discussion at Acts 5:21b, the meeting of the council of elders and Gamaliel’s speech . . . In the Adult Forum, November 3, 10, and 17, The Book of Exodus, led by Father Pete Powell.


TALKING TURKEY . . . Mother Yamily Bass-Choate, vicar, Church of San Andres, Yonkers, is a good friend of Saint Mary’s. Her husband, Father Horace Choate, served here at the parish in the early 2000s. Mother Bass-Choate and the people of San Andres are once again looking for donations for their Food Pantry’s Thanksgiving project: their goal is to provide a Thanksgiving turkey dinner to all the families served by the pantry. A contribution of $20.00 buys a turkey for one family. We are happy to receive donations for this project. We will then send a check on to San Andres. Contributions can also be sent directly: San Andres Episcopal Church, 22 Post Street, Yonkers, NY 10705. Checks should be paid to the order of San Andres Episcopal Church.


MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . At the Solemn Mass on All Saints’ Day: William Byrd (c. 1540 –1623) was one of the most celebrated composers of the English Renaissance. His entire life was marked by contradictions, and as a true Renaissance man, he cannot be easily categorized. He lived well into the seventeenth century without writing music in the new Baroque fashion, but his superbly constructed keyboard works marked the beginning of the Baroque period in England. He was organist of the Chapel Royal at Windsor for a number of years, receiving a warrant for the exclusive rights for music publication from Elizabeth I. His elegant mass settings for three, four, and five voices are staples of the sacred repertoire, and it is the Mass for Five Voices that we hear today along with the minor propers from his Gradualia (1607). It should be remembered that much of this music came to be in the troubled political and religious atmosphere that was Elizabethan England, and while accommodating the demands of Court, Byrd maintained a staunch Catholic faith, writing much of his sacred work to be performed at the clandestine celebrations that were held in basement chapels and closet chambers of English noblemen.  At the ministration of Holy Communion we will hear the motet, Audivi vocem, by another great English composer, Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585) . . . The Mass setting on Sunday morning is the Edinburgh Mass, a relatively new composition from the pen of Gabriel Jackson. Born in Bermuda in 1962, Jackson was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, where he acquired a great affinity for music for unaccompanied voices in a reverberant setting. Alan Wicks, then director of music at Canterbury, championed new music, and encouraged Jackson to re-interpret the characteristic forms of both late-medieval and Renaissance music. Further study with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music gave Jackson a flexible technique and immersed him in the mainstream of European modernist composition. Stravinsky was also an exemplar, but Jackson was drawn to the simplicity of Tavener and Gorecki, two giants of the minimalist movement. Unlike the work of those composers, Jackson’s work is warm, often modal, and echoes English music of both the present and distant past. Superseding all other factors, however, is the context that supports his work, the context of worship. The Edinburgh Mass was written in 2001, and is his only Mass to date. It was first heard in New York in 2011, but has quickly gained an appreciative following. We are fortunate to be able to present it in an acoustical setting like that which inspired the work. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we will hear the motet, Beati quorum via by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924), from his set of three motets. Mark Peterson


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 . . . If you would like to make a cash donation to AIDS Action International, whose pre-Christmas event will take place at the Church of Saint Michael on Amsterdam Avenue in mid-November, please speak to Father Smith.


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Monday, November 18, 6:30 PM, The Seabury Auditorium at the General Theological Seminary, 440 West 21st Street, Kate Cooper in conversation with Deirdre Good about Prof. Cooper’s book, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women. Prof. Cooper is professor of ancient history at the University of Manchester. Prof. Good is professor of New Testament and academic dean at the General Theological Seminary . . . 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.