FROM THE RECTOR: NEW UNDERSTANDING
The title page of my copy of Prayer Book Studies 29: Introducing the Draft Proposed Book: A Study of the Significance of the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer for the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church (1976) has my signature and a date: 1977. It's by Charles P. Price (1920 --- 1999), a priest of the church, chairman of the Standing Liturgical Commission's Theological Committee, and professor of theology at the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Though trial rites were in use while I was in college, I'm not sure I paid very much attention to them. I was new to Episcopal Church preaching and worship --- --- and I liked it a lot. I had no idea how much a new Prayer Book would shape my life. I'm very thankful that it remains the Prayer Book of the church. But scholarship in some areas has moved on. Two examples: our acceptance of a fifty-day Easter Season and when we should baptize.
Dr. Price wrote, "The centrality of the resurrection to the Christian faith has dictated the restoration of the great season of Easter, lasting in the ancient Church for fifty days and reaching its completion and climax on the feast of Pentecost" (page 47).
Here's where we are today, as far as I know. The earliest evidence for a fifty-day Easter Season is from "towards the end of the second century" (Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson in their The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity , 70). They cite the work of Gerard Rouwhorst who concluded that we only have evidence for this in "North Africa, Egypt and Caesarea, and some communities in Asia Minor" (Ibid.).
Bradshaw and Johnson write, "The continuing observance of the 50 days is more widely attested in the fourth-century sources, but it may not have become quite as universal as is generally supposed" (page 72). The celebration of Jesus' ascension on the fortieth day emerged "toward the end of the fourth century . . . and became almost universal early in the fifth century" (Page 74). A ten-day Ascensiontide will emerge. Pentecost (Pentecostē, Greek for "fifty days") will become a feast, not a season.
In their chapter "Initiation at Easter," Bradshaw and Johnson review the question of preference for Easter baptisms (pages 75 --- 86). There are "only two firm witnesses to the existence of a preference for baptism at Easter rather than at other times of the year, prior to the fourth century" (page 79). They begin to sum up this chapter with these words, "In conclusion, therefore, it seems very probable that prior to the middle of the fourth century, preference for paschal baptism was merely a local custom of the Roman and North African churches, and even when it was more widely adopted at that time, there is clear evidence that in many parts of the ancient world other festivals in the liturgical year challenged the exclusive claims of the paschal season, to say nothing of signs of the continuing acceptance of the legitimacy of baptisms at any time of the year" (page 86).
Since reading Bradshaw and Johnson, I am happy to baptize when pastorally appropriate at almost any time of the year. I'm glad I know more about the diverse origins of our Easter Season. I do like praying over and over again the Eastertide texts: "But chiefly are we bound to praise you for the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (BCP, 379). —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Shay, Rich, Ruben, Gladys, Emil, Philippe, Grady, Barbara, Francis, Rita, Bryan, Dianna, Beulah, Donald, Cyrisse, Wendell, May, Willard, Alexandra, Kyle, Karen, Susan, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Michael, Takeem, Carmen, and Robert; for Horace, Rick, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Marie-Louise Hallak.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, June 2, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, June 5, Sung Mass 12:10 PM . . . Wednesday, June 5, 6:30 PM, Bible Study Class End-of-Year Dinner, Saint Benedict's Study . . . Thursday, June 6, 12:10 PM, Mass with Healing Service, Friday, June 7, Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Atrium in the Parish House, Second Floor.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Shayleigh Katherine Dickson and Richard Thomas Page are to be married at Saint Mary's on Saturday, June 1, at 1:30 PM. They have been worshipping with us this winter and spring. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Parishioner Imani Baptiste Green will graduate from Cathedral High School at a ceremony to be held at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. She will be attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in the fall. Please keep Imani, her grandmother Erica, and her grandmother Anne in your prayers . . . Former parishioner Chris Lee was at the noonday Mass on Wednesday. He has just finished his middler year at the General Theological Seminary. His field placement during the academic year 2018-2019 was at the Church of Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights. This summer he will be at Saint John's Hospital, Far Rockaway, Brooklyn, New York, doing clinical pastoral education (CPE), or chaplaincy training . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following dates: August 15 (Assumption), all of the Sundays in August, and September 1, 8, and 22 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 179, Ascension 158.
AIDS WALK TEAM . . . The Walk took place on Sunday, May 19. As of Thursday, May 30, 2019, the Team's fundraising total is third out of all the teams that walked two weeks ago. That ranking will almost surely change in the next couple of weeks, but it is likely that the Team will still be among the top ten teams, extremely good for a parish of our size. The Walk is over, but donations may be received until Thursday, June 6. Simply visit the Team website in order to make a donation. We are very grateful to the members of the Team and to its co-captains, MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell, who led, and encouraged, the Team so ably once again this year. Finally, we are grateful to all those who supported the Team so generously once again this year. -MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The Mass setting on Sunday morning is Missa Brevis by David Hurd, organist and music director at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Missa Brevis was composed for and first performed on Ascension Day 1991 while Dr. Hurd was director of music at All Saints Church, Manhattan. It is dedicated to the Reverend R. DeWitt Mallary, Jr., who was rector of All Saints Church at that time. The Kyrie, not sung on Sunday, is in Greek, and the remaining Mass parts are in Latin. The musical themes of each movement of this setting are derived from the rendering of the letters of Father Mallary's name as musical pitches. These pitches are intentionally arranged to achieve upward melodic gestures suggestive of Ascension. Each movement of the Mass is compact and rhythmically straightforward. The words are presented directly in angular melodic shapes and lean harmonic textures. The Mass is scored for four voices, although solo voices complement the choral parts in the Agnus Dei.
The motet sung during the ministration of Communion is by William Byrd (c. 1540 --- 1623). Byrd, like the slightly older Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 --- 1585), enjoyed the favor of Queen Elizabeth I and composed effectively for both the English and Latin rites of his time. His motet Non vos relinquam orphanos, often sung in English as I will not leave you comfortless, is a five-voice setting of a Magnificat antiphon for the first Vespers of Pentecost. It was published in the second book of his Gradualia (1607). The text source for this motet is John 14:18 and 16:22.
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) is widely regarded as one of the most original voices among the twentieth-century composers who wrote extensively for the organ. Born in Avignon, son of the poetess Cécile Sauvage, he was a student of Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas at the Paris Conservatory where he became professor of musical analysis, philosophy, and aesthetics in 1942. His legendary tenure as titular organist of Trinité, Paris, began in 1931. The brilliant light and vivid colors of this magnificent church proved a defining stimulus to Messiaen's musical imagination for sixty years. His deep Catholic faith is given distinctive voice in several religious-themed individual pieces and cycles of meditations. Messiaen's L'Ascension was originally composed in 1932-1933 as four meditations for orchestra and soon thereafter issued as an organ work. The second movement, a theme-and-variations descriptively titled "Serene Alleluias," is Sunday's organ prelude. When Messiaen transcribed L'Ascension for organ, he replaced its original orchestral third movement with the dramatic and powerful Transports de joie ("Outburst of Joy"), which is Sunday's organ postlude. —David Hurd
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class led by Father Jay Smith held its final session of the season on May 22. The class will gather for its annual end-of-year dinner on Wednesday, June 5. On Sunday, May 19, the Adult Forum also met for the final time this season. Classes will resume in October. We are very grateful to all the talented teachers who so generously gave of their time this year in order to make our adult-education program a great success: Brother Damien Joseph SSF, Brother Thomas SSF, Father Peter Powell, Zachary Roesemann, John Basil, Father Borja Villalonga, Mary Robison, and Father Matthew Jacobson.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place on Wednesday, June 19, 2:00 to 4:00 PM, in the Mission House basement. On those Wednesdays when a Drop-in Day does not take place, we continue to offer our Grab-and-Go days in the former Gift Shop off the church Narthex. On those days, basic, even emergency, items can normally be provided-socks, underwear, toiletry articles, and, in the winter months, cold-weather clothing. Please contact Brother Damien or Brother Thomas, if you would like to make a donation of cash, clothing, or toiletry articles, or to volunteer for this important ministry . . . We continue to receive donations of canned goods and other non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Donations may be placed in the basket next to the Ushers' Table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
COMING UP . . . Sunday, June 9, The Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday . . . Sunday, June 16, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 23, The Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi . . . Monday, June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist . . . Friday, June 28, Eve of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles . . . Sunday, June 30, The Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8), Summer Worship Schedule begins: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM; Said Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass with Organ, Cantor, and Congregational Mass Setting 11:00 AM; Evening Prayer 5:00 PM.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . We hope to receive donations to help pay for the holy-day receptions on Thursday, August 15 (Assumption) and Friday, November 1. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office. The total cost of each reception is around $500.00. We appreciate all donations in support of this important ministry. Any and all donations are always used to make up the deficit each year we normally experience in the hospitality budget. When making a donation, please make a note that it is for the Hospitality Ministry, and we thank you.
AT THE GALLERIES. . . At Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue at Eighty-sixth Street, Eclipse of the Sun: Art of the Weimar Republic, until September 2, 2019. From the gallery website, "This summer, Neue Galerie New York is pleased to present George Grosz's monumental 1926 canvas Eclipse of the Sun, which is on special loan from the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, New York. The painting is the centerpiece of "Eclipse of the Sun: Art of the Weimar Republic," a focused exhibition that includes additional paintings and drawings by Grosz, along with a selection of art by Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Otto Griebel, Christian Schad, Rudolf Schlichter, and Georg Scholz. Many of the works are drawn from the extended collections of the Neue Galerie, and together demonstrate the artistic output that coincided with a moment of extreme political unrest in Germany. Grosz and his peers portray the cacophony of the metropolis and the unrest that characterized the birth of the Weimar Republic. It was a period of tremendous political and social tumult and marked by a burst of creative energy in Germany. In the aftermath of World War I, many artists moved away from an Expressionist approach in favor of one marked by a more harsh and objective depiction of the world around them. This became known as the Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity movement. Grosz, in particular, used his vision to shine a spotlight on the rampant political corruption that marked this short-lived period of democratic governance. His scathing critique of the regime-he was a member of the Communist Party-made his life more difficult, and he ultimately chose emigration in order to ensure greater artistic freedom. Grosz came to the United States in 1932 and taught at the Art Students League of New York. In January 1933, he emigrated to America and became a naturalized citizen in 1938. He remained in the United States until 1959, when he returned to Berlin and died shortly thereafter."