FROM THE RECTOR: MARY’S ASSUMPTION
Peter Brown, the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University, is credited with recognizing the period of A.D. 250 to A.D. 800 in Western Europe as a unit: late antiquity. He is also recognized by Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson in their book, The Origins of Fasts, Feasts and Seasons (2011) for his book The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (1981) for demonstrating the importance of popular religion in the development of Christianity in late antiquity. Brown’s short curriculum vitae states: “His principal concern is the rise of Christianity and the transition from the ancient to the early medieval world.” In Bradshaw and Johnson’s Origins, the last two chapters are “The first martyrs and saints” and “Mary: devotion and feasts.” The book concludes with these words, “Again, as with devotion to the martyrs and saints, the building blocks of a later popular and liturgical Marian piety appear quite early” (page 214).
Brown begins The Cult of the Saints: “This book is about the joining of Heaven and Earth, and the role, in this joining, of dead human beings” (page 1). Brown gives his readers the Latin inscription on the grave of Martin, bishop of Tours, who died on November 8, 397, and its English translation: “Here lies Martin the bishop, of holy memory, whose soul is in the hand of God; but he is fully here, present and plain in miracles of every kind” (page 4).
In Genesis we read, “When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21–24). In the Second Book of the Kings the prophet Elijah walked with Elisha to the Jordan. Elijah knew that he would be taken up to heaven: “And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more” (2 Kings 2:11–12).
After Jesus’ ascension at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is mentioned one more time in Luke’s second book. She, Jesus’ siblings, and the apostles “devoted themselves to prayer” as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:6–14).
I really like New Testament scholar C. Kavin Rowe’s argument that we should understand Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary (Luke 2:43) as, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my YHWH (Yahweh) should come to me?” (“Luke and the Trinity: An Essay in Ecclesial Biblical Theology,” Scottish Journal of Theology 56 , 1–26). His article is a reminder both of how little we know of first-century Christianity and how much we in fact may know without realizing it.
Bradshaw and Johnson tell us that August 15 is usually regarded as the earliest Marian celebration, attested by the fifth-century Armenian lectionary in Jerusalem under the title “Mary Theotokos,” that is “Mary, God-bearer” (Origins, page 206–07). By the seventh century, a celebration of Mary’s assumption is being celebrated (Adolf Adam, The Liturgical Year , 215). Few among us whose mother has died does not want every day to be with her again? On Thursday, August 15, we will pray the words of the Prayer Book for the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever” (The Book of Common Prayer , 243.) —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Gary, Rita, Bryan, Dianna, Beulah, Cyrisse, Wendell, May, Willard, Alexandra, Karen, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Takeem, Carmen, Michael, and Nicholas; and Horace, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; James, bishop; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Patricia Downer . . . GRANT THEM PEACE: August 11: 1894: Maria Oliver; 1916 Clinton DeWitt Van Dyck; 1939: Mary Selena Arnold; 1955 Mildred Annette Bruce; 1963 Cecily O’Connor.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.
LITURGICAL NOTE . . . When it is possible, we commemorate people in the calendar of the Church on their date of death, that is, their heavenly birthday, the day on which a believer enters into eternal life. On Tuesday, August 13, we commemorate at the 12:10 Eucharist the lives and ministries of two British Christians, Jeremy Taylor, bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, who died in 1667, and Florence Nightingale, a nurse and social reformer, who died in 1910. —S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, August 9, The Centering Prayer Group will not meet this week. The Group will meet on Friday, August 16 . . . Sunday, August 11, The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Summer Worship Schedule: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evening Prayer 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, August 14, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Ministry to the Homeless: Grab and Go, 2:00–3:00 PM, Narthex . . . Thursday, August 15, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM . . . Friday, August 16, The Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Atrium in the Parish House, Second Floor.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Brother Thomas SSF returns to the parish on Saturday, August 10. He has been with the friars at San Damiano Friary in the Mission District of San Francisco . . . A Gentle Reminder: In order to prevent cash-flow problems, we ask all those who have made a financial pledge for 2019 to try to stay up to date with their pledge payments during the summer months. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the parish so generously . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for Sunday, August 18, and for many Sundays in September and October. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Chris Howatt in the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 148; Transfiguration 80.
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.
A MUSICAL GIFT . . . At 5:30 PM on Thursday, August 15, the feast of the Assumption, Eric Birk and Bernadette Hoke will play an unusual organ recital. Mr. Birk and Ms. Hoke specialize in duet repertoire for four hands at one piano, four hands (and two or four feet) at the organ, and duos for organ and piano. On Thursday, their program will include pieces by several modern composers, as well as Fugue in E minor, Op. 152, D. 952 by Franz Schubert (1797–1828). The genesis of the Fugue is an interesting one. Our recitalists write, “While visiting Baden, near Vienna, with his friend Franz Lachner, Schubert was invited by their host to visit a Cistercian monastery (Heiligenkreuz Abbey) nearby to hear the abbey’s famous organ, built by Ignaz Kober in 1804. It was suggested to both Lachner and Schubert that they compose something to perform there. Schubert’s and Lachner’s fugues were completed by midnight at the end of June 3, 1828, and performed in the presence of several monks the next day on June 4. While often published in albums for piano duet, Schubert’s E-minor fugue was conceived and first performed as an organ duet by Schubert and Lachner on the organ at Heiligenkreuz Abbey.” We hope that many members and friends of Saint Mary’s will arrive early on Thursday to hear what promises to be a fascinating recital.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The cantor on Sunday morning is tenor Christopher Howatt, parish office manager and member of the Choir of Saint Mary’s. During the ministration of Communion, he will sing The King’s Highway by David Hurd, organist and music director at Saint Mary’s. The text is a poem by Evelyn Atwater Cummins (1891–1971), which was set as a hymn in The Hymnal 1940 and retained in the current hymnal (1982). Dr. Hurd’s setting of Cummins’ poem, composed in 1975, is in the manner of a strophic art-song and has been sung by choirs as well as by vocal soloists in concerts and in worship. The music carries the hymn tune name Haynes in honor of the composer’s maternal grandmother, Mable V. Haynes (1896–1996).
Sunday’s organ voluntaries are two of the Eight Little Preludes and Fugues, a set of concise organ pieces traditionally attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). More recent scholarship suggests that they might have been composed by a Bach pupil, very likely Johann Tobias Krebs (1690–1762), or his son, Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713–1780). The uncertainty of the origin of these works notwithstanding, these well-known eight Preludes and Fugues have figured largely in the instruction of generations of organists and are very suitable as voluntaries in liturgical settings. BWV 555 in E minor, played for the Prelude, begins in a rather introspective mood. The fugue subject skillfully employs chromaticism. BWV 557 in the relative major key of G, played for the Postlude, is a more extroverted work. It begins grandly and then takes on the free spirit of the keyboard toccatas of its time. The fugue is stately and is a study in melodic suspensions. —David Hurd
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place on Wednesday, August 21, from 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—from 2:00 to 3:00 PM—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 if you would like to donate cash, clothing, or toiletry articles, or to volunteer for this important ministry . . . We continue to receive donations of canned goods and other nonperishable 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.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Saturday, August 24, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Monday, September 2, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. The parish offices are closed . . . Monday, September 9, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (transferred), Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, and Sung Mass 6:00 PM.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Metropolitan Museum, Fifth Avenue and Eighty-second Street, until October 6, 2019, Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). From the museum website, “To commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the Met presents the artist’s painting Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness (begun around 1483), a special loan from the Vatican Museums. The exquisitely rendered work represents Jerome (A.D. 347–420), a major saint and theologian of the Christian Church. The scene is based on the story of his later life, which he spent as a hermit in the desert, according to the thirteenth-century Golden Legend. The unfinished painting provides viewers with an extraordinary glimpse into Leonardo’s creative process.”