FROM THE RECTOR: OPEN DOORS AND OTHER NEWS
We have selected a firm to restore the West 46th Street façade of the church. The draft contract was sent to our attorneys for review on Tuesday of this week. I hope that very soon I will be able to announce the contract has been approved and signed. We expect work to begin in the spring, as soon as the weather permits. We expect the work on the façade to be completed this year. I’m very excited.
FROM THE RECTOR: WORDS AND GESTURES
The ancient posture for prayer is to stand with hands raised. It’s called “orans,” a Latin word that means “praying.” It’s been a long time since Christian congregations prayed in this way. But orans has continued to be used in the West by those who preside at worship. It’s the way the Hebrew people prayed in Jesus’ time. Christian art shows us that early Christian communities prayed this way. I don’t think that means that everyone needs to pray that way today. But I do think it’s important to appreciate what the posture represents—and why it drives me crazy when I see bishops and priests who faithfully use this gesture when reading the prayers of the presider, but fail to do so when the people join in, for example, when both presider and people say or sing the Lord’s Prayer together. (Dare I mention that bishops and priests sometimes ask congregations to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer?)
FROM THE RECTOR: MORE BIBLE
Father Matthew Mead, now rector of the Parish of Christ and the Redeemer, Pelham, when he served here from 2004 until 2009, shared my conviction that we should not omit any of the New Testament at the Daily Office. He gets credit for starting, and really completing, what we call the "Saint Mary's Lectionary Project." There are lessons in easily legible 22-pt. Garamond for every service we celebrate. Over the years pronunciation guides have been added to the texts. Recently, I began to footnote any text that we've lengthened, explaining the reason for the lengthening. (The Prayer Book lectionaries permit the lengthening, but not the shortening, of texts "at discretion" [BCP 888, 934]).Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: THE LIGHT
This week we will celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. As is our custom when “Major Feasts of Our Lord” fall on Saturdays, the principal celebration will be Friday evening, February 1. Dr. Timothy Pyper, interim director of music, Church of the Holy Apostles, New York City, will play a recital at 5:30 PM. It will be great to have Tim back with us. He is a very fine musician and a great friend of the parish. The traditional liturgy for this feast, Blessing Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass, begins at 6:00 PM. A reception will follow in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Great music, great worship, and great fellowship.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: JANUARY TRANSITIONS
Just as Saint Mary’s is very special place for our congregation and the parish’s many friends, it is also a special place for our associated clergy and their families. If Saint Mary’s becomes one’s spiritual home, it is hard to leave and hard to say good-bye. Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins has lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for over a year now. When she first made this move, she and I hoped it would be a temporary one. Though she still hopes to return to the city, it is time to acknowledge this transition has taken place. Just as a bishop can’t be bishop of a diocese in which he or she is not resident, a rector can’t be rector of a parish where he or she doesn’t live, a deacon cannot be a deacon where he or she does not live. We’re going to miss her very much. I look forward to planning a time with her in the spring to celebrate her work here.Read More
FROM BR. DAMIEN JOSEPH SSF
”Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me”
(Matthew 25:40, The Message translation)
The people of Saint Mary’s have long recognized that, in the words of Frank Weston (1871–1924), Bishop of Zanzibar (1908–24), “You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slum.” Weston’s words came in the context of an address to a conference of the budding Anglo-Catholic movement. He rightly made the connection that Anglo-Catholic faith flowed naturally from the presence of Christ in the Sacrament to the presence of Christ in all people, especially those most needing our help. This parish continues in that tradition and commitment in opening our doors to all, and to striving in our corner of the world to clothe and care for those “overlooked and ignored” by providing clothing, hygiene items, and other services, free of charge to those who need them.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: THE EPIPHANY
The Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, falls on Sunday this year. It is one of the principal feasts of the church year. Our celebration begins with Evening Prayer and the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening and continues with the regular schedule of Sunday services. Monday, January 7, will be the beginning of the Epiphany Season. Lent begins on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
FROM THE RECTOR: THE OTHER CHRISTMAS STORY
There are two gospels that have stories of the annunciation and birth of Jesus. The birth story from Luke is read on Christmas Eve. The one from Matthew (1:18–25) is never read on a Sunday in the Christmas Season in the Episcopal Church. It’s only appointed for the Fourth Sunday of Advent in Year A of the three-year lectionary cycle. The Revised Common Lectionary adopted by the church in 2006 did not address this—one wonders if anyone even raised the issue. In 2012, the General Convention gave the bishop of the diocese authority to permit congregations to use the 1979 lectionary—and if memory serves, Bishop Mark Sisk gave us that permission before General Convention ended.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: MERRY CHRISTMAS
Christmas greens were delivered last Monday, and the Flower Guild has been hard at work ever since. After the greens were unpacked, to walk through Saint Joseph’s Hall was very much like walking through a kind of maze—I suspect it will be like that again once the flowers are delivered. A huge amount of work remains to be done. On December 23, morning and evening, it will be the Fourth Sunday of Advent, but by then signs of our celebration of Christ’s birth will be in view in some places in the church. I think I speak for many of the parish’s members and friends when I say that I am immensely grateful for the creativity, talent, and commitment of the members of the Flower Guild, and of those who help them at this time of year. The Guild’s work seems to be a labor of love, but the many hours spent are also a generous gift that helps us all to worship in a greater beauty of holiness at Christmas.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: DARKNESS AND LIGHT
Since our church is surrounded by very tall buildings, only a little sunlight ever shines through the windows. The transition to Standard Time in the fall is always an abrupt one. Although there’s a gradual transition to cooler weather, there’s no gradual transition to the darkness of winter. On the first Sunday of Standard Time, it’s just darker in the church for evening services—my reaction is always to think that some of the lights aren’t turned on.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: 2019 PARISH CALENDARS
The 2019 Parish Calendar will arrive this week. This is the second year we have published our own calendar. The 1979 Prayer Book’s “The Calendar of the Church Year” (pages 19–30) has undergone revision by every triennial meeting of the General Convention since it was adopted except in 1982. When the 2018 General Convention declined to authorize Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, the calendar adopted in 2006 remains the current standard.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: NEWS FOR A NEW YEAR
Number One: Three bids were received this past week for the restoration of the West 46th Street façade of the church. At last. I am hopeful that the board of trustees will be able to approve a contract at its December 10 meeting. The bylaws of the parish’s board are flexible about the dates and the frequency of meetings, with one exception: the board must meet within eight days of the patronal feast, December 8, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I hope there will be more good news for us before Christmas.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
When the 1979 Prayer Book was being prepared, the Standing Liturgical Commission made a deliberate choice to avoid the title “Christ the King” for the last Sunday of the church year. For us, it was simply “The Last Sunday after Pentecost.” There was a good reason for that. This commemoration was instituted by Pope Pius XI for the Roman Catholic Church on December 11, 1925, in his encyclical, known by its Latin title, Quas primas—the link will take you to the official English translation. Originally appointed to be celebrated on the last Sunday of October, in the 1969 reform of the Roman Catholic liturgy the commemoration was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: A GOD WHO SEEKS
As I write on Thursday afternoon, I recall the second lesson, which I read today at Morning Prayer. It was the lesson known by most of us as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11–32. I think it was in one of the training courses for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd that I heard it called the Parable of the Forgiving Father. This morning a phrase caught my attention as I was reading—I’m pretty sure for the first time.
FROM THE RECTOR: VETERANS DAY 2018
This Sunday is the centennial of the armistice that ended the fighting in Europe during World War I. As the twentieth century began, very few foresaw the many wars that would be fought in the decades to come—or that political revolutions would take far more lives than all of the wars that were fought.
FROM THE RECTOR: YEAR’S END APPROACHING
When I was in seminary, there was a table in the library where one could pick up books that had been donated to the library, but had not been added, for one reason or another, to the collection. Among the books I picked up in the fall of 1980—I wrote my name and the date in it—was Prayer Book Studies 19: The Church Year: The Calendar and the Proper of the Sundays and Other Holy Days Throughout the Church Year (1970). However, it would be many years before I had enough learned enough and gained enough experience to appreciate that book.
FROM DEACON REBECCA WEINER TOMPKINS: ORDINARY TIME
We have one more month of the season after Pentecost, Ordinary Time, the green season. When it began in spring, everything seemed to have sprung from the earth—greener than ever before. I was traveling between New York City and Nashville then, dealing with death but also life: the recent passing of my mother and the marriage of my daughter and, as usual for all of us at times, the trials of friends and loved ones, of sickness, sorrow, and struggles, those details of ordinary life that don’t always feel very ordinary.
FROM BROTHER DAMIEN JOSEPH, SSF: PEACE AND ALL GOOD
The Umbrian town of Assisi is, not surprisingly, Franciscan Central. Habited Franciscans swarm about like ants, and, as they pass one another, they often say, almost automatically, “Pace e bene!” It’s like the religious equivalent of Jeep owners nodding knowingly as they pass on the road: “It’s a friar thing, you wouldn’t understand.”Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: 2019 PARISH CALENDAR
Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., began work on the 2019 parish calendar in the early summer. She also gave me another set of lessons on how to use Adobe Photoshop, which meant that I can work with the templates she had prepared for each month. In the meantime, I prepared drafts of the monthly clergy calendar and the monthly calendar of all services for all of 2019. The templates and the schedules require accuracy, since many of us use the calendar to organize our everyday lives here at the parish. What continues to be challenging is thinking through why and when we are to commemorate what our Episcopal Church calls “the lesser feasts.”
FROM THE RECTOR: OCTOBER BEGINS
This is an unusual issue of The Angelus as it is being completed on Monday, October 8, 2018. Pastoral work is the priority of your parish priests. And it was pastoral work and our hosting of a special conference that has caused the delay in publishing our weekly newsletter. (This issue is dated October 7, and some of the information herein, including the music discussed in Dr. Hurd's note, concerns events already past. The next issue of the newsletter, we hope, will be published on Friday, October 12, as usual).Read More