The Angelus

Volume XII, Number 5

From The Rector: Merry Christmas

As I write on Wednesday morning, the first signs of Christmas are appearing at Saint Mary’s.  The smell of freshly cut greens is far stronger than the customary smells of candle wax and incense.  Our Sunday Advent vestment set is put away for another year; vestments for Christmas are now hanging in the sacristy.  Many members and friends of the parish are giving time and energy so that our celebrations can be the best that they can be.

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Volume XII, Number 4

From The Rector: Christmas at Saint Mary’s

At Saint Mary’s we guard the days of Advent so we might enjoy the whole season fully.  We do the same thing during the Christmas Season.  If you come by the church before Christmas Eve, you may catch musicians practicing Christmas music.  You may see the Flower Guild at work or dozens of candlesticks being polished.  But it won’t be until Christmas Eve that our celebrations begin.

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Volume XII, Number 3

From The Rector: A Way of Life

Sometimes it’s hard to explain that Saint Mary’s traditions of worship aren’t a matter of style; they reflect a commitment to a way of life.  This is not immediately apparent to all who join us for worship.  Although there is a special glory to our church building, we are just ordinary people.  We come together week by week to be fed with Christ’s Body so we can live out our lives as members of his Body. 

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Volume XII, Number 2

From The Rector: Vision of our Founders

On December 8, 1870, the doors of the first church opened, and on that day, the first service in the new church of the new midtown parish, then located on the other side of what was called Longacre Square, was held. A Guide to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin New York City (1999) notes that this first church, built “in a simple gothic style,” was unfinished as the parish’s work began. 

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Volume XII, Number 1

From The Rector: The New Church Year

The Christian year, in recent centuries, has begun four Sundays before Christmas Day.  To be honest, the more I learn about the Church calendar the less I seem to know.  It is an enormously complex subject.  For practical purposes, but admittedly not for scholarly ones, this is what we need to know.  This year Advent begins on Sunday, November 29.

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Volume XI, Number 52

From The Rector: Commitment to Christ

The Episcopal Church does not call the last Sunday of the Church year “Christ the King.”  In our Prayer Book it is simply “The Last Sunday after Pentecost.”  Yes, our prayers and lessons are about the kingship of Christ.  At Solemn Mass and at Evensong we will sing some of the greatest hymns on this theme.  I think our Episcopal Church’s particular decision merits wider and greater appreciation.

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Volume XI, Number 51

From The Rector: A Community of Prayer

Last month I attended the academic convocation at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.  The preacher for the evening service was one of the honorary degree recipients, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, dean of Canterbury Cathedral.  He remarked that at Canterbury he was part of a “community of prayer” that had existed for over 1400 years.  Almost immediately I began to subtract 1870, the year in which the doors of our first church were opened, from 2009.

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Volume XI, Number 50

From Father Smith: Stewardship Campaign 2010

Our 2010 Stewardship Campaign began two and a half weeks ago, on October 19, when the stewardship packets were mailed.  Commitment Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, November 22, is just over two weeks away.  This is perhaps an opportune moment to reflect on what we have achieved so far and what we still need to do.

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Volume XI, Number 49

From the Rector: Feast and Commemoration

This year, All Saints’ Day is Sunday, November 1, and All Souls’ Day is Monday, November 2.  All Saints’ is one of seven “principal feasts” of the Church year.  All Souls’ Day is an optional commemoration.  Each celebration has ancient roots in the Christian communities of the late Roman Empire and the early Byzantine Empire.  Layers of complexity about the meaning and context for each of these celebrations have entered Western Christianity as it evolved before and since the Reformation.

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Volume XI, Number 48

From the Music Director:  “Came for the music, stayed for the Mass”

Not long ago, I re-read the parish profile that Saint Mary’s published in 1998.  It occurred to me, and not for the first time, that many of our parishioners could identify with the phrase that appeared in that document, “came for the music, stayed for the Mass.”  As the ethereal In paradisum from Gabriel Fauré’s beloved Requiem came to a close at Mr. George Blackshire’s Requiem Mass just over a week ago, amid the fading echo of voices and a light haze of incense, I paused.  I thought to myself how very powerful music is in our parish.

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Volume XI, Number 47

From the Rector: Our Mission Today

The New York City Fire Department has been inspecting our buildings on and off since I’ve arrived.  Through this summer and fall we received a rather thorough going over, for which I am thankful.  We’ve been given thirty days to make two necessary and important repairs.  First, we need to clean out and install proper lighting in the church basement.  Second, we need to repair the fire escape in the parish house.

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Volume XI, Number 46

From the Rector: Eucharistic Consecration

When I started attending an Episcopal parish in college, I began learning about Eucharistic consecration, how the bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  There were lots of new words and phrases like “Real Presence” (good) and “Transubstantiation” (bad) to learn.  The word “consecration” itself was new –

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Volume XI, Number 45

From the Rector: Giving and Growth

Father Jay Smith and I were having coffee a couple weeks ago after Morning Prayer with parishioner and board of trustees member Robin Landis.  At some point in that conversation, Robin remarked that we should concentrate on work that led to increased “giving and growth.”

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Volume XI, Number 44

From the Rector:  Patterns of Prayer

Last week I had an email from a friend who asked about which prayers we use at Saint Mary’s for the Eucharistic Prayer and for the Prayers of the People.  Mostly we use what is called Eucharistic Prayer A.  Most of our Masses are Said Eucharists for which the congregation uses the Prayer Book.  We use Eucharistic Prayer A because it is in place and requires fewer page announcements.  Newcomers have less confusion.  And, it’s a good, solid prayer.

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Volume XI, Number 43

From Sister Laura Katharine:  Life at Saint Mary’s, Life in Times Square

The Community of Saint John Baptist is a religious order of women in the Episcopal Church.  Our convent is in Mendham, about thirty miles due west of New York City, in a quiet, not-quite-rural part of New Jersey.  Mendham is a town – officially a “borough” – of around 5,000 people that is very different from midtown Manhattan; but now, once again, the Community has an outpost in the city. 

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Volume XI, Number 42

From the Rector: Notes on Hearing Confessions

As you might imagine I have more than a few Prayer Books from my years as a member of the clergy.  Frankly, I can’t keep up with all of them.  When I want a Prayer Book, I want a Prayer Book.  You can find them all over the rectory where I live.  There are at least a half-dozen copies in my office too – so at a meeting all who are present can have one in her or his hands.

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Volume XI, Number 41

From the Rector:  Our New Episcopal Church Calendar

At the Reformation, the calendar of the English Church was greatly simplified for theological reasons.  The church year became basically about Sundays and New Testament commemorations.  Until recently Prayer Book revision happened very gradually.  We basically have inherited the work of the reformers.

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Volume XI, Number 40

From the Rector: Permissions

Yesterday I came across the two-sided sheet entitled “Some Notes for Mass Practice” that Louis Weil handed out to us seniors during our last semester in seminary.  The first “general remark” was this, “The celebrant presides.  He must be sensitive to everything going on in the area of celebration.  He coordinates all ministries.”  Well, this past Sunday was the second time in the last nine months that I have found myself leaving the altar area during Solemn Mass to deal with an urgent issue.

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From the Rector: Thinking about Bread

A copy of David Power’s book Sacrament: The Language of God’s Giving (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999) arrived in the mail this week.  He’s a Roman Catholic sacramental theologian, professor emeritus, Catholic University of America.  When I looked through the book for the first time, my eyes stopped on a section near the end entitled “Liturgical Practice.” 

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Volume XI, Number 38

From the Rector:  Godspeed, Father Mead

As many members of the parish community already know, the Church of the Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, New York, has called the Reverend Matthew Mead as their new rector.  His last Sunday with us will be Sunday, August 16.  He will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses.  Following the 11:00 AM Mass there will be a reception in honor of him, his wife Nicole Mead, and their two sons Liam and Nicholas.  We are going to miss them so very much.

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