The Angelus

Volume 14, Number 5


The date of Jesus’ birth is lost to history, but the fact of his birth is not.  The reasons Jesus’ birth is celebrated on December 25 are also lost to history.  Rereading the critical survey of what we know about Christmas in Paul Bradshaw’s and Maxwell Johnson’s The Origins of Feast, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011) brought to mind Raymond Brown’s (1928-1998) comments on the New Testament’s understanding of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God in his book The Birth of the Messiah (2nd ed., 1993).  It’s not at all as straightforward as one might think.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 4


On Christmas Eve, there will be two services in the evening, Sung Mass at 5:00 PM and Procession & Solemn Mass at 11:00 PM.  On Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, and on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2012, the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on Sunday this year, but there will be only one service on each of those days.  On December 25, the service at 11:00 AM will be Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche.  On New Year’s Day, there will be Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 3


When Father Matthew Mead left Saint Mary’s to take up work in his new parish, I took over two jobs that I had not done before.  I update much of the web page and I have taken over what we call Saint Mary’s Lectionary Project.  The online lectionary is intended to make it easy for people to study the Sunday lessons and for readers at services to prepare to read.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 2


Saint Mary’s opened the doors of its first church on December 8, 1870.  Since then, December 8 has been one of the most important days of the year in our common life.  Our patronal celebration begins, as is our custom, on the eve, Wednesday, December 7, with Solemn Evensong at 6:00 PM.  A quartet from the choir will sing a setting by Orlando Gibbons at this service.  On Thursday, December 8, the principal Mass of the day will be at 6:00 PM.  James Kennerley will play a recital at 5:30 PM.  A reception follows the evening Mass.  It’s a day when many friends from the wider parish community are able to be with us.  The Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is always a great day here.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 1


I began reading the late Raymond Brown’s short books on the Sunday readings while I served in Baton Rouge.  In a footnote in the last book of the series, Brown made what he called a personal criticism of the readings appointed for Advent.  He thought the Church should “prepare for Christmas by a different type of Sunday readings” (Christ in the Gospels of the Ordinary Sundays: Essays on the Gospel Readings of the Ordinary Sundays in the Three-Year Liturgical Cycle [Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998], 38).

Read More

Volume 13, Number 52


On Wednesday, November 16, Mr. Viggo Rambusch, Rambusch Decorating Company, assisted our sextons Mario Martinez and Tony Santiago in removing the high altar tabernacle so that the lock could be sent out for repair.  I’m not sure the tabernacle has ever been removed from the altar since it was installed in April 1947 – thank you, Dick Leitsch for locating this information in the records of the board of trustees.  As we go to press, I am hopeful that the tabernacle may be back in service before Sunday.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 51


Growing up Southern Baptist, I was aware of money in church mostly through the collection.  I can’t remember when I first put money or even my own envelope in an offering plate.  Looking back, I can’t remember any sermon or teaching about money.  But for Baptists, the general expectation about Christian giving was the tithe –

Read More

Volume 13, Number 50


During the past year, a man who works in the neighborhood has joined us off and on for Morning Prayer.  He’s a young man, young to me, at least.  He’s in his late thirties, I suppose.  He’s not yet comfortable enough to sit with us in choir, but he comes right to the front of the church and sits in the first row.  This week, when we sang Morning Prayer on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, there he was, singing softly out there in the nave.  I suspect that plainsong is a bit mysterious to him, but he’s figuring it out, joining in, adding his voice and prayers to ours, praising God at the beginning of the day.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 49


Saint Mary’s is about worship.  Since the beginning the parish community has organized its common life according to the calendar of the Church year.  This active and particular commitment to the calendar of the Church distinguishes us, and a very few other congregations across the Episcopal Church,

Read More

Volume 13, Number 48

From the rector: AUTHORITY OF RITE

Louis Weil called my attention to a quotation in an article by the Jesuit scholar Robert F. Taft in the current issue of Worship (85, September 2011, 406), the liturgical journal published by the monks of Saint John’s Abbey (Roman Catholic), Collegeville, Minnesota.  Taft was writing about the distinction some liturgical theologians have made between what the church does in worship (theologia prima – primary theology)

Read More

Volume 13, Number 47

From the rector:

From the Rector: Prevent Us, O Lord

There have been four American Prayer Books, 1789, 1892, 1928 and 1979.  The 1928 Prayer Book famously removed a woman’s promise to obey from the marriage service.  But language that was obscure and even archaic largely survived in the 1928 Prayer Book.  Vouchsafe is the only word dictionary editors would call “obscure” that comes to mind which still finds a place in our current book.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 46

From the Rector: Preparing to Elect a Bishop

At the diocesan convention in November 2010, Bishop Sisk called for the election of a bishop coadjutor – a “bishop coadjutor” becomes the bishop of a diocese upon the retirement of his or her predecessor.  In our diocese, at a convention to elect any bishop, the delegates vote by order.  That is, the votes of the lay delegates and the votes of the clerical delegates are counted separately.  For there to be an election, a person must receive a majority of votes in both orders on the same ballot.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 45

From the Rector: Consent and Marriage

Kenneth Stevenson was a parish priest and then bishop in the Church of England.  He was also one of the leading liturgical scholars of his generation.  Among his many important writings were Eucharist and Offering (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1986) and To Join Together: The Rites of Marriage. Studies in the Reformed Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume V (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1987) –

Read More

Volume 13, Number 44

From Father Smith: What Is New and What Is Old

“Jesus said, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old’” (Mt 13:51)

Read More

Volume 13, Number 43

From Sister Laura Katharine: Silence – A Problem or a Gift?

In many languages including Latin, Greek and Hebrew, there are two different words for silence. The first word points to the absence of sound or noise.  “To experience quietness” captures the meaning of this first word.  The second word points to something more active, to a more deliberate intention.  It suggests actually keeping silent by deliberately refraining from speech.  In some sense it simply means not talking!  There are many impediments to both kinds of silence today.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 42

From the Rector: September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011, will be observed at Saint Mary’s according to the calendar of the Church.  It is “The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.”  The victims of the attack on our country on this day in 2001 will be remembered in our prayers.  We will pray for our nation and ourselves.  The final hymn at the Solemn Mass will be A mighty fortress is our God.  We will look forward.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 41


Many years ago I drove with two friends from Berkeley, California, to New York City.  On the first day of the trip we drove through Nevada and had just entered the State of Utah, when we decided to stop for the night.  We camped out in the Bonneville Salt Flats State Park.  It was late and the sun had already set. 

Read More

Volume 13, Number 40


Sofia Cavalletti died on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.  She had celebrated the ninety-fourth anniversary of her birth on Sunday, August 21.  Along with her collaborator, the late Gianna Gobbi, she founded the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  Her life and work will continue to shape the lives of Christian children and adults for many generations to come.

Read More

Volume 13, Number 39


In the sacristy before last Sunday’s Solemn Mass, I encouraged the clergy and the acolytes not to be afraid of spilling water when the font was filled for the celebration of Holy Baptism.  Some words from the late French Dominican theologian Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990), that I had learned from his student Louis Weil, came to mind.  I’m sure I didn’t quote Father Weil or Father Chenu as carefully as I should have.  Here is what Father Weil has written:

Read More

Volume 13, Number 38


Solemn Mass on weeknights began at Saint Mary’s with the institution of the Reverend Donald Lathrop Garfield as rector on Monday, February 1, 1965, the Eve of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.  I’m sure it provoked a great deal of comment here and elsewhere.  Before this, no Masses had been celebrated in the evening since the beginning of the tenure of the Reverend Granville Mercer Williams, SSJE, in 1930.  But things were changing in the 1960s, as they always do.

Read More