The Angelus

Volume 15, Number 5

FROM THE RECTOR: HAPPY CHRISTMASTIDE

At one point during the Solemn Mass on Christmas Eve, I leaned over and said to Bishop Frank Griswold, “My inner Benedictine is worried that tonight is almost too beautiful.” And it was—almost too beautiful. It was a very happy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the parish. Many, many people make special gifts of time, treasure and talent to make it so special.

Read More

Volume 15, Number 4

FROM THE RECTOR: ANOTHER MIDWINTER

This past week has been a terrible one for the families of those murdered in Newtown, Connecticut—and for their wider communities. Every day now there are burials, and as I write, there are more to come. Our political and media establishments are consumed with discussions of gun control, violence in media, and mental healthcare. Some have raised questions about the nature and quality of family life. Religion is very much on a backburner in this dialogue. But, I can’t help wondering what our faith tells us about all this.

Read More

Volume 15, Number 3

FROM FATHER SMITH: REJOICE!

This week I received a Christmas card from a teacher of mine who is an Episcopal priest. Among his kind good wishes there was this sentence, “I hope you will manage the rigors of the season.” I was struck by that word “rigor.” I heard the voice of experience in his use of the word. Rigor: “a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable,”

Read More

Volume 15, Number 2

FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT SPEAKS

As I write on Thursday morning, December 6, I am an uncle again—my brother Ralph and his wife Ulrika’s third child was born yesterday. Sydney Lucia Gerth and her mother are fine. Ralph and Ulrika have been preparing for the birth of their daughter, of course. All went well during the last nine months. But families don’t celebrate the births of children early. Not a lot is easy about childbirth, even with modern medicine—and nothing is certain. Now, the celebrations can start. The baby has been born. I’ve been happy and thankful for months; now I can be happy and thankful in a new way.

Read More

Volume 15, Number 1

FROM THE RECTOR: WELCOME, BISHOP DIETSCHE!

The Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche will be with us on Friday evening, December 7, for the Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our patronal feast. As is our custom, the Solemn Mass will be at 6:00 PM. A reception will follow in Saint Joseph’s Hall. It will be the eve of the 142nd anniversary of the opening of the first church at 228 West 45th Street in 1870 and the 117th anniversary

Read More

Volume 14, Number 53

FROM THE RECTOR: OVERPLUS

I learned a new word today: overplus. I discovered it in a footnote in the 1928 Prayer Book. It’s a word that makes its first Prayer Book appearance in the English book of 1662. It continues in use in the American books of 1789, 1892 and 1928. “Overplus” means “surplus”—and I don’t think that I’ve ever come across it before. I found it in a rubric that tells us how to cope with the uneven number of Sundays that happen every year in what we now call the Season after Epiphany and the Season after Pentecost.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 52

FROM THE RECTOR: CHANGING CHANGE

One upside from having an inflamed rotator cuff diagnosed (this medical episode is just about over as I write) is finding time to catch up on my reading in waiting rooms—and the time to reflect on what I have read while walking home from the East Side where all my doctors seem to be.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 51

FROM FATHER SMITH: ANOTHER STORM & ANOTHER UPDATE

In last week’s edition of The Angelus, Father Gerth gave a report on the state of things here at the parish, in our neighborhood and city, and in the surrounding communities, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As the rector noted last week, New Yorkers and their neighbors and friends have had to assess how things are going on a day-to-day basis as the situation becomes clearer and more accurate information becomes available. E-mail,

Read More

Volume 14, Number 50

FROM THE RECTOR: WE ARE OPEN

As I write, lots of things are still on a day-by-day basis here in New York City in the wake of the hurricane. Devastation in low-lying areas continues to be revealed. Tragic stories of deaths are heard. A newswoman this morning remarked that the view south last night from her apartment in midtown reminded her of being in South Korea and looking north across the border: all dark, no lights at all.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 49

 FROM THE RECTOR: ESSENTIAL PURPOSE

I’ve been thinking about our parish’s observances of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and about questions like, “Why do we worship as we do?” Very few parishes now celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1—instead the celebration is transferred to the following Sunday. Even fewer parishes make much of the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, commonly called All Souls’ Day, on November 2. But here at Saint Mary’s we follow the ordinary calendar of the church year and these are important days in our common life. If parishes can have a spiritual patrimony, Prayer Book worship is ours.

Read More

olume 14, Number 48

FROM SISTER LAURA KATHARINE:

INTEGRITY, SELF-KNOWLEDGE & SELF-FORGETTING

The three traditional vows, poverty, chastity, and obedience, are one aspect of the religious life that has attracted a good deal of attention down through the centuries. There are many studies of the three vows already in print, so I thought it might be useful to speak about the religious life by discussing three other facets of that life, facets which are not unrelated to the traditional vows, but which are nevertheless quite distinct. My thinking about these things —

Read More

Volume 14, Number 47

FROM THE RECTOR: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

As I headed out to a routine medical appointment the other day, I grabbed a volume of writings by the late Edwin Friedman, The Myth of the Shiksa and Other Essays (2008). Ed died in 1996. He was a gifted thinker and teacher. He continues to be influential with congregational ministers and rabbis through his writing. He used to like to quip that he had worked in all three professions that are concerned with “saving” people: religion, government and therapy.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 46

FROM THE RECTOR: THE FALL IS HERE

Our summer break is over. In a sense, the summer ended for us last Wednesday night, October 3, when the Reverend Mary Julia Jett was ordained to the priesthood here by the bishop of Montana. James Kennerley played a recital before the service and the parish choir sang Guerrero and Morales during the ordination liturgy. A senior priest of the Church, the Reverend Canon John G.B. Andrew, preached.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 45

FROM THE RECTOR: THE ORDINATION OF A PRIEST

When Mary Jett was ordained deacon here in February, I thought Father Smith or I would be traveling to Montana for an ordination in the fall. Things change. In the spring, Mary completed the work for her master of divinity degree in two years—the only person I have ever known to do this. The bishop of Montana gave her permission to continue studying in New York for a third year. In May 2013 she will receive two degrees, master of divinity and master of sacred theology. Mary’s bishop, the Right Reverend C. Franklin Brookhart, Jr., has encouraged her studies, but has also insisted that she be in active pastoral ministry.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 44

FROM THE RECTOR: WHAT WE BELIEVE AND DO

The Episcopal Church’s webpage has just won an award for its new design. With respect, I don’t think the new design is entirely successful. I’m not sure what to make of the page’s black background and fuzzy photographs—not to mention why I would want to respond to the invitation, prominent in the middle of the page, to “Customize your stained glass.”

Read More

Volume 14, Number 43

FROM THE RECTOR: EVIL AND GOOD

This summer I’ve been reading Lawrence Powell’s The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (2012). It’s about New Orleans from the time of its founding, officially in 1718, until the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. It’s more than a good read. The city’s history is fascinating and far more complex than I had known. Its history was shaped by European colonization as it met Native America and by the force of geography. I had no idea that it was so hard for explorers to find the mouth of the Mississippi.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 42

FROM FATHER SMITH: OF TOMATOES, TIME, AND NEW BEGINNINGS

There is a short essay in this week’s New York magazine that caught my attention and brought a smile to my face. Its subject is the New Jersey beefsteak tomato. David Roth, the author of the essay, writes

Read More

Volume 14, Number 41

 FROM THE RECTOR: RELIGION IN OUR TIME

A while back, Father Pete Powell recommended a book in one of his sermons. The book was Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s study of American religious practices, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010). I ordered the book and I have been reading through it ever since Father Powell mentioned it. In 2012 a paperback edition with a new epilogue was published. Gypsy da Silva had an extra copy of the new edition and she gave it to me. Both volumes are on my reading table. I’ve already skipped ahead to the new epilogue in the 2012 edition to see what’s changed as I continue reading through the text and statistics of the first book.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 40

FROM THE RECTOR: MORE SUMMER AT SAINT MARY’S

Grieg Taber was rector of Saint Mary’s from 1939 to 1964. It was a great era for New York and for Saint Mary’s. Father Taber was a widely known preacher and confessor in the Episcopal Church. One can follow his work in the parish newsletter, AVE, that was published monthly during his tenure except for the summer issue. That issue covered July, August and September. In those days each of the priests—there were always three—took one month off. (It sounds like a lot, unless you know what their schedule for the rest of the year was like.) There were slightly fewer services in the summer months in those days, but no one would describe that schedule as “light.” It did reflect the reality of how people live in New York. I didn’t appreciate until I moved here in 1999 that summer really does begin in New York in late June and end in late September.

Read More

Volume 14, Number 39

FROM THE RECTOR: HISTORICITY

The General Convention in 2006 revised the “Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar in the Episcopal Church.” The first of ten “Principles of Revision” is “Historicity”:

Read More