The Angelus

Volume 17, Number 5

FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

My brother called a little less than twenty minutes before the 5:00 PM service on Christmas Eve. He was calling to tell me that our father had just died. My father had had pneumonia and had been in the hospital for the last couple of weeks, much of that time in the intensive care unit. He was eighty-two years old, born in 1932 on what, twelve years later, would become D-Day, June 6. Ralph and I only talked for a few minutes. It occurred to me that if I didn't share the news right away, I would be able to preside and preach at the Mass-and that's what I did.

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Volume 17, Number 4

FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTMAS WELCOME AND WITNESS

On Monday, December 1, I went up to the Yale Institute of Sacred Music to hear the Reverend Dr. Paul Bradshaw, professor emeritus of liturgical studies, University of Notre Dame, give a lecture. His topic was, “The Changing Face of Early Christian Worship.” He cautioned us that when it came to questions of early Christian worship, we probably need to think—if my notes are correct—about “probabilities” instead of “certainties.” That said, two probabilities seem to be very strong: (1) early Christian communities gathered for food and fellowship in the Lord’s name, and (2) it was expected that all present would be fed real food, food that sustained the body, not just the soul. It was out of this fellowship of food and also genuine care for the poor among the believers that what we come to know as Eucharist emerges.

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Volume 17, Number 3

FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT MEANINGS

Liturgical color, along with flowers and other outward and visible signs, began to return to worship in the Anglican Communion in the wake of the Oxford Movement. Color has become a visual guide to the calendar of the church year for most Christians. As these signs returned, the question of color arose. No one particular color scheme has ever been prescribed. History presents a wide variety of practices. That said, for the most part Anglicans have generally come to use the color schemes most other Christian denominations use.

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Volume 17, Number 2

FROM THE RECTOR: OPENING THE DOOR

“Upon a clear, cold and windy afternoon of November 1867,” two men, Henry Kingsland Leonard and the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, after conversations with each other and the bishop of New York, found vacant lots on West Forty-fifth Street, owned by John Jacob Astor, Jr. Upon learning they were to be used for a new parish for Longacre Square, Astor gave the land to the new parish with the following stipulation, “that the Church should be free [that is, would charge no pew rents], and positively orthodox in management and working” (Newbury Frost Read, The Story of St. Mary’s [1931] 16–17).

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Volume 17, Number 1

FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT ORIGINS

I never thought much about the shape of the Advent season until I read a footnote in a short book by the late New Testament scholar Raymond Brown (1928–1998). Concerning the “end of time” focus (church term: eschatology) of Advent readings he wrote, “We should conclude the eschatological emphasis with Christ the King and prepare for Christmas by a different type of Sunday readings” (Christ in the Gospels of the Ordinary Sundays [1998] 36). I wondered for a number of years what Father Brown thought those different readings might be until I asked Jay Smith, who had been Brown’s student, if he knew: Brown thought we should prepare to hear the Christmas stories (Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 2:1–14) by reading what Matthew and Luke wrote at the beginning of their narratives to introduce them.

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Volume 16, Number 52

FROM THE RECTOR: SISTERS AND BROTHERS

Sunday we will welcome the Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, XII Bishop of Rhode Island, as celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass. It’s the last Sunday of the church year, usually called the Feast of Christ the King. I look forward very much to this Sunday every year. There’s always a great gospel lesson. The last hymn at this Mass is “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending.” It is probably the greatest hymn moment of the year at Saint Mary’s.

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Volume 16, Number 51

FROM FATHER SMITH: “GOD IS NOT OUR SERVANT”

On June 12, Naftali Fraenkel, a sixteen-year-old yeshiva student, was kidnapped, along with two friends, while hitchhiking on a road in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The three teenagers were later murdered by their abductors. Their bodies were found on June 30 in a field near Hebron. On July 2, just hours after the three Israeli teenagers were buried, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy

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Volume 16, Number 50

FROM THE RECTOR: MONEY

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times ran a story headlined, “No Smoke, No Mirrors: The Dutch Pension Plan.” It caught my attention. After reading it I hoped there would be some letters to the editor about the pension situation in our own country. I haven’t seen any yet. I can’t help but think that this is a subject the Times’s editorial board chose to ignore. This short paragraph gets to the heart of the matter:

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Volume 16, Number 49

FROM THE RECTOR: ALL SOULS 2014

The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, commonly called All Souls’ Day, will be celebrated in the Episcopal Church this year on Monday, November 3. Christians have been celebrating the Eucharist at the time of burials and on anniversaries of the departed since the middle of the second century—and probably earlier than that. There will be a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM, at which I will preach, and Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM, at which the Reverend Dr. Mitties McD. DeChamplain will preach. It will be an honor for us to welcome her again to Saint Mary’s pulpit.

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Volume 16, Number 48

FROM FATHER SMITH: THE BOOK OF LIFE

The members of the noonday congregation have heard me talk more than once about the four barbers who work in the shop on Forty-sixth Street, across the street from the church. Eleazar, Sergei, and Raphael were all born in the former Soviet Union and emigrated to the United States after 1989. Ray is the youngest of the four.

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Volume 16, Number 47

FROM THE RECTOR: REDEEMING A WORD

The First Book of the Kings begins with an aged King David. Because he is old, a young maiden is chosen to sleep with him to keep him warm. The text says, “The maiden was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and ministered to him; but the king knew her not” (1 Kings 1:4). The Second Book of the Kings concludes with the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin, in exile with his people in Babylon. At the Daily Office, as the readings near the end of this history, the readings turn also to the great prophet of that era, Jeremiah.

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Volume 16, Number 46

FROM THE RECTOR: VICTORS, NO LONGER VICTIMS

Next year the Armenian Apostolic Church, for the first time in six hundred years, will recognize a new group of saints, the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide during World War I. Some of these are known by name, but more are not. The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire began on April 24, 1915, while the Ottomans were fighting alongside the empires of Austro-Hungary and Germany. By the time the Republic of Turkey was established after the war, it is probable that one-and-a-half million Armenians had been killed, a countless number of those for their faith. When it was over, the Armenian community had essentially ceased to exist.

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Volume 16, Number 45

FROM THE RECTOR: ECHOES OF DEDICATION

On the first Sunday in October the parish community returns to the regular Sunday service schedule. Morning Prayer is sung, not said. The parish choir sings at the Solemn Mass. Solemn Evensong & Benediction is offered in place of said Evening Prayer. Our regular Christian Education programs on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening begin again. It’s a great tradition that we have, and I’m so very glad to be a part of it. It’s always a great Sunday. Many will remember that until recently, this Sunday was also observed as the parish’s “Feast of Dedication”—but it wasn’t always so.

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Volume 16, Number 44

FROM THE RECTOR: MICHAELMAS

I was in seminary when Peter Brown published The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (1981), but I didn’t read the book until 2011—and I’m sorry it didn’t come up on my radar, as it were, long before then. I think my understanding of how Christianity developed would be greater, and my prayer life would be different

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Volume 16, Number 43

FROM MARK PETERSON: TRANSCENDED

Every so often one gets the chance to witness something unique, something outside the expected norm. And occasionally that experience may serve to reinforce something you’ve always known somewhere deep within yourself. I had one of those experiences a week ago Monday evening when Saint Mary’s presented the first offering in its new Saint Cecilia Chamber Music Series, featuring Dr. Robert Cassidy

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Volume 16, Number 42

FROM THE RECTOR: HOLY CROSS DAY

As I write, the cross of Jesus is being carried literally in many places in this world by men, women and children because they confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. For a couple of hours I’ve tried to start to write about Holy Cross Day without starting with a reference to the torture, hunger, and homelessness too many Christians, many Muslims, and members of other faith communities are enduring from Islamic terrorists in Africa and the Middle East. I can’t do it, especially in the shadow of September 11, 2001. I keep waiting for news of the girls kidnapped and put into slavery by the Muslim terrorists in Nigeria. It remains to be seen how far and for how long this eruption of evil humanity will be allowed to continue.

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Volume 16, Number 41

FROM FATHER SMITH: THE CHANGES AND CHANCES OF THIS LIFE

I returned from a three-month sabbatical last Saturday. I came downstairs around 11:00 AM and entered the church through the Forty-sixth Street doors. I was greeted warmly by sexton Stefano Esposito and parishioner Dick Leitsch. We talked for several minutes, catching up on things. I told them about my time in Mexico. They told me what had been going on here at the parish. A lot can happen in three months.

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Volume 16, Number 40

FROM THE RECTOR: HARD BITS

The Prayer Book permits the lessons at Sunday and feast day Eucharists to be lengthened. This Sunday we will be adding one verse to the story of Jesus telling his disciples that he will suffer, be killed and on the third day rise, Matthew 16:21-27. This is the verse, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). This verse also appears in the same context in Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27. (For the record, the new lectionary includes this verse—if only so many of its other changes had been made with the same care!)

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Volume 16, Number 39

FROM THE RECTOR: SABBATICAL REFLECTIONS

Father Jay Smith returns from a much-deserved sabbatical this Saturday, August 30. I confess over the last week or so I have been keeping track of the number of days left until he returns. I had dinner with him once while he has been away. We chatted briefly at Sharon Singh’s funeral. But, I’ve left him alone—though he will find a very few notes from me when he returns. And he will tell you more about his time away. I can say it’s been a really rewarding time for him. If his experience was anything like mine in 2009, the time and study while away will continue to bear fruit for him and for our parish in the years ahead.

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Volume 16, Number 38

FROM THE RECTOR: CHARLES ARTHUR SCHAEFER, 1913–2014

Charles Arthur Schaefer died on Sunday morning, August 10, at Beth Israel Hospital. He was 101 years old. Born on March 19, 1913, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, he came to New York City in 1945 after serving in World War II. While studying for his master’s degree, he was among the students Columbia University housed near Saint Mary’s. Brought up in the Lutheran Church, he discovered this parish and never left. He is survived by Donn Russell, his partner of 62 years, family in Pennsylvania and, if I may, this parish community. At the time of his death Charles Arthur had been formally an active member of the parish longer than anyone else.

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