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
FROM BROTHER DAMIEN JOSEPH, SSF: Blessed Francistide!
The Brothers of the Society of Saint Francis are thrilled to be joining the Saint Mary's community. We are joining you at a significant time of the year for Franciscans. The term "Francistide," is used loosely to describe the period surrounding the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Properly, Francistide only refers to the time from the feast until the following Sunday. It is a time of important reflection and celebration for us as Franciscan brothers.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: PATRIMONY
Over the time I have served at Saint Mary's, I have learned more than I ever imagined I would need to learn about the maintenance and conservation of our building and its furnishings. Because of the age of our building and its landmark status, more and more work will need to be done by skilled artisans under the direction of architects and engineers who have experience with buildings like ours. Fortunately, we are in a great city where people with such training and experience are to be found.Read More
FROM FATHER SMITH: LIFELONG LEARNING
When I was growing up I sometimes heard certain folks described as "eternal students." The epithet was never meant as a compliment. I was never sure why. After all, what's wrong with curiosity or a desire to learn? These days the catch phrase, at least in some educational circles, is "lifelong learning." I like that one better. At the risk of sounding Rumsfeldian, I would argue that we don't always know what we don't know. But when we figure that out--at 25, or 35, or 85--we are sometimes still eager to fill in the gaps. We decide to do something about what we don't know. We decide to study, and there's nothing wrong with that.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: 9/11 AND 9/14
As in the year 2001, this year September 11 is a Tuesday and September 14, Holy Cross Day, is a Friday. On Tuesday the 12:10 PM Mass will be offered as a requiem for those who were killed in the terrorist attacks that day. On Holy Cross Day, a "Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ," in addition to the Daily 12:10 Eucharist there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. (Friday abstinence is not observed on "Feasts of Our Lord Jesus Christ.") For those who are new to Saint Mary's, our "Evening Sung Masses" start at 6:00 PM and finish before 7:00 PM. There's some music, and incense is offered; but it's a Sung Mass, not a Solemn Mass-less chanting, less ceremony. And it seems right for the day.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: THREE THINGS FROM 2010
It was Easter Day 2010 when I walked into Saint Joseph's Hall before Evensong, and parishioner Hardy Geer met me holding a few small pieces of limestone in his hands. I would soon learn that those pieces had chipped away from the façade of the church when the iron clamps that held the stones to the building had rusted and begun to degrade. We acted quickly to erect a sidewalk shed that would cover the entire façade on the Forty-sixth Street side of the church.
FROM THE RECTOR: AUGUST ROUNDUP
This Sunday, August 26, will be the last Sunday when Sr. Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B., and Sr. Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., will be in residence. We had a wonderful celebration on Assumption with them and four of their sisters from the convent following the Solemn Mass. Those of us who know them will miss them greatly, but we respect the decision of their superior to close their branch house. That said, I hope very much that the sisters will be back from time to time to worship with us.Read More
FROM THE RECTOR: OMISSIONS
We are still in Year B of the three-year Eucharistic lectionary during which the gospel text appointed for Mass on Sundays is mostly taken from the Gospel of Mark. It must be said that Mark gets shortchanged a fair amount during Year B, but it could be worse. Here at Saint Mary's, we still use the lectionary found in editions of the Book of Common Prayer 1979 until sometime after 2006, when General Convention approved the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) for use in our church. In the BCP lectionary,Read More