The Angelus

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 16

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 16

FROM THE RECTOR: LENT WITH LUKE

In the Christian West, the First Sunday in Lent, by long tradition, belonged to the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Matthew. That changed, of course, when the three-year lectionary, originated by the Roman Catholic Church, was published in 1969. We now hear all three gospel accounts of the temptation, a different one each year. We are currently in the third year of the cycle—Year C—and last Sunday we heard Luke’s version of the temptation (4:1–13). I prefer Mark’s account: Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit, tempted by Satan, with the wild beasts, angels taking care of him, no dialogue (Mark 1:12–13).

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 15

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 15

FROM THE RECTOR: GO TO THE TABLE

On Ash Wednesday, during the 6:00 PM Solemn Mass at the high altar, I was on duty in the Mercy Chapel to impose ashes for those who came for ashes and a moment or more for prayer but not for Mass—a New York City phenomenon. More people enter Saint Mary’s and other churches in this city on Ash Wednesday than on any other day of the year. Ashes, for whatever reason, are big here. We respond to that pastoral reality.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 14

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 14

FROM THE RECTOR: WELCOME LENT

Easter Day is April 21 this year. Ash Wednesday is March 6. Largely secular Easter decorations are already for sale in stores. Our paschal candle has arrived. The Mass lessons for Ash Wednesday and the Sundays in Lent have been given a careful look and are posted on the parish website. A lot of preparation for Holy Week and Easter Day is already underway. That said, there are traditions that make Lent a relatively straightforward season for a parish like ours.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 13

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 13

FROM THE RECTOR: BURYING FATHERS

Some years ago now, while reviewing the Daily Office readings, I realized that the lectionary omitted the account of Abraham’s death, along with his second marriage, to Keturah, after the death of Sarah. It also omits the account of the arrangements he made for the sons of his concubines (Genesis 25:1–8). The greater surprise for me was the omission of the very next verse from the lectionary: “Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field which Abraham had purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife” (25:9–10). The only other time Isaac and Ishmael are mentioned together is when Sarah observes her young son Isaac and Ishmael playing together. She then demands that Abraham send Ishmael and his mother Hagar away. Abraham gives Hagar only “bread and a skin of water” (21:9–14). God intervenes to save the lives of Hagar and her son in the wilderness.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 12

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 12

FROM THE RECTOR: OPEN DOORS AND OTHER NEWS

We have selected a firm to restore the West 46th Street façade of the church. The draft contract was sent to our attorneys for review on Tuesday of this week. I hope that very soon I will be able to announce the contract has been approved and signed. We expect work to begin in the spring, as soon as the weather permits. We expect the work on the façade to be completed this year. I’m very excited.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 11

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 11

FROM THE RECTOR: WORDS AND GESTURES

The ancient posture for prayer is to stand with hands raised. It’s called “orans,” a Latin word that means “praying.” It’s been a long time since Christian congregations prayed in this way. But orans has continued to be used in the West by those who preside at worship. It’s the way the Hebrew people prayed in Jesus’ time. Christian art shows us that early Christian communities prayed this way. I don’t think that means that everyone needs to pray that way today. But I do think it’s important to appreciate what the posture represents—and why it drives me crazy when I see bishops and priests who faithfully use this gesture when reading the prayers of the presider, but fail to do so when the people join in, for example, when both presider and people say or sing the Lord’s Prayer together. (Dare I mention that bishops and priests sometimes ask congregations to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer?)

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 10

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 10

FROM THE RECTOR: MORE BIBLE

Father Matthew Mead, now rector of the Parish of Christ and the Redeemer, Pelham, when he served here from 2004 until 2009, shared my conviction that we should not omit any of the New Testament at the Daily Office. He gets credit for starting, and really completing, what we call the "Saint Mary's Lectionary Project." There are lessons in easily legible 22-pt. Garamond for every service we celebrate. Over the years pronunciation guides have been added to the texts. Recently, I began to footnote any text that we've lengthened, explaining the reason for the lengthening. (The Prayer Book lectionaries permit the lengthening, but not the shortening, of texts "at discretion" [BCP 888, 934]).

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 9

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 9

FROM THE RECTOR: THE LIGHT

This week we will celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. As is our custom when “Major Feasts of Our Lord” fall on Saturdays, the principal celebration will be Friday evening, February 1. Dr. Timothy Pyper, interim director of music, Church of the Holy Apostles, New York City, will play a recital at 5:30 PM. It will be great to have Tim back with us. He is a very fine musician and a great friend of the parish. The traditional liturgy for this feast, Blessing Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass, begins at 6:00 PM. A reception will follow in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Great music, great worship, and great fellowship.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 8

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 8

FROM THE RECTOR: JANUARY TRANSITIONS

Just as Saint Mary’s is very special place for our congregation and the parish’s many friends, it is also a special place for our associated clergy and their families. If Saint Mary’s becomes one’s spiritual home, it is hard to leave and hard to say good-bye. Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins has lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for over a year now. When she first made this move, she and I hoped it would be a temporary one. Though she still hopes to return to the city, it is time to acknowledge this transition has taken place. Just as a bishop can’t be bishop of a diocese in which he or she is not resident, a rector can’t be rector of a parish where he or she doesn’t live, a deacon cannot be a deacon where he or she does not live. We’re going to miss her very much. I look forward to planning a time with her in the spring to celebrate her work here.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 7

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 7

FROM BR. DAMIEN JOSEPH SSF

”Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me”

(Matthew 25:40, The Message translation)

 

The people of Saint Mary’s have long recognized that, in the words of Frank Weston (1871–1924), Bishop of Zanzibar (1908–24), “You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slum.” Weston’s words came in the context of an address to a conference of the budding Anglo-Catholic movement. He rightly made the connection that Anglo-Catholic faith flowed naturally from the presence of Christ in the Sacrament to the presence of Christ in all people, especially those most needing our help. This parish continues in that tradition and commitment in opening our doors to all, and to striving in our corner of the world to clothe and care for those “overlooked and ignored” by providing clothing, hygiene items, and other services, free of charge to those who need them.

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VOLUME 21, NUMBER 6

VOLUME 21, NUMBER 6

FROM THE RECTOR: THE EPIPHANY

The Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, falls on Sunday this year. It is one of the principal feasts of the church year. Our celebration begins with Evening Prayer and the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening and continues with the regular schedule of Sunday services. Monday, January 7, will be the beginning of the Epiphany Season. Lent begins on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

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