Sunday, August 15, 2004

St. Mary's, Times Square

This was my last Sunday before vacation ends. Since today is the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it seemed an excellent opportunity for Demi and I to worship with the people of St. Mary the Virgin in New York. This parish is also known by some as "Smoky Mary's," a nickname well-deserved due to their liberal use of incense. In my opinion, St. Mary's offers the best Anglo-Catholic liturgy on the East Coast. Today was no exception.

As it is an Anglo-Catholic parish, Saint Mary's refers to the feast by its more usual title, "The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Since this year the feast day happened to fall on a Sunday, the Solemn High Mass began with a procession through Times Square. The expressions of those crowding Broadway to buy tickets to the shows were a mixture of smiles, jaws dropped in confusion, and only a few frowns as they waited for 500 crazy Episcopalians to get out of their way.

The liturgy was beautiful, and yes, I must admit, did result in a "spiritual experience." But that experience was intended to be a fringe benefit, I am sure. The focus of the entire liturgy (with the exception of the announcements made at the beginning and the end) was an offering of praise and thanksgivings to God.

I wish celebrants of a Solemn High would realize that when they try to get "folksy" during announcements, it makes the liturgy come off as less sincere; as if we are "playing church." If one MUST make announcements (which is questionable, especially when most are included in the bulletin and we can assume most of our members can read), it is possible to do so in a more formal manner, much more in keeping with the tone of the occasion, it would seem to me. A minor point, I suppose. A few other similar minor points, having to do with liturgical changes made since my last visit in 1990, I'll not mention. Change is inevitable, but does that mean I have to like it?

A friend of mine, with whom I was ordained to the diaconate in 1989, happened to be there. The Church seems so small sometimes. Everywhere I go, I seem to bump into someone I know, even when traveling incognito! It was good to see J. We made plans to get together for dinner soon.

Demi and I visited the site of the 9/11 disaster. I commend to you Demi's thoughts on our visit. She once worked there, so it was more traumatic for her to see the site for the first time since the attack. We walked around all four sides, mostly in silence, and then headed home. Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord.


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