It is a frequent complaint among Christians that the arrival of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent is quite abrupt and often catches us off guard, at least spiritually. Suddenly, without much warning liturgically, we are plunged into purple, the statues are veiled, the tone of our worship becomes penitential, all the traditions of Lent are upon us, and we’ve had no time really to think about our Lenten Discipline and to prepare for this important season. This used to not be the case. In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and in the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic calendar, there was a short pre-Lenten season of three Sundays. It was called, colloquially, “the gesimas” because in Latin the names of these three Sundays all ended with “-gesima,” i.e., Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, respectively. Roman Catholics who follow traditional calendar of The Extraordinary Form and some Anglo-Catholics, especially in England, still observe the “gesimas,” and while we are not going to resurrect the “gesimas” at St. Paul’s, there is still considerable value in the idea behind it—a time of preparation to observe a holy and meaningful Lent. This Sunday, January 28, would be this first of these “gesima” Sundays (Septuagesima, in case you were wondering) and the beginning of this pre-Lenten season. We, of course, are celebrating our patronal feast, the Solemnity of the Conversation of St. Paul, but it is still time to begin thinking and praying about your Lenten Rule. If you are interested in learning more about the “gesimas” and the theology behind them, I commend to you the current issue of The Living Church, whose lead article is entitled “The Gospel of the Gesimas.” I would be happy to copy this article and make it available.
The ultimate purpose of a Lenten Rule or Lenten Discipline is to draw you closer to God. Your Rule can be “giving up something for Lent,” which is the traditional approach, but many people also find spiritual value in “taking on” something. Examples of this are attending Morning Prayer or a weekday mass, here at St. Paul’s or another church which is more convenient to your home or work; taking a Lenten Class (see below); or joining the Covenant of Prayer with Bishop Provenzano. There are an infinite variety of possibilities. There are two general principles in choosing a good Lenten Rule. First, it must be something which is meaningful to you and will benefit your spiritual life and relationship with God. Giving up something just for the sake of doing it has limited value spiritually. Your Lenten Rule, giving up or taking on, should cost you something; that is, it should require some effort on your part, some investment of mind, body, and spirit. Secondly, it should be something that you can actually manage. Every year since I have been a priest, people has come to me with a long list of things they want to include in their Lenten Rule, and while the intention and desire is certainly commendable, setting yourself up for failure by trying to do too much serves no purpose and can actually be detrimental to your spiritual life. I generally recommend one or possibly two elements in a Lenten Rule. If having a Lenten Rule is new to you, or you would like some suggestions or advice, or just want to talk through your ideas, please feel free to speak to me.
See you on Sunday,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
ACOLYTE TRAINING (AND RETRAINING)
Saturday, 1/27, 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
All of the continuing acolytes and anyone interested in joining the Acolytes Guild and serving at the Altar should attend the Acolytes Training/Retraining workshop on Saturday morning, January 27. All parents are invited and encouraged to attend as well. A pizza party lunch will be provided. The Acolytes Guild is open to all baptized Christians, ages seven and up, who are willing to serve in a spirit of mutually-supportive teamwork and decided devotion. Please contact Sheila Read if you are interested or have any questions.
ANNUAL MEETING—THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 28
Immediately after the 11:00 AM mass
The agenda includes the presentation of the 2018 budget and the election of a Junior Warden for a full two-year term and two vestry members to full three-year terms (download bios here). The list of the members in good standing who have seat, voice, and vote at the Annual Meeting is posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. The Agenda for the meeting will be printed on the back of the bulletin. Child care is provided until 1:30. Parents may bring their children in for Communion and then return them to the Sunday School room for the Annual Meeting.
RETURN YOUR PALMS
It’s that time of year again, time to return your palms so that they can be burned to produce the ashes for Ash Wednesday. Please place them in the basket on the back table in the church.
NEW HYMNS THIS SUNDAY
This Sunday we celebrate our patronal feast, the Conversion of St. Paul. Unfortunately for us (and for our patron!), our hymnal only provides one hymn for this feast: “We sing the glorious conquest,” found at #255. But there are many hymns which celebrate St. Paul, his dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus, and his subsequent work as missionary, evangelist, and theologian. We will sing two of these hymns this Sunday, both of which will be printed on a hymn insert in the bulletin.
“From Heaven’s height Christ spake to call,” our hymn at Communion,” is sung to the tune Agincourt (also called Deo Gracias). This is a tune we already know, just with a new text. The hymn (that is just the text) was written by St. Peter Damian, the 11th-century reforming monk and cardinal, whose thought and writings heavily influenced later theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas. It was written in Latin originally and then translated during the mid-19th century. The first verse reads:
From Heaven’s height Christ spake to call
The Gentile’s great apostle Paul,
Whose doctrine like the thunder, sounds
To the wide world’s remotest bounds.
“Forward in Faith” is an entirely new hymn for St. Paul’s. Both the tune and the hymn were written by James Arthur East, a long-time member of the Anglo-Catholic church St. Silas the Martyr in Kentish Town, London (hence the name of the hymn tune, Kentish Town). East, who lived to be 100 years old and died only in 2015, was an amateur organist and musician who worked for EMI for many years. He wrote this hymn for the inaugural mass of Forward in Faith UK in 1992. It has since become quite well known in England, especially in Anglo-Catholic circles, but far less so here in the US. I wanted to introduce this hymn on this Sunday in particular for two reasons. First, it mentions St. Paul specifically and asks him to pray for us—what more appropriate thing could there be for a church dedicated to St. Paul?! But, secondly, as the final hymn of the mass, the refrain, “pray that we go forward in faith,” works beautifully to lead us into our Annual Meeting. It is an eminently singable tune, as well as quite stirring, and I think you will enjoy it.
LENTEN CLASS BEGINNING FEBRUARY 18 (Lent I)
Anglican Identity and Spirituality
Father Wallace will be teaching a five-session class exploring Anglican identity and spirituality, which will meet in the Library each Sunday afternoon in Lent from 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM, beginning February 18 (Lent I) and running through March 18 (Lent V). Please let Father Wallace know if you are interested. Each session will be relatively self-contained, so you may attend any or all of them as your schedule permits. Taking a class makes a great Lenten Discipline (hint, hint).
2018 PLEDGE ENVELOPES
If you have not received your 2018 pledge envelopes or if you have any questions, please see either Doug Munson at Coffee Hour.
NOT-THE-SUPERBOWL-WEEKEND CONCERT: MUSIC OLD AND NEW
Sunday, February 4, 5:00 PM
St. Paul’s Carroll Street is proud to host the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists’ annual Not-the-Superbowl-Weekend Concert. The program includes an eclectic mix of music for organ, piano, voice, and Llanera harp, performed by members of the Brooklyn AGO and their friends. Enjoy pieces by Bach, Bédard, Goodwin, Martellacci, Morley, Sheppard, Stafford Smith, Vautor, and Walmisley. Tickets available at the door: $20 General Admission, $10 Students/Seniors. Proceeds are tax deductible and exclusively benefit the Brooklyn AGO’s Scholarship Competition Fund.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND NOTICES
- Saturday, January 27, 10:00 AM-12:30 PM: Acolyte Training/Retraining followed by a pizza party
- Sunday, January 28, 11:00 AM: Solemn High Mass, The Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul and our Patronal Feast, followed by the Annual Meeting
- Sunday, February 4, 5:00 PM AGO Concert (see announcement above for details
- Ash Wednesday, February 14; Ashes will be imposed at all three services.
- 7:30 AM, Low Mass
- 12:00 (noon), Low Mass
- 7:30 PM, Sung Mass
THIS COMING SUNDAY
The Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul (transferred) and our Patronal Feast
- Sunday School
- 9:45 AM: 6-12 year-olds
- 10:15 AM: 3-5 year olds
- Solemn High Mass: 11:00 AM
- Sunday's Appointed Readings
- First Reading: Acts 26:9-21
- Psalm 67
- Second Reading: Galatians 1:11-24
- Gospel: Matthew 10:16-22
- Entrance: “We sing the glorious conquest,” Munich, #255
- Communion: “From Heaven’s height Christ spake to call,” Agincourt-Deo gracias, hymn insert in bulletin
- Dismissal: “Forward in Faith,” Kentish Town, hymn insert in bulletin