The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb / A XXI Century’s Perspective

April 14, 2017 Comments Off on The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb / A XXI Century’s Perspective

Artist: Cynthia Brome

As I look at the painting set before me to meditate on the Fourteenth Station, I think to myself: this is the quintessential XXI Century interpretation. We see no more the broken-bones body of Jesus, nor the rolled-in stone, we see not even the linen-cloth left behind when the angels announced, “he is not here.” We see instead the splendor of the Resurrection. The tomb emanates rays of light as glimpses of all that is to come because Christ has conquered death.

As XXI Century’s Christians we know that there is no more sorrow, no more pain. When I experienced my second conversion, I was surrounded by people who, when speaking of their own death, joyfully said: “I can’t wait: I will meet Jesus!” Hearing these words felt so right, so very perfect, and so very true because these words echoed what we profess Sunday after Sunday.

As XXI Century’s Christians we see and know of the triumph of the Resurrection over death, we know not the despair and agony of Golgotha; instead, we count our blessings, we know that Jesus’ promises are real, and we find comfort in knowing that Jesus is Lord of all. We are not left alone or dumbfounded at the garden like Mary Magdalene, nor are we oblivious to his walking on the road to Emmaus. We experience certainty when reflecting on what happened in the Upper Room, and we do not doubt of his appearance at the Sea of Galilee.

As XXI Century’s Christians, we are invited to re-visit the pain and the sorrow of Good Friday knowing that the grief, loss and bereavement are over at The Vigil. As XXI Century’s American Christians, we are afforded to envision a place of living light, where dawning prevails over a frightening night, and the stars with thousand galaxies are shining like the sun. As XXI Century’s American Christians we don’t have to be stuck in the images of mutilated bodies, dying children afar, and pestilent bodies abandoned in the night. As XXI Century’s American Christians we can still dream about an Easter filled with a bright sky and a cozy tomb that emanates rays of light. We do not have to descend to the inferno of genocide. In contrast, we delight on the glowing sky, where we rest with our dreams, meditations, and faith.

– Anahi Galante

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

April 13, 2017 Comments Off on The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

Artist: Doug Blanchard

I’ve been staring at a photocopy of the image of this station all through Lent as part of my daily meditation, knowing that I would be writing about it during Holy Week.  The thirteenth is a station that poses some challenges, not the least of which is that it comes more from Sacred Tradition than from Scripture.  When I went to Google looking for inspiration, I found that there were at least three names for the station:  “The body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother;” “Jesus is taken down from the cross;” and the compromise on one Roman Catholic website “The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of his mother.”  Of course, in Scripture, when the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross, it is given into the charge of Joseph of Arimathea, at his request, for burial in his own tomb.  There is no mention of the body being laid in Mary’s arms first, though it is easy to understand why Sacred Tradition would have that happen.

Every time I looked at this station, I noticed something different. I invite you to do the same.  Perhaps you’ll focus on the figure of Jesus, larger than any of the others in the painting, and rightfully so; or on the shadowy figure off to the right—just who is that? Or you may choose the person taking down the body; or the diminutive figure of the anguished Mary on the left.  You may choose to focus on one of the inanimate elements of the station: the cross itself, the rope, the nail, the linen cloth, or something I haven’t even mentioned.  You can then write or think your own meditation on this Maundy Thursday to prepare for Good Friday.

To get you started, I’ll tell you what happened when I focused on the figure of Mary. She looks so sad and vulnerable.  Here’s what I thought of first when I looked at her. She brought to my mind the weekly Stations of the Cross that I attended during Lent at the Roman Catholic elementary school I attended from second to fifth grade.  The ritual took place on Friday afternoons and included the singing of the Stabat Mater.  While I don’t really remember any of the verses that we heard from the choir as the Communion motet on Palm Sunday, I do remember the refrain in the version of the hymn that we students sang; it has stayed with me all these years:  At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.   Mary serves as a stand-in for all of us down the generations, weeping at the cross, helpless, despairing.  What we can’t overlook, however, is the hope of the Resurrection.  Just as Good Friday gives way to Easter, whenever we despair, we must not forget to hope.  That’s what our faith is all about.

– Julia Alberino

A View from the Sacristy: Remembering Luke

April 12, 2017 Comments Off on A View from the Sacristy: Remembering Luke

This Lent we have been looking at our patron saint, Luke, who is remembered as an evangelist, a painter, and a doctor. We have learned that the traditions of the church vary widely in relation to the hagiography of Luke. Was he really the author of the Gospel written in his name? Did he really paint the first Christian icons? For many Christians the answer is “yes” and it is really only in the last 100 years or so that these facts would even be challenged. The story told in Luke/Acts has formed centuries of Christian thought, theology, and the popular imagination and the style of Luke’s icons has set the standard for 1500 years of Christian art. What a gift Luke has been to the Church!

San Lucas Altarpiece, detail of central panel. Andrea Mantegna, 1453–1454, tempera on panel. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

On this Wednesday of Holy Week (known as “Spy Wednesday” since this is the day Judas agreed to betray Jesus) I want to look at how the Church remembers Luke.

As we have seen, the traditions of the Church are often contradictory. Most believe that Luke was born of Greek speaking parents in Antioch in Syria who were Gentiles; some believe that he was born of Hellenized Jews. Some believe that Luke was born a slave and that’s how he became know as a doctor since it was common for a Roman household to send an intelligent slave off to learn the healing arts so the house would always have a doctor on call.

October 18th is the Feast of Luke the Evangelist in both the Eastern and Western Church. We usually celebrate his feast day in our parish on the Sunday after October 18th and we call it “St Luke Sunday” as a combined service and a parish lunch. It is always a great festive day; a beautifully decorated church, wonderful music, and delicious food.

This day is Luke’s one feast day in the Western Church. In the Eastern Church Luke has a few more feast days. In the West we tend to think of Luke as a companion of Paul who came to the Christian faith through Paul’s teaching and encouragement. Paul mentions Luke by name three times: (i) Phil 1:24 “and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers”; (ii) 2 Tim 4:11 “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me”; and (iii) Col 4:14 “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you.”

In the Eastern Church, there are so many feast days because they have a different view of Luke and how he became a Christian. It is believed that Luke is one of the 70 Apostles sent out by the Lord in pairs as reported in Luke’s Gospel Chapter 10:1-12. The Orthodox Church remembers The Sending of the Seventy on January 4th. On April 22nd Luke is remembered with Apostles Nathaniel and Clement who were also part of the 70. So, instead of being led by Paul’s encouragement, in the Orthodox tradition Luke came to Christianity on his own and joined Paul as a companion to help spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. On June 20th, the Orthodox Church remembers the transfer of Luke’s relics from his tomb in Thebes to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople which we talked about last week.

Christ appears to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus. 6th Cent. Mosaic. Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna.

Personally, my favorite Orthodox tradition about Luke centers around the story told in his Gospel of the two disciples who journey to Emmaus on Easter eve. (Luke 24:13-49). This story is appointed for the Holy Eucharist on the evening of Easter Day and for the Third Sunday of Easter this year. One of the disciples is named Cleopas and the other disciple is un-named and tradition tells that this un-named disciple is Luke. Some say that this is obvious as, if the disciple were not Luke, the author of the Gospel would name him, but because of his great humility, Luke was reluctant to name himself.

As a final reflection, let’s look at this modern icon of Luke with scenes from his life. I bet you might be able to  recognize at least five of the scenes depicted here, since we have explored them this past Lent …

Modern Russian icon, 20th Cent.

Well, that’s it for another year. Tonight a bunch of Saint Luker’s are looking forward to The Office of Tenebrae at Saint Thomas Church, a rather monastic experience which seems to set the perfect tone to usher us in to the Triduum. I hope these walks with Luke have given us a greater appreciation for our Patron and our guide.

– Sean Scheller

Lenten Reflection: Searcher of the Heart

April 11, 2017 Comments Off on Lenten Reflection: Searcher of the Heart

As we near the end of Lent 2017, we offer you this sermon from Fr. William from Ash Wednesday 2016. How has our Lent been this year and where has it led us? Let’s carefully read this sermon in the light of preparing ourselves for the Triduum this week.

– Blog Editor


✠ In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It is a solemn day that invites and propels us into prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a time for us to reflect on our lives and to examine the things that get in our way of turning towards God. It is a time to look at how we can redirect and reorient ourselves away from our selfishness, from our self-centeredness and towards God as the center.

At the beginning of most services of Holy Eucharist, we pray the Collect for Purity: “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This beautiful prayer reminds us that God is the searcher of the heart. In it we ask that God would purify our hearts that we may love God and praise him perfectly. This is a summary of what Lent is all about. It is about being open to God, the searcher of our hearts, that we may, as Reinhold Neibur says, “have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” That is what purification is all about.

When something is purified, something is removed…something is taken away. During Lent, God calls us to examine what needs to be purified in our lives that we may be reconciled to God, as Paul commands us in our lesson from 2nd Corinthians. If we are to be reconciled to God, we must first confess our sins. Before we can confess our sins, we have to figure out what they are. Lent is a time for us to spend time doing the challenging work of genuine self-examination.

Self-examination is best achieved through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In prayer, we can be our truest selves to God, because from him, there are no secrets hidden. We don’t have to worry about the facades we put up for each other and we don’t have to worry about the walls we build up to protect ourselves from other people’s criticism and judgment. In prayer, we can just pray to God as we are and know that we are loved without condition.

Fasting and self-denial are not meant to harm us. They are meant to make us more keenly aware of what basic things we need, especially when we live in such a consumerist-centered world. Fasting reminds us that our daily bread is a gift from God – and is also reminds us of what the poorest among us endure daily. As the Gospel lesson reminds us, the intent of our fasting is everything. If we do it for show and to attempt to impress others with our piety and devotion, God is not honoured. If we fast and deny ourselves in order to become closer to God, then we honour him. People may see your piety, but if your intent is pure, then God is still honoured.

With intents oriented towards God and away from ourselves, we are then provoked to almsgiving. Giving of our time, our gifts, and our abundance to God’s service in this world reminds us that all we have is not ours, but is Gods. It keeps us from storing our treasures in places “where moth and rust consume.” If we give back to God of the goodness we have been given, we bless God as God has blessed us. This reinforces our knowledge that God’s love for us is everlasting.

And if our love for God is genuine, and the acknowledgement of our sins is thorough, then we will truly be contrite for the things that get in our way towards God. When we are truly sorry for the grievous things that get between us and God, we can only then be truly reconciled. It is also important to note that this is not something we could ever achieve on our own, but has been shown us in love of Jesus on the Cross. It is through Jesus that we are reconciled to God.

Today we will receive ashes as a sign of our mortality and of our sin, the things that keep us from loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind – and our neighbor as ourselves. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” These words are a reminder of what we all as humans fear most: death. Being a Christian is not an easy thing. But nothing easy is ever worth it. Anything that promises you something easy will always let you down. Lent teaches and reminds us that we do not live for ourselves alone, but for Jesus, who lives for us.

Lent is a time for us to draw nearer to God and to be reconciled to God and to each other. May our self-examination, self-denial, and our heartfelt desire to be God’s beloved children bring us closer to God, the searcher of hearts — that we may be purified in the fire of God’s love.

✠ In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

– The Rev. William Ogburn

Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

April 10, 2017 Comments Off on Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Artist: Thomas Wharton

Jesus, already-always-blossoming,
Jesus going
out into that darkness, Death.
Leaving us to a different
darkness, Absence.

He is going where his beloveds have gone and are going
He is going to where there is no home and is making one.
He is going ahead to
light the lamps and
open the windows and
make the beds and
lay the breakfast table
He’s going to open the garden
gate to hell, to dig in his trowel and
make it bloom children.

He is lonely.

He is leaving us home
to speak ill of him and of each other
He is leaving us home
to no home at all.

But before we betray him, he wants to feed us.

He is a rising moon of bread saying eat
and let me stay at home
in you even when
I go

We call out:
we would never leave you

He says:
That is not the point

– Elisabeth Watson

Composer Spotlight Palm Sunday: Josquin Desprez

April 7, 2017 Comments Off on Composer Spotlight Palm Sunday: Josquin Desprez

The choral music scheduled at St. Luke’s for the Palm Sunday (April 9th) will be:

  • Orlando Gibbons – Hosanna to the Son of David
  • Tomás Luis de Victoria – Pueri Hebraeorum
  • Plainsong – The Passion according to Matthew
  • G.P. da Palestrina – Improperium expectavit
  • Josquin Desprez – Sanctus de Passione
  • G.P. da Palestrina – Stabat Mater

– Blog Editor


 Orlando Gibbons was born at Oxford in 1583. As a young man, he sang in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, during his brother Edward’s tenure as Master of the Choristers. In 1605, he won for himself a place in the Chapel Royal choir, and by 1615 was sharing the duties of or-ganist there. In 1623, he became organist of Westminster Abbey. He died an untimely death at the age of 42. His exuberant setting of Hosanna to the Son of David, the opening anthem of the Palm Sunday liturgy, is one of his finest compositions.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina is thought to have been born in Palestrina, a town in the Sabine hills near Rome, in 1525, and he died in Rome the 2nd of February in 1594. His first musical training seems to have been in Rome at S Maria Maggiore, where he was listed as a choirboy in October 1537. In October 1544, he was appointed as organist at the cathedral of S Agapito in Palestrina, where he remained until his appointment in 1551 as maestro of the Cappella Giulia at St. Peter’s in Rome. In 1554, Palestrina published his first book of masses, dedicated to Pope Julius III. In January 1551, he was admitted to the Cappella Sistina, the Pope’s official chapel, on orders of the Pope without examination and despite being married. Three months later Julius died and was succeeded by Marcellus II, who in turn died within about three weeks. The next pope, Paul VI, insisted on full compliance with the chapel’s rule on celibacy, and Palestrina was dismissed in September of 1555. In the following month, Palestrina was appointedmaestro di cappella at St. John Lateran, where he stayed until he left in 1560 following a dispute with the chapter over the financing of the musicians. His next known employment was again at S Maria Maggiore, where he passed the next 5 years combining this post with work for Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este and teaching at the Seminario Romano. In April of 1571 he took up his last appointment and returned to the post of maestro of the Cappella Giulia, where he remained to his death.

The Stabat Mater dolorosa is a hymn, describing and commenting on the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the cross, which originated in the Middle Ages and which was subsequently prescribed as a sequence for the Feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM. The “sequence” originated as a form of chant, usually fairly extensive in length as well as range, which was interpolated into the liturgy of the mass after the Gradual and Alleluia. By Palestrina’s time, it had become traditional to sing a setting of the Stabat Mater during communion at High Mass on Palm Sunday in the Sistine Chapel. Palestrina set the proper offertory text for Palm Sunday, Improperium expectavit for five voices.

Josquin Desprez was arguably the greatest composer of the high Renaissance. His works – including 18 completed masses, nearly 100 motets, and dozens of secular pieces – represent a synthesis and summation of polyphonic art of the late 15th and early 16th century. The object of admiration from both literary and musical figures of the day, Josquin was a favorite composer of Martin Luther, whose famous quote praises him as “master of the notes…while other composers must do what the notes dictate.”

From 1489 to 1495, Josquin was a member of the papal choir, first under Pope Innocent VIII, and later under the Borgia pope Alexander VI. He may have gone there as part of a singer exchange with Gaspar van Weerbeke, who went back to Milan at the same time. While there, he may have been the one who carved his name into the wall of the Sistine Chapel; a “JOSQUINJ” was recently revealed by workers restoring the chapel. Since it was traditional for singers to carve their names into the walls, and hundreds of names were inscribed there during the period from the 15th to the 18th centuries, it is considered highly likely that the graffiti is by Josquin – and if so, it would be his only surviving autograph

Josquin’s Sanctus de Passione was intended to be sung at masses during Passiontide. The setting is extra-ordinarily restrained, with one of the simplest settings of the words “Hosanna in excelsis”.

Composer Spotlight: Josquin Desprez
Here is a link to his Missa Pange lingua – based on the hymn we sing on Maundy Thursday during the procession to the altar of repose.

And for his setting of Psalm 51, Miserere mei, Deus. We use Allegri’s setting on Ash Wednesday. But in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it would have been sung at the conclusion of the Tenebrae service.

– David Shuler, Director of Music

The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

April 6, 2017 Comments Off on The Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

This blog post appeared in Lent 2016. It was so good that we decided to bring it back this year.

– Blog Editor

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Artist: Caroline Borderies

Of all the stations, this one is the hardest to take in, the most violent and gruesome. Soldiers nail Jesus to the Cross, through his hands and feet. Even though it feels as if Jesus should be the subject of that sentence somehow, in order to tell the truth, it seems important that we realize that this was no “mistakes were made” passive voice act. People nailed Jesus to the cross. Whether they were following orders or took some perverse pleasure in the pain they were causing is beyond our scope to know.

There are many things in our lives that are bad luck or misfortune, a bad roll of the dice. Violence is not one of them. At Calvary as today, violence is always the work of our own hands. Extenuating circumstances notwithstanding, with or without the consent of the state, it is we who commit acts of violence. It is one of the indelible marks of our evolutionary heritage, one of the ubiquitous handmaidens of our society. The propensity to violence lurks just beneath the surface wherever there is fear or the desire to control or annihilate.
Yet there is no part of our humanity that Christ was not willing to assume, to enfold, to embrace, to endure in order to redeem us. Even this, the monster within. Nothing human lies outside his loving embrace. He turns even our cruelest impulses into the means of grace. In being loved by him and returning his love, we begin to lose our appetite for violence because we cannot hep but see him in every victim.
– The Rev. Gabriel Lamazares
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