Lenten Season
  March 2003

Click one of the headings below to read the article:

paragraph ending graphic Father Michael paragraph ending graphic Women of Christ Church
paragraph ending graphic Around the Parish paragraph ending graphic The Vestry Envisions the Church's Future
paragraph ending graphic Vestry Notes paragraph ending graphic Easter Memorial Flowers
paragraph ending graphic What is ECW? paragraph ending graphic Christ Church Lenten Series
paragraph ending graphic Each Person has a Role to Play paragraph ending graphic Parish Register

A Lenten Primer

Lent is a special season - a holy season. - that can be a great gift to every one who observes this time of the year. The traditional disciplines of this season are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three disciplines are ingrained in the words that we heard introduced in the Ash Wednesday liturgy, i.e. being invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word."

Like so many things in life, Lent does not happen automatically. For Lent to be a holy season you will have had to make some personal choices. You will have placed conscious attention to how you are going to live during these 40 days and 40 nights so you will have an enhanced experience of our Lord's presence in your life.

During this time of the year I am asked many questions regarding both the disciplines and traditions of Lent. So I have assembled here a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about Lent in hopes that it will assist you in coming to a fuller understanding of the God-given opportunities for spiritual growth during this holy time of the year.

Why is Lent's liturgical color purple, the color of royalty?

The purple that is used for Lent and Advent is not royal purple, but penitential purple. Royal purple is a reddish purple, almost magenta. In ancient times it came from a rare mollusk that only grew off the shores of Tyre in the Mediterranean , and it could only be afforded by the very rich and royalty. The purple associated with penitence and mourning is a deep bluish purple, anciently made from the juices of berries and grapes. Lent is a time that emphasize penitence for our sinfulness. The season expects self-examination and self-discipline in preparation for the benefits of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus the Lenten purple reminds us of that spiritual process.

Then why is purple and lavender a color used during Easter, a time for rejoicing?

It isn't in the church - this only takes place in secular Easter practices and has no Christian symbolism. The color of Easter is white, the color representing purity and joy. The secular use of purple is probably an "overflow" of Lent, which most secular Easter celebrations ignore.

Has Lent always lasted forty days?

No, but that length became commonplace by the end of the 4 th century. The earliest Christians only observed a fasting period of 3 to 7 days. Then for a period of time most Christians only observed Holy Week, but they observed it with much more extreme penitence and fasting that we do today.

Why are there no altar flowers during Lent?

Lent is a penitential season, and flowers are usually associated with rejoicing. For this reason the altar is bare, except for some greenery to remind us that our Lenten journey is an integral part of our eternal journey into God. During Lent we use none of the usual symbols of rejoicing, such as singing or saying "Alleluia." Even though Sunday is never a fast day, in order to encourage our Lenten discipline, we make Sunday services more somber during Lent.

Why is the big brass altar cross removed during Lent and wooden crosses used on the family service altar, the chapel altar and as a processional cross?

The big brass altar cross is a resurrection cross - with the Easter symbol of ivy beautifully etched on its vertical and cross beams. Thus it is removed because our Lenten journey must proceed through Good Friday before we arrive at the empty tomb on Easter. On the central panel of the reredos directly behind the altar is a depiction of the crucifixion of our Lord - a powerful means of focusing on the high cost of our salvation through the death of Christ.

We use bare wooden crosses during the season on the other altars and for our processional cross to remind us that this is a season of solemn penitence and prayer. The starkness of the plain wooden cross also remind us more of the crucifixion rather than the resurrection. However, their emptiness reminds us that death does not have the last word because God has in raising his Beloved Son demonstrated in no uncertain terms that our destiny is one of eternity.

Are we required to fast in Lent?

No, although the Episcopal Church strongly encourages it. We all know that the Episcopal Church has few mandates, preferring to leave most spiritual discipline up to the individual conscious of its members. Likewise, the Roman Catholic Church recently dropped its Lenten mandates, other than to require fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Why do we talk about the forty days of Lent, when there are actually forty-six days by the calendar?

Sunday is always a feast day even during Lent. Each Sunday is a commemoration of the Resurrection, thus it can never be called a day of fasting. So, when one discounts the six Sundays during Lent, this season is forty days long.

Does this mean that one does not have to observe his or her Lenten discipline on Sundays during Lent?

Technically, yes, However, most people find that it is easier and more spiritually rewarding to continue the Lenten disciplines of prayer and almsgiving on Sundays even though they are not required.

Do we have festive events such as baptisms and weddings during Lent?

No. They are not absolutely forbidden, but they are strongly discouraged, and are usually done only in pastoral emergencies.

What is Maundy Thursday?

This is the day we commemorate the Last Supper, the first Holy Eucharist. At the Last Supper Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles and gave them a new commandment, "that you love one another." The term Maundy comes from the Middle English maunde, "foot-washing." This comes from the Old French mande , "commandment," referring to the commandment that he gave to them after washing their feet.

Why is the day of Jesus' death called Good Friday?

For all of its horrors and being such a frightening mirror on our human capacity of evil, this day is nevertheless good for us, because in the death of Jesus we are all freed from the bondage of sin. However, the name of this day is actually a corruption of the Middle English Godes Fridai , "God's Friday."

In conclusion, Lent can be a holy season for each one of us. Regular worship with our faith community at church, Bible study and other opportunities for growth will be of great value, but when "push comes to shove", a conscious decision is required on your part. My heart-felt wish and deepest prayer is that you give it a try. paragraph ending graphic

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Around the Parish

Five stalwart regulars from the Christ Church Second Saturday Feeding Ministry were honored at the Council of Churches dinner last month for their hard work and dedication. Congratulations to Phyllis Bath, Margaret Harris, David Holt, Dorothy Rivera, and John Watson on this well-deserved recognition of your efforts. The dinner also marked the official installation of Fr. Michael as president of the Council, and the appointment of Ed Craig as a member of the Council Board.

Congratulations to Phyllis Bath and Nick Dowen as they take on their new assignments at Christ Church . During the February 2004 Vestry meeting Phyllis was unanimously elected to the Treasurer's post (Dick Sigman is thrilled!) and Nick has taken on the important job of Clerk of the Vestry.

Glad to report that Jay Spadaro is responding quite well to the series of chemotherapy treatments that he has been undergoing over the past few months. Get well wishes also go out to Bill Brown and Ann Sohm who each underwent surgery in the past month: Bill for a hip replacement, and Ann for surgery on her wrist.

It's good to have Sarah Kanner back with us on Sunday morning. She had been attending school in Pennsylvania , and has transferred back to the College of Staten Island where she's majoring in Education.

Congratulations to Thomas Liu , our talented young accompanist for the Sunday morning Family Service. Tom won fourth place in the PSAL Open Swimming and Diving Championship events last month.

"Don't let the parade pass me by" - at least, that's what 'Li Black , son of Connie and Buster Black, said last month when the Tottenville High School Marching Band led the electric light parade in the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld during the February midwinter break. 'Li gets to carry - and play - the bass drum with the band.

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Eileen Murray , who succumbed to a brain tumor on February 18. Eileen was a long-time member of Christ Church and our condolences go out to her family. Her warmth and her cheerful smile will be missed by many of us here.

That's all for now. Keep warm and think Spring! paragraph ending graphic

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Vestry Notes

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church took place on February 9, 2004 . New Vestry officers were elected: Nick Dowen is the Clerk of the Vestry, and Phyllis Bat is the Treasurer.

Lesley Shannon submitted hard-hitting summaries of parish priorities, derived from parishioners' completed questionnaires. These summaries have been posted in the Guild Room. Look them over during the Coffee Hour on Sunday.

The Rector reported that the hours of our sexton, James Angone, will be:

Monday: - Day off; Tuesday: 7-11 a.m. or 5-9 p.m.; Wednesday: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. ; Thursday: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. ; Friday: 7 a.m. - 12 noon ; Saturday: Day off; Sunday: 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.

It was announced that the city has given the final approval on the renovations that were completed quite a while ago in the basement and that we can now begin utilizing this space as a sheep shelter . Project Hospitality, under the direction of the Rev. Terry Troia, will begin this program in two weeks.

The dates for various upcoming Special Events were announced. Mark your calendars for the Spring Fair , set for Saturday, June 12 from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. ; the Chinese Auction on Friday, October 1 at 6 p.m. ; the St. Nick's Fair on Saturday, November 20, with November 27 as the snow date; and the Holly Ball on Saturday December 11. There will also be a Pasta Supper on Friday, March 19 at 6 p.m. and a Fish Fry on Friday, April 12 at 6 p.m.

It was voted to empower Rick Boody, parish financial advisor, to implement an investment strategy of 60 percent equity and 40 percent fixed income, which had been in his proposal. paragraph ending graphic

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What is ECW?

The Episcopal Church Women is a National Church Organization. There is a Diocese of New York branch with its own set-up of officers and concerns. A Diocesan Board is responsible for programs and finances. Its Diocesan office is at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025

ECW attempts to invite all women into a program of worship, study and service. Every woman in the Episcopal Church is already an ECW member by virtue of her baptism.

The President of the diocesan ECW serves ex officio as a member of Diocesan Council, Cathedral Trustee, and Diocesan Nominating Committee. New York is in Province II of the Church and ECW Board members attend the annual Provincial Synod meetings. The Diocesan Board meets six times a year to plan events and projects including the annual School of Worship at The Cathedral in March, United Thank Offering collections,' and=the annual Fall Conference. Three grants are made each year to the General Theological Seminary for two women seminarians from the Diocese; to the Dean for Cathedral programs; and to the Diocesan Steer Youth conference.

Each ECW unit pledges annually to support:
Diocesan Expense and Provincial Fund
(administrative expenses)
Convention and Conference Fund
(delegates to Triennial meetings, Fall Conference and School of Worship)
Christian Social Concerns - Programs and Projects
(support individual parish programs)
Christian Social Concerns - Scholarships
(grants to first year college students; also send needy children to summer camp)

The Women of Christ Church pledged a total of $175.00 in 2003 for the above categories.

Benefits of membership in The Women of Christ Church (ECW) are:
• Spiritual enrichment
• Fellowship in parish and community
• Individual fulfillment through service to
You don't have to worry about the formalities of joining - you already belong! paragraph ending graphic

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Each Person Has a Role to Play

Have you ever heard a handbell choir play? Perhaps you even played in one yourself? If you've ever seen a handbell performance, you know that each member rings, at most, just a few bells. Each member can only perform those notes.

Therefore, it's extremely important that each choir member knows the music very well. Missing a note means that the congregation hears "Silent (silence)" instead of "Silent Night!" No one can replace a note someone else missed. Handbell choirs practice so hard that these mistakes are few.

In a way, a congregation is like a handbell choir. Each person has a role to play, whether teaching in Sunday school, washing dishes after a church dinner, visiting shut-ins, singing in choirs, or some other form of service. When someone is missing, the result isn't as good as it could have been, However, when each person does his or her part, God (our Audience) sees everyone's work blend into a beautiful whole. paragraph ending graphic

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Women of Christ Church

(Editor's Note: This article was meant to appear in our February issue but didn't get to us by press time; however, despite the seasonal references, Martha's warm and lovely writing style is worth the read at any time!)

Christmas candles and table decorations transformed the Vestry Room at the carry-in luncheon of the Women of Christ Church on December 11. It was a good way to start off the new season. Members brought their favorite dishes and filled the serving table. Needless to say, there are many good cooks in our group and we all enjoyed every bite!

We were happy to welcome guests Gretchen Blumoehr and Mary McNamara, Ann Louderback, who is not always able to be with us, and Phyllis Bath, whom we hope will become a regular member.

Earlier in the day the service of Healing and Holy Communion had been celebrated by Fr. Michael in the chapel. This lovely space will be made even more beautiful during the Advent season, when we hang the new frontal that is Joy Woodall's memorial for her late husband, John.

In the Vestry room, a table had been set aside for the gifts of toys and clothing that go to Safe Horizons. The offering, which amounted to $100.00 will be given to Eden II School for Autistic Children. It was a very pleasant afternoon and closed with a good feeling that we had done something for people who need our help.

We will meet again in March. So mark your calendars for Thursday, March 11. Bring a sandwich and join us for the service of Healing and Holy Communion at 11:00 a.m. ; meeting and lunch will follow in the Parish House. paragraph ending graphic

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The Vestry Envisions
the Church's Future

Have you ever thought about what Christ Church will be like in five years? You may have placed colored dots on the posters in the Guild Room beside those responses that you agreed with. All of this questioning and reflecting was a prelude to the long-range planning process. Now it's time for the Vestry to connect the dots!

Recently, our Vestry, along with Fr. Michael, participated in a long-range planning session led by Fr. Michael Delaney from St. Andrew's Church, Richmondtown. After some bible study, we discussed our existence and purpose as a church. We reflected on our mission statement and how it can be used as a guide for our long-range plan. We studied and discussed the responses to the parish survey.

Some of the items that were highlighted in the survey responses are: music, buildings, diversity, outreach, youth, attendance, fellowship, family and spirituality. We also discussed the physical appearance of our building and the impression they give, our neighborhood, outreach programs, attracting new membership, and finances. Finally, Fr. Michael gave a report on the demographics of the New Brighton area, which will be invaluable when we plan our involvement in the neighborhood and community.

We continued the long-range planning during the February Vestry meeting. After reviewing a ranking of the survey responses, we spent time envisioning how the church will look, sound, feel and even smell five years from now. During this envisioning session, the Vestry worked hard to see our church as a lively parish sponsoring vital ministries with programs that have already overcome any constraining details. Our work as parishioners of Christ Church will be to work through the constraints and make the vision a reality. paragraph ending graphic
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Easter Memorial Flowers

Those who would like to contribute to the memorial flowers for Easter should list the names of those to be remembered and place envelopes containing donations in the offering plate on a Sunday. Flower Fund envelopes will be found in the pews. Checks should be drawn to Women of Christ Church .

Names and donations may also be mailed directly to Mrs. Richard Elfers, 61 North Randall Ave. , Staten Island , NY 10301 . To be listed in the Easter bulletin, all names must be received no later than Palm Sunday. paragraph ending graphic

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Christ Church Lenten Series

Be sure to mark your calendars for three Wednesday evening Lenten programs at Christ Church which have been specially designed to nurture your body, mind and spirit! A light supper and discussion will follow the 6:30 p.m. Eucharist. Don't worry if you can't make it here by 6:30 - latecomers are welcome!

Wednesday, March 10 th

Spiritual Metaphors in Everyday Life

(Suggested reading: Carl Jung's "Modern Man in Search of a Soul"; Mother Teresa's "A Simple Path"; Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life"; Wayne Dyer's "There is A Spiritual Solution to Every Problem"; Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth.") Call Anne Devlin at 718-981-0602 to borrow titles. Don't be intimidated - if you don't have time to read come anyway; passages from these books will be read aloud for discussion.

Wednesday, March 17th

Saints Alive!

The Paradoxical Commandments (10 inspirational statements often attributed, erroneously, to Mother Teresa, but written by Dr. Kent M. Keith, copyright 1968 and 2003. Copies are available in the church office or online at www.wallyamos.com.

Wednesday, March 24 th

Current Cinema Controversy: Mel Gibson's, "The Passion of the Christ."

It will be helpful to view the movie prior to this discussion. Anne Devlin is willing to organize a car pool to a Saturday matinee. Be aware that the movie has an "R" rating due to graphic violence.

These discussion groups are open to all visitors. Please bring a friend. If you have any questions or suggestions, please call Anne Devlin at 718-981-6082. paragraph ending graphic
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Parish Registry

Burial: Jeanne Pratt, Eileen Murray

March Birthdays:

13-William Keck III, Kevin McAndrew, Kenneth A. McLean; 14-Eva Sherman; 15-Gail Bernardez; 18-Theresa Lettiere, Beverly Pavelec; 23-Nancy Lettiere, Heather George; 26-Pamela Miller; 30-Daniel N. Lettiere, Mark E. Hewitt, Sr., Tom Sarff.

If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office at 1-718-727-6100 so it can be added. paragraph ending graphic
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