Tag Archives: High church

Stop The Music!

19 Mar

Fr. B was away yesterday and we invited a former rector to fill in for us.

There are three Episcopal churches in Baltimore that are so high they look down on the Pope.  Grace and St. Peter’s (commonly known as GASP), St. Katherine of Alexandria, and a parish fondly known as “Smokey Mary’s” because of the amount of incense they use.  Our organist and Fr. Fill-in had been at St. Mary’s at the same time for a short while and had a chance to catch up during coffee hour.  The organist was relating an incident that occurred while he was still there, but after the Good Father had moved on.  The parish had a new priest, just in time for a feast in honour of the Virgin Mary, probably the Annunciation – also known as Maryland Day – which involved processing around the church with stops at stations depicting events in her life. During these stops, the organist  stopped playing so the prayers could be heard.

At the first of these stops, the music ceased and everybody was quiet. Except one woman, who abruptly stopped singing the verse she was doing solo, and asked, in a very loud voice, “What happened to the f. . .ing  music?”

Everybody turned to stare. The assistant raced up the side aisle, removed his vestments, stomped down the center aisle and just about dragged the woman out the door. He came back in. She did not.

And they shall be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Some schools teach that the state was named after Henrietta Marie, the wife of Charles I of England. Charles, you may remember, was having some trouble in the popularity polls and decided the best was to get rid of some of his Roman Catholic nobles was to send them off to the New World. After a six week ocean voyage, they arrived within site of their new home on March 22. They waited off shore until the 25th, which is, as I mentioned earlier, celebrated as the day the angel asked Mary if she was willing to bear the Messiah. They named their new colony Mary’s Land.

And it didn’t help poor Charlie at all, as he ended up getting his head chopped off, anyway.



Lenten Observations

1 Mar

We have a supply priest at our parish, and after looking at the attendance from the last two year’s Ash Wednesday services, it was agreed that it really wasn’t worth her coming all the way from Hagerstown, especially in view of the fact that there are several other churches in the area that were “doing” ashes.

I went up to St. Alban’s, a small 1928 parish not too far from home. It was wond-erful! I have absolutely no problem with female clergy, same sex marriage, and most other things that come along, but when it comes to liturgy, I am, to quote an old friend,  a flaming conservative. Sort of “Give me ’28, or give me death”. Well, maybe not that bad, since I’ve been managing for decades now, but you get the idea.

We had been told the service was at 10:30, but it was at 10, so I managed to be late in spite of my best efforts, and walked during the sermon, which was quite good. The celebrant was fairly young (although I am of an age where most professionals resemble Doogie Howser.) It was the assistant who caught my eye.

The church apparently has two assistants. One is a man who recently retired from a parish where he had been since the days of the Ark – and the Dove. (Marylander inside joke; look it up.) The second is the elderly priest who was “on” today. The dear man has Parkinson so badly that he looked as if he was disagreeing strenuously with every point in the sermon. He was also in charge of ringing the Sanctus bells (the only thing I didn’t enjoy) and they tinkled almost constantly.

Everything else was very High-Church. The celebrant had a maniple, and wore a black zucchetto for most of the service. When the two men processed out, they both wore birettas. (Biretti?) The assistant’s surplice was lace, and the priest’s vestments were beetle backed. Good Heavens!

Biretta and Zucchetto. Sounds as if it might be a law firm – or a pair of gangsters? (Is there a difference? Oh, be nice!)

The View From the Other Side

17 Jan

Our regular organist was away today, and the substitute was somebody we’ve had before. The Squire and I had a chance to visit with him for a while during coffee hour.

Henry came to America from mainland China in 1947, when he was himself just seven years old. He said the most amazing thing to him was – and still is – the amount of meat we consume. “In China, meat is a condiment! In America, you treat the vegetables as condiments.” He still sounded in awe of the entire thing.

When they arrived in America, it was not too long after the war, and Japanese people were not exactly greeted with open arms. Being Oriental, he was automatically treated with suspicion and segregation as the Law of the Land in Virginia, where they settled. “Which bathroom do I use? I’m not white, but I’m not black, either.” His dad guided him toward the “Whites Only” facilities. I admitted that most Caucasians couldn’t tell the difference between  Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese, but I knew they knew the difference. I had been with a girlfriend at a museum and she’d walked over to another family and began chattering away in Korean, but as much of a cliché as it may be, they all look alike to me. Henry laughed and said people had told him that, but he couldn’t see why. “It’s so obvious.” Ah, but can you look at a white face and know that person is German or Irish?

Well, no.

Henry is a chemical engineer, and does all of the cooking in their house. He says he tends to think in terms of reactions and interactions. At least he understands why you shouldn’t put baking soda in the string beans!

He no longer has a permanent job as an organist, so he hops all over the Diocese, playing at various churches. The “highest” churches in Baltimore are St. James, Lafayette Square (former home of Michael Curry, our new Presiding Bishop) and St John’s in the Village. He admitted he’d never been to Grace and St. Peter’s, which was a bit of  a surprise to me, as that is the home church for the Chinese community in Baltimore. For a long time, they even had services, including Sunday School, in both Cantonese and Mandarin. “Well, at least they don’t have to reprint the bulletin.”

We had our first snow of the year today. It flurried almost all day, but honestly didn’t amount to a thing. The temps have been around 40 during the day so the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. Mind you, it’s been in the 20s at night, so maybe we might have gotten a quarter inch if it had fallen after sundown.