News from the Congregation - November 9, 2018

From the Vicar

My silent retreat last week occurred just before the Congregation's retreat (also silent) at Holy Cross Monastery, and like Marsha, I found getting away and being with the Benedictine monks to be a blissful and restorative experience.

But we can't always live our lives on silent retreats--as tempting as that might sound. With that in mind, I've been thinking about one of the vows mentioned in the Rule of St. Benedict: the conversion of life. 

My spiritual director mentioned to me recently that, for Benedict, conversion of life did not only (or primarily) take place in "spiritual" places like monasteries during "spiritual" times like silent retreats. Rather, Benedict thought that our regular lives continually present us with opportunities for conversion. Something as simple and mundane as washing the dishes, for example, given the right perspective, could be an occasion for turning closer to Christ. 

Intuitively, this makes sense, but when I look closely at my activities of this past week, I wonder if Benedict's idea still applies in our era. Can obsessively refreshing the election blog, FiveThirtyEight, or watching hours of election coverage on YouTube, also present an opportunity for conversion? In other words, is there a way to be spiritually grounded, love our political enemies, and still be fully engaged in the political process?

I hope to get an answer to this question next Wednesday, November 14, as the Congregation hosts NYU Professor Patrick Egan at the Cathedral. Professor Egan, who was an official pollster for NBC News for this week's midterm elections, is a specialist in partisan politics and is deeply knowledgeable about how religion intersects with politics. 

He will be in conversation with the Madeline L’Engle fellow, Elizabeth Howard. The conversation will take place in the Cathedral's Earth Bay at 6:30pm and food and beverages, including wine, will be provided. 

The Rev. Steven Lee


10:30 AM - Holy Eucharist

4:00 PM - 125th Anniversary Evensong 

Due to the festive Evensong at 4:00pm to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the laying of the Cathedral’s cornerstone and the 10th anniversary of the restoration after a disastrous fire, there will only be 1 combined service on Sunday morning at 10:30 AM.

There will be a very special guest preacher at the 4:00 PM Evensong service, The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (aka, the "Royal Wedding" preacher).  

Please also note that the Soup Kitchen will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner on the morning of Sunday, November 18. Congregation members are invited to help provide the food, which includes twenty chickens, six turkeys and two hams—all fully cooked. Also needed are gravy, pies, cookies and cakes. Bring your donation to the CCC soup kitchen which is down a few steps directly across from the guard booth. Try to bring the food by 9:30 AM.

From the Wardens

I took off the All Saints weekend and went on retreat at Holy Cross Monastery with 13 other members of the congregation.  I cannot commend to you enough how good it is to get away from television news, noise of all kinds and responsibility. There was time to meditate and take in the beauty of the ancient white oak tree that lives between the guest house and monastery; the Hudson River and the deer grazing. The monastery provided a great retreat leader in Brother Aidan who led us in consideration of contemplation and ecology.  There was silence, there was chanting, there was gentle discussion. The food was healthy and delicious.  Many of us joined the monks for their five offices each day, chanting psalms and praying. We will continue to offer these retreats twice a year as we have in the past.  The next retreat will take place in Lent.  Watch for announcements and consider a time apart. (Marsha)

Changes to Our Visitor Process:  If you entered by the Amsterdam Avenue door for church last Sunday, you were likely greeted by an usher right next to the visitor services desk in the Narthex.  This is the most visible sign of a new policy being implemented by the Cathedral. Over the years, the Cathedral has tried many different ways to balance hospitality for our many visitors with the maintenance of an appropriate atmosphere for worship. Given our prominence on the NYC tourist map, it has always been a struggle to get both right.  

Under the new policy, tour companies have been advised that the Cathedral is open for tourism from 12:30 - 2:30 on Sundays. Before then, all visitors will be greeted at the door and will be invited to join us for worship and/or prayerful meditation. Those who only wish to look around will be asked to come back after the 11 AM service has concluded. 

November 11 is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, the end of World War I. In remembrance of this there will be special music and prayers.  The 11 a.m. service will be followed as usual by Second Sunday fellowship luncheon at 12:30.  Later evensong will celebrate the life of Carl Sandberg as he is inducted into the Poets’ Corner.  The service will include a folksong sing-a-along.

Saturday, November 17 12:15 – 3:00 The Laymen’s Club annual Canon West Lecture. Vestments:  Their history and place in Liturgy.  Leslie Bussis Tait Ph.D., Educator, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Starting with the 12:15 Eucharist where members of the Laymen’s Club and Cathedral community who have died in the past year are remembered, followed by lunch in Cathedral House and the lecture. To add names to the list of those remembered email John Rumely  For Tickets, go to the Laymen’s Club site

Volunteer recruitment has begun for CRAFTS AT THE CATHEDRAL, November 29-December 2, the congregation’s chief fund raiser.  This year the funds will be used to support Cathedral Community Cares and extend opportunities for spiritual growth of congregation members of every age.  We need approximately 40 volunteers as well as people who are willing to bring in home baked goods for the café.  Consider putting in a few hours over the course of the weekend.  Details on work to be done and shift times will be at the Congregation Table for the next several weeks. 

Tim & Marsha