News from Saint Thomas: week ending February 16

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Dear Friends,

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you have ever visited Rome and taken one of the tourist trails, you will no doubt have visited the portico outside the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, next to a bend in the River Tiber. There, many tourists stare at the so-called ‘mouth of truth,’ daring one another to place a hand in the mouth that is reputed to have bitten off the hand of many a liar! Archaeologists think the ancient sculpture was a drain cover from the Temple of Hercules Victor next door.

Most tourists then move on, but those who step inside the 8th century basilica will find a beautiful early arrangement of choir, ambos, and a 13th century Solomonic-twisted paschal candlestick. A little more exploring and they might discover the reputed skull of St. Valentine in a golden reliquary – adorned with roses. St. Valentine did not become associated with lovers for some time – the roses are a garland to remind us that he was, in fact, a saint of the Roman Church in the 3rd century. Like many martyrs, he was asked to deny Jesus Christ, but he chose not to live a lie and died a martyr’s death. As tourists gingerly place their hand in the mouth of a pagan god’s face, few will know the cost of Christian discipleship, which is the true story of St. Valentine. From the Song of Songs:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.” (8:6-7)


Your priest and pastor

Save the Date: Founders’ Day, March 3

The Centenary Celebration of the Choir School is approaching. It will have been 100 years since the founders, the Reverend Ernest Stires, Dr. T. Tertius Noble, and Mr. Charles Steele, opened the school on March 3, 1919.

As part of our celebrations, we will welcome The Rev. Dr. David Cobb (Acting Director of Contextual Education, the School of Theology, the University of the South, Sewanee) to be our preacher at the Solemn Mass at 11am. At our Solemn Evensong, our preacher will be the Bishop of New York, the Right Reverend Andrew Dietsche. An organ recital will follow given by several recent choristers, with a reception for Choir School Alumni and members of the Duffie-Noble Guilds.

For more information, please follow this link.

EAST Speaker Event: Dr. Roja Singh

Join us this February 16, 4:30pm in the Parish House for the EAST (Episcopal Asian Supper Table) Speaker Event.
“Untouchable”, with Dr. Roja Singh, President of the Dalit Solidarity Forum. Dr. Singh will share the inspiring story of the Dalit “untouchable women” in India who are breaking caste and gender boundaries and making a difference in their communities.

You may RSVP by following this link.

This event is co-sponsored by EAST and The Global Mission Commission, both ministries of the Diocese of New York.

Evening Theology Class with Jeremy Waldron

On Wednesday, February 20 at 6:30-8pm in Andrew Hall, Professor Jeremy Waldron will continue his series on “Biblical Justice,” focusing mainly on the concepts of judgment, justice, and social justice in the writings of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. One more class will follow on Wednesday, February 27. Everyone is welcome.

(The Saint Thomas Church Bookstore and Gift Shop has ordered the following books in relation to this course: Walter Houston, “Justice: The Biblical Challenge” (2014) and Enrique Nardoni, “Rise Up O Judge: A Study of Justice in the Biblical World” (2010). These books are for background reading; the class will not assume familiarity with them.)

Special Guest: the Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey

On Wednesday, February 27, we will be joined at our 5:30pm Festal Evensong by members of the American Friends of Westminster Abbey and the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend John Hall. John is an old friend of our parish and will be retiring this year.