Episcopal Diocese of Chicago: Convention To Reconvene June 8, Consider Reunifying with Dio. Quincy

June 8 meeting will consider reunification with the Diocese of Quincy. The 175th Convention of the Diocese of Chicago will reconvene on June 8 at St. James Cathedral for the purpose of considering the proposed reunification with the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. In November 2012, the 175th Convention unanimously passed Resolution A-175 affirming the Diocese of Chicago's intent to pursue reunification with Quincy and directing the bishop, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, to seek approval of the Quincy Reunion Agreement. At its conclusion, the convention was recessed rather than adjourned so that it could be called back into session to consider a final reunification agreement. In May, members of the diocese are invited to attend one of four information sessions to learn more about the proposed reunification of the two dioceses, which were split to accommodate growth in 1877. Since 2008, the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, based in Peoria, has been forging a new identity and mission after its bishop and about 60% of its members broke away to become founders of the conservative Anglican Church of North America. Information sessions will be held at locations to be announced from 6:30-8:30 pm on May 9, 15, 20 and 29. Questions? Please talk with Director of Operations Courtney Reid at 312.751-6725 or via email.

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil 8pm Tonight: The Light Is Coming Into The World

The late Father Paul Brouillette presides at Easter Sunday 2011

The late Rev. Paul Brouillette presided at Easter Sunday 2011, in the semidarkness before all the lights were turned on. Father Paul loved chanting the Exultet. -- Photo credit David Gibbs.

Tonight, the long Easter Vigil begins in darkness, and ends in light with joyful alleluias. There are a lot of readings, as the Creation story is retold and the Salvation is recounted. Each must have a musical response, and one or two have special choral responses. It is quite a long service - beginning at 8pm and ending at around 10:30pm or so, it runs the gamut from sorrow to overwhelming joy. Again this year, we are happy to have Alex with us again to act as trumpeter during the Gloria, also for a special choral piece called "Sound The Trumpet," and during another traditional piece to end the service. In a new tradition beginning this year, the bell-ringing at the Easter Acclamation and during the following Gloria will be a little more glorious thanks to our parishioners who came from St Bede's!

It will be a night of light bravely pushing back the darkness, both in the world and in our hearts. We will be moved to shout "Alleluia! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed," and mean it.

A great deal of preparation goes into celebrating Easter at St Nicholas, as there are two "big" services back-to-back (after several other services each night of the Triduum, the three culminating days of Holy Week). Indeed, for each service this week, the worship space is rearranged to set the proper mood for each service; a handwashing station for Maundy Thursday, a simple wooden cross for veneration on Good Friday, and tonight a vast array of flowers and all the candleabra we've got will be arranged around the altar).
Easter Flowers being arranged for church
Many people have worked hard in the planning and preparation for Holy Week, and tonight's Easter Vigil is really "the big one" in our hearts. Tomorrow's triumphant and joyful Easter Sunday will have lots of wonderful music and fun for the young and young at heart (yes, the rumors are true, the Easter Bunny shall appear after church, and there will be many eggs to hunt).

But tonight is the only time of the year that the New Fire is kindled, and as the weather is likely to be reasonable, it will be done outdoors, at the Holy Innocents altar that stands out in front of the church. Plan to arrive early and dress warmly if you wish to watch outdoors, but the liturgy will be watched from inside by many (and there is a covered area across from the altar also).

Tonight, flames will be kindled from some of the dried palm leaves from Palm Sunday, and the big Paschal Candle will be lighted (not without some difficulty). Father Manny will push nails into it with incense - more symbolism of Christ's crucifixion and burial in the tomb. And then the altar party will process slowly into the church, where the waiting congregation and choir will stand ready with hand candles.

As Father Manny enters the sanctuary, he will intone:

"The light of Christ!"

And the assembled will respond,

"Thanks be to God!"

He will repeat this twice more, and the acolytes will begin lighting everyone's hand candles, so that the light spreads slowly into the church as we move to our seats.

The Exultet will be chanted in the semi-darkness, by several cantors and Father Manny:
Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation, for the victory of our mighty King. Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King. Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people. All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


You may have heard of the phrase "C and E Christian," which refers to the attendance of church services only at Christmas and Easter. Well, if you only attend church sporadically, or are looking for a faith community, this is the night to attend. This night is a good night for beginning to walk the path of faith in community, a good night to follow the call to serve others.

Of course, Christmas Eve is hugely important at St Nicholas, as our patron saint the good Bishop of Myra has now morphed into the secular Santa Claus (and is beloved by children all over the world). And Easter Sunday is certainly a very big day at St Nicholas, when families bring children in their brand new Easter outfits (sometimes with baskets ready for the egg hunt after the service) and there's still a lot of special music and color and beautiful liturgy, traditional in the Episcopal church but familiar to many.

But tonight is the night that defines Christianity for us: the Light comes into the world, and Salvation is ours for the asking.

For as the Exultet continues:
This is the night, when you brought our fathers and mothers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave. How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord. How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joine danll are reconciled to God.

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness.

May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning -- He who gives this light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
And we all respond, Amen!

The Light Coming Into The World, Haleakala

The banner image for Holy Saturday was taken at dawn from the summit of Haleakala, Maui. Photo credit Ginny Gibbs

The Richness of Music in Worship: Faure’s Requiem

As Episcopalians, we are steeped in a rich, musical history that has heralded, and rightly so, much acclaim and notoriety. Thomas Tallis, George Herbert, Charles Wesley, John Merbecke, John Sheppard, Ralph Vaughan, Percy Dearmer, Margaret Street, Graham and Betty Pulkingham, George Mims, a few names that merely scratch the surface amongst the "who's who" in Anglican/Episcopal Church music.  However, at times, and sadly so, this musical accomplishment goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.  At St. Nicholas, we work at incorporating several musical traditions, embracing the historical background and musical styes of other faith communities while implementing and basking in our unique and beautiful Anglican/Episcopal musical heritage. On March 3, our choir endeavored and succeeded in performing a most hauntingly beautiful piece of music, "Libera Me" from Requiem by Gabriel Fauré. Fauré's Requiem has a much deeper and notable history; a history worth sharing.  So, without any further ado, enjoy this story -- submitted by Bob DeHaven -- of how Requiem came to be. Gabriel Fauré(1845 -1924) was a composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works is his Requiem, first published in 1900. The original version of Requiemcontained just four movements, and expanded several times. Part VI, Libera Me, which introduced a whiff of brimstone previously missing, was originally written as a stand-alone work in 1877. It was added to the Requiem by the time of its first publication in 1900. Fauré was born into a cultured but not especially musical family. His talent became clear when he was a small boy. Perhaps one of the most haunting images from his life is that of the old blind woman sitting in the chapel adjoining the Ecole Normale at Montgauzy, listening raptly to the little boy playing harmonium for hours on end. At that point, young Gabriel had had no musical training, but simply loved the sound of the instrument, and so played with it, seeking those combinations most pleasing to the ear. And the old lady returned, again and again sitting in the otherwise empty chapel to listen and chat with the boy and give him advice. Eventually she told his father, who taught at the school, about his gift for music. A lifetime later, in a letter written when he was almost as close to the end of his life as that little boy in Montgauzy had been to the beginning, Fauré recalled the famous work he'd composed in the middle of his life. The Requiem, he wrote, was created purely "for the pleasure of it." But in taking up that work in the fall of 1887, it was natural and inevitable that his thoughts would turn to things of the spirit, to the fact of his own mortality, and especially to recollections of the loved ones he had lost. This included his father, who died in 1885 (his mother died just as he was close to completing the Requiem, though he was unable to finish it in time for her funeral). I can't help but feel that Fauré must have thought, too, of the old blind woman, by then long dead, whose name is now lost to posterity (had he forgotten it? Did he ever know it in the first place?), the woman who, by listening to him so intently, affirmed the value of his childhood musical explorations. What an extraordinary gift. One can't help but wonder if Fauré sensed her hovering in the back of his imagination, listening to all the music he wrote, ever after. Fauré himself said of the work, "Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest." He told an interviewer, "It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience." >Look for our choir to sing another piece, Sanctus, from Requiem on Palm Sunday, along with Pieta by Joseph Martin.