5th Sunday after Pentecost July 5

8:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
9:00 a.m. Live-Streamed Mass
10:15 a.m. Scripture Reflection
11:00 a.m. Virtual Coffee Hour
and spiritual formation conversation

(See connection information below.)

Christ enthroned over the River of Life ,
illuminated manuscript, Spain, 1220
Remembering Father Gregory Norris
XIV Rector of Church of the Ascension
From the Rector
Dear people of Ascension,

By now you may recognize Noah Riggenbach, shown in the picture to the right. I've introduced him here in the newsletter a few times since the spring.
D espite the pandemic, his wedding in May, a move and more, he's persisted in pursuing an internship here at Ascension, mainly hoping to discover:
What matters of theology and spiritual formation
are of interest to us at Ascension?
Noah has recently asked that question, and variations on it, through phone calls with ten or so Ascension folk, some longtime members, others newcomers.
What matters of theology and spiritual formation
are of interest to us at Ascension?

Noah has some preliminary answers! And he'd like to share them with you this coming Sunday, mainly during the 11 am Virtual Coffee Hour. (I may also give him a cameo during the 9 am mass.)
Please make an effort to join us. Your listening, responding and questioning will be of help to Noah and may well also be a blessing to all at Ascension by way of suggesting how we may continue growing in faith.

Thanks, if you'll be willing and able, for getting on board.

Patrick +

PS If you'd like to be in touch with Noah, link here to his email .
Also from the Rector
  • With regard to returning to the church for in-person worship ...
Thanks be to God!
(and Virtual Verger MB Hwang)
The Ascension nave/sanctuary
webcam is now live again.

Thanks for your patience as we adjust some features in coming days.

Notes from Ascension Organist David White

On this Sunday closest to July 4, we hear a set of iconic, audacious American organ variations on a tune adopted by Americans, and another set of classical variations on the same tune of debated origin, which, strangely, over the years, has served as national anthem of no fewer than four countries.

The 29-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven published sets of variations “for keyboards or pedal keyboards” on several popular English melodies of the day. When the ‘God Save the King” was first printed in 1799, it was credited to “ Louis ” van Beethoven. It was he himself who probably first informally performed these along with variations on Rule, Britannia! They are dashing, classical treatments, but with a splash of Beethoven’s always forward-looking writing. It was soon after that, on the other side of the Atlantic, when that same melody which had seen so many settings and texts, was adopted by the young nation, the USA.

At 17, Charles Edward Ives -- since age 14, the local church organist in Danbury, CT, the future ‘spirit’ of American composers, and future insurance tycoon(!) -- wrote a set of variations on the song America for the 1871 Independence Day celebrations in Brewster, NY. He loved playing the piece, calling it, “as much fun as playing baseball.” Full of his trademark irreverent creativity, it, his Piano Trio, and his Psalm 90 for choir/organ/bells – were purportedly the only pieces he cared if anyone ever played after his death. -- David White
In case you're scanning and missed it ...

Yes, you may still take it ...
But before you do ... please read the following:
From the survey ...
Your thoughts about returning to Ascension for in-person worship and how you respond to the survey may be shaped by knowing that, initially, in-person worship will be unlike past ‘normal’ Sundays (as will other worship, music, gatherings or meetings). In compliance with direction from our bishop, mayor and governor, the following protocols and limitations will pertain from the time we resume in-person worship until further notice (likely for months): 

  • All individuals entering the church will provide name, telephone number and email address (in the event we need to contact you if someone at the service you attended develops COVID-19). 

  • All worshipers in the church, including clergy, organist and any other ministers, will be required to wear masks or have another appropriate face covering. (We will provide masks for those without.) 

  • Worshipers will only sit in designated seats in the pews, to allow for appropriate social distancing. Attendance at any one worship service will be limited to 45 persons in the pews. 

  • No singing (choir, soloist, hymn singing, chanting by priest, organist or others) will be included in any in-person worship. Research and recent super-spreader incidents suggest that singing indoors significantly increases the risks of transmission by anyone (symptomatic or not) with COVID-19. 

  • There will be no common Communion chalice and very likely no opportunity for the People to share in Blood of Christ. 

  • Until circumstances change, there will be no indoor coffee hour or receptions and no nursery care provided. Any socializing will be informal, outdoors and with safe social distancing.
Check This Space Next Week
for an interview with TWAA Featured Chorister:
Tiana Sorenson, soprano

We will have the opportunity to hear Tiana on Sunday, July 5th,
during the Communion Solo.
Ascension Connections
(with your click and God's help)
Meeting ID:
792 031 7452
Password: 1133
Join-by-Phone Option: (312) 626-6799

Weekly Ascension Schedule
for the (stay-at-home) time being
All connections are via Zoom (click here)
except for Morning Prayer, via Facebook (click here).

8:30 a.m. Morning Prayer
9:00 a.m. Mass
10:15 a.m. Scripture reflection
11:00 a.m. Virtual Coffee Hour

6:10 p.m. Evening Prayer via Zoom

6:30 p.m. Low Mass
Musical offering for Corpus Christi

The Daily Offices
Join us for Morning Prayer, Mondays through Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. on Facebook Live. We've created  a dedicated group as part of Ascension's Facebook page here  where you can find these videos. (Or navigate from the Ascension Facebook page by clicking on "Groups" at the left side of the screen.) Pray with us while watching live or while visiting the videos later. If, having seen these, you find that you'd like to officiate, please reach out to Br. Jonathan Wheat, SMJ (pictured here) or MB Hwang .
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Mondays-Fridays, 6:00 p.m.
Please note the addition of
Evening Prayer on Fridays!

Zoom this evening, July 1:

Evening Prayer 6:00 p.m.

Low Mass for The Precious Blood of Jesus,
6:30 p.m.

Please note the new starting time -- 6:00 p.m. -- for Evening Prayer.

Yes, but I still haven't Zoomed ...
For the Novice, Newbie, or tech-challenged : It may be easier than you know . We've simplified instructions on the sheet that you can view by clicking here. Please know that you can block your camera (and don't need one to start with), and you could join our Scripture study or Virtual Coffee Hour, for instance, without having to say a word. Give it a try.
Please give generously as you are able.
Treasurer Susan Schlough has asked me to remind you of Ascension's ongoing expenses at this time. To the extent that you are able, payment on your pledges or the offering of Holy Day or other special gifts will be greatly appreciated. You may still write a check and mail it to the church, or online payment is possible through the buttons at various places on our website. Thank you!
Ascension Prayer List as of July 1
For our individual and shared courage and wisdom in addressing matters related to race and racism and for the reconciling witness of the Church.
For our prayers: Charley Taylor, August 'Augie' Alonzo, Jim Berger, Ethel Martin, Kuni Sakai, Dean Pineda, Carnola Malone, Charlene MacDougal, Patricia Johnston, Mary Drell, Jim Lo Bello, Mary Lou Devens, Marty Stenson, Donna Neglia, Jessica, Maxim, Ted Long, Ken Kelling, Beth Hall, David Byerly, Nicholas Carl, Sal Martinez, Salem Marta Alverado
In Thanksgiving:
Recent/Upcoming Birthdays: William Ford, 7/5; Judy Zhao, 7/6; The Rev. Paul Ahn, 7/11
Requiescat in pace: Mary Frances Green, Raymond Mulcare, Elizabeth Josephine Smith, 7/1; Bernard Markwell, 7/2; Doris Mae Horne, 7/6; Raymond E. Harkness, 7/8;
Arthur Ritchie, Priest, 9th Rector of COA; David Knitter, 7/9; Betty Lodine, 7/11 
Prayers for the departed:
Father Edwin A. ‘Gregory’ Norris, XIV Rector of Church of the Ascension
Elinor Dahmer
All who have died due to complications of COVID-19
For all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
For all who have been unjustly killed as a result of law enforcement misconduct.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

An excerpt from History of the Church of the Ascension, Chicago, Illinois 1857-1982, by George C. Giles, Jr., North Plains Press, Aberdeen, South Dakota, 1984.
Chapter X: The Heart and Center

During the summer of 1955, just before he commenced his studies at Nashotah, Edwin Norris spent two months in residence at St. Gregory's with several other men participating in what is now called a "vocation program." Living close to the community, he and the other summer visitors attended all of the monastic offices and worked with community members in the abbey's kitchen and gardens. In the months that followed at the seminary, reflecting on the summer's experience, Norris was drawn to explore a possible commitment to the religious life. Completing the year at Nashotah, he resigned his postulancy in the diocese of Colorado and on July 4, 1956, arrived at St. Gregory's Abbey to test his vocation as a postulant and novice and, in 1961, to make his life profession as a member of the community.

During his years at St. Gregory's, Br. Gregory (the name he adopted, after St. Gregory Nazianzus, when admitted to the novitiate) witnessed in the liturgical life of the community marked changes which followed the Second Vatican Council. English replaced Latin in the Mass and monastic offices. Daily private Masses and the Solemn High Mass were discontinued; the main high altar was removed and replaced by a smaller free-standing altar in the choir; and all participants received Holy Communion in both kinds at the community Eucharist. Br. Gregory became involved in many facets of the community's life at Three Rivers. He worked for a time as the abbot's secretary, assisted with the publication of  Benedicite  (the abbey's quarterly newsletter and journal), aided the guest master, and labored regularly in the community's kitchen and fields.
Br. Gregory's participation in the monastic life superseded any consideration he might have given to a continuation of study for Holy Orders; he did, however, receive the community's encouragement to pursue at the abbey a program of supervised reading and independent study directed to that objective. Successfully completing canonical examinations in the diocese of Northern Indiana (whose bishop was the community's visitor), Br. Gregory was ordained to the diaconate and later, on the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude (October 28, 1963), to the priesthood.
From the very beginning of his life as a Benedictine monk, and throughout his entire association with the order, Br. Gregory felt a close affinity to fellow brothers and the life of the community.
However, a longstanding sense that his vocation had not settled resulted in a leave of absence from the community from April, 1964, to June, 1965, to serve as curate of St. Paul's Church, Hammond, Indiana. In 1966, having returned to St. Gregory's, he traveled to the mother house at Nashdom Abbey in England, during which time he attended an ecumenical conference of Anglican and Roman Catholic monks at Assisi, Italy. There he delivered a paper on contemplative orders in the Church, and then went to Rome for several days to visit San Anselmo (the Benedictine international center of study). Later in the summer he visited several Benedictine communities in Belgium and Luxemburg; he was welcomed as an equal, ordained and fully professed monk, sat in choir with other monks, and celebrated the Mass in Latin.

Still troubled concerning his vocation, Dom Gregory returned to Europe in the summer of 1967 and again in 1968 to take part in an ecumenical monastic venture: a group of Roman Catholic Cistercians of the Common Observance, joined by Anglicans (Dom Gregory and a group of Cowley fathers), living together in Brittany at a place called Boquen, experimented with an ecumenical and a post-Vatican II mode of religious life. The experiment proved unfruitful, and in December of 1968 Dom Gregory once again traveled back to Three Rivers.

Discerning now that he was no closer to settling his vocation, Dom Gregory sought and was granted a second leave of absence from his community, which commenced in January, 1969. Prior to the 1970 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, in consultation with the abbot of St. Gregory's, he requested a dispensation from his monastic vows. The request was favorably reviewed by the community's chapter and episcopal visitor, as well as by a committee of the House of Bishops with jurisdiction in this area. In November, 1970, just prior to his election as rector of the Ascension, Dom Gregory was notified by the Most Rev. John Hines, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, that the dispensation had been granted.

Fr. Norris began his rectorate in a period of great controversy and turmoil. During the 1970s new liturgies proposed for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer were adopted for trial use in parishes throughout the Episcopal Church. At the Ascension, the American Missal and English Missal had for decades provided the norm of worship. When interviewing Fr. Norris as a candidate for the rectorship, vestry members inquired about his attitude toward the trial rites about to be introduced. He responded that historically the parish had taken liturgical leadership, particularly in restoring elements of the liturgy for a time lost. These same elements were now restored to the trial liturgies, and it was the Ascension's responsibility to test and help evaluate the revised forms of worship.

From the beginning of his rectorate until 1976, Fr. Norris systematically alternated the use of Eucharistic Rites I and II. The rites were presented first in the "green book," approved for use in 1970, and then in the "zebra book" of 1973. In order to ease the transition from the missal Mass to Rite I contained in the "green book," he at first continued to use the texts presented in the Missal, but moved the offertory from before the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church (where it appeared in the old prayer book) to immediately before the Sursam Corda, its location in the trial liturgies. The "green book," first used at the Ascension in the spring of 1971, also restored the Gloria to its ancient position at the beginning of the Mass; however, this order had long been the practice in the parish.

From spring until Advent of 1971, all Masses on Sundays and throughout the week were celebrated in accord with Rite I. Throughout the next 12 months Rite II was the form of worship at all Masses. In 1976, after five years of alternative trial use, Rite II was adopted for all Masses (with the exception of a Rite I Mass each Sunday at 8:00 A.M.). A free-standing wooden altar, covered with an attractive frontal, was placed in the church in 1973, permitting the celebrant to face the congregation. At first the new altar was used for Sunday celebrations at 9:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., but only occasionally during the week. Today all Masses (with the exception of the 8:00 A.M. Sunday Mass and all Solemn High Masses) are said or sung at the new altar.

As noted, at St. Gregory's Abbey the rector had witnessed a number of liturgical changes occasioned by the Second Vatican Council, including the replacement of the Solemn High Mass with more simple forms of eucharistic celebration. At the Ascension, however, the Solemn High Mass (the principal liturgy of the parish since Fr. Ritchie's rectorate) continued. Although that liturgy has now largely disappeared from the "newer dispensation" of Catholic liturgical practice, as the principal form of celebration in the parish today (viewed by some as decidedly "old-fashioned") it has been modified to reflect, nevertheless, the influence of contemporary trends in the conduct of corporate worship.

During the 1970s the program of choral and instrumental music at the Ascension, for which the parish is widely known, was directed by Mr. Roy Kehl, organist and choir director, Dr. Victor Weber, Kehl's successor as choir director, and Mr. David Schrader, organist and harpsichordist. A choir of 16 professionally trained musicians continued to sing at the 11:00 A.M. Solemn High Mass; however, the congregation participated in the singing of hymns and of the Gloria and Credo each Sunday morning. The choir's repertoire of Mass settings spanned the fourteenth to the twentieth century, with a heavy reliance on those composed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

In 1952 Fr. Hillestad, for the first time in the parish history, had moved the time of the Easter Vigil from Saturday morning to 11:00 P.M. Reflecting the practice during Fr. Orrick's rectorate, the service of Easter Even in 1970 was celebrated at 7:00 P.M. Since 1971 the rector has returned to scheduling the Vigil and first Mass of Easter, based now on orders of service contained in the new prayer book, at 11:00 P.M. In his view the single most significant occurrence in the entire liturgical movement has been the restoration of the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter Even. Through its pre-eminent focus on the Paschal mystery, this primal restoration now in place in the Book of Common Prayer markedly colors every adaptation, modification, and innovation contained in the revised work.

The centrality of worship has been the most important theme of Fr. Morris' ministry at the Ascension. The rector noted that certain ceremonial practices at the Ascension, like those associated with the Solemn High Mass, are less common than they were, although others are common everywhere. But worship, with whatever ceremonial, "must provide the heart and center of any parish life," and the forms themselves are valuable just to the extent that they facilitate and incarnate worship.

"We do, and must do, many other things, including a multitude of good works, our mission to others, and the like. But I hope that the one thing that is clearly visible to anyone visiting the parish is that at the heart of what we do is worship, praising God and offering the Eucharist every single day. Out of a life of praise and worship, and being fed by the Body and Blood of our Lord, flow all the other things we do as individuals and together as a parish."
The Very Rev. Patrick Raymond, Rector

Susan Schlough, Treasurer

Br. Nathanael Deward Rahm BSG, Parish Office