Sunday, December 30, 2007

11. Church of the Blessed Sacrament

(mass times & church info last updated 03/08/2016)
Address: 152 W. 71st. St.
Phone: 212.877.3111
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm
Sun: 8:30am (English), 10am (Family Mass), 11:15am (Spanish),
12:30pm (Choir), 5:30pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 7:30am, 12:10pm, 5:30pm (All English)
Sat: 7:30am, 12:10pm (All English)
Confession: Sat: 4:30pm-5:15pm
Special Needs Mass:
1st & 3rd Sundays of the Month at 4pm
Rosary: Daily after 12:10pm Mass
Holy Hour: Fri: 6pm-7pm
First Friday: Exposition: 12:35pm; Adoration: all day; Benediction: 5:15pm
Miraculous Medal Novena:
Mondays: before 12:10pm Mass, after 5:30pm Mass
Official Website
About the Organ
Catholic Encyclopedia: The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament
Catholic Encyclopedia: Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
Wikipedia: The Blessed Sacrament
Wikipedia: Eucharistic Adoration
Spanish Programs Website

I was completely ill for this church visit and I wish I hadn't been. Living on the West side, and feeling like complete s@#% due to flu remnants or bronchitis or something viral, and not wishing to travel far this Sunday, I decided to drop down to 71st street and see what was there in the way of Catholic churches. I can't stop being amazed by all the beautiful churches plopped on just about every street corner in this city - it really is amazing. Okay, it's sad that most of them lay empty, or at least void of the multitudes, each Sunday these days, but the simple fact that they stand there, holding solmenity over this city is fantastic. So I wandered into this church, feeling ill, head fuzzy (due to congestion this week - not alcohol,) chest wheezing with phlegm, body aching and I realized immediately I needed to come back here someday when I felt well so I could truly appreciate it.

I noticed first off that the sound system was pretty swell, Some of these old churches have the worst acoustics and you can never understand - or have a fancy audio system worse than the bad acoustics in these old churches - this one has great speakers that put out good, and somehow, peaceful sound.

Stone architecture greets you from 71st street and as you enter you immediately see that the nave leads to an overwhelming huge apse, towering above you.

I sat in this church and tried concentrating, and prayed for healing and, later, walking out, trying to brace myself for the cold and going home to lay down and get better, I realized I was all the better for going here this evening.

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*Note: I stopped by today for the 12:10pm Mass, happy to be inside this church and NOT sick like last time. I've actually stopped in a few times since then for a quick prayer or two. It's a nice, quiet, cool, solemn place. There was a homeless man right inside the entry way and he asked me for something when I entered. Right away I responded that I didn't have anything. He told me he needed a new pair of shorts because he wanted to wash the pair he had on. He seemed distressed. I went inside the church offering him nothing. Throughout Mass the man was on my thoughts. I could not remove him from my mind and the fact that I had done nothing for him. What does it mean to attend Mass weekly or daily and listen to the Gospel and pray about it but not to LIVE the gospel? What is any of the sacraments, blessings, prayers, holy water, offerings? What is the meaning of any of it? After Mass, he was still there right inside the entry way. I asked him again what he needed. Shorts, he replied, so he could wash the ones he was wearing. I asked him what size. Triple X, he said. I went outside, looking for a store, a Modells or something. I couldn't find anything. I walked back to the church, catching the man on his way out (I think someone from the church had asked him to leave.) I handed him $10. He was grateful and said thank you. I went on my way. Unsure whether the man was going to use the money for clothing or something else, unable to know if he was truly in need or just begging - I realized it didn't matter. Someone very wise recently told me, in regards to this week's upcoming Gospel, The Rich Man and Lazarus, that to be a Christian means to give to those in need without fear of being "taken in." It is not our duty to judge but to give. In fact, it's our job to give WITHOUT judging. And yet I get this wrong every single day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

10. St. Joseph of the Holy Family (Harlem)

NOTE: In 2015 this church was part of a list of churches in danger of merging with other churches or closing altogether as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. This doesn't seem to have happened and this church remains open for regular Masses and other events. If you have any news about this merger or lack thereof please feel free to write in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016) 
Address: 405 W. 125th St. @ Morningside Ave.
Phone: 212.662.9125
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 8:30am (English, Family Mass), 10am (English, Gospel Mass), 12pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Sat: 9am (English)
Tue: 7pm (Spanish)
Fri: 7pm (Spanish)
Sat: 5-5:30pm (Or any time by contacting the rectory)
Fri: 9:30am-6:45pm (Benediction at 6:45pm in Spanish)
Official Website
St. Joseph of the Holy Family School
St. Joseph, Protector of the Holy Family
Novena Prayer to St. Joseph
Prayers to St. Joseph
Catholic Encyclopedia
St. Joseph's Day Altars
Link to a painting of a beardless Joseph by Raphael
Wikipedia: Advent
Wikipedia: Advent Wreath
St. Joseph (Battery Park City)
St. Joseph (Chinatown)
St. Joseph (Greenwich Village)
St. Joseph (Yorkville)


I chose this church for this third Sunday of Advent because last week at St. Jean Baptiste, the priest said that along with the four weeks of Advent, there are four main persons in the Gospel that are important to the whole idea of Advent: Jesus (of course), John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph.

A group of my friends threw a Christmas Party last night - we are the remnants of our two years in Africa. Some of us, landing in New York city after our "tour", maintain contact and friendship and decided it is important that even though we represent a kind of dysfunctional family - in that we are a group of people bound together from a common fate and decision, who do not always get along or see eye to eye but in the end what we have is each other - we should continue getting together at least once a year at Christmas. So we got together and celebrated and gave gifts and pretty much tied one on. And this morning, hungover as I am, I still drag myself to church because I feel I must - regardless of the "Catholicness" of me and any rules or rites or rituals that tell me it must be so that I attend church once a week, this New York city experience and the 96 churches laid out before me is my "must". It's my goal now, and sometimes it's all I have. And if you think that's sad then you've never been where I am before - a crossroads that you've lead yourself to be at from decisions that you always felt with your heart should be made, but now, looking down the next three paths you wonder if it's time to finally let regret begin sinking into your heart.

I walk into St. Joseph of the Holy Family church, just off the M60 bus - the ground is snow and slush covered, it's cold and brittle out and frankly feels fine. My head is full of fuzz and every part of my body is tired and screams for sleep. I slink into a pew and wait - I have about 10 minutes before service begins. Despite my drunken ailments, it is peaceful in here and I am glad to be here. There are several St. Joseph churches in the city - of course, he is a special Saint in the Catholic mythology. He took on a lot of brave responsibility, didn't he?

I kneel for a few moments and the ringing of the bells begins and though I know I've heard bells ring from churches on Sunday mornings in this city before, I don't quite remember it being like this - like that Poe poem - bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells.

They just keep ringing and ringing and I'm pretty sure it's not my head but outside - in that cold brittle air, from atop the church, a great ringing, a pronouncement, a presence in the neighborhood. The ringing goes on and on until the beginning of the service - bells bells bells bells bells bells bells.

The priest - who I think must have been Fr. Kelly - is once again, a dynamic speaker who walks amongst the congregation really involving them. At one point he even asks a young girl to spit out her gum and jokingly admonishes a few nuns sitting nearby for not assisting.

This is just one of the hundred parishes in Manhattan - but truly there is a special feeling here. This is a nice little church sitting up in Harlem, easy to get to by car or public transportation, kind of a gem sitting right on 125th street.

Additional Photos...

Attended 9am Saturday Mass this morning and again I heard the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells!

For some reason I've always liked this church a lot, even before the first time I wrote about it for this blog. I think I had found it previously, if I recollect correctly, and to me it's always seemed peaceful — a respite away from the regular hustle and bustle of 125th street.

Only one strong thought strikes me today: Like Joseph of the New Testament and for whom this church is named, I have been having very intense and powerful dreams of late; very vivid and detailed. But no visits from angels yet, I think.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

9. St. Jean Baptiste

(mass times & church info last updated 04/06/2016)
Address: Lexington at 76th St.
Phone: 212.288.5082
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 9am, 11am (Choral), 5:30pm, 7:30pm (all English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 7:30am, 12:15pm (both English)
Sat: 12:15pm (English)
Sat: 11:45am-12:10pm; 5pm-5:30pm
Sun: 7pm-7:30pm
Mon-Fri: 11:45am-12:10pm
Holyday Mass Times: 7:30am, 12:15pm, 7pm (all English)
Christmas Eve:
5:30pm, 11:30pm (Carols), 12am
Christmas Day:
9am, 11am
New Year's Eve:
5:30pm (Vigil Mass), 11pm (Exposition), 11:30pm (Mass)
New Year's Day:
9am, 11am
Ash Wednesday:
7:30am, 12:15pm, 7pm
Ashes distributed from 7am-7pm
Stations of the Cross:
Lenten Fridays following the 12:15pm Mass
Palm Sunday:
9am, 11am, 5:30pm, 7:30pm
Holy Thursday:
7:30pm, followed by Adoration until 11pm
Good Friday:
12pm (Stations of the Cross)
3pm (Choral Liturgy of the Passion)
7:30pm (Tenebrae)
Holy Saturday:
9am (Tenebrae)
7:30pm (Great Vigil of Easter) 
Easter Sunday:
9am, 11am, 5:30pm
Liturgy of the Hours:M-F: 8am, 5pm
Sun: 5pm
Exposition: Daily
Nocturnal Adoration:
First Friday: Begins with Mass at 5:30pm, continues with Adoration, and concludes with Vespers at 8:30pm
Annual Novena to St. Anne:
Conducted from July 17 through July 26
(It includes two Eucharistic Liturgies daily and procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the 7:30 pm Liturgy. The relic of St. Anne is applied to the sick and presented for veneration at these Liturgies. The Novena includes a Communal Anointing of the Sick and the Blessing of Children.)
Charismatic Prayer Group:
Every Thursday in Parish House: 7:30pm-9pm
contact the church to find out more info
St. Anne Novena & Devotion:
contact the church to find out more info
St. Peter Julian Eymard Novena & Devotion:
contact the church to find out more info
Official Website
Wikipedia: John the Baptist
Wikipedia: Advent
Wikipedia: Advent Wreath


For some reason so tired today, almost feel as though I'm trapped within a grey slumber. The weather changed again and it's still cold but it's strange out there. A lot of moody people around.

St. Jean Baptiste is the sister church of St. Andrew church which I went to a couple weeks ago. Another beautiful Upper East side church and much like the service at St. Andrew, the priest this morning gave a really great talk, again on the subject of Advent and preparation.

John lived on the margins of society and readied those who would hear him for something great. Here, in the city, I am trying to move away from the fringes and fit into something trivial and worldly.

When will I awake?

This church has a lovely shrine devoted to St. Anne, the Blessed Mother's own mother. Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates the conception of Mary within Anne. There is, of course as with most saints, a special prayer to Anne...

"O, glorious St. Anne you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer. Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see God face to face, and wih you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen."

Additional Photos...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

8. Holy Name of Jesus Church

NOTE: In 2015 this church was part of a list of churches in danger of merging with other churches or closing altogether as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. This doesn't seem to have happened and this church remains open for regular Masses and other events. If you have any news about this merger or lack thereof please feel free to write in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/22/2016)
Address: 207 96th St. @ Amsterdam
Phone: 212.749.0276
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 9am (English, Youth Choir), 10:30am (Spanish), 12pm (English, Choral Mass), 1:30pm (French), 5:30pm (English, Contemporary Choir)
Weekday Mass Times:
M-F: 7am, 12pm (English)
M, W, F: 9am (Spanish)
Sat: 9am
Tue, Thu: 11:30am-12pm
Sat: 4-5pm
First Fridays: 12:30pm-1:30pm
Post-Church Activity: Cloisters
Official Website
Wikipedia: Advent
Wikipedia: Advent Wreath
The Organ
Reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus
Holy Name Pledge
Catholic Tradition of the Holy Name
The Cloisters
Fort Tryon Park
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The first semi-real snow of the season occurred this morning - too bad for a friend of mine who was visiting from out of town, decided to try and attempt an early flight out, left at 5am and then proceeded to be stuck in and wait on an airplane for most of the day - but good for me as it refreshed my view on just about everything.

There was something all together wholesome about my walk down a snow covered Amsterdam, not many people about, on my way to, what seemed to me and I'll refer to as, a classic bucolic church in the middle of Upper-Upper West Side Manhattan.

It being the first Sunday of Advent, I felt suddenly thrust into the Christmas season. Upon returning to my apartment, I immediately drank cocoa and played Christmas music, cleaned up after my friend's visit and tried to get my extremely tired (I woke up at 5am also to see my friend off and sleep did not return to me) mind and body into sync with how I wanted to spend the rest of my Sunday. I had an overwhelming desire to see go up to the Cloisters and see Fort Tryon park in the snow. I caught the A train up there and when I emerged from the subway cave, what I experienced was awesome - and I use that word in the original intent and use of that word to indicate something awe-inspiring and great, not what skaters, teens, and you and I and generations of others have turned it into. The walk through the snowy, icy paths of Fort Tryon was good for my soul. The cold blasts of wind woke me from my fogginess that had been lingering since my early wake up. The views were, of course, absolutely incredible and just exactly what I needed to be doing and seeing.

Later, back in my neighborhood, with fogginess creeping its way back into my head, I found myself wandering into St. John the Divine Episcopal Cathedral for the weekly Sunday evening 6pm Evensong. Again, this felt like precisely the place I needed to be. This cathedral is a grand cavern, dark and medieval. The voice of the pastor came ringing through the building as if it were the very voice of God. The singing was as if I was caught in the midst of angels that I could not see, angels trying to tell me something, something ancient and beautiful and in another language that we lost long ago and no longer knew.

Somewhere inside, I knew what they were saying.

Additional Photos...