(mass times & church info last updated 09/15/2010)
Address: 143 E. 43rd St. @ Lexington
Weekend Mass Times:
Sun: 8:30am, 10am, 11am (Latin Mass), 12:30pm, 5:15pm, 7pm
Weekday Mass Times:
M-F: 7:15am, 8am, 8:30am, 12:05pm, 12:35pm, 1:05pm, 5:15pm
Sat: 8am, 12:30pm
Holy Day Mass Times:
Day before: 5pm, 5:30pm
Day of: 7am, 7:30am, 8am, 8:30am, 12:05pm, 12:35pm, 1:05pm, 1:35pm, 5:15pm, 6pm (High Mass)
Holiday Mass Times:
8am, 8:30am, 12:30pm
Thanksgiving Mass Times:
M-F: 7:45-8:45am, 12:30pm-1:45pm, 5pm-5:45pm
Sat: 12pm-1pm, 4:30pm-5:30pm
M-F: 1:30pm-5pm with Benediction
First Fridays: 9pm-5am with Benediction
All night vigil - opening Mass on Friday, 9pm - closing Mass on Saturday, 5am
Miraculous Medal Novena:
Mon: after the 8:30am, 1:05pm, and 5:15pm Masses; before the 12:05pm Mass
M-F: 11:45am, 5:40pm;
Post-Church Brunch: Frontier Cafe - 39th and Lexington
Post-Church Activity: Chill out in Bryant Park
- - -
Church basics and specifics about the organ
A Mystery Shopper of places of worship
About the early 1990's fire and rebuilding
Some pictures and interior detail
Wikipedia article on St. Agnes
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The walk in Grand Central to the Lexington passage is so much better on a weekend morning when the crowds of commuters are not so high in number. As one who undergoes the daily Metro-North grind, it’s a rarity to enjoy the architecture and brilliance of the place because of the usual rush and frenzy of catching one’s train, preceded by a hurry to catch one’s morning cup of coffee and possibly one’s morning bagel with spread or one’s greasy egg and cheese and bacon from Junior’s, and finally one’s Times or rather more typically, one’s AM New York. This morning, however – this Sunday morning – I can take my time and appreciate the excellent space that is Grand Central, as I step through it on my way to attend the 10am Mass at the Church of St. Agnes.
My step today is almost a limp (but not quite) lingering all the way from last weekend's jazz party in Brooklyn where I had departed in fury over this lame chick (obviously, she wasn't lame to me at the time) and stormed down the street kicking everything in sight - from abandoned beer bottles into brick walled sides of buildings to (mistakenly) those black painted and deviously disguised concrete trash cans that my right foot sent nowhere. The next morning a tremendous hangover melancholia hung about me while this raging pain pulsed through my foot. It was Sunday before 10am but that whole week was done before it began - wrath and sadness filled my cup, intruded into my work week, and disquieted my generally tranquil dispostion.
A week later I hobbled out of the Grand Central terminal on my way to St. Agnes', my roommate accompanying me. We found ourselves on Lexington and 43rd, and I could see the cross on the top of the Church of St. Agnes. We walked along 43rd and made it in just in time as the singing was beginning and these were my first thoughts:
The architecture looked very new – the websites where I briefly discerned some info about the church had described it Neo-classical. The fire that occurred here in the early 90’s must have performed quite a number because nothing (with the exception of some of the exterior) resembled something built in 1873. One of the websites detailing the fire and reconstruction had mentioned that (then attorney) Rudy Gulliani, upon seeing the fire from his office window next door, had rushed into the burning church to see if anyone was trapped inside and while there prevented the looting of church property. Very brave of him and though he in no way belongs in the White House in 2009, a tale like that does go to show that there is good in everyone, and great deeds to be done...
Yet, in spite of the fire and loss and because of the reconstruction, it is a beautiful church and there is quite a bit of intense religious art to view. I was pleasantly surprised while taking Communion to confront a painting I just viewed yesterday in the Met - The Holy Family with Saints Anne and Catherine of Alexandria, by Jusepe de Ribera. I had stared at it for a few minutes in the museum as it had caught my eye because, not only is it an incredible work, but it had also been featured in a Sopranos episode I viewed recently - Carmella is overcome with emotion viewing the scene. The one hanging in the transept of St. Agnes contains only the figures of the child Christ, Mary and St. Catherine. St. Anne and St. Joseph are not included. In the museum I was struck by the stern gaze of St. Joseph looking straight at you, into you, the viewer. That look tells me that he is a new father and must already be filled with worry and stress and, perhaps, purpose. He seems to inquire of the viewer, are you ready for this, would you be ready if this responsibility was handed to you? As I had this thought I couldn’t help but smile. My good friend and his wife practice that very naturally planned and very Catholic Rythmn Method. Once a week, in a straightforward and utterly honest manner, he tells me verbatim, I fear I may have impregnated my wife. We have a chuckle that is always followed by an awkward silence and then further chuckling. For the moment, the coast is clear for them but when that time finally rolls around, I think I'll grab my friend and take him to the Met to the European paintings wing and show him this painting and describe to him my thoughts about that stare of St. Joseph.
After Communion, I am calmed and pleased by the painting I just viewed and the beauty of the church I am in; and happy my roommate has come along to share this Sunday morning; and just in general pleased with everything for that moment, right then and there. Nevermind the awful week I feel I just endured or the stress of the work week that is coming around the corner; or the girl from last weekend; or the fact that I lost many hundreds of dollars and possessions when a freak shelf-falling-off-the-wall accident claimed our new TV and laptop. Never mind that – for now St. Agnes' is a very great church to be in.
The websites call it a commuter church and it’s mass schedule is definately set up to accommodate travelers coming in at all times (again, as one who takes these trains into and out of the city, I will definitely keep this place in mind for future daily mass and Holy Days.)
The artwork and statues are beautiful and there is a simple and pretty stone figure of St. Agnes outside the building. I did not catch the priest’s name – he was African and a good speaker. The Gospel was the one about the 10 lepers who Christ heals and only one of them comes back to say thank you. The priest compared these references to leprosy in that day to our current world HIV/AIDS crisis where many millions lay uncared for, neglected and negated. My thoughts (which have such a way of being carried away during the time I spend in Mass – I think I must have a slight undiagnosed case of ADD) turned to my own time in Africa where I fully realized the scale of that epidemic – no, pandemic. There was that one time, that crazy night - driving around with a South African volunteer with the body of an AIDS victim in the back of his truck who we had gone to visit that day and found she had died during the night. And as we drove around searching out a funeral home that was still open and would take her, as we passed the many other homes and shacks, I asked myself how many others were laying and dying behind these walls and closed doors?
My thoughts returned to the present, and I snapped out of my memories, and before long the Mass was completed and I took some time to walk around and enjoy the rest of the church. And after, whether it be the very pleasant day greeting us as we exited, or the simple joy of having come to Midtown and seen a new church, or brunch at the Frontier Cafe, or a nice hour spent in Bryant Park - something finally snapped me out of my putrid and selfish mood I had found myself stuck in all week. Something had come and rescued me and let me know that other things were just around the corner.
*Please forgive the incredibly poor quality of some of the images attached here. For the most part they are taken with my Blackberry camera which I feel is an incredibly inadequate camera for a cell phone these days, especially a cell phone that is as prestigious and expensive as a Blackberry.