(mass times & church info last updated 03/20/2016)
Address: 1834 3rd Ave. @ 101st St.
Post-Church Activity:This church on the edge of Spanish Harlem and the Upper East side is small and simplistic. It is a mostly Spanish speaking community it serves and this morning attending the 9:30am Sunday English mass I wondered if I would have been having a more energetic spiritual experience if I had chosen to attend one of the many Spanish speaking masses it offers. I've attended Spanish churches before and though I speak barely any Spanish, there is still such a strong sense of why one is there during the praise and festiveness of a Spanish Mass. On that note, I've also observed that English language Masses at these Spanish churches are always somewhat subdued and very very mellow. I guess the root of all this is language barriers.
(I had to go to work today - blech!)
(I had to go to work today - blech!)
This is the smallest and most bare church I've attended in New York City - the decor is standard and certainly no where near the ornateness of St. Paul the Apostle or St. Francis Xavier. As I sat there it did strike me that a lesson could certainly be learned in this. This small square structure up on 101st street, with it's simple Stations of the Cross and standard Catholic statues and stained glass windows practices the same things that go on each week in those other churches I've been to - same rituals, readings, format and celebration of the Eucharist - just without all the grandeur I saw in the others. What does all that mean to a worshipper?
I know on many instances of walking into a church I am just so happy and thankful to be there at all, feeling the peace and presence that accompanies it. Other times it feels really great to be in a beautiful and grand structure - almost as if one feels God so much more because of the grandness. And isn't that why churches were once built so immense and inspiring - to glorify and praise God? But isn't a simple room with nothing more than prayer just as good?
Today I realize (if I hadn't before) that the New York City stratosphere of status and wealth is exemplified in all these churches just as it infiltrates every other aspect of life here.
This church is far more beautiful than I remember it being from my first visit detailed above. I'm not sure if that's because I may have left shortly after Mass the first time and missed out on exploring and viewing all the art, or if they have refurbished and renovated at some point in the last 5 and half years. I enjoyed my visit here this morning, after having attended Mass at Holy Rosary, and then peaking into St. Ann before dropping by here. There was a Spanish service happening as I walked in, so I sat down quietly in the back and took in some of the sites I couldn't recall from before. After Mass ended, I took my time walking around, enjoying the statues, the windows, the paintings, and most especially a really intriguing crucifix at the back of the church, hidden away in the dark Capilla Chapel. It's not life-size or anything, but it is incredibly lifelike. It's also a little bit gory. I wasn't sure at the time if I liked it or not. I'm still not, but I think I do. Something about the eyes, really presenting the humanity of Christ to the viewer. And the place is called "holy agony" after all. I also looked for the priest to hand him a long overdue donation from some of my ad revenue, but not finding him I shoved a bunch of cash into the candle donation box at the back of the church, lit a few electronic candles for some friends and loved ones, and then disappeared into an overcast, drizzly New York day.