Monday, May 26, 2008

29. St. Vincent Ferrer (Now the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with the church of St. Catherine of Siena as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Both churches will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This new combined parish is called the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena.

(mass times & church info last updated 04/04/2016)
Address: 869 Lexington Ave. @ 65th St.
Phone: 212.744.2080
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 8am, 10am, 12pm, 5:30pm (all English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8am, 12:10pm, 6pm (all English)
Saturday: 8am (English)
Sat: 4:30pm-5:20pm
Mon-Fri: 5:20pm-5:50pm
Wed: 7:45pm-8:30pm
Liturgy of the Hours (sung/chanted by the Dominican Fathers & Brothers):
Morning Prayer: Mon-Fri at 7:40am
Office of Readings and Evening Prayers: Mon-Fri at 5:30pm
Wednesdays: 7:30pm-9pm (Compline at 8:30pm)
Official Website
St. Vincent Ferrer's old website
Wikipedia Entry about the Church
About the Architecture
More Architecture
About the Organ
About St. Vincent Ferrer
Dominican Friars Blog
Dominican Foundation Website


I love this city in the early morning on public holidays. There are less people around, it is quieter, there is more a sense of peace and less the sense of hectic city. Once, in fact I believe it was last year on Memorial Day, I woke up around 5am and decided to walk in Central Park - I literally did not encounter a single other person for maybe half an hour. It was the single strangest and most wonderful occurrence I've experienced here. It was even a little frightening - after spending nonstop time around so many others for so long, to finally find oneself alone in some woods in the middle of a metropolis - it was other worldly in many ways.

I decided to go to daily Mass this morning at St. Vincent Ferrer because it had recently been suggested, and also upon looking at the church's website I learned that daily Lauds and Vespers could be attended. Morning Lauds begin at 7:45am and I arrived a few minutes before. From the main church you can hear the Dominican Friars engaged in the prayer - I found it beautiful but slightly difficult to hear. I wonder if it is possible to get closer so you can see them - but I figure no. Once again I am stunned that there is another huge gorgeous church in the city - how many more are out there? It really is amazing. This church - Gothic and Romanesque - is like walking into a different world, or a different time altogether.

It was good for me to be there, receive the Eucharist and sit in some further quiet reflection. After Mass, I walked around, took some pictures and lit a candle in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (she holds a rosary) and made 3 petitions.

I highly suggest you visit here. My list of favorite churches is in constant flux, and I am rarely disappointed as I stumble upon and discover these holy places.

There is nothing better than a three day weekend (especially when the extra day is a Monday.) You have so much to look forward to the week preceding, and once the holiday weekend is done, you're granted a four-day work week. The three days are always so refreshing, so relaxing, so sustaining.

Web 2.0 is in my thoughts a lot lately. When I arrived back from my volunteer time in Africa about two years ago I was struck with subtle differences between the America I came back to and the one I had left behind. It was only two years of being away - yet a lot of change had taken place. The biggest that had struck me was this new Web 2.0 social networking connectedness everyone was so involved with. I was out for drinks with a friend and some others at a favorite English pub in my hometown and when the bar closed down we were invited to someone's house. I fully expected to sit around the stereo or tv and have a few late night beers, but instead we were lead to this person's computer room and we all sat around his computer watching clip after clip of stuff on his monitor and all I could think about was how much this dude was addicted to his computer and it all made me kind of so sick - the obsession with technology and computers.

Now, about two years later I find myself in the same position as that guy. This machine in front of me which I type away on right this minute has become an obsession - or in the very least a daily practice to rival any sort of religious patronage I partake in. How does one combat this? Do I border on breaking the first Commandment with how often I am on this device and look to it for answers, info, entertainment - everything? I have gone from someone who shied from the mania of the web to someone who now writes this blog, submits videos to Youtube, participates in internet dating, shops online, reads online, watches everything there is to watch online. I am no Ludite at heart or anything like that, I realize this is all part of the natural progression of technology and I see how the rapid transit of information from person to person is a good thing - but there's got to be something wrong with the obsession we all have and which grows in me day to day.

I just don't know.

There's something wrong when I am out meeting friends and I feel a sudden compulsion come over me to get home in front of my computer to "check" in on everything I've been doing webwise. Isn't there? There's got to be something wrong with us all.

And it can only worsen - the more we shy from reality and people and place ourselves in front of these screens, practicing a new kind of worship, placing a new faith in what technology delivers to us, in what it can offer and bestow to us. We should not forget the many things it can never deliver to us, those things which it makes so easy to forget about.

Providence. Grace. Forgiveness. Life itself. And the life beyond this one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

28. St. Catherine of Siena (Now the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with the church of St. Vincent Ferrer as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Both churches will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This new combined parish is called the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena.

(mass times & church info last updated 04/04/2016) 
Address: 411 East 68th Street @ 1st Ave.
Phone: 212.988.8300
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:15pm (English)
Sun: 9am, 12pm, 5:15pm (all English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 7am, 12pm, 5:15pm (all English)
Sat: 12pm (English)
Mon-Sat: 11:30am-11:55am, 4:40pm-5:05pm 
Mon-Sat: 11:40am 
Sun: 3pm 
Liturgy of the Hours:
Mon-Fri: 5pm
Sun: 11am-11:45am
Wed: 12:30pm-5pm
Thu: 12:30pm-5pm
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Prayer Group: 
Wednesday following 5:15pm Mass
Queen of Peace Prayer Group: 
Sat: 9am
Constructed: 1897
Official Website
About St. Catherine of Siena
Dominican Friars Blog - Surprise Papal Visit
Art Images of St. Catherine

It's embarrassing, and I am sorry to write, that an ex-girlfriend and I were both given a ticket yesterday by two undercover NYPD officers for drinking beers on the subway - open container violations. Now, it is only a violation and a minor fine to pay - no "real" trouble but it's so damned depressing. I followed up this despicable behaviour with further destructive and irresponsible action when I went with my ex to her apartment, continued drinking and ended up hooking up with her - an act that fills me with guilt because I no longer have any intention of maintaining a relationship with her (though I had strongly desired a friendship, something I now realize - stupidly delayed - that boys and girls really can't "just be friends" when these things end) and feel I have acted terribly and possibly given her the wrong idea of things. Further, why did I even put myself in that stupid stupid position? Drinking nonstop, alone at her place - completely susceptible to sin.

And today?

Confession, of course. Some of my non-Catholic friends look strangely upon the sacrament of Confession - seeing it as a bizarre Catholic loophole where one may freely commit sins, readily confess them, and it is like nothing ever happened - but it is different than that. When I confessed today, more than my penance or the priest's kind words and reflections on my actions, what struck me and stuck to me the most was the absolution. He said, "now be forgiven and remember to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. Be forgiven and go in peace. Go in peace."

He must have seen the worry I wore on my face and knew I was probably making a bigger deal out of things than I should have been. The whole point of regular confession is consistent reflection on your actions and morality - a good thing. And it is a reminder to you that God forgives - and you too should forgive others - also a good thing. And so I was reminded of this. Reminded of the value of forgiveness and the moral path one should attempt following.
It's my second confession in the past six years and this big brick church offered me a grand place in which to sit and reflect before entering the confessional. This is another massive building - the brick structure reminds me of a monastic church - there are tons of incredible statues of saints, the stained glass windows present a beautiful color scheme against the dark arches.

After Mass, I walked from the East side to Times Square - a trip in itself.

Walking around this city, it is difficult to see one's place in the grander scheme of things. Are you what you do, your occupation? Are you your faith? Are you what others see you as being? Are you a montage of these things? Do your friends make you who you are - are they a reflection?

It is easier than imagined to lose oneself in the anonymity and magnitude of the city. And everywhere, in every corner, everyone is attempting to be so damned individualistic - and everyone is just coming out wholly the same. And we seek answers on this sticky web - we post our thoughts whether others wish to know them or not; we sell our belongings and even ourselves on Craigslist, internet dating sites; we broadcast shadows of this life and this society on Youtube. And when we are done posting, we begin consuming it all up again.

We are losing ourselves in ourselves, in our pride and obsession with ourselves, in this mess we've piled up on the earth, on the web and in our heads.

- - -

P.S. - I need to just add something.  Once arriving in Times Square last night, I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie.  Awful. Honestly, just awful.  Now I am a big fan of the original 3 movies and I know recently I've heard a lot of arguments that if you go back and watch them, they don't stand up that well, the acting isn't terrific, the new one is just as good as the other 2 sequels - that is all horse shit!

This movie had plot holes big enough to drive a desert tank convoy through.  Harrison Ford was off about 95% of his time in the movie - his delivery on most of his lines was terrible - very unlike the other 3, the dialog itself wasn't very good, the filmmakers had scenes that make Indiana look very goofy.  Marion Ravenwood character was wasted - she spent the whole time just smiling - the interaction/romance between her and Indy didn't develop very believably -and why drag John Hurt's insane character and the constantly-trading-allegiances-only-when-the-plots-needs-it-to-happen Mac along all the way to the end?

There was (of course - damn you George Lucas!) way too much CGI in the whole film to make it an authentic and believable Indiana Jones movie - way too much soft "Barbara Walters" lighting prevalent during the entire mess, obvious sound stage scenes - it was all just really depressing to watch.

The original 3 films were fun, the "real" location shots made it all the more believable, they required a suspension-of-disbelief you were ready and willing to give, whereas this new travesty requires one that you're embarrassed to put forth.

All in all, the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a blight on the franchise and a reminder that what runs this whole machine we are a part of is down and dirty money.  This movie will bank the millions or billion dollars that the Paramount execs expect, George and Steven will tell themselves that they've done a good job and move on to produce further catastrophes, and soon we may even convince ourselves that it wasn't all bad, and ignore its inherent bad qualities which we all down deep know are truly there.  

Such is this life and the world we live in - and thanks to this new movie, even other worlds we used to be able to escape into have been tainted, vandalized, ransacked, sacrileged.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

27. Corpus Christi Church

(mass times & church info last updated 03/08/2016) 
Address: 529 W. 121st St. (Near Columbia)
Phone: 212.666.9350
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5pm (English)
Sunday: 8:30am (English), 10am (Spanish), 11:15am (English/choir)
1pm Family Mass (Labor Day thru June 30)
5pm (at St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia when class is in session)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Sat: 8am (English)
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm (at St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia when class is in session, otherwise at the church)
Sat: 11am (Spanish)
Sat: 4:15-4:45pm (in the church)
Mon-Fri: 1pm-2pm (in 100 Earl Hall at Columbia except summer & university vacations)
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-9:30am (when Columbia is in session)
Mon-Wed, Fri: 4pm-5pm (when Columbia is in session)
Thursday: 8pm-9pm Holy Hour (when Columbia is in session)
Saturday: After 8am Mass until 11am
Official Website
Music Concerts at the Church
About the Organ
Feast of Corpus Christi

From Yahoo Travel:
This Roman Catholic church was founded in 1906, and the present building was designed and built in 1935. It is best known for its music programs, as well as a vast collection of historic, religious, architectural and contemporary art. The medieval design will enchant you, as will the world-renowned choir and the heavenly sound of the Holtkamp Organ that was installed in the 1950s. Every Sunday the church performs the Gregorian Chant, the Renaissance polyphony, and Baroque and early classical choral music.

In my brief research (basically of this church's very great website) I discovered that this is the church where Thomas Merton was baptized.

Of Corpus Christi, Merton later wrote:

"The words, songs, ceremonies, signs, movements of worship are all designed to open the mind and heart of the participant to this experience of oneness in Christ. One reason why I am a Catholic, a monk and a priest today is that I first went to Mass, and kept going to Mass, in a Church where these things were realized. . . . There was nothing new or revolutionary about it; only that everything was well done, not out of aestheticism or rubrical obsessiveness, but out of love for God and His truth. It would certainly be ingratitude of me of I did not remember the atmosphere of joy, light, and at least relative openness and spontaneity that filled Corpus Christi at solemn High Mass."

(Seasons of Celebration, p. 237)

And what of my time there this morning?

I did attend the 11:15 Choral Mass - and it was everything as described above.

To be in a holy place and surrounded with such music; to be in the presence of those so beautiful because they truly want to be there and are thus truly there - it's all enough to fill one with more emotion than one can handle on a drab day such as today.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

26. Our Lady of the Rosary / Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton (Now St. Peter-Our Lady of the Rosary Parish)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with the Church of St. Peter and St. Joseph's Chapel as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. All three churches will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This new combined parish is called St. Peter-Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/31/2016)
Address: 7 State Street
Phone: 212.269.6865
Weekend Mass Times: Sun: 11am (English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon - Fri: 8:05am, 12:15pm (both English)
Mon-Fri: 12pm-12:15pm
Official Website
About the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Great Pictures
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

I try to pray the rosary every day on the subway on my way to work. I must admit sometimes I'm too tired or become too distracted with other things playing on my mind or I'm a little hungover or I may strike up a conversation with someone who shares my commute. But on the days I've woken up with time enough for one or two cups of coffee, and I've plenty of time, and the Times or (worse) the AMNY hasn't sucked me into their front pages, I'm typically successful saying the Mystery of that day. I count the prayers and Hail Marys out on my fingers rather than pull out my rosary (which I actually do not carry with me - is this bad I wonder?) and say the prayers quietly to myself. I really enjoy Thursday - the Luminous Mysteries. A few years ago when I first heard about these "new" Mysteries, I was a little bit offended that the Church was altering something so ancient and traditional. I've come to realize their beauty and transcendence though - and each one of these - The Baptism at the Jordan, The Miracle at Cana, The Proclamation of the Gospel, The Transfiguration, and the Presentation of the Eucharist all illuminate my Thursday morning. Sometimes I find it difficult to get through the Sorrowful, not necessarily because it deals with the sadder Mysteries, but because each Mystery is so concentrated...
The Agony in the Garden is such a strong title of a Mystery. It is at once sad and beautiful. It is a paradox as it combines suffering with natural splendor. And it was such a time in the life of Christ. He prayed so as not to suffer his fate, the fate of humanity's weakness. That the cup should pass. He yearned for a different path, but this could not be. This Man endured duress both emotional and physical and in the end fatal - it could be no other way.

The Carrying of the Cross also strikes me. As Christians (and non-Christians) we say of day to day things, it is my cross to bear. But is it? A cross bearer - much like a ring bearer - carries a great responsibility, burden, weight, duty. But a cross bearer goes to their deaths. In the end, the cross ends in life's end. That is a cross to bear. It is no journey to relish. It is no light thing. It is an ultimate duty that brings one upon their bane.
This church - another chapel, I suppose - is simple and small, steeped in history and a really great place to go for Sunday 11am mass. There is a bunch of literature available at the church (or of course, online) for one to learn more of the devoted life Elizabeth Ann Seton lived and what all she did for social justice, as well as the history of the church.

You may want to go on the historic church walking tour suggested on the website that gives you an overview of the neighborhood and the many old and beautiful nearby churches.

"The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who 'is our peace' cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace..."

- Pope John Paul II (Rosarium Virginis Mariae - On the Most Holy Rosary)

Friday, May 2, 2008

25. St. Malachy (The Actor's Chapel)

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016)
Address: 239 West 49th Street
Phone: 212.269.6865
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm, 11pm (both English)
Sun: 9am, 11am (choir), 6pm (all English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8am, 12:05pm (both English)
Sat: 12:05pm (English)
Mon-Sat: 12:40pm
Sat: 4:30pm
Rosary: Mon-Fri: 7:40am
Adoration: Tuesdays 6:30pm-7:30pm
Official Website
NY Times Article (2005)
NY Times Article About the Restoration (1993)
Wikipedia: St. Malachy
St. Malachy's Prophecy of the Popes

From Yahoo! Travel...
Founded in 1902, this church is an integral part of the Theater District. In 1920, St. Malachy's Church experienced an influx of actors, dancers, musicians, craftsmen, and tourists filling the seats, replacing the types of parishioners St. Malachy's had seen in previous years. In 1991, Father Michael C. Crimmins was named pastor and put forth immense effort to fund repairs for the church. A new roof, restoration of the interior, cleaning of the exterior and heating and air conditioning systems have made St. Malachy Church a beautiful place to pray.
- - -
This church is beautiful, just beautiful - and kind of amazing. It's small - technically truly a chapel, I suppose - and because of the size the pews seem a little more filled than usual. The acoustics are amazing and song really fills it up. This parish offers a lot of extra activities - so their website is worth checking out - as is the building. And once inside it, you are worlds away from Times Square, which lies but just outside its doorstep.
- - -

So, I've just did a little bit of research (very little) and I read that St. Malachy had a prophecy of popes. Please see link above or Google it and find out more for yourself - but basically he made several hundred predictions about the popes of his time and future popes - all the way up to Benedict and one more after that. Eerie, huh? Benedict is old, and these do feel like end times. But I guess maybe all times on earth, where men have been alive, all the goodness and badness and imagination possible within them, have seemed like possibilities for end times.

Still. Wars, food shortages, imminent world flooding and fires and catastrophes.

It makes one seriously realize the triviality of blogging about it all, blogging about it at all...