Sunday, August 31, 2008

42. Our Lady of Pompeii

(mass times & church info last updated 03/25/2016)
Address: 25 Carmine St. (In the West village at Bleecker)
Phone: 212.989.6805
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English)
Sun: 9am (English), 11am (Italian), 12:15pm (English), 1:30pm (Brazilian), 3pm (Filipino), 6pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 7am, 12:05pm (both English)
Wed: 6:30pm Mass & Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Sat: 8am (English)
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Novena: 
Wed: 6:30pm Mass & Novena
Confession: 30 minutes before weekend Masses

Official Website
Church Info PDF
About the Organ
The Caring Community
New York Daily Photo Blog
Architecture Images
Churches Around the World
Greenwich Village Virtual Tour
Our Lady of Pompeii School
Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine
The Story of Our Lady of Pompeii

This church is awesome. If you even just glance at any of the links above, you will see A) much nicer photos than the ones I have posted here, and B) a little bit of the history of the place.

This church overlooks Father Demo Square - a great nice open space that I had never been to before, even though I've ventured into the West Village quite often. The square is quite a beautiful place to sit, eat ice cream, people-watch - there's a relaxed comfortable feeling there and it's nice to be able to look up at the church tower and know the church's own calming presence is right there as well.

Looking back on some of my entries I wonder, am I just purporting a bad image or a further stereotype of what Catholics are seen as: guilt-ridden, distraught and generally messed-up individuals? I certainly hope I am not. If any out there (without a better prior understanding of Catholicism, or knowing someone who is Catholic) is reading me as such I must warn - don't take me or this blog as any kind of foundation for your knowledge of Catholicism or Catholics. The Church, as a whole, is so much more than one person's experiences (be they good or bad;) so much more than some of it's terrible history (be it, a lot of it, bad;) so much more than these rituals and traditions.

It's organic. It's all these buildings and these parishes. It's God above us, God within us, God around us. It's each member doing his or her part to reach toward God, always seek God, always remember God and to never forget God.

And somehow it's me, doing what I do, and somehow God reaching towards me, always.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

41. Our Lady of Esperanza

(mass times & church info last updated 03/24/2016)
Address: 624 W. 156th (West of Broadway)
Phone: 212.283.4340
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 6pm (Spanish)
Sun: 9am (Spanish), 10:30am (English), 12pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Sat: 9am (Spanish)
Confession: Sat: 5pm-6pm
Adoration: First Fridays: 9:30am-10:30am

Official Website
About the Organ
Washington Heights Info
Museum Planet Tour
New York Landsmarks Conservancy
From Hudson Heights Owner Coalition


Spanish Mass again, and intinction again.

This church is awesome - small and beautiful. It's richly decorated and well taken care of. Elegant. And Holy.

Once again I wasn't really able to follow along with the readings, Gospel or homily, however when it came time for the Eucharist I knew what to do - and this time around there was very little hesitation or fear. But I admit, there was a little.

There are two beautiful portraits that flank the altar: the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus, and St. Joseph doing the same.

This church is just around the corner from St. Catherine of Genoa, a church I really enjoyed when I visited. There is something very nice about this part of Washington Heights - the streets are wide yet peaceful. There is a wonderful openness to the whole neighborhood that you don't find a lot of in Manahattan.

I am not sure if ever I did, but now I certainly do not, no longer belong in bars. There is nothing for me there any longer - when I enter them and sit down on the stools and order up some beers or cocktails or whatever, this is all just another form of my wanderings. And yet I keep going back. And once there my wandering mind becomes only capable of focusing on any passing girl. And all of this will only lead me down a road I do not wish to go down. Alcohol once consumed my passions, and now it is only consuming my wallet, as I throw away my money, basically into fire of obsession and waste.

I have begun regular spiritual advisement. And though I am only just beginning to learn what it is and what exactly it can do for me, I already realize it will be wholly beneficial to me as I strive for direction in this, my life, an up-to-now wandering clusterfuck of darkness, ignorance, wrecklessness and waste.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

40. Cathedral of St. Patrick

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016)
Address: 460 Madison Ave. (@ 51st St.)
Phone: 212.753.2261
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5:30pm (English, with music)
Sun: (all English except where listed):
7am, 8am
9am (with music)
10:15am (choir)
12pm (with music)
4pm (Spanish, with music)
5:30pm (music)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: (all English with music except where listed):
7:30am, 8am (both no music)
12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm
5:30pm (music on Mondays/Fridays only)
Sat: 8am (in Lady Chapel), 12pm (in main Church) (both English)
Mon-Fri: 12pm-1:20pm, and after all morning Masses
Sat: 12pm-12:45pm, 3:30pm-5:30pm
Rosary: Tue, Thu: 5:30pm (in the Lady Chapel)
Daily Exposition/Adoration:
Mon-Fri: 1pm-6pm, evening devotions at 6pm
Miraculous Medal Devotion: Mondays 5:30pm (in the Lady Chapel)
Evening Prayer: Wednesdays 5:30pm (in the Lady Chapel)
Litany of the Sacred Heart Devotion: Fridays 5:30pm (Lady Chapel)
Stations of the Cross:
Wednesdays & Fridays at 6pm during Lent (except Ash Wednesday)

Official Website
Archdiocese of New York
About the Organ
Sacred Destinations
Medieval New York
Architecture Images
Some Pictures
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral
NY Times Slideshow - Pope's Visit

Today I went to the Cathedral for Mass - this can only mean one thing: I have guests in town.

When I first moved here to the city, the Cathedral was one of the first places on my list to visit - and at the end of that first Mass I ever attended at St. Patrick's I concluded that I would never go again. It's a beautiful building for sure - but the crowd, the TVs, the bullying ushers and complete spectacle of the whole thing really turned me away and I determined to seek out smaller, more intimate places of worship where I would be able to pray in more peace.

Not that the Cathedral doesn't obviously have so much to offer, and I must admit that attending daily mass here is really quite wonderful (though I have not attended the Saturday 8am which is held in the back chapel - that must be truly a cool experience as the chapel is absolutely beautiful and very calm indeed.)

As you walk up to the Cathedral in midtown it towers above you, even while the midtown Rockefeller buildings tower above it. It is definitely a presence in this neighborhood and the whole area is one of my favorite places in the city - Rockefeller plaza, the flags, the bar at the Top of the Rock, etc.

So my aunt was visiting and we attended here and then followed that with brunch and it was all very much a nice day, aside from the ushers who unpleasantly herded the congregation into and out of the lines for communion.

There is a lot of history and beauty contained within this Cathedral and even though I do have better experiences at the other 39 churches I've been to in the city, I will go back to St. Patrick's, especially some Saturday for that 8am Chapel Mass.

Having just visited St. Rose of Lima the day before, I was pleased to find a chapel dedicated to her.

As we are on the topic of Cathedrals, I need to state again how much I really do enjoy visiting the Episcopalian Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Perhaps I am partial as it is right around the corner from my place - still though: it is grand and holy and serious and simple all at once. I do not mean any disrespect, but as far as Cathedrals go, I do prefer it to St. Patrick's. Here's a few shots I've been able to take of St. John the Divine:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

39. St. Rose of Lima

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016)
Address: 520 W. 165th St. (between Broadway & Amsterdam)
Phone: 212.568.0091
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 7:30pm (English);
Sun: 9am (Spanish), 10:30am (English), 12:30pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Sat: 9am
Wed, Fri: 7:30pm
Confession: Saturdays at 4pm

Official Website
About the School
St. Rose of Lima


I've been planning on visiting this church for awhile so it was perfect when I discovered today was the Feast of St. Rose of Lima. Later, in my brief research I learned about Rose for the first time: the first canonized saint of the new world, she practiced self-mortification to rob the world, and any suitors, of her great beauty, so that she stay loyal to her one true important love, God. Remarkable! These saints with their excess divinity and extremism. Could any of us today rob ourselves of our worldly virtues in order to be closer to God? No. We say that we have these "gifts" from God that we may use to bring ourselves, and possibly others, closer to God. Yet we are kidding ourselves. Is it perverse how we wish to live in two worlds at once - this temporal limited one and God's limitless heaven? Or is what the young Rose did to herself the perverse act? Robbing the world of something God given? I don't know if what Rose did to herself was right or not, but it was done with the best of intentions... Her world, her inside-her-head own world is so far removed from that of my own, I'm not sure what to think. However, there is great wisdom to be found in both the comment and the quote written on the American Catholic website Saint of the Day, St. Rose of Lima page I linked above:
It is easy to dismiss excessive penances of the saints as the expression of a certain culture or temperament. But a woman wearing a crown of thorns may at least prod our consciences. We enjoy the most comfort-oriented life in human history. We eat too much, drink too much, use a million gadgets, fill our eyes and ears with everything imaginable. Commerce thrives on creating useless needs to spend our money on. It seems that when we have become most like slaves, there is the greatest talk of “freedom.” Are we willing to discipline ourselves in such an atmosphere? (Comment)

“If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna” (Matthew 18:8–9). (Quote)
At this morning Mass today I practiced intinction for the first time. It was a Spanish Mass, I didn't understand a word of the Gospel or Homily, but of course I knew what was going on - oh ritual and order how you can sometimes be so comforting! When I go to these Masses in languages I do not understand (but oh I wish I could) I know that I can always take part in at least that one part (aside from the order and song and presence in the Liturgy,) the Eucharist. As the congregation began lining up down the center aisle, I joined them. Briefly looking ahead I realized that not only was the priest only distributing the Host directly to the mouths of the communicants and not placing the Host in their hands, he was as well dipping the bread into the wine and then giving it to them.

A very dear and beloved friend of mine used to call this "dipping the cracker."

That memory brought a brief smile to mind but then the moment brought utter terror and an impulse to retreat immediately to my seat and await the "normal" method of Communion I was used to. But I remained, thinking this thought: I am in the midst of a different culture of Catholic than that which I am used to and I shall practice what is practiced here and partake. I approached the priest, thinking mainly of how I could most accurately stick out my tongue to receive the Sacrament without messing anything up. And when I finally made my way up to the priest I held out my tongue appropriately enough, received the Sacrament and went back to my seat, having received the Lord in that mystical way we believers are lucky and blessed enough to be privy to.

In the end, the intinction method of receiving Communion was no different than the way I usually receive. The only exception was that I was no longer afraid of receiving the Sacrament in this manner. This is a way to bring me closer to God, bring my thoughts and actions closer to what Christ has in mind for my good thoughts and actions.

Reflecting so much on Communion this time around brings to mind articles I've read recently on certain bishops stating to the press that the Church should withhold presenting Communion to Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians because of their public pro-choice stand, and affirmation of abortion. This is one of so many topics that flounders me as a modern Catholic - one I promise to address very soon. My initial feelings are that Catholics everywhere in this country, responsible for incredible sin in their own lives, go to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist every week and the priests and Eucharistic ministers present it to them. If Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, wishes to receive Jesus Chirst in the method and Sacrament which is Catholic Communion, the Holy Eucharist, then no man on earth should be able to take this away from him. Whatever sins he is responsible for in his private and public life should be left to him and God - and no one else. (Perhaps, a priest or bishop's responsibility in this case lies only in talking to Joe Biden deeply about the issues at hand - but nowhere else.)

After Mass, after taking my photos and walking towards the back exit door of the church, I was stopped by an old Hispanic woman who, filled with sweetness and kindness and some kind of passion about something I will never know, stopped me and lead me to a statue of the Mary, Blessed Virgin, and the Annunciation. In Spanish, she went on and on about something - and I know not what - but she was impassioned about whatever it was and I love her for that.

I need to remark on one other thing.

Finding myself in Washington Heights after Mass I contacted my dear friend (the married one from my first church entry.) It was still the morning hour, before noon - we were happy to see each other as jobs and other commitments have kept our hangings out few and far between - and we decided to drink some leftover beers in the fridge, as well as an additional six pack to boot. We got drunk and reminisced and laughed and it was good - this was not a bad drunk, though the time was a bit odd and could be misconstrued - I caught up with my closest friend and something is special about this event which we rarely get to have anymore.

I am not finished with drinking quite yet - it still delivers to me something which I cannot obtain from anywhere else.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

38. Church of the Holy Innocents

(mass times & church info last updated 03/20/2016)
Address: 128 W. 37th St. (between Broadway & 7th Ave.)
Phone: 212.279.5861
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 4pm (English)
Sun: 10:30am (Latin), 12:30pm (English)
1st Sunday: 1:35pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times:
M-F: 7:30am, 12:15pm, 1:15pm (all 3 English), 6pm (Latin)
M-F: 8am (Latin Mass during Lent)
Sat: 1pm (Latin)
Traditional Latin Mass:
Sun: 10:30am
Weekdays: 6pm (on Civic Holidays at 1:15pm)
Sat: 1pm
Fri: 12pm-2pm (English & Spanish)
1st Friday: 5:30pm-6pm (before Latin Mass), 7pm-8pm (during overnight vigil)
Sat: 12:30pm-1pm (before Latin Mass), 3:30pm-4pm (before English Mass)
Sun: 9:30am-10:30pm (before Latin Mass), 12pm-12:30pm (before English Mass)
Tue-Thurs: 12pm
Weekdays after the 1:15pm Mass
Weekdays at 5:45pm
Divine Mercy Chaplet:
Weekdays: 3pm
Fri: 5:15pm, 5:40pm
Stations of the Cross (during Lent):
Fri: 12:45pm
Liturgy of the Hours: Midday Prayer
Mon & Fri 12:05pm

Official Website
About the Organ
Flickr - great photo
Photo From A Catholic Life
A blog entry about the shrine
New York Times article
What are the Holy Innocents?

This is one of those midtown churches which must be hustling and bustling during the week based on the number of daily masses they have, but which is a lot quieter on the weekend. There was somewhere between 10-20 of us gathered for this Sunday noon mass. I, of course, found it a wonderful experience to be there. There is much art and many statues - all of which are dramatically lit and it's really easy to take good photos here. The lighting of the whole church is a little bit dark - but not utterly dark. It's easy to pray here, it's easy to sit and to linger - a nice place.

There is a shrine to the souls of the unborn that was dedicated in 1993 on the Feast of the Holy Innocents - a book encased by the shrine includes names of unborn children who died of miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion. There are many paintings and statues of the Holy Family. There was no music at the Mass, which was strange - I'm not sure if there is any during the week.

Since this does seem to be a heavy commuter church, I highly suggest it to you if you work around this area and desire to go to Mass in the middle of the work day - I wish I could.

If this is a story, if it's my story (even if it's a crummy story, badly told,) then isn't it about time the first act ends and the second begins? You've had all the character introduction you can stand, huh? Young man, lost wandering around the cityscape, haunted by his demons, unable to let go the past, desperate, out of control, misplacing his hope in the rest of the world and certainly without any in himself. A troubled soul, a certain anti-hero, or at least wannabe-hero. The next character: the city itself, dreadful and magnificent all at once, rising above our wannabe, looming above him, casting down its shadow and its dark upon him. Then God, the true hero, in the form of all these churches, these holy places, this stone and mortar and brick and wood and glass, calling out to him, louder and louder and never ceasing.

And there will be times of great mundanity and cliche, like when our wannabe, in quite a base storyline, wanders into a church office and speaks to (the next character) a spiritual advisor about the possibilities of the priesthood, the diaconate, or theology school. He feels a calling but wonders can he sacrifice certain material aspects of his life for God? The answer should certainly be, why the hell not? Yet in him, just as cliche, is another calling, something strong he cannot easily ignore - a girl somewhere down the road, and the semblance of a normal life (let's face it, an extremely normal life.) It would be a whole lot simpler if this second calling never came to surface, if the young man could just wholly throw himself into the first, enter a novitiate, find the sanctuary and the sanctity within, be done with the rest of the world and in five years come out a priest, a holy man, a collared worker of God. But, that's not the way, not yet anyhow - he believes, for the moment, not ever.

And almost just as soon as he has deciphered some meaning that though the priesthood may seem a simpler course he cannot go that route, he for once, falls in with the right crowd and in this right crowd there is, of course, a girl (enter a new character, better than he, less flawed) perhaps the right girl and then his mind has really begun spinning. And she is sweet and devout and good - all the things he desires in someone and all the things he wants in himself and all those things he aspires to be with.

And she accepts him, and already knows many of his flaws and (he hopes) she'll stick around to learn more and accept those or that he will let her stick around to learn more, not push her away or cause things to end badly. And he wants her to stick around, he wants to want her to stick around because man was not meant to be alone and lost and wandering forever. And he hopes (and prays!) that this is all just the beginning of something new for him, for them - something good and whole that they can make much more from. Because while the world falls around him, he knows he can't do much for the rest of it, for anyone, until he steadies himself, gains his own balance and can set out again, with some kind of plan and direction and hope. Not the kind of external hope that someone else promises you from great distances, but the internal kind that springs forth from somewhere deep within, the kind that has been there from the beginning, though buried deeply all too often and rarely emerging. The kind from God, that he delivered to you on the day you were born, cultivates within and then watches spring forth something beautiful when you finally begin to achieve all that you were meant for.

This is my hope and my prayer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

37. St. Cecilia (Now St. Cecilia Parish)

NOTE: In 2015 the Church of the Holy Agony closed down and was merged into St. Cecilia Church as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only St. Cecilia's will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish is called St. Cecilia Parish.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/20/2016)
Address: 120 E. 106th (Between Lexington & Park)
Phone: 212.534.1350
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 8am (Spanish), 9:45am (English), 11am (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon, Tue, Thu: 8:15am (Bilingual Spanish/English)
Fri: 8:15am (Bilingual Celebration Spanish/English)
Sat: 12:10pm (Bilingual Spanish/English)
Confession: Sat: 4pm-5pm
Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Wed: 8:15am (Spanish), 7:30pm (English)
Official Website
Harlem One Stop
St. Cecilia
Hymn to St. Cecilia
St. Cecilia Chorus & Orchestra of New York


I decided to wander into this church for daily mass today. Upon entering I found the church to be completely empty. You know that great feeling of being in a church all by yourself - you are allowed to take everything in and there is something deep and personal about the whole thing. A peace washed over me. Then confusion... Wasn't there supposed to be a 12:10pm mass? I walked out the front doors and met a kindly older woman who told me to follow her into the side chapel. We celebrated mass in a tiny chapel on the right side of the church - this too was deep and personal - the priest gave a really good talk, the few gathered there seemed so happy to be there, and the prayer was good.

We walked into the mass during the first reading and these lines struck me immediately (from Ezekiel Chapter 18):
If a man is virtuous—if he does what is right and just,
if he does not eat on the mountains,
nor raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel;
if he does not defile his neighbor’s wife,
nor have relations with a woman in her menstrual period;
if he oppresses no one,
gives back the pledge received for a debt,
commits no robbery;
if he gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked;
if he does not lend at interest nor exact usury;
if he holds off from evildoing,
judges fairly between a man and his opponent;
if he lives by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances,
that man is virtuous—he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD.
This verse speaks louder to me today than usual as I look to the new life I wish to lead, the one I began speaking about in my last entry. I pray that I may be a virtuous man, one who may walk more upright each day than he did the day before.

A couple weeks ago I was told (and maybe it's an Italian thing, or maybe Irish, or maybe Phillippino) that each time you enter a new church you have never been in before you are allowed to ask three wishes to be granted. I was not told who the granter of the wishes is supposed to be, I assume it must be God - but this is something I had never heard before. To think of all the new churches I have been and all the wishes I have lost by never asking! 36x3= 108! And to think I forgot all about this idea today as I entered St. Cecilia for the first time - that's 111!. Hopefully I will remember this the next time I go into a new church. I figure that asking for these wishes is a little bit different than just saying three prayers each time one goes to church. Although I forgot about the wishes, I did add a new prayer today - I prayed for my unborn Godchild, that he grow strong and have a healthy birth. My sister is pregnant and has informed me that she will ask me to be the Godfather. I am looking forward to this but it was only today that I realized I could go ahead and begin being a good Godfather right away, through prayer.