Sunday, September 28, 2008

46. Church of the Good Shepherd

(mass times & church info last updated 03/10/2016)
Address: 608 Isham St. (Broadway & 208 St.)
Phone: 212.567.1300
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English)
Sun: 8:30am (English), 10am (Spanish / Choir), 12pm (English / Choir), 6pm (Spanish), 8pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Thu: 7:30am, 12pm (both English)
Tue: 7:30pm (Spanish)
Fri: 7:30am (English), 12pm (Spanish)
Sat: 12pm (English)
Confession: Saturdays: 4pm
Holy Days & Vigils: 7:30am (English), 12pm (English), 7:30pm (Spanish)
Church Constructed: 1912
Official Website
About the Organ

This is the northernmost Catholic Church of Manhattan. And a very pretty parish.

I went to the 8pm Mass tonight and I have to admit the churches that have these later Sunday Masses are so convenient - except this one being so far away kind of negates this. If you by chance live in the Heights or up here in Inwood you should definitely drop by. The entire church is constructed from a beautiful white stone - and being inside makes one feel like they are in a giant hall - or some grand carved cavern.

This weekend I found my church excursion to bring me to a neighborhood I had never visited only passed by (one of the reasons I began this strange pilgrimage in the first place) - Inwood. The neighborhood is kinda wacky. I got off the subway and was confused by the swerving Broadway takes to the west. The scenary was a mixture of peoples, traffic, bodegas, businesses and nice little restaurants. Confused at first and finding myself a little lost I was a little hesitant to be walking around this part of Inwood at night on my way there. However, on the way back I realized there was nothing to fear - it's a nice area. Of course the unknown is the only thing to fear and hopefully by the end of these journeys I'll have covered every neighborhood in Manhattan and then perhaps move on to another borough.

I have somehow stumbled onto the most mature relationship I have ever been in. And it perplexes me on a daily basis - perhaps because this kind of thing is new to me.

I'm not sure if there's been a change that has happened within me; maybe there has always been an internal spiritual, physical and emotional connection that our hearts, minds and bodies knew about immediately before we were able to comprehend what was going on; or maybe all the timing of life has just gotten right - I'm not sure. All I know is that this thing I'm in - it still could turn out to be very special and right - I just need the patience and understanding to see it through.

Of course, I don't doubt that it could go all wrong as well. I just need to wait and see. And to pray. And to receive prayers.

By the way, I thank you for them.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

45. St. Paul (Now St. Paul's - Holy Rosary)

NOTE: In 2015 this church was set to merge with Holy Rosary Church as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. This combined parish is called St. Paul's Church - Holy Rosary. Only St. Paul's was to remain open for regular Masses and other events, however it seems that regular Masses are indeed continuing at Holy Rosary during this transitional period. If you have any news about this merger 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: 113 E. 117th St. (near Park ave.)
Phone: 212.534.4422
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (Spanish)
Sun: 9am (English), 10:30am (Spanish), 12:30pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Sat: 9am (Spanish)
Tue-Fri: 7pm (English)
During the Masses and during office hours
Mon-Sat: 8am-9am
Fri: 8am-7pm
Official Website
About the Organ


I think this is one of the first churches I ever visited in New York. I used to have some friends that lived in an apartment over here in Spanish Harlem and one Sunday morning, waking up on the couch after one of their parties, I dragged myself into St. Paul's for Mass.

Today I attended the Saturday morning Spanish Mass. Once again, I could not understand the language but I sat there and reflected on things and prayed silently and took in the beauty of this large church.

The pews are the old-timey kind with individual pull down seats.

This is a good place for prayer.

If ever I thought or feared I was an alcoholic I should have have told myself to be patient and await my 30th year on this earth. What used to be so much joy and exaltation is now turned merely into a costly tiresome exercise that almost bores me and certainly does not deliver to me what once was certain elation.

I have a bad feeling that the girl I have been seeing will seriously end up hurting me.

What should my litmus test be to discern whether she and I are compatible? If I'll be able to be what she wants? If she is what I am even looking for and need? It's not possible, is it, to find out all these things before too much time passes and an overwhelming amount of energy and emotion is put into it?

And it's too bad if things don't turn out all right, as I had really been starting to convince myself she may be the one. But I feel she is holding back, pulling away and I am perplexed as this is something I usually do myself and have not in a long time been on the receiving end.

Is this relationship karma? Am I being put through the pain and the process that I myself have enacted on others?

We shall see.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

44. Church of the Incarnation

(mass times & church info last updated 03/23/2016)  
Address: 1290 St. Nicholas Blvd. @ 175th St.
Phone: 212.927.7474
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (English), 7:30pm (Spanish)
Sun: 8am (English), 9am (Spanish), 10:30am (English upper church), 10:30am (Spanish lower church), 12pm (Spanish), 1pm (Spanish), 1:30pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
M-F: 8am (English), 12pm (Spanish), 7:30pm (Spanish)
Sat: 9am (English)
Confession: Sat: 4pm-5:30pm
Adoration: Fri: 4pm-7pm
Official Website
About the Organ
The Incarnation

Rushing out of the apartment today, I forgot my camera and what a shame because this is a really beautiful church (So I had to depend on my Blackberry camera again - shame shame shame!) I have been to this church before when I was staying in Washington Heights and for some reason I had never experienced what I did today: realizing the absolute gorgeousness of the stone of the building and the clarity of the stained glass. Perhaps this was because it was a little far to walk down the discombobulation of St. Nicholas Avenue - due to the other worldness of the place - it seems like such a different country here in this part of the Heights. In the past, I have also been down to the basement for a Spanish Mass one Sunday morning which was one of the most celebratory experiences I've ever had in my Catholic search of New York. The main church reminds me of the Cloisters. It is simple and grand stone, lovely, peaceful.

Yes, these days I am finding some peace. Most of the times.

All I do I do to seek the Almighty. Too often I error and merely seek out more worldly pursuits, those things that lead me to a selfish sense of some kind of euphoria: that high that drinking or drugs delivers; mere earthly pleasures like the gluttony of too much food and drink; escape into the awful and misinformed mirror that is television and pop culture. But going to these churches I feel I am honestly seeking out, in some kind of honest yet unrealized manner, the Almighty...

In a recent Anne Rice interview I was watching, she recounts how she visted the churches of Brazil without any clue as to why, until later she realized it was because of her own journey seeking Christ.

So I seek and seek and I seek. And always I continue seeking. And the reason for this is all too often a kind of loneliness that abides in me that I can never quite get away from.

It was brought up to me a few weeks ago, around the same time as the idea of receiving three wishes each time you enter a new church, that as we humans face our loneliness, perhaps God too has a kind of loneliness. Perhaps this is why we were created in the first place. If you think about how we are made in God's image (and this should be taken to mean as sentient thoughtful creatures as well as any of our physical manifestations, that every thought, feeling and emotion is somehow reflected in the Almighty as well, or more likely God's feelings reflected in us,) then it is not ridiculous to ponder that God too may feel lonely at times.

Recently I had my first impulse to flee from my, what has so far been a going-somewhat-very-well, relationship that I find myself in. Is it fear of loss or failure? Is it something biological and forever ingrained? Can it be helped?

Thankfully, the feeling passes and I remain because I wish to remain because I know there is something meaningful I have found here. Even when she and I slip into some kind of uncomfortable awkwardness - one where we don't seem to be on the same plane - that inevitable boy-girl relationshipness, I so far choose to stay and not run, even though something in me screams to flee flee flee. Why is it that at the beginning when we enter into relationships we project so much of what we want, as opposed to really seeing the beauty that is there to begin with? We all have these plans and desires and when we find something that is good we can't always take it at face value for the goodness that it offers, we always want it to give us more of something that exists in our imaginations, that we want but don't necessarily need, that we think could be better.

Why do we do this?

Why can't we just be grateful for what we do have?

Why do we suffer from this awful human condition?

And have all these feeling existed since the very beginning, somewhere within our Creator?

additional photos...
Rereading my post from that day back in September of '08, I realize I should certainly have fled that relationship as soon as I even had an inkling there were problems. Instead, I ignored that little voice that we should all strive to listen to as often as possible. The voice that is always there, guiding us for the better.

Monday, September 1, 2008

43. Our Lady of Lourdes

(mass times & church info last updated 03/25/2016) 
Address: 463 W. 142nd St. (East of Amsterdam)
Phone: 212.862.4380
Weekend Mass Times:
Sunday: 8am (Spanish), 10am (English), 12pm (Spanish), 2pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon: 8:45am (Spanish), 7:30pm (English)
Tue-Sat: 8:45am, 7:30pm (all Spanish)

Guide To New York City Landmarks
About the Organ
Our Lady of Lourdes School
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

"This Roman Catholic church, one of the oddest buildings in New York, is composed of pieces salvaged from three of the city's most prominent mid-19th-century landmarks and combined by Cornelius O'Reilly. Much of the High Victorian Gothic facade is a reconstruction of Peter B. Wright's famous National Academy of Design which stood at Fourth Avenue and East 23rd Street. The rear of the church consists of the original east end of James Renwick Jr.'s St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was replaced in 1901-06 by a new lady chapel. The stone pedestals that flank the front steps come from the A. T. Stewart mansion, which stood at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street."
- From the Guide to New York City Landmarks by Andrew Dolkart & Matthew A. Postal
Spanish Mass again today, but no intinction.

Why is it I always find the best churches to visit on these public holidays?

I wasn't able to visit the main church - I believe for these weekday masses they only open the basement chapel - but the chapel is quite an amazing place to be. It's like a cave down there - modeled after the Lourdes Grotto no doubt.

I entered this morning, descended the stairs and came into this darkened, ambient lit, holy place. Again - I could not follow the readings or priest, but I found the atmosphere to extremely lend itself to quiet introspective prayer. When it came time for Communion, the priest offered the Eucharist to me in English - do I really look like such a gringo?

I suppose I will come back here for Sunday Mass some weekend so that I may see the church, but I feel somehow it will not be as special to me as this basement grotto chapel - what I'll forever remember as the "underground cave chapel." It probably truly is one of the oddest buildings in New York, certainly one of the odder churches.

I highly suggest this one to you too - go to weekday Mass here, see the cave.

Additional Photos...

I'm glad I went back here for Sunday Mass this morning to take more pictures. I first attended this church almost 6 years ago and at that daily Mass the main church wasn't open, but today it was and I really liked it. It was one of those smaller, but ornate, bright and welcoming churches with just a good architectural vibe, if that makes any sense. There was a lot of natural light and it was easy to take pictures. Sometimes, some of the larger, darker churches are poorly lit and I cannot capture good images. So I was at peace when I arrived here and sat for Mass. Intinction caught me by surprise as it's been awhile since I received communion that way. All in all, a good service. Afterwards my wife and a friend and I visited a nearby little restaurant for a good brunch: Trufa.

Attending this main church today did make me realize something, keeping my past (above) experience in mind: if I had only gone to weekend Mass at this parish and not that long ago daily Mass, I never would have experienced the downstairs cave chapel. (It wasn't open today, just the main part of the building.) That got me thinking about some of the other chapels I've been lucky enough to visit and explore when I go to some of these churches and attend Mass. As if all these wonderful churches weren't enough, a lot of them have secret little chapels a casual visitor like myself would never know about. As I've mentioned before, I often like daily Mass better than the big weekend Masses, because daily Masses are quieter and smaller and usually more intimate. So it is with chapels. It's almost enough to make me want to write a companion blog to this one: Catholic Chapels of Manhattan.

But alas, I'm too tired to take on such a project and go through this all again. But a good idea for someone out there. New images of the main church below...(Chapel photos above, but please go visit it for yourself some weekday night!)