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.


  1. Hi Andrew!

    I LOVE your blog. I find the architecture and history of these churches fascinating and your commentary is fantastic. Though I live in Boston, I do many day trips to Manhattan on the dollar buses and hope to visit many of the churches you described. I found your web while searching for info on All Saints Church at 129th and Madison, which the bus passes by. I hope to attend Mass there someday soon.

    I hope you find the internal peace that you seek and I will be praying for you.

    Thanks for your good work.

  2. I am not a churchgoer but I am attending a funeral in this church today and happened to read this. Beautiful. I am certain God contains every thought and feeling that ever is and will be, after all S(h)e is the creator. Also, we humans are the ones who have all kinds of judgments and definitions about our feelings and thoughts...good/bad etc. very dualistic. In God there is no separation. This is what I believe. Take care.

  3. I am about to attend a funeral at this church and came across this. Blessings to you. I am certain that God contains all of our thoughts and feelings. Is it not humans who have given all these definitions and judgments to our thoughts and feelings...good/bad etc.

  4. Hello Andrew,
    For many years I was in the area and I never noticed this church. Thank you for for your post and your comments. I think it was St Agustin who said or close to this: "Oh God you have made us for yourself and our hearts will not rest until we rest in thee." I love visiting old churches. Unfortunately many of them are closing and or being readaptive into apartments or hotels...We are losing our churches...Let's value the ones that are still around by the grace of God. I think I will be stopping by Friday for mass and adoration and for my 3 wishes :) though a friend of mine says it is six? or as many as you want! God knows what we need...He just loves when we think or visit him. Thank you Andrew...