Saturday, July 26, 2008

35. St. Francis de Sales

(mass times & church info last updated 04/04/2016)
Address: 135 E. 96th St. (between Park and Lexington)
Phone: 212.289.0425
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English, Congregation-led singing)
Sun: 9am (English, cantor), 11am (English, choir), 12:30pm (Spanish), 6pm (English, cantor)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8:30am (English)
Confession: Sat: 4pm-4:45pm
Official Website
St. Francis de Sales Church
About the Organ
St. Francis de Sales

After an afternoon spent at the Guggenheim staring at the breasts and phalluses of the current Louise Bourgeois exhibit, I attended St. Francis de Sales church on 96th street. As you may know, often lately I have had trouble attaining my peace on these ventures - but something happened when I entered this church that settled some of the things within. There was some peace there that I discovered and whether it originated internal or external I'm not sure. Could have been the few hours at the museum which relaxed my soul and readied me for the scriptures and sacraments. Could have been the tranquility of this church itself. It is a nice little church, decorated nicely with art and sculpture - and there is a calm inside it that is more than just the delicious air conditioning. You know how you can sometimes walk into some of these churches and just feel distressed by being there - some of them are so large or commanding or something, and they can make one feel small and stressed. Not this one. There is something easy about being there - and I found it quite easy to listen to the readings and homily as well - all of which were excellent. So, yes, I was able to have some much needed calm, reflection, prayer and peace yesterday - and maybe if you ever wander into this church you will find the same someday as well.

It was the feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim (parents of Mary) and as I was leaving the I noticed, hidden away in the entrance way of the church, a wonderful statue of St. Anne and the child Mary.

Following Mass I went to the new X-Files movie with a friend. Surprisingly there are a lot of Catholic issues brought up, or at least mentioned in the narrative of the film, not least of which is the story of a main supporting character, a repentant excommunicated psychic priest. The film also touches upon stem cell research and even gay marriage - though not in depth by any means, still someone out there could easily fit this film within some kind of dissertation on the Church in film.

I have found a lot of refuge at the movies lately - and I see myself a lot lately favoring anything resembling a spiritual story line. I'll argue that it's definitely there in the X-Files movie, as well as in Hellboy II, a film which is thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly deep and meaningful in a lot of ways - at least to me. I expect to find this in The Dark Knight as well when I get around to seeing it.

All these films are on my mind a lot lately - I guess a result of the monstrous deluge of advertising thrown at us from all of them. Film was also on the mind of the pastor of St. Francis de Sales when he wrote for this week's bulletin:
Writing about The Dark Knight "... At a time when people are so sick and tired with the colossal mismanagement of this country, they take refuge in movie theaters...the epic struggle against good and evil gives millions of Americans the opportunity to dream away their troubles, escape painful reality and daydream about a far away world where all evil is vanquished and good, ordinary people like us instead of being the ones who always get it in the neck are for once victorious and come up on top."
Karl Marx long ago said "Religion is the opiate of the masses." I wonder if now movies have replaced religion in this respect? The masses are no longer filling up pews, but multiplexes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

34. St. Elizabeth

(mass times & church info last updated 04/04/2016)
Address: 268 Wadsworth Ave. (@ 187th St.)
Phone: 212.568.8803
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English), 7:30pm (Spanish)
Sun: 8am (Spanish), 9:30am (English), 11am (Spanish), 12:45pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 9am (English), 12pm (Spanish), 7:30pm (Spanish)
Saturday: 9am (Bilingual Spanish/English)
Sat: 3:45pm-4:45pm, 6:45pm-7:15pm
Official Website
About the Organ
About the School
About St. Elizabeth

I am living a lie.

Before that, my experience at St. Elizabeth's this week:

There are so many great big big churches located uptown. In a way, they are all similar - all seem to have had their heyday a while back, they are massive and are now largely vacant and rundown - at least many of the English services - I can't safely say this is true for the various other language masses offered. I guess I could group them all together like that - but I have to realize that it is amazing they are all there at all. Each with an exterior gorgeousness and a truly beautiful inner soul. And some devout faithful gathering there each week and some everyday to receive the sacraments - that too is beautiful. I may concentrate on these uptown churches for awhile to see what I can come up with there - to see if what I am looking for is concealed somewhere in the cavernous space of these upper Manhattan spiritual treasure coves.

Then there is me and my lie...

My lie is my conceit.
If ever I had cause to think that I was so much more than what I am; and prideful enough to consider myself above others and better than some places and certain lifestyles; or arrogant so much to think myself perfect in ways big and small (the smallest of these instances being much too big,) regarding all my undertakings beyond scrutiny - then I was wrong in the deepest most sincerest way one can be wrong. Wrong without barriers or guidelines. Wrong without constraint.

My lie is my city.
What is this place? The epitome of the modern age and modern America? It's a money pit consumed with itself and everyone coming in (just as the immigrants of yesterday) falls into line quickly enough with it's consumption and their self-consumption. We are full of ourselves as we make fools of ourselves.

My lie is my vices.
I drink because I want to see something more beautiful than what is. And when the drunk is past, and the hangover comes full throttle, or even in the midst of the night before's chaotic celebratory rhetoric - I can still somehow see that I've missed it. Done it all wrong. That there is more to it and I somehow just misstep. Always there is wonderful (disastrous!) escape calling out to me.

My actions towards girls have not always been so favorable either - and I have been wrong each time I've entered into relationships with such sweet beings and held such dark misgivings and harbored such infidelities in the back recesses of my mind or followed through with such immoral actions.

And I have to attempt to morally straighten myself out and pray to God for assistance.

But I wonder sometimes can God too be a vice if taken the wrong way?

My lie is my search.

Where have I been going and what have I been doing? I am lost at a crossroads and no longer know the right path nor remember from which I came. I'm atop a bridge, stuck in the middle, and the decision if I should venture onward or decide to head back escapes me. I am looking under rocks for profundity that can only begin to fit within the depths of the seas or the infinity of the skies.

My lie is my demons.
They prey on me and I know not if they are even there. I am mocked and pitied. Inside of me I see them the next room over and I cannot join them and this too I know not why. I cannot escape them as I cannot escape myself - and this too is my lie.

I am an indigent glutton; a dessicated drunk; a heedless seer.

"...they take and that they take in turn and they give you nothing real for yourself in return and when they've used you and they've broken you and wasted all your money and cast your shell aside and when they've bought you and they've sold you and they've billed you for the pleasure...some people have got no pride they do not understand the Urgency of life..."