Sunday, February 22, 2009

56. Holy Rosary Church (Now St. Paul's - Holy Rosary)

NOTE: In 2015 this church was set to close and be merged with St. Paul Church (Spanish Harlem) 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 here during this transitional period. If you have any news about this closure/merger or lack thereof 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: 444 E. 119th St.
Phone: 212.534.0740
Weekend Mass Times:
Sun: 9:30am (Spanish), 11am (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon: 8am (English, in the chapel)
Thu: 7pm (Spanish, in the church)
Fri: 8am (Spanish, in the chapel)
Old, Original Holy Rosary Website
New Official Parish Website
Holy Rosary Church of New York
Holy Rosary Church Restoration Website
New York Times Article
YouTube Clip
Our Lady of the Rosary Church

I underestimated how far east on 119th Street Holy Rosary Church lies and found myself briskly walking this Sunday morning to get there on time, a feat I missed accomplishing by a few minutes. As I rushed through the streets of Harlem I could hear multiple religious services going on in a variety of churches; the sounds floating through the cold, rainy air. It was a dreary day and I myself felt dreary as well - have in fact been a bit dreary lately; my relationship seems dreary too, something is amiss.

I reached the church only to find the front doors closed to me. A kind old man pointed me through a side door and there I found a basement hall converted into a temporary church. I couldn't understand why they weren't celebrating up top (it wasn't until after the Mass that a woman explained the church had been closed for renovations for the past six month and services had been held down here this whole time.)

It was a strange celebration, not least because (I believe) it was half English and half Filipino. But there were times of great joy there in the basement among the fifteen or so in the congregation at this 12:30pm Mass - the songs that were sung, read off from an overhead projector, were fun and joyous. I must admit, at first being put off that we weren't in the grand main church I had read a little bit about, I was in a (dreary) mood, and the pastor seemed to be delivering less of a good news homily and more of a laundry list of grievances concerning the behaviors and practices of the parishioners of the church. But as the Mass went on and concluded and I walked out into the cold misty weather, I felt very bad for this parish. They are, in a sense, locked out of their house of worship, waiting for renovations to conclude (some of which are not even begun, perhaps.) Since the economic collapse some of their donors have fallen through and who knows how long this endless wait of theirs will go on?

The juxtaposition of last week's visit to newly renovated St. Ignatius Loyola compared to the basement of Holy Rosary is such a contrasting image to me.

As we enter into Lent this week I am going to, among other things, keep this church of the Holy Rosary in mind and pray that their church receive the pledges and donations it needs to complete the work.

I ask you to do the same and, if possible and if you are able, to even perhaps do more?

additional photos...

Once again I am attempting to complete this blog by taking better photos of some of the churches I visited early on in this journey. Today I headed far east once more and arrived at Holy Rosary Church to once again find the main church doors locked. I called the church to see if 8am English Mass was going to happen and luckily a nice man on the other end told me it was taking place in the rectory. I wandered into the tiniest of chapels, richly decorated, with an old priest standing behind the altar, praying to himself and 3 empty pews. He looked up and asked me, "English or Spanish?" I told him English, and he proceeded saying Mass in English. When it came time for the readings he had me read them. Just me and this old Mexican priest — it was quite a special occasion. Later a young mother and her child joined us as well. After Mass, I asked about the main church and he told me it was still closed, under repairs. Even though my intention was to see the main church and photograph the interior, I am very happy I went to this quiet, intimate Mass this morning. Even though my girlfriend and I stayed out quite late last night having beers in Brooklyn, something woke me up this morning and told me to get off my butt and head to Spanish Harlem and go to this church. I will just have to come back another day if and when the main sanctuary is repaired and ever opens up again.  Afterwards, I decided to take advantage of where I was and hit two other nearby churches. I journeyed on to St. Ann Church after taking these new pictures...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

55. St. Ignatius Loyola

NOTE: In 2015 this church was part of a list of churches in danger of merging with other churches or closing altogether as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. This doesn't seem to have happened and this church remains open for regular Masses and other events. If you have any news about this merger or lack thereof please feel free to write in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

(mass times & church info last updated 04/04/2016)
Address: 980 Park Ave. (@ 84th St.)
Phone: 212.288.3588
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 8am, 9:30am, 11am (Solemn Mass), 11am (Family Mass in Wallace Hall), 7:30pm (Solemn Mass) (all English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8:30am, 12:10pm, 5:30pm (all English)
Sat: 8:30am (English)
Confession: Sat: 4:30pm-5pm

Official Website
City Guides
About the Organ
Sacred Music in a Sacred Space
St. Ignatius Loyola (Saint of the Day)
St. Ignatius Loyola (Catholic Encyclopedia)

What can I say about this church more than, you have to visit it for yourself.

It's amazing and the music is equally amazing. I have attended the Solemn 11am Mass before and doing so again today brought me the exact same feelings as before. A kind of visceral cinematic feeling. You feel as though you are caught in the midst of something grand, bigger than you and all that you are, both because of the music as well as the grandiosity of the church.

The church was recently renovated and if you've seen it in the past you must come by again to see it's new brilliance - even more so than before.

And though this is, in a way, what some would refer to as a wealthy Upper East side church - there is a strong feeling of communion and giving among this congregation. This Lent they are participating in something they call The Lenten Cross - a way of focusing on the importance and reasons for Lent - more than merely giving up something. The program works to unite the community through charitable acts and social justice causes.

My girlfriend attended Mass with me this morning and we started off by lighting candles for our respective godchildren. I accidentally placed my candles upside down at first and we spent a good five minutes trying to flip the burning waxy mess right side up. What kind of godparent will I be if I can't even light a candle for her correctly?

Later in the day I wandered with a friend into the New York Historial Society. It was one of thoze bizarre kind of casual circumstances that lead us there, but once in we were amazed at the treasures before us. If you wander all the way up to the top floor, you really will be in the "city's attic." The first few floors all have exhibitions, but the top floor is exclusively an assortment of the permanent collection in plastic display cases for your viewing pleasure. It is a lot to take in - but well worth it if you have an afternoon to spend up there.

Unfortunately I spent a lot of this weekend upset over the fact that my boss had taken away our upcoming President's Day holiday five minutes before leaving the office on Friday. That just seemed cold. And I do enjoy my three day weekends so much...

But perhaps I should just feel lucky and blessed that I have a job at all, and should pray I'm lucky enough to be working next year on President's Day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

54. Old St. Patrick's Cathedral (Now the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with the Church of the Most Precious Blood 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. There is no new combined name for this parish as both churches will continue to be known by their separate names. However, this church is now known as The Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/23/2016)
Address: 263 Mulberry St. (corner of Mott and Prince)
Phone: 212.226.8075
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 9:15am (English), 10:15am (Chinese), 11:30am (Spanish), 12:45pm (English), 7pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Sat: 8am (Spanish)
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm (English)
Confession: Sat: 4:30-5:15pm; Sun: 6-6:45pm
Evening Prayers/Vespers: First Sundays: 7pm followed by Mass

Official Website
Architecture Images
About the Organ
New St. Patrick's
The Cathedral Becomes a Basilica

My experience this week was fantastic.

I visited this church remembering somewhere in the recesses of my mind that a scene from The Godfather had been filmed here. And as I sneaked in a little bit late (having had some issue finding the front door - it's on Mott Street, by the way, not Mulberry,) I was pleasantly surprised to hear the priest beginning his Homily by discussing that very scene.

You know the scene: the baptism scene at the end of the film, where Michael Corleone becomes the Godfather to his sister's child, renouncing Satan, all the while a series of mob hits are being carried out under his orders. It's a beautiful juxtaposition of the appearance of good and the reality of evil. The priest mentioned it in relation to the past few Gospels that highlight Satan working to fill our lives with sin.

I know the times my life has been filled with sin - which reminds me I probably need to go to confession again very soon - which also reminds me that I just read about indulgences being offered once again in the Church.

The priest's words about The Godfather were pertinent to me as I have become an uncle to a little girl who will be my Godchild. Over the next couple months before I travel back for the baptism, I need to figure out the duties one must fulfill to be a successful and faithful Godparent in this modern age - a time where religion and faith are slipping through our collective fingers and sin wages a war on us, wearing and tearing us down.

The old Cathedral of St. Patrick is a fantastic church and is decorated beautifully with stained glass and statues everywhere you turn. It seemed large yet it was also cozy and comfortable - not at all like any of my experiences at the current Cathedral. The congregation was a mix of young and old, and everyone seemed attentive and happy to be there - it was a good feeling. It was a mix of simplicity and tradition, history and faith, a classic Catholic church in the middle of SoHo.

I have finally managed to rid myself of the debt that has, for the most part, plagued me since moving to NYC over two and a half years ago. I no longer want to be part of the problem of the economic crisis, no longer wish to to partake in my generation's selfish gluttony or demand for material satisfaction. Is it possible to live simply and humbly in this city with all it's distractions, money and status worship, and pure material greed? Those things seem contagious somehow, and myself highly susceptible to all of it.

With Lent two weeks away I am planning on giving up the boozing again - but only for forty days. It was proposed that I give it up forever. Hmmm. With an indefinite amount of time before me, I have serious doubts I could do this.

Having finished getting my new apartment together I suddenly realized that I've turned my new bedroom into a kind of hermitage.

How many of us have done that, I wonder?

Finding solace in this city away from the city.

Having put up shelves and arranging everything so-so I realize it's become more a workroom than a bedroom.

Arranging my new place, going through old journals, I stumbled upon my final thoughts from Aug-7-2000, when I found myself on a road trip through various U.S. cities:
What have I discovered?
I spend a lot of money.
There are a lot of beggars.
Cities are big.
And merciless.
Souvenirs are always crappy.
Home is where and what you make of it.
I like camping.
Journals are hard to maintain.
I don't miss working.
Has anything changed?

After Mass, I wandered SoHo for awhile taking in the people and the views...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

53. St. Jude

(mass times & church info last updated 04/29/2016)
(however, call to make sure about Mass & Confession times as I may have gotten them wrong)
Address: 431 W. 204th St. (near the 1 train)
Phone: 212.569.3000
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 7:30pm (Spanish) (may be inaccurate - please call to confirm)
Sun: 9am (Spanish), 11am (English), 12:30pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon, Wed, Thu: 9am (Spanish)
Tue, Thu, Fri: 7:30pm (Spanish)
Sat: 7:30am (Spanish) (may be inaccurate - please call to confirm)
Confession: 4:30pm-5:30pm (may be inaccurate - please call to confirm)

Epistle of St. Jude
St. Jude (Wikipedia)
St. Jude (Catholic Online)
St. Jude Novena Site
Patron Saint of Lost Causes

"Morning has broken like the first morning;
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation; praise ev'ry morning,
God's recreation of the new day!"
This song, known to me compliments of Cat Stevens, of course, was the first hymn sung at the 11:30am English Mass at St. Jude today and as soon as the tune began I was immediately struck by two simultaneous thoughts: one, the sudden urge to go and listen to Cat Stevens music, the other a memory of the funeral of my friend's father - he was Irish - and it was the first time I had heard it in a church setting and where I discovered the song was Gaelic in origin, and known as "Bunessan." It's a beautiful, sweet tune, and listening and singing to it in the comfort of St. Jude's Church was an experience all it's own.

There was something wholly unique about this little Church way up in Inwood - it's another "basement church" existing below a school. The stained glass windows are modern yet have a kind of ancient and very cool look to them - long narrow sparkles on a Sunday with the sun shining through; taking them all in one discovers a pattern - some abtract rendering of the Holy Spirit, or some mystical force.

The shrine of St. Jude, located in the school, was the first place I entered when attempting to find the church on 204th street. At the time, there was a steady stream of older Hispanic women walking in and out, kneeling and praying in front of the statue, kissing the forehead or touching the lips of the statue of St. Jude. I myself knelt and said a quick prayer before continuing finding the church.

The second reading today also struck me - I don't remember hearing this before, although doubtless I have:

1 Cor 7:32-35
"Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction."
Wow. Over the past year, walking and wandering around the city alone and looking for churches by myself I have felt connected to the Lord, especially during the time preceding and after my confirmation. I was focusing on my prayer life, on what I could do for God - basically my spiritual self.

For the past couple months I can see how I have distracted myself with work and my social life. I know there can be a happy medium, right? Or am I one man attempting to live in two worlds? I keep thinking - with all the crazy things in the news right now - "Pay unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's." We have to live in this world, right? A world where we are forced to think with our wallets, participate in social Darwinism, be citizens of a government (that makes some very good decisions and others that will never correlate with my own moral beliefs.) Can't I, in my own decisions and choices act as a devout Catholic, in my own life, in what I do, how I act and in what I believe? And then separately live in this world that I am forced to, by voting for the best politician presented to me, working my ass off to make money, save money, support myself and pay taxes, go enjoy secular things like film and art and theatre even if they contain things that are not in line with my faith? Where do the two worlds cross and where do they collide?

Some of these thoughts arise out of President Obama's recent overturn of the Mexico City policy. I'm still a staunch supporter of our new president and though I disagree with any of his pro-choice policies that have occurred now, in the past or to come in the future, I feel he has so much more to offer than his predecessor or any of the alternatives.

It upsets me when I come across the more conservative Catholic blogs out there that are so outright anti-Obama, that compare abortion to the Holocaust and our president to Hitler. Obama is not pro-death-to-babies, he is simply a democratic president who sadly has a pro-choice agenda, yet has higher regards for social justice and the needs of the poor and less fortunate than the rich. Anyone who claims to "...miss President George W. Bush." needs to have their heads examined - especially when remembering his staff and cabinet - a gang of law-breaking hypocrites who pandered to conservatives and Catholics to get elected, stay elected, and break the law in the national spotlight well aware there was nothing anyone could do about it.

But then again I may be wrong, and this is an instance where I have let my secular self conflict with all of the possibility of a higher spiritual self.

Speaking of secular vs. spiritual clashing - having moved now to a new apartment and taken months to go through all the boxes (and all my worldly junk!) I was ready to hang a wooden cross (that was given to me as a special gift) inside above our front door. Well aware of other people's sensitivities, I asked my roommates if this would be alright and they both agreed. Later, one of them came to me restating his opinion, asking me not to do it as it did not reflect his beliefs. It's a simple cross hanging above a door in our darkened hallway - nobody sees it, he never would have to look at it, it bothers no one! I became angry but held all my thoughts within. Honestly, it's one of the only decorations in the whole place that I actually care about, and the option of hanging it has been taken away from me. I am saddened by his, my friend's, refusal of, not only the object, but it's meaning.*

Anyway, after Mass at St. Jude, a friend and I attended Will Ferrell's new broadway show, You're Welcome America. It would have been a lot funnier, I think, if the reality of where the comedic material came from wasn't so tragic. Bush's eight years in office are highlighted by some of the saddest, strangest, dumbest and most illegal events in our nation's history - it's ridiculous.

Lastly, I recently revisited a church in my new neighborhood, Our Lady of Lourdes, for weekday Mass. It's surprising (but not really) how calm it made me and how good it felt to be there. There is truly something special here in the cave, as it is at St. Jude - something dark, cozy, spiritual and safe. Something I can't put my finger on but that which is part of that I am searching for.

*I ended up hanging it outside my bedroom door.