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.


  1. I tried your number 212-569-3000 but theree was no answer. The phone kept ringing...

  2. Correction: St. Jude is not a basement church. The chapel was located next to the gymnasium (and across from the shrine), but sadly it is now a storage room. The Church, which is located on 205th Street, is around the corner from the school, accessible through the school yard, and was completed in 1976. My class was the first to receive the sacrament of Holy Eaucharist there in May 1976. Thank you for the pictures and the memories. It was a great parish under Fr. O'Donnell and later Msgr. Bradley until 1983.