Sunday, July 5, 2009

67. Church of the Guardian Angel (Now Parish of Guardian Angel/St. Columba)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with St. Columba Church 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. This new combined parish is called Parish of Guardian Angel / St. Columba.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/10/2016)
Address: 193 Tenth Ave. (@ 22nd St.)
Phone: 212.929.5966
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English)
Sun: 9am, 12pm (both English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm (English)
Confession: Sat: 4pm-4:45pm
Church Constructed: 1930
Official Website
Architecture & History
Detail of External Hand-Carved Limestone Frieze
The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny
About the Organ
Guardian Angel School
About Guardian Angels
Feast of the Guardian Angels

Angel of God,
My guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day,
Be at my side,
To Light and to Guard,
To Rule and to Guide.
This is a prayer my mother used to pray with me when I was young, and one I hope to pray someday with my own children. In my quick research, I've just discovered the Church's official stance on Guardian Angels:
"That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church, and is, consequently, not an article of faith; but it is the "mind of the Church", as St. Jerome expressed it: "how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it." (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II)."
(From Catholic Encyclopedia,
"The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus' words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."

Devotion to the angels is, at base, an expression of faith in God's enduring love and providential care extended to each person day in and day out until life's end."

I, myself, believe in them - strongly. My own angel has always protected me powerfully. I can't explain it, but I have always been kept very safe from external harm, despite some (a lot of!) stupid situations I have gotten myself in. Remarkably safe. So I will continue to say this prayer to my own Guardian Angel, and I am thankful every day for the protection that I, and we all, are given from a higher source, from God and the angels above.

Church of the Guardian Angel in Chelsea sits right on the corner of 10th Avenue and 22nd street, and I'm surprised I hadn't noticed it before. The doors leading to 10th open right into the main church - no foyer or hall, nothing separating the public street life from the interior of this sacred space, save for the wooden double door. It's a nice simple church, another one easy to pray in. There are a few statues (many of angels,) a small side chapel or two, and elegant sculpted stone or clay stations of the cross.

It's getting hotter these days and I couldn't help but notice there was, of course, no air conditioning and such little ventilation at first (though later I realized fans lining the left side of the church worked with all their might to cool the entirety,) that I did wonder, how do the spiritual seekers of Chelsea worship in comfort? Now, I realize this is the first Mass I've been to this summer since the heat's really beginning to hit, and thus my reflection on the air temperature, but it did make me think that this might be a very nice church to visit during the winter.

The second reading struck me especially today, from the 2nd letter of Paul to the Corinthians. It deals with Paul's prayer to God to deliver him from an affliction, and the response of the Lord that is basically, weakness can only make one stronger. I cannot say right away why it speaks to me louder than the other readings today, I can only say that I will read it repeatedly this week to discover what it's trying to say to me:

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness."
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

After Mass, realizing that the High Line was right around the corner, I grabbed an ice cream and visited this new site to the city. Its a nice park (probably will be even better after its full completion - next year hopefully?) I like what they're doing with the wild flowers and overgrowth concept, and those big wooden lawn chairs seem like a great idea for a sunny day picnic, but it was a bit crowded, and the areas where the train line narrows seemed kind of full. Still, it's a cool place. But no Inwood Park.

During Mass I looked high up, above the altar, and stared at a statue of an angel that rests in front of the three high stained glass windows, and felt comforted as it watched over the celebration. Comforted also by the two angels that flanked the altar to either side. And comforted by, what I believe to be, unseen angels, around and above us, keeping watch over over us, protecting.

A bit of a song my dearest friend shared with me, so long ago...
"Misguided angel hangin' over me,
Heart like a Gabriel, pure and white as ivory,
Soul like a Lucifer, black and cold like a piece of lead,
Misguided angel, love you 'til I'm dead."

- The Cowboy Junkies


  1. Dear Father Andrew:
    We have shared the celebration of Mass of universal inclusion for 18 years. Homeless, doctors, addicts, plumbers, prostitutes, trash collectors, gang members, elderly, boomers, young adults, teens, babies of all colors, races, genders gathered in common purpose -- to give thanks for blessings and rejoice in the goodness that can come from humanity. You provided a unique sanctuary for us all -- rich or poor, educated or not, gay or straight. No one had any fear; none were rejected.
    It is with the deepest sorrow that I must write you that I no longer can join you at Mass. After 59 years, I am no longer a Catholic.

  2. Billy's 4th Church visited.

    Was walking the High Line and saw this cool church, went down and visited it.

    Unfortunately due to lack of resources and the legit fear of desecration, the church lcked up only a few minutes after the day's mass ended.

    Really nice church I love that it is small, simple and invites natural light.

    Great Church to get married in, but due to demographics of the parish, doubtful there are many weddings there.