Sunday, September 20, 2009

73. St. Columba (Now Parish of Guardian Angel/St. Columba)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with the Church of the Guardian Angel 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: 343 W. 25th St. (@ 8th Ave.)
Phone: 212.807.8876
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 4pm (English)
Sun: 9am (English), 10:30pm (Spanish), 12pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm (English, in the chapel)
Confession: Sat: 3pm-3:45pm
Healing Mass: 1st Fridays, 7pm (bilingual)
Mass in honor of Divine Child:
3rd Sunday of every month, 2pm (Spanish)
Spanish: Sundays 10am
English: Sundays after the 12pm Mass
Church Constructed: 1845
Official Website
About the Organ
St. Columba

Teetering on the brink of sin and destruction, nearly on a daily basis - don't we all? Why do I do any of it? Waking this morning, with all the tastes of last night's shenanigans stale and drying in my mouth, and the memories of yesterday's activities: a day drinking binge lasting nearly six hours, an impromptu picnic with the decaying light of the sun sinking away from us, more bars and even a burlesque way the fuck out in Red Hook, and then indecision setting in, ending with a cab ride back home (best $40 I've ever spent,) there is but one thought occupying my mind this morning: I have got to get myself to church.

It has been hard for me keeping up regular visits to new churches these days, and I'm not going as much as I'd like. Traveling, friends visiting, work and life have tended to keep me away. And sometimes, on a Sunday evening, if I've not attended, I become so glum. But today, I am heading out.

Everything is going to plan then, until the subway system throws me a few curves and for more than a few loops. My faith is strong, yet I reserve none for the New York City transit system.

Due to this, I, of course, arrived late to Mass, entering during the Homily. Funny enough, the priest's voice reminded me of the priest in The Princess Bride, which was completely bizarre, but I soon realized he was brilliant-a very smart man and really good priest. The topic at the moment, was love, and, more specifically, fear to love because of past experience and pain. His point was to overcome this through faith. And in this trust to open one's self to love and to being loved. After I arrived, he also said something along the lines of, "We here in Manhattan tend to sometimes drink too much, and smoke too much, and attend these services not fully in complete mind, body or spirit." - something along those lines, anyway. Why do I feel they are always speaking so directly to me?!!!

This church is smaller and older than some of the others I've visited lately. Probably a little poorer as well. It seems it could use a few renovations - something I didn't help with particularly, when coming time for the collection, I revealed to myself a wallet full of receipts and nothing else - last night the cause and to blame yet again. This church though has faith. The priest loves his parishioners, and they him. There is something good in his words, and in the petitions, as when the reader fumbles around the altar looking for them, the lost list of petitions, the priest begins a series of heartfelt and true requests, and we all answer honestly, Lord hear our prayer.

And then after church, escape. From the city, from the world for awhile. My friends come and whisk me away to Storm King - that wonderful rendezvous with sculpture, about an hour out of the city. It is a beautiful marvelous place, combining two of my favorite things: nature and art - and therefore inherently God and peace. Storm King Art Center is a wonderful place, and the perfect day trip if you live in NYC. It's 500 acres of trees and hills and landscape, sprinkled with hundreds of colossal sculptures. My friend from L.A. told me, when visiting me here in the city a few weeks ago, that she noticed I seek refuge from the city and the world in churches and in the parks. Of course, that is very true. Both places give me peace. And in both I find solace in God's works. Strolling around Storm King today, I found a similar peace.

By the end of the visit, I lay on a bench near the Storm King Wall, staring up through the trees, seeing an airplane way way up in the heavens (modern practical moving sculpture,) at peace in the sculpture garden and with the day, and so very glad I had made it to church this morning. There is peace down here on earth to be found by each individual, if for moments at a time anyway.

More in October.

For now, some images of the sculpture garden:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

72. Church of the Holy Family

(mass times & church info last updated 03/20/2016)
Address: 315 E. 47th St.
Phone: 212.753.3401
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 8am (English), 11am (English High Mass), 3pm (Korean/English), 8:30pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8am, 12:10pm (both English)
Sat: 12:10pm (English)
Tue: 1:10pm (French Mass, September-June only)
Sat: 11:55am-12:05pm, 5pm-5:25pm
Sun: 10:30am-10:55am, 8:10pm-8:25pm
Mon-Fri: 11:55am-12:05pm
Church Constructed: 1965
Official Website
About the Organ
The Holy Family

What's with all these modern east side churches? It was unintentional visiting three in a row, but it's worked out nicely, I think, these three taken together - they make a nice sort of trilogy.

Holy Family is a beautiful modern church - and though you know I like classic architecture better - this one has a simple yet commanding elegance that hits you as you enter the doors. There is a colossal resurrection Jesus sculpture that towers above the altar, something reminiscent to me out of The Fountainhead (though I must admit to never reading it, I have stared at the cover often.)

This is the official Catholic parish connected with the United Nations. In fact, Monday, September 14th they held a Mass for the opening of the 64th Session of the U.N. General Assembly (I wish I had attended.) I have a feeling these yearly Masses are special celebrations and a real chance to come together and share prayers of peace for our world, its many nations, and leaders.

They will also be holding a Mass for Climate Justice on September 20. What a great idea to bring further prayer to such absolutely important concerns. All churches, religions and institutions of faith should be so open to this type of prayer for our planet.

Here, at Holy Family, there is a beautiful painted relief mural of the stations of the cross - the likes of which I've never seen in a church before.

This is one of the benefits of the modern-style church, when a parish has truly beautiful and amazing art interpreting those elements and stories we have visited time and again in our faith.

In addition, I learned this from The Spiritual Traveler, (pages 149-150):

"Pope Paul VI conducted an interreligious meeting at Holy Family on October 4, 1965, marking the first occasion that a reigning Roman pontiff visited a parish church in North America."

There is also a meditation garden to the right of the church, St. Mary's Garden. Though I did not enter, I did look at it through the fence and it was lovely.