Sunday, November 29, 2009

81. Our Lady of the Scapular & St. Stephen (CLOSED)

NOTE: In 2015 this church closed down and was merged into the Church of Our Savior and the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only Our Savior and the Sacred Hearts Chapel will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish is now called the Parish of Our Saviour, Saint Stephen and Our Lady of the Scapular, and the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

(church info last updated 03/31/2016)
Address: 151 E. 28th St.
Church Constructed: 1866

Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary (associated Chapel)
About the Organ
NYC Architecture
Sacred Places
Holy Art to God
Will It Ever Be A Landmark? (Gotham Gazette)


This church is deceiving, appearing fairly small from the outside, but upon entering you realize it's big, going on and on beyond the altar which is set more towards the middle of the church. Beyond the altar are a few small chapels, statues and shrines. Good, small quiet places for prayer. The church is well lit, dramatically so, and the many art, paintings and sculpture around the building are highlighted.
"The Church of Our Lady of the Scapular of Mount Carmel was founded in 1889, and was located in a Country Gothic building at 341 East 28th Street. Our Lady of the Scapular was merged into St. Stephen's Church in the 1980s, and the original building was razed. In January 2007, the Archdiocese of New York announced that the Church of the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus, located at 307 East 33rd Street, would be merged into Our Lady of the Scapular-St. Stephen Church." (From's NYC Organ Project webpages)
The Gospel this week was simple and to the point (Luke, 21:25-28, 34-36):
"Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.”

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
I need to quiet my own carousing and drunkeness and to prepare for what is to coming.

A friend invited me to one of those expensive midtown bars last night, pricey cocktails, atmosphere, possible celebrities. Couldn't wear jeans, jacket a must. I didn't go. I don't want to dress up anymore. I want to stay uptown, hide up here, grow a beard, pray.

I've been taking great long walks in the mornings and going to daily Mass at a few of the uptown churches. It's a good way for me to begin each day. It calms me. Come 9am, though, it's all very anticlimactic, the world is grim again and there's nothing to look forward to save my job, that lately I dislike so much. I've been looking into career changes, but there is nothing immediate. I realize I am in a position and an industry in which I truly do not belong. I'm a feeling person in a cold pointless position, working, performing tasks that ultimately enable other cold pointless industries to thrive and go on to enable other industries, and so on. For me, its a path to and of nothingness. And I want out. But truly, I'm at a loss, not knowing what to do next.

Still reading The Life You Save May Be Your Own; some of the adventures of those four Catholic pilgrims I relate to so directly:
Merton, in Rome...
"By day he went to churches, over and over. 'And thus without knowing anything about it I became a pilgrim. I was unconsciously and unintentionally visiting the great shrines of Rome, and seeking out their sanctuaries with some of the avidity and desire of a true pilgrim, though not quite for the right reason.'" (33)

Day, in Manhattan...
"She had rented rooms from some friends on Fourteenth Street so as to be near the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where she liked to worship-a small Mexican church between Seventh and Eight avenues, no wider or grander than an old railroad flat." (63)

Merton, in Manhattan...
"His hell was Cambridge, but his Sodom is New York. For him as for Day, Manhattan will be, first of all, a rebel's paradise, a place of sin and temptation, against which he will rebel in turn by becoming religious. And yet for him, as for her, the firsthand experience of New York, of its legendary excesses and waywardness, will lend authority to his renunciation of it. Because he seems to relish the lost life as he describes it, his conversion seems authentic. (73-74)

He went to Sunday Mass at Corpus Christi, a small, bright church off upper Broadway past the Columbia campus...He was surprised by what he saw. The church was full of people, which amazed him. A few pews ahead, a beautiful girl knelt and prayed, oblivious of all else, and her beauty and piety put together amazed him, too...The priest gave the sermon, and it was convincing. It sounded like the word of God. 'For behind those words you felt the full force not only of Scripture but of centuries of a unified and continuous and consistent tradition.' (90-91)

He began a regimen of round-the-clock religious devotion: Sunday Mass at St. Joseph's on Sixth Avenue, weekday Mass at St. Francis of Assisi near Penn Station or Our Lady of Guadalupe on Fourteenth Street, a few hours' reading in the Summa in the Columbia library, followed by the Stations of the Cross at Corpus Christi Church or the Church of Notre Dame on Morningside Drive... (98)

In 1937, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a museum of medieval art. The Cloisters, as it is called, was like no other museum in America: an odd and remote outpost compounded from the ruins of several disused European monasteries-chapels, cloisters, stained-glass windows-which had been taken apart stone by stone, shipped across the ocean, and put together on a bluff in uptown Manhattan as a New World meta-monastery.

Thomas Merton went to the Cloisters on a date one Sunday the summer after it opened, then returned by himself later in the year. Looking back, he described those visits as the happiest days he spent in New York -happier it seems, than the days he spent in actual churches." (95-96)
Things with my girlfriend are good, despite those fears I experienced out west. There is a strong connection and potential for so much love. She's thinking of moving here next year - a possibility I'm excited for. Not a Catholic, and very much against organized religion (can't much disagree with her there, based on all the very stupid, hypocritical and detrimental acts so many religions are responsible for,) she has a lot of different ideas and thoughts on God than I do. For starters, she doesn't necessarily believe in God, but does admit to believing that there is something greater than us. My first reactive thought is that people are pompous who say they "do not believe in God." Putting more thought into it, and reading Merton's experience, my thought changes to, how pompous of any of us down here to think they know the idea and concept of God so fully.
"In the book [The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy], by his own account, he found a conception of God that he thought plausible and appealing. This God was not a Jehovah or a divine lawgiver, not a plague-sending potentate or a scourge of prophets, not the heavenly Father of Jesus Christ or the stern Judge waiting just past the gate at the end of time, but the vital animating principle of reality - "pure act," being itself or per se, existence in perfection, outside space and time, transcending all human imagery, calmly, steadily, eternally being. 'What a relief it was for me, now,' he recalled, 'to discover not only that no idea of ours, let alone any image, could adequately represent God, but also that we should not allow ourselves to be satisfied with any such knowledge of Him.'" (80-81)

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes having a job one doesn't particularly love is a blessing, particularly if you are serious about other pursuits. You can leave your job at the end of the day and not have to think about it. If you cared about the place, you'd be thinking about it all the time. That would inevitably take away from your prayer time, your time with your girlfriend, and other things you may want to do. A lot of people do jobs to pay bills, and leave their true selves for their interests. It sounds like you want to do meaningful work. Keep in mind, if you were doing meaningful work, you might not have time for meaningful off-work time. I've been there and have finally found a balance and am living life to the fullest. I'm busy as hell and have to remind myself to rest but I do the things that make me happy in my spare time (regular volunteer work for two places) and which make me feel as though I am making a contribution. Look at your job as an oppotunity to put yourself into another pursuit that you'll have the luxury to give your all to.