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)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

80. Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary (Now the Parish of Our Saviour, Saint Stephen and Our Lady of the Scapular, and the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with two churches: Our Lady of the Scapular & St. Stephen Church and the Church of Our Saviour as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only this chapel and Our Savior 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. 

(mass times & church info last updated 03/31/2016)
Address: 325 E. 33rd St.
Phone: 212.213.6027
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sun: 12:45pm, 5:30pm (both English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 12:15pm (English)
Sun: 5pm-5:15pm
Church Constructed: 2009? (forgive me if I'm mistaken)
Official Website
Chapel History
Church of Our Lady of the Scapular & St. Stephen (associated Church)
Congegration of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

This chapel is so far on the east side, why does anyone live all the way over there?

My thought, as I headed down 33rd this evening towards the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, and, finally arriving, I looked inside the chapel through it's great south windows, walking closer, peering inside, I witnessed a great congregation gathering for the Sunday 5:30pm Mass. It must happen every Sunday, and it was nice to see a mixed crowd, all ages, various types, lots of different people.

The priest gave a good sermon about living in the moment, living within and being inside each breath you take to be present in the Lord's graces and be in the moment, ready for God. It was direct and to the (and such a good) point. Ironically, I felt very out of the moment this evening. Why are things so off sometimes?


Additionally, there was a special announcement at the end of Mass, and an insert in the bulletin, about the U.S. Catholic Bishop's response to the Heath Care reform that had just passed the House. There are some fundamental sacredness of life issues presently in the bill that conflict with standard Catholic teachings concerning public funding for abortion, and care for the poor and immigrants. As United States Catholics, the Bishops urge us to speak out to our senators, politicians, lawmakers who are also our fellow human beings.

One can go here: to lodge an automatic online request to your senators.


Recently I was in a cafe with a good friend, 0ne of my closest, a fellow Christian who's a protestant. We were speaking about sin and repentance and forgiveness (pretty light, huh?) They told me that even though through their faith they know that when their sins are forgiven by God, they still feel a need to admit aloud what they have done and that they wish their church had something similar to confession as the Catholic church has.

I was struck suddenly by the sweetness of the Church's seven sacraments (specifically Reconciliation) and what it means for Catholics. These are gifts we have as Catholics that simply do not exist in other branches and sects of Christianity, and we (and I mean I here, but perhaps you feel the same) should cease taking these things for granted. We all sin down here, there is no way around - but the fact we are able to walk into the confessional and admit to God's servant our wrongdoings, and be blessed and absolved in person in a very real way, materializes for us the wondrous abstraction that is God's constant and eternal forgiveness of our very real sins.

It has given me a new realization of my Catholic faith and I now, very soon, I gots to get me to a confessional.

I've begun reading Paul Elie's book, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, which focuses on the spiritual pilgrimages of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy. Thus far I am especially connecting with Dorothy Day's journey, in New York, and her visits to Manhattan churches. This may begin happening in the next few following posts, my sharing excerpts about Day's thoughts on NYC from Elie's book:
"Mornings she would set out on the streets of lower Manhattan...'In all that great city of seven millions, I found no friends, I had no work; I was separated from my fellows. Silence in the midst of city noises oppressed me. My own silence, the feeling that I had no one to talk to overwhelmed me so that my very throat was constricted; my heart was heavy with unuttered thoughts; I wanted to weep my loneliness away...
So it was at dawn, going home, she found herself stopping at St. Joseph's Church on Sixth Avenue, not far from Hell Hole, thinking it inevitable that 'sooner or later I would have to pause in the mad rush of living and remember my first beginning and my last end...'
St. Joseph's is the oldest Catholic church in Manhattan, low and square, with fieldstone walls, high white pillars, and a portico topped by a cross that stands out starkly against the sky. It is a kind of house blend of old and new, of city and country, of Catholic Europe and leatherstocking America...
All her life she had been haunted by God. God was behind her. God loomed before her. Now she felt hounded toward Him, as though toward home; now she longed for an end to the wavering life in which she was caught...
For the time being, she began to pray...'God, be merciful to me, a sinner.'"

(pages 16, 28-29)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

79. Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard

(mass times & church info last updated 03/24/2016)
Address: 328 W. 14th St.
Phone: 212.243.0265
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English), 6pm (Spanish)
Sun: 9am (Spanish), 10am (English), 11:15am (Spanish), 12:30pm (Spanish), 5:30pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm (English), 6pm (Spanish)
Holidays: 9am
Confession: Sat: 4:30pm-5pm
Church Constructed: 1875
Official Website
About the Organ
Flickr Photo 1
Flickr Photo 2
Sunday Tacos at Our Lady of Guadalupe...
Shrine of Guadalupe

"The Roman Catholic Church of St. Bernard was established in a wagon factory located on West 13th Street. The present church was designed by architect Patrick C. Keely and built from 1873-75. Keely also designed the similarly-detailed Church of the Holy Innocents on West 37th Street near Herald Square. St. Bernard has the distinction of being the first church to be dedicated by John Cardinal McCloskey, the first American cardinal.

The parish of
Nuestra Señora de la Guadalupe, honoring the patron of the Americas, was founded in 1902 to serve the Spanish-speaking population of New York. A church was created in an existing row house on the north side of West 14th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, in the area once known as Little Spain. The Spanish Baroque facade that includes a rounded pediment and iron porch was designed by Gustave Steinback and added in 1921. As the city's Latin population changed over the years, Our Lady of Guadalupe has served Spaniards, Spanish-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. By the early 2000s, the small church could no longer accomodate the growing Mexican population, and in 2003 the congregation moved to nearby St. Bernard's Church at 330 West 14th, which was renamed Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard's."
The Spiritual Traveler calls the building High Victorian Gothic, a style that uses stone of contrasting colors - though I visited the church at night so really couldn't take in the beauty of the exterior.

This was a great church to visit on All Saints Day as it is filled with art and iconography of a multitude of the saints. I attended the 5:30pm Mass and there was an excellent Indian priest who celebrated. This Mass apparently has no musical accompaniment - even so, the cantor had a beautiful melodic voice, and lead the little bit of congregation there was through a nice mix of hymns.

Staring intently at the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe (an image that is actually found in most if not all New York City churches) I came home and did a little research.

"Guadalupe is strictly the name of a picture, but was extended to the church containing the picture and to the town that grew up around. The word is Spanish Arabic, but in Mexico it may represent certain Aztec sounds...The picture really constitutes Guadalupe. It makes the shrine: it occasions the devotion. It is taken as representing the Immaculate Conception, being the lone figure of the woman with the sun, moon, and star accompaniments of the great apocalyptic sign, and in addition a supporting angel under the crescent. Its tradition is, as the new Breviary lessons declare, "long-standing and constant". Oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. To a neophyte, fifty five years old, named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac hill to hear Mass in Mexico City, on Saturday, 9 December, 1531, the Blessed Virgin appeared and sent him to Bishop Zumárraga to have a temple built where she stood."
Sometimes when I catch the last Mass of the weekend at some of these churches, the church staff begins turning off the lights and shutting down the building as soon as the celebration is completed. This happened tonight, and once the lights were off I couldn't take all the pictures I wanted. This is a really gorgeous building, clean, well-maintained and bright. (Funny, I feel like I'm relating everything here in real estate terms, due to my current obsession of finding a new place.) It seems like a happy parish too, but I can't exactly say why, just a feeling I got by being there.

As I was leaving I looked up and noticed this painting of The Last Supper on the ceiling of the entrance way. Such a strange location for it about three feet above one's head, but a fun little detail of this church.

Unfortunately, the other thing that sometimes happens when catching these late Sunday Masses is the slow dull onset throughout the day of that Sunday-blues-melancholia culminating in a boiling up of my emotions near the end of Mass. Made all the worse tonight because I have to go back to Greenpoint to reclaim a forgotten credit card. My Saturday night self knows no shame and makes my Sunday day self pay for all of his shenanigans and then some.

Today being All Saints Day, here's a little video I found on the web, Fr. James Martin discussing the saints: