Weekend Mass Times:
Sun: 10:30am (Slovenian)
Constructed: (est. 1916)
Slavs of New York
Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Raphael on W. 41st St.
HOLY WEEK: Holy Thursday
"We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all."
The only information I had about St. Cyril church going in today was this one sentence from The Spiritual Traveler:
"Slovene Catholics have a small church - virtually a brownstone - St. Cyril, established in 1916..."The entrance gate was open outside when I arrived and I ascended the steps of this "brownstone," entering the church. It was quiet and dark, no lights were turned on yet, only the light from the falling 7pm sun through the south facing windows and stained glass, and an open doorway near the altar provided any visibility at all to this small dark (nearly a) chapel. I heard voices upstairs. A few days ago I had called (an until very, very recently non-working number) and asked when Holy Week masses would be. I was told 7pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
After taking a few photos I sat down in the back, alone, Magnificat in hand, ready for the Slovenian language mass I knew was in store. Holy Thursday remains my very favorite Mass of the calendar - it's a special one, so mystical and holy.
Another man entered, heading toward the open doorway by the altar, and switched on the lights. Ten minutes later three others, his family, joined him and then a pretty girl, my age, in a leather jacket entered, sitting near the altar, followed by an older couple, followed by the priest, who saw me and shook my hand.
"Are you Slovenian?" he asked.
No, I said in a sad sort of tone, always feeling out of place in these non-English masses. Why go then, you ask? It removes me from my comfort zone and Mass is no longer some familar place I casually drop in on for an hour a week to hear the things I am expecting. This journey has, if nothing else, made going to church each week a difficult undertaking, something to be thought about proactively and planned, a task that is hard which places me in new intimidating situations constantly. It has vitalized me and strengthened my faith, turning the Mass into a living breathing and very real experience.
The priest made his way to the sacristy to prepare and a few other people trickled in until in all there were a dozen of us, as well as the priest - the teacher and his twelve, a very true last supper, but which of us was Judas, I wondered to myself. Me? All of us? No, me I supposed. I'm the outsider here. Filled with sin. There is no betrayal in my heart, however. But I do tend to fuck up so altogether largely all the time.
I followed along with the readings and order of the Mass with the Magnificat. During the homily, I sat and listened. Of course, I could not understand the language, but I was listening for something else. A quote I read online the other day (and I'm perhaps slightly misquoting it here) reads: "Praying is when we ask God for something, meditation is when we listen."
This journey of (thus far) 94 churches has been amazing in so many ways and opened me to elements of the Mass and the Catholic faith that I never knew, but I have recently noted my prayer life during Mass is not as good as it could be. I don't spend a lot of time "listening." When I go to these new places there is always so much that I am aware of, so much stimulation and input, so much I am looking for or thinking about - art on the walls, the angle of the church that will make the best photo, what to write about. As I proceed in the future and attend one place regularly I plan on listening quite a bit more.
Sadly, because I enjoy the Holy Thursday Mass so much, there was no washing of the feet here, nor was there the procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass. Once Communion was finished, the priest did process down the small main aisle praying the stations of the cross, and then it ended. I was sad to have missed out on those parts of the Holy Thursday service I have come to love so much, as well as the singing of the Pange, lingua, and the Tantum ergo Sacramentum. But there is always next year.
Having taken all my photos beforehand, I headed out the doors before anyone had the chance to ask me why I was there.
Next, Good Friday service...