Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

A Parish of the Archdiocese of New York served by the Dominican Friars


March 26, 2016

Countering Fear – Pastor’s Reflection (March 27, 2016)

What is the power of this day for you?

We easily domesticate Easter. It serves to celebrate Spring’s arrival, or at least coming into view. This feast of feasts arranges a bouquet for the senses. Spring flowers delight winter weary eyes and noses. In this denim age we retain the right to array ourselves in crisp pastels. We will wear them to a decadent brunch after Mass and put off the rigors of Lent. The triumphant hymn singing and organ playing of this day cannot help but lift us out of the doldrums.

Easter Sunday brings a sigh of relief for tired clergy. If we liken the parish year to a work week, then Easter is Thursday night. We start quietly to dream about summer’s respite.

These things speak to the humanity of priest and people and they are good. But perhaps we could look for more at the Empty Tomb.

The Passion and Death of the Lord set before us the whole array of our fears. Jesus crucified mirrors for us the fear of poverty, stigma, and desertion. He embodies the specter of pain and death. To this sad bouquet of feelings we rarely give voice, but I think they are always with us.  Everyday the homeless in our streets echo the fate of Jesus who fell to the bottom of life.

To this array of unmentionable phobias, God responds with the Empty Tomb of Jesus. It declares the victory of life in the humanity of Jesus, now glorified, and it foretells the same triumph in our own humanity, beginning now.  The Resurrection possesses too much power to be confined to the past when Jesus encountered Mary Magdalene in the Garden. Nor can we lock it away in the future as a distant reward for ourselves.  The force of the Resurrection reaches us now through the sacraments to answer fears now.

Of course that which we fear does not go away, but its power to shame us into compromise, intimidate us into silence, or make us averse to all risk is overcome by the force of life within us. If we take a look at the holy ones of our time, St. John Paul II, Mother Theresa, or Oscar Romero, we see people who had ample reason to fear life. Yet faith enabled them to live undefended lives based on the promise of this day. The Easter faith gave them a new way to deal with the limits of being human.

That Jesus Crucified now lives in glory testifies to us that we have something that cannot be taken away by economic shift, relational fragility, or bodily failure. This Easter faith offers far more than hopeful palliation. It supplies a firm ground for serene living in the present at each stage and stratum of human life.

What a witness this faith gives to our time, when the language of fear permeates the air. It seems to me that the whole political drama enacted before us could be analyzed according to who is afraid of what and of whom. All across the board fear appears as the prime motivator for action and reaction.

We must of course confront the reality of our situation and we cannot evade the issues of the age. At the same time, we have constant recourse to a truth that is more real and more potent than all the forces vying to build empires on the knots in our stomachs.

First of all, the triumph of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit remind us that we always retain sovereignty over our hearts. We cannot make violence, resentment, and suspicion go away, but we do not have to be shaped by them. We can choose rather to be formed by Jesus’ confidence in the providence of the Father, and by His solidarity with every person, even with those killing Him. Thus oriented we make choices directed to the happiness delineated for us in the Gospels and made available in the Blood of the Lamb.

In troubled times may we remember that we already possess that peace which the world cannot give.
Blessed Lent!

Fr. Walter

March 19, 2016

The Irony of Discipleship – Pastor’s Reflection (March 20, 2016)

The Palm Sunday Liturgy challenges me at my roots. I find myself carrying my palm, enjoying the beauty of the procession, and catching the mood of the happy crowds welcoming Jesus on the approach to Jerusalem. Yet, every year that crowd turns on Jesus, and He ends up alone on Good Friday. I ask myself if I would have stuck with Him once the glamor was gone. Holy Week confronts me the paradox of recognition and understanding. At some level I get Jesus and at a deeper level I do not, and this is why each year I must walk through Holy Week once more. Here is the nature of Faith as a gift we spend a lifetime growing into.

By their content and their very intensity, the Holy Week Liturgies continue the revelatory work of the Cross. The events of the Passion and the Resurrection lay bare the love of God. By this has the cross been transformed for us. What served as an instrument of execution has become the primary icon of our identity as Christians. We kiss the Cross, we guild and bejewel it, we crown our buildings with it, we wear it with pride. By this sign we believe that the Maker of the World knows and accepts us.

But He knows and accepts us as sinners, and the Cross reveals profoundly the sin of humanity. Jesus is stretched upon its beams by the arrogance of empire, the cowardice of leadership, the defensiveness of religious people, and the violence of everyone. The death of Jesus exposes these things in a specific time and place and it indicts definite institutional actors. But all of these together represent the shadow side of us, thrown into high relief and thrust into God’s face. In the Crucifixion occur the perfect worship of Christ and the anti-worship of humanity.

Christ Crucified takes up the priestly stance assigned to Israel in the covenant with Moses. As the perfect Jew, holding God’s good things in covenant, He returns to God that which belongs to Him, namely the humanity He had received as gift, not right. The perfection of Christ’s humanity asserts itself in bringing the worship of gratitude and vulnerability into the most terrible of circumstances. Here, Christ stands on the ground sanctified by Abraham, who on Mt. Moriah offered God his son Isaac, recognizing the he had received him as gift, not possession. God responds to Abraham by providing a ram so that the Patriarch could make his response to Him, and redeem his son. The radical love of the Passion appears in Christ’s offering of His own humanity and in the Father’s acceptance of the offer without reprieve. The Father and the Son embrace each other across the human cruelty vainly interposed between them.

The love of Father and Son shows us the transformative power with which God responds to true human worship. The victory of this power becomes apparent to us at Easter, and we experience it at each Mass, as God continues to transform our offerings.

But their love also delineates clearly the nature of anti-worship, which is to exercise possessory power over God’s gifts as confided to me, or to another. We know the futile freedom of trying to own our bodies and the isolation that rewards the quest for self-sufficiency. Do we also perceive the empty dominion we establish through the exploitation of another, even in the most genteel fashion? Do we realize the violence we do when we seek control over a group of God’s souls?

What Abraham and Jesus never forget is that all life belongs to God, and their holiness lies in recognizing this without fear, and with love. Embracing our non-possession of ourselves will found a solid spiritual life, will keep us in the way of moral conversion, and it will give us an open, candid presence to our companions.

You and I are being formed by each Holy Week, and by every Eucharist in between, to live our lives in God’s presence in the way Christ shows, with the strength He gives. Honesty will show us progress to this point, but also a vast horizon of growth. The washing of the feet, the shared Eucharistic elements, and Christ’s crucified body will together challenge our arrogance and our presumption, rebuke our calculations and manipulations, and frustrate our complacency. All of this is a plan not for shame, but for freedom. The Holy Spirit has come to breathe this surprising liberty into hearts open to receiving it. He has come so that, “We might live no longer for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose for us again.” (Eucharistic Prayer IV)

At Easter, Christians testify that they are becoming like Christ in fits and starts. They struggle to give their lives away, believing that when they succeed in this they find their lives all over again and better than ever.

 

Blessings on your Holy Week.

Fr. Walter

March 12, 2016

Passiontide and Easter Save the Date – Pastor’s Reflection (March 13, 2016)

Thursday, March 17 marks the liturgical observance of St. Patrick’s Day in the Archdiocese of New York. Because he is patron of the Cathedral and the Archdiocese, we celebrate Patrick as a Solemnity, that is, a feast comparable to a Sunday. We will observe the day with a sung Mass (Cantor and Organ) at St. Vincent Ferrer’s, at 6 PM. At the end of Mass we will process to St. Patrick’s altar. Here is a great chance to remember the roots of our parish, enshrined in the lovely Connemara marble of his altar.

Saturday, March 19 brings another Solemnity, the Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary and Patron of the Universal Church. We will honor the day with a Sung Mass and Procession at St. Catherine’s at Noon, Sunday, March 20.

Holy Week challenges us to live the faith more intensely for a time. In the light of our merger it will bring new demands and promises new growth.

March 20, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
11:15 am The Blessing of Palms, St. Vincent Ferrer
11:30 am Procession with Palms, The Streets of our Neighborhood
Noon Solemn Mass, St Catherine of Siena
4 pm Choral Vespers
nb. Otherwise, the schedule remains the same at both churches.

March 21, Monday of Holy Week – Reconciliation Monday
3 pm – 9 pm Confessions heard in both churches

March 22, Tuesday of Holy Week
5:15 pm Mass, St. Catherine of Siena
6 pm Parish Study for Holy Week, St. Dominic’s Hall

“Overcome with Paschal Joy”
Embracing the unique prayer of Eastertide.
Reflection and a simple supper
in our own Upper Room
Please reserve a place with Rachel.

May 23, Wednesday of Holy Week
We will not have Holy Hour today at St. Vincent’s in deference to the adoration of Holy Thursday.

March 24,  Thursday of the Lord’s Supper
9 am Morning Prayer, St. Vincent Ferrer and St Catherine of Siena
6:30 pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper, St. Vincent Ferrer
8 pm Procession to the Repository, The streets of our Neighborhood

8:30 pm Adoration at the Repository, St. Catherine of Siena
Adoration until Midnight with confessions being heard from 8:30PM as needed

March 25,  Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
NB. The Parish Office is closed today.
9 am Morning Prayer, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
Noon The Seven Last Words, St. Catherine of Siena, Preached by the Dominican Friars
3 pm Liturgy of the Passion, St. Vincent Ferrer
5:15 pm Liturgy of the Passion, St. Catherine of Siena
7 pm Mater Dolorosa, St. Vincent Ferrer
Procession to the Sepulcher, singing of the Lamentations, Night Prayer
Confessions from 8 PM as needed

March 26, Holy Saturday
9 am Morning Prayer, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
10 am – Noon Confessions Heard, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
8 pm The Paschal Vigil, St. Vincent Ferrer

March 27, Easter
The regular morning schedule will be observed at both churches.  There will be no evening Mass in the Parish.
8 am Low Mass, St. Vincent Ferrer
9 am Sung Mass, St. Catherine of Siena
10 am Sung Mass, St. Vincent Ferrer
Noon Solemn Mass, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

March 28, Easter Monday
The Parish Office is closed today.
Masses will be said, and confessions heard, as usual in both churches.

Lenten Peace!

Fr. Walter

March 08, 2016

Holy Week Mass Schedule 2016

March 20, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
11:15 am            The Blessing of Palms – St. Vincent Ferrer
11:30 am            Procession with Palms – The Streets of our Neighborhood
Noon                  Solemn Mass – St. Catherine of Siena
4 pm                   Choral Vespers – St. Vincent Ferrer
NB.                     Otherwise, the schedule remains the same at both churches.

March 21, Monday of Holy Week – Reconciliation Monday
3 pm – 9 pm       Confessions heard in both churches

March 22, Tuesday of Holy Week
5:15 pm               Mass – St. Catherine of Siena
6 pm                    Parish Study for Holy Week – St. Dominic’s Hall, St. Catherine of Siena

                “Overcome with Paschal Joy”
Embracing the unique prayer of Eastertide.
Reflection and a simple supper
in our own Upper Room
Please reserve a place with Rachel.

May 23, Wednesday of Holy Week
We will not have Holy Hour today at St. Vincent’s in deference to the adoration of Holy Thursday.

March 24,  Thursday of the Lord’s Supper
9 am                   Morning Prayer St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
6:30 pm              Mass of the Lord’s Supper – St. Vincent Ferrer
8 pm                   Procession to the Repository – The streets of our Neighborhood
8:30 pm              Adoration at the Repository – St. Catherine of Siena
Adoration until Midnight with confessions being heard from 8:30 pm as needed

March 25,  Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
NB.                      The Parish Office is closed today.
9 am                    Morning Prayer St. Vincent Ferrer and – St. Catherine of Siena
Noon                   The Seven Last Words – St. Catherine of Siena, Preached by the Dominican Friars
3 pm                    Liturgy of the Passion – St. Vincent Ferrer
5:15 pm               Liturgy of the Passion – St. Catherine of Siena
7 pm                    Mater Dolorosa – St. Vincent Ferrer
Procession to the Sepulcher, singing of the Lamentations, Night Prayer
Confessions from 8 PM as needed

March 26, Holy Saturday
9 am                    Morning Prayer – St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
10 am – Noon     Confessions Heard – St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
8 pm                    The Paschal Vigil – St. Vincent Ferrer

March 27, Easter
The regular morning schedule will be observed at both churches.  There will be no evening Mass in the Parish.
8 am                    Low Mass – St. Vincent Ferrer
9 am                    Sung Mass – St. Catherine of Siena
10 am                  Sung Mass – St. Vincent Ferrer
Noon                   Solemn Mass – St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

March 28, Easter Monday
The Parish Office is closed today.
Masses will be said, and confessions heard, as usual in both churches.

March 05, 2016

The Holy Preaching of Holy Obedience #2 – Pastor’s Reflection (March 6, 2016)

This Letter follows upon last week’s to set forth a plan for celebrating Holy Week in our Merged Parish. The plan rests on the principle that the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil should be celebrated only once in a community. Since they both manifest the unity of the Church, they should take place in the Parish Church, which in our case is St. Vincent Ferrer. The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion may be repeated at a later hour for the convenience of the Faithful. Therefore, we may have this celebration at each of our churches. Otherwise, we have tried to make Holy Week as inclusive as possible. In doing so we are tapping into the ancient practice of the Church in cities such as Jerusalem and Rome in which Holy Week was essentially processional. Here is a description of an ancient Palm Sunday.

As the eleventh hour draws near … all the children who are [gathered at the top of the Mount of Olives], including those who    
are not yet able to walk because they are too young and therefore are carried on their parents’ shoulders, all of them bear
branches, some carrying palms, others, olive branches. And the bishop is led in the same manner as the Lord once was led.
[In 
the gospel accounts, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.]… From the top of the mountain as far as the city and from
there
through the entire city … everyone accompanies the bishop the whole way on foot, and this includes distinguished ladies
and
 men of consequence.

From the writings of Egeria,
a 4th Century pilgrim in Jerusalem

Christ is sent into the movement of His Passion and Resurrection by the Father. He, in turn, sets the Church in motion through time. We have been set in motion. May it help us to become more fully the Body of Christ. May we support each other in the pain these changes must cause.

 

Blessed Lent!

Fr. Walter

 

Sunday March 20 Palm Sunday

11:15 AM         The Blessing of Palms                       St. Vincent Ferrer
11:30 AM         Procession with Palms                       The Streets of our Neighborhood
Noon                Solemn Mass                                      St Catherine of Siena
4 PM                Choral Vespers                                   St. Vincent Ferrer
NB. Otherwise, the Mass schedule remains the same at both churches.

 

March 21, Monday of Holy Week – Reconciliation Monday

3 PM – 9 PM                  Confessions Heard in both churches

 

March 22, Tuesday of Holy Week

5:15 PM                        Mass, followed by an evening of reflection                 St. Catherine of Siena

 

May 23, Wednesday of Holy Week

We will not have Holy Hour today at St. Vincent’s in deference to the adoration of Holy Thursday.

 

March 24, Thursday of the Lord’s Supper

6:30 PM            Mass of the Lord’s Supper                      St. Vincent Ferrer
8 PM                 Procession to the Repository                  The streets of our Neighborhood
8:30 PM            Adoration at the Repository                    St. Catherine of Siena
Adoration until Midnight with confessions being heard from 8:30PM as needed

 

March 25, Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Noon                The Seven Last Words                     St. Catherine of Siena
3 PM                 Liturgy of the Passion                       St. Vincent Ferrer
5:15 PM            Liturgy of the Passion                       St. Catherine of Siena
7 PM                 Mater Dolorosa                                 St. Vincent Ferrer

 

March 26, Holy Saturday

8 PM                 The Paschal Vigil                               St. Vincent Ferrer

 

March 27, Easter

The regular morning schedule will be observed at both churches. There will be no evening Mass.