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

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


April 15, 2017

The Easter Preaching – Pastor’s Reflection (April 16, 2017)

By tradition, “The Lord is Risen,” supplants conventional greetings during these days of joy (“He is truly Risen” providing the venerable response.) It is also the first Christian sermon, preached by Mary
Magdalene to the Apostles, garnering her the grand title of Apostle to the Apostles (Apostola Apostolorum) and the co-patronage of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). She announced not just a fact, but a life. As He passes through doors and remains unrecognizable to His followers until the Holy Spirit lowers the barrier, Jesus without losing His humanity, has entered upon a new mode of life.

The gospels of the Easter Sundays to follow, six of them leading up to Pentecost, disclose the nature of that life and indicate that through the sacraments we have already begun to share in it. At Mass during the fifty days of Easter we always hear a first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which chronicles how men and women organized their whole lives around the Resurrection from the moment of Pentecost. Without a word of the New Testament having been written, they become Christians, through Baptism and the Breaking of the Bread, the Teachings of the Apostles and the common life. Peter, Paul, and the other Apostles do not show up throughout the Roman world with a book to talk about, but with a life to share.

The saints who followed them through the ages turn our heads because we perceive in them a life reshaped by the fact of the Resurrection. Two such are the Patrons of our Parish, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Vincent Ferrer. Both of them are Easter preachers. Like the Apostles, they walked through the world proclaiming the victory of Christ. They did not ground their work in institutions, but claimed the sacramental life as their sustenance. Each of them represents itinerancy, that aspect of life the Dominicans have inherited from the Apostles. They possessed the singular grace of having no real home, but lived lives on the road for the sake of the Gospel. They trod the byways of late Fourteenth and early Fifteenth Century Europe, a world depopulated by the Black Death and sundered by schism. In fearful times they preached from the courage of the Good Shepherd. Each challenged the age prophetically to recover the confidence that comes from Faith.

In the formation of our new parish, we are blessed to have two Patrons who accepted from Christ the gift and challenge of a life in motion. We, ourselves, have been launched into change by the decision of Christ’s Church. Our Patrons can teach us much about how to live in these times and preach to these times.

It comes to the Parish as a singular gift to the Parish that our Patrons have feast days so close
together.  St. Catherine’s Day is April 29, while the Order now celebrates St. Vincent on May 5. (His feast in the general calendar is April 5, but Lent and Easter Week too frequently suppress it). This fortunate circumstance allows us to link the two feasts with a festival of prayer. So even today, as we begin the singular Octave of Easter, we will shortly celebrate our own parochial octave of prayer from April 28, the Vigil of St. Catherine, until May 5, the Feast of St. Vincent.

As with the St. Joseph and St. Jude Novenas we have already celebrated during this parish year, this Octave will be facilitated by our Dominican Shrine of St. Jude, and like the St. Jude Novena, this Octave will feature a series of special preachings. We will invite you to come to it with your prayer intentions, and we will also have a common intention as a Parish. This will be to pray for a new Pentecost; to ask the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Vincent Ferrer, that the preaching of our church may truly reach the men and women of this age.

These days of prayer will figure as the first event in a Jubilee of our own. The Dominican Friars took up their first parochial ministry in New York City in June of 1867, and the current Church of St. Vincent Ferrer was dedicated on May 5 of 1918. This gives a “Holy Year” between the 150th anniversary of our presence in the Archdiocese and the 100th anniversary of St. Vincent Ferrer Church. The Parish Year of 2017-2018 will have this Jubilee as its defining theme.

I believe that for a century and a half, Dominican women and men have undertaken in our city the Easter Preaching, after the pattern of Catherine and Vincent. I hope that our teaching, preaching, and our service in parishes and hospitals have all been a fulfillment of the Risen Lord’s greeting, “Peace be with you.”

Details on all of the above will follow soon.

Easter Peace!
Fr. Walter

April 11, 2017

Behold the Man – Pastor’s Reflection (April 9, 2017)

The laws of mass-produced bulletins being what they are, I wrote these Holy Week lines way back on March 30.

I look forward to the holiest of times through a lens of bafflement. Information about events now comes so elaborately sauced with spin that I cannot figure out what meat lies on the plate. What am I to believe? With public affairs so obscured, the believability of Jesus startles me as I look forward to this Holy Week. In the long narrative of the Passion Jesus stands in a cloud of posturing as the real one. Pilate testified to this when he looked upon the scourged and mocked Jesus and said, “Behold the Man.” (Ecce Homo) (John 19:5) The Prophet Isaiah gave word, centuries in advance, to the credibility of Jesus when he prophesied, “There was, in Him no stately bearing to make us look at Him, nor appearance that would attract us to Him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

As Jesus carries His cross through these days He manifests in His person the startling truth of human beings. Behind our displays of muscularity; be they physical, technical, political, artistic, or financial, men and women walk this earth alone, vulnerable, and finite. Age, handicap, and illness do us the invaluable service of serving up the ungarnished and unvarnished truth about humanity in general, and ours in particular. The message of Holy Week is that God loves this truth of us and builds upon it, as He grounds the resurrected life on the death of Jesus. What is most real about us, becomes the way to the reality of God.

So as we pass through these days take note of who in the story wants to demonstrate power to us; Pilate, Herod, the High Priest, and the crowd. As we entertain their claims we realize they all act in God’s drama.

By contrast, we contemplate how Jesus, knowing His God, has the security to be real for
Himself and for all of us.

On Palm Sunday we ponder the way in which Jesus permits Himself to be misunderstood by the crowd, as we are misperceived by those close to us.

On Holy Thursday we marvel as He washes feet, addressing Himself in love to the the part of us that bears the dirt and smell of the road we have walked, and recognize how much of our life is shaped by our mileage.

We see how He promises to be with us through time under the forms of the most basic food and drink, and recognize the many hungers and thirsts of your own life.

We hear how He names His loneliness in the face of betrayal, and denial and we recall the isolating record of our disappointments.

On Good Friday our ears perk up as Jesus says to the High Priest, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the Temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing.” (John 18:20) In Jesus there is no muscularity of secretiveness or
elitism.

On Easter we recognize the otherworldly paradox that we are impressed by the
un-impressiveness of Jesus, and therein lies the power to look beyond the unimpressive things that used to impress us. We share in divine life through His very human death and so we do not shy aware from any part of human life. We present ourselves to the world without spin because we now carry in ourselves the news that may be believed.

Peace!
Fr. Walter

April 01, 2017

Passiontide – Pastor’s Reflection (April 2, 2017)

Tomorrow, Monday, April 3 opens a new phase in the Lenten cycle which we call “Passiontide.” The liturgical focus now shifts from moral conversion to a contemplation of the suffering and death of Jesus. At Mass every day this week you will hear a distinctive Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer. Each Mass
contains such a preface, and it indicates the particular reason for which we give thanks at a given Eucharist. It is worth noting we take the stance of gratitude at every Mass, even when we commemorate something as terrible as the Suffering (Passion) and Death of the Lord. The preface reads as follows:

It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father,
almighty and eternal God.

For through the saving Passion of your Son
the whole world has received a heart
to confess the infinite power of your majesty,
since by the wondrous power of the Cross
your judgment on the world is now revealed
and the authority of Christ crucified.

And so, Lord, with all the Angels and Saints,
we, too, give you thanks,
as in exultation we acclaim:

Put simply, I am thankful at this time because the Death of Jesus has caused me to perceive the power of God in a particular way. In Passiontide, I recognize His power over power. He has subjugated what has subjugated me.

The Cross channels the human power to dominate. Jesus walks the Via Dolorosa carrying the weight of Imperial Rome, official religion, and the crowd. Each claims control over life, and the three have colluded to “get” Jesus. Jesus Crucified is bound in the place of all those who pay the price for life having the order that someone else thinks it should have. But since we look at the Cross through the lens of the Resurrection we recognize that God has judged all of this power to be futile and responds to it with His own unfailing power to give life. God judges our efforts to dominate, to overawe, and to manipulate to be vain, and yet He loves us and calls to a life beyond such dead stratagems.

By contrast we are amazed by the authority of Jesus who has lost every shred of His own human
power, save the power to love which serves for the healing of the rest. We smirk at the idea of love having power but look how it has reoriented our lives. The helplessness of Jesus has transformed our behavior, our thinking, and our longing in a way that no totalitarian or revolutionary could ever dream of. You read these lines not because you are afraid of God, but because you love Him and desire Him.

By the life of the sacraments this perspective of God is now ours. We are equipped by Him to see through, lovingly, the vanities of our own time and to confess that the victory of Jesus is more real than they.

Next Sunday it will be time to acknowledge the power in us of the powerlessness of Christ. On Palm Sunday we walk in procession and confess to the world that Christ’s transformation of us has begun, but is incomplete.  We celebrate another Holy Week because we need to, and our witness is not our triumph but His.

Consider gathering at St. Catherine’s and walking to St. Vincent’s next Sunday, April 9, to testify to the one who has the power to keep you in motion toward the highest of goals.

Peace!
Fr. Walter

March 25, 2017

Easter in Lent – Pastor’s Reflection (March 26, 2017)

When you read these lines Easter will be on the horizon at three weeks’ distance.  For me winter has flown and three weeks of Lent have evaporated. Our absorbing politics no doubt greased the wheels of time. The newsfeed on the phone has delivered almost hourly fascinations and amazements. Of course at some point the preoccupation with events ceases to be productive. Now is the time to deal with this. I realize that to enter into Holy Week and Easter I need to challenge the compelling power of the news.  Spiritual convention says to shut off the information and focus on the cross and empty tomb. But perhaps I give the events of Holy Week their full power by using them as a most accurate lens through which to perceive the events of the time. I move beyond seeking a refuge to finding a response.

Holy Week celebrates not only the truth of eternity but its victory. That means we not only remember its past effect but access its current power. The Resurrection gives us power to hope in Heaven, but also the capacity to see beyond what is not heavenward in this life. The resurrection currently has more power than whatever intimidates, shames, belittles, or manipulates.

It will be timely to use our Parish Lenten Retreat to draw on the present power of eternal life so that we have the serenity to be peaceful in ourselves and a leaven in our times.

Please join us on Saturday, April 1, at St. Vincent Ferrer to ponder

 

Easter in Lent

Christ’s Resurrection as power for serene living now

Schedule         9 AM               Welcome
9:45                 Conference
10:15               Shared silence
10: 45              Conference
11: 15              Stations of the Cross
Noon               Mass of Our Lady in Lent

 

If you would like to join us, please call Rachel at (212) 744-2080, just so that we can plan.

Holy Week will give us an opportunity to look further into the lived reality of the Resurrection. For some years now we have gathered on the Tuesday of Holy Week for a simple supper and reflection that gives new insight into the familiar liturgies of the Triduum. This year Holy Tuesday falls on April ll.

We will gather in St. Dominic Hall at St. Catherine’s after the 5:15 Mass. Together we will make a study of the beautiful Chapter 21 of St. John’s Gospel, in which unfolds an extended encounter between the Risen Lord and His disciples, it is a passage which teaches us much about how Jesus has equipped us with distinct means to now live a life shaped by Resurrection.

For the evening, St. Dominic’s Hall will be our own Upper Room.

So that we can plan properly please call Rachel Miller at (212) 744-2080 if you would like to join us.

I hope that both of these events will afford us a significant pause before the intensity of the Triduum.

 

May this second half of Lent give you a deep longing for the Easter Peace.

Fr. Walter

March 24, 2017

Holy Week Schedule – 2017

THE CHURCH OF ST. VINCENT FERRER
869 Lexington Avenue at East 66th Street
New York, New York 10065-6680
Telephone (212) 744-2080

 THE CHURCH OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA
411 East 68th Street
New York, New York 10065-6680

 

HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE – 2017 

CONFESSIONS
Saturday, April 1:
5:00 pm to 5:50 pm and after the 6:00 pm Mass – St. Vincent
3:00 pm to 3:50 pm and after the 4:00 pm Mass – St. Catherine

Sunday, April 2:
During all Masses- St. Vincent & St. Catherine

Saturday, April 8:
5:00 pm to 5:50 pm – St. Vincent
3:00 pm to 3:50 – St. Catherine

Monday, April 10:
3 pm to 9 pm – St. Vincent & St. Catherine

Holy Thursday, April 13:
8:30 pm as needed – St. Catherine

Good Friday, April 14: 8 pm to 9 pm – St. Vincent

Holy Saturday, April 15:
10 am to 12 noon – St. Vincent
11 am to 12 noon – St. Catherine

PALM SUNDAY, April 9
11 am  Blessing of Palms at St. Catherine with Procession through the streets
to St. Vincent for 12 noon Solemn Mass
6:00 pm Saturday (April 8) Sung Vigil Mass,
8 am Low Mass, 12 Noon Low Mass,
6:00 pm Sung Mass – St. Vincent
4:00 pm Saturday (April 8) Vigil Mass,
10 am Low Mass, 5:00 pm Mass – St. Catherine

HOLY THURSDAY, April 13
9 am: Office of Readings & Morning Prayer- St. Vincent & St. Catherine
4:00 pm: Mass of the Lord’s Supper – St. Catherine
6:30 pm: Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Supper – St. Vincent
8:30 pm to Midnight: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Repository – St. Catherine
11 pm: Compline ­- St. Catherine

GOOD FRIDAY, April 14
9 am: Office of Readings & Morning Prayer – St. Vincent & St. Catherine
12 noon: Seven Last Words of Christ – St. Catherine
3 pm: Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion – St. Vincent
5:15 pm: Sung Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion – St. Catherine
7 pm: Watch at the Sepulcher – St. Vincent
(Singing of the Lamentations and Compline)

HOLY SATURDAY, April 15
9 am: Office of Readings & Morning Prayer – St. Vincent & St. Catherine

The Church will close from 12:00 pm until 7 pm

9 pm: Solemn Vigil of Easter – St. Vincent
*(This Liturgy lasts approximately 2 hours)

EASTER SUNDAY, April 16
8 am Low Mass – St. Vincent
10 am Sung Mass – St. Vincent & St. Catherine
12 noon Solemn Mass – St. Vincent

ON EASTER SUNDAY THERE WILL BE NO EVENING MASSES

March 18, 2017

So Many Words – Pastor’s Reflection (March 19, 2017)

I write these lines on Monday, March 13, and by all accounts you will have had a challenging week of
weather by the time you read them. I say “you” with some embarrassment because I write you from Sarasota, Florida, which looks to feel this storm only by way of highs in the sixties rather than the seventies. My father winters here in Sarasota and I take a turn accompanying him. As you may imagine the time is precious for its climactic and personal warmth. I find also that that by living according to a different rhythm for a few days I appreciate the gift of my own life and companions.
Of course, while technology has made it easier to travel quickly to a different world, it has also blunted the effect of travel so that one can keep tabs on multiple worlds at the same time. So this morning WYNC kept me up on all the storm preparations even as I was looking out the window at palm trees. As I think of New York I am more alive with concern for those who are there, guilt at not being there myself, and glee for being here. I find this
multiplicity of experience to be a fascinating gift of our time.
I receive it as a privilege of nature as well. Living in the fifties of life confers a windfall on me, for I connect to multiple generational worlds as well. My father is thirty years my senior and it startles me that on the one hand we share much in common, but on the other, age has carried him bodily to a different world, a voyage he has managed with extraordinary humor and good grace. At close quarters lie a world of shared tastes and experiences, and a gulf of time that cannot be crossed, save by empathy.
From my sunny perch I can look north and see the multiplicity of worlds as gift to my life at home. Consider the three Friars with whom I work most closely. Fr. Joseph Allen is 79, and Br. Damian McCarthy is 77, a few years short of my dad’s 84 and Fr. Innocent is 30. The four of us have much in common by way of our Dominican life and training, but we also represent three generational worlds of the Church. That means three perspectives on all kinds of issues, ranging from worship to administrative priorities.
For the guy in the middle this offers some challenge, but mostly exhilaration, as the combination keeps one profoundly in touch. Of course the life of our Parish staff offers a microcosm of the life of our parish as a community of generations, and to look at the procession of these in a local place offers a glimpse into the very vast movement of people through time that is the Church.
One’s generation provides so much belonging. Events, fashions, and the arts support a unity of perspective that grows with time. When I speak with people my age about the 1980 election it’s almost like we are sharing a family secret. To be in a generation is to inhabit a world, and to recognize another generation is to discern another world.  As a I watch the kids on spring break enjoy the sand and the waters of the Gulf, I see that the men favor swim trunks that reach their knees. Walking along with my pale middle aged calves showing proudly I am mystified by these young people. Why would anyone come to the seashore on an 80 degree day and wear that much clothing in the water? My incomprehension notwithstanding, they are having a great time, perfectly comfortable with each other in their world. (They probably look at me and think that someone with such legs should cover up.)
But with hemlines, tie widths, and favorite actors, each generation also seems to craft a narrative of its own uniqueness, seeing in itself the long awaited answer, or the fresh start the world needs. In the strength of this
conviction it makes its contribution to every field of endeavor, until it perceives the tsunami in the rearview mirror. All of a sudden there are people coming from behind with different answers and different norms. In the procession of generations time affirms in part and rejects in part, and it’s a happy old age that befriends the inexorable flux in things.
With pondering, the passage of generations reveals one of life’s quietest joys. Contempt for the past and war against the future never repay the effort, but striving to make a contribution in the present offers a double reward when it builds on the past and gives scope to the needs and insights which must come after. I believe that the more I maintain awareness that I live within the movement of time, the more I achieve both fruitfulness and humility. I can even turn things around so that time becomes an opportunity rather than a constraint, and the chance to contribute a gift rather than an episode in a culture war.
Consider that since Vatican II the Church has received the Pastoral Care of Paul VI, John Paul I and II,
Benedict XVI, and Francis. We can analyze this history politically as a series of pendulum swings, or we can see the Spirit at work in the continuity of the Church.  On the “micro” level, I have had the joy of observing three different generations apply themselves to the renewal of the Church. In this ongoing work creativity and conflict have each have served an underlying and discernible continuum.
At Easter, in the Risen Christ, I glimpse humanity living beyond time in the state of glory, but I can only
prepare for this by observing the law of time now. As with so much of mortal existence living well in time means being amazed to see how much I do not see.

Lenten Peace!
Fr. Walter

March 11, 2017

St. Joseph Novena – Pastor’s Reflection (March 12, 2017)

Let me invite you to lend your spiritual energy to an important work of prayer. Each year, as winter yields to spring, our Shrine of St. Jude celebrates a novena of prayer leading up to the Solemnity of St. Joseph on March 20. This year we are seeking his prayers for our loved ones who no longer
practice their faith.

We honor St. Joseph as husband of Mary, and as Patron of the Universal Church. Appointed to pray for the whole church, Joseph surely will not neglect those of her members who are far from her life. Ever since he became the most intimate companion of Jesus and Mary, Joseph has kept safe God’s beloved. He loved as his own those who were not his own and so demonstrated  a way of loving – opened up to us by our baptism.

God draws that love out of us by showing us people to care for. In the conventional way of things we do this by presenting the faith. With our children, our students, and our parishioners we seek to share our faith as well as we might. We count it a precious blessing when those we have loved in this way make the faith their own so that its practice becomes their happiness.

Yet sometimes our lavish outlay of care seems to go for naught, and even years of exposure to church life do not connect people to the faith in such a way that they make it their own. Thousands upon thousands of people were “raised Catholic” and never got it. How do we respond to them? Are we indignant, or wrathful? Do we dismiss or threaten?

An alternative is to let pain and disappointment open up a deeper way of loving. Such a love will demand two things. First, it will mean showing people how much joy we have in the practice of our faith. Second, that we actively entrust them to God’s love. This will mean praying for those who are alienated from God and living without the Gospel. As we pray in this way, we grow in faith ourselves, for we discern if God chooses to make our prayer of intercession effective in His plan.

Mass will be offered each day for your intentions, starting on March 12 and culminating in our celebration of the Solemnity on March 20. Please make use of the envelopes in both churches to inform us of your intentions. Please know that the Friars in our community, and our parishioners will be joining you in nine days of pleading for the healing of Christ’s body in the world.

Take advantage of this solemn novena, invoking his prayer for yourself and for your family members, those who need St. Joseph’s intercession to find their way back to church. Just as St. Joseph provided for the needs of Mary and of our Redeemer, he will intercede for you, your family and your needs.

Lenten Peace!
Fr. Walter

March 04, 2017

Dedication – Pastor’s Reflection (March 5, 2017)

If you are reading this, you probably received “your ashes” a few days ago, and you became
thereby a public penitent. An essential part of our Christian practice is the admission that we do not live up to our own teaching, and this is because Jesus did not give the kind of straightforward,
easily-mastered morality that would allow us to celebrate proficiency. The law of Jesus is less a code of behavior than a preparation for being with God, and so it is a work never finished.

If we take Christ’s teaching as a dynamic practice and not as static legislation, then we will
perceive spurs to growth more often and more deeply. To opened eyes, moments of ordinary life mete out inspiration and challenge all at the same time. Recently my own trajectory of awareness has focused on dedication, and I have been invited to ponder how ordinary people set themselves to a task beyond their self-interest, with as much energy and focus as if it were.

In my seventh year as Pastor, the dedication of parish volunteers still amazes and humbles me. Last Saturday evening we celebrated an elegantly and lovingly executed Mardi Gras. From beginning to end, the evening was parishioner dreamed and driven, and the success of the evening flowed from equal parts talent and grit, all of it contributed. So at 11 pm I am watching people in their good clothes hauling loaded garbage bags and mopping floors, all the while smiling, and I am thinking to myself, “this is the real face of Christ in the world.” Perhaps this is an ordinary part of parish life, but I find it an amazing testimony to the power which the Gospel has to re-orient life. I cite the example of one event, but it typifies happenings I see all the time, but will not attempt to list for fear of omission. The vitality of the living Church flows from what God does with the leisure time parishioners dedicate (oblate) to Him

We set this contributed generosity alongside Christ’s own self-gift in the offering of each parish Mass. But also resting there on the altar is the dedication people have to their “day jobs.” With each passing year I am more aware of the self-donation people bring to their work.

On Friday of last week, I stopped by the Waldorf-Astoria for a last good-bye before it closed on March 1 for a three-year renovation and conversion. During my visit I spoke with a desk clerk, a
white-gloved bell captain, a host, and a waiter. Even with their jobs set to end in a few days’ time, each of these people showed smiling attentiveness to hotel guests and to strays like me. (The New York Post reported that the closure of the Waldorf will put 1,441 people out of work.) In them I encountered nothing perfunctory, resigned, or even fatigued. How much sense of self these people have: they
maintained their own standards to the end. These are people who valued their work, which made their work valuable.

I bring these two vignettes to the beginning of Lent and recognize how they invite me to
dedication as a way of life. Lent brings me once again to the Sermon on the Mount, the great text of the dedicated person. Here, Jesus as the “New Moses” shows me my own capacity for an ever-widening circle of availability, generosity, and focus. Each year He seems to show me a horizon of growth I could not have imagined the year before. Chapters 5-7 of St. Matthew’s Gospel will definitely repay the effort of a reading at the outset of this holy season.

The mechanics of becoming more dedicated consist in connecting more and more aspects of life directly to the Gospel and of segregating fewer parts from it. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving work
powerful effects in us when ordered to this purpose. They reveal that each of us has a need to grow, but also a longing to grow. When allowed to surface, this desire for holiness gives the most eloquent of
testimonies that Christ is present in the world, and at work in us.

In a world of shouting, we offer a true witness when we live as those who seek.

Lenten Peace.
Fr. Walter

February 25, 2017

Inhibiting More Deeply – Pastor’s Reflection (February 26, 2017)

Last Friday I returned to New York from San Francisco on the “Redeye.” So it was about 7 am when the new Q line left me at 72nd Street and I emerged via escalators onto Second Avenue at 69th Street, one block from my home at St. Catherine’s. The number of people who ascended to the surface with me left me astounded. So soon in its life this line had become integral to the lives of many. This change in pattern visibly brought more intense life to this corner of the city, so that one could say that now it is inhabited more deeply. What a thought that a place as developed and densely occupied as New York City could harbor the potential to be even better used. Making a fallow place into a fruitful place brings its own particular thrill. The subway now gives a whole neighborhood the opportunity to
understand and realize its potential.

If any institution in our city has fulfilled its potential it is the Waldorf-Astoria. I still remember fondly the December day in 1976 when my Grandfather took me to breakfast at Peacock Alley. Ever since then passing through the Waldorf lobby has been a ritual with me. Through the years, especially since I moved here, I have come to know the building more intimately; its art deco interiors, the
amazing design of its ballroom complex, and its variety of great gathering places. Imagine the number of people who claim a Waldorf memory; from the Starlight Roof, or the Empire Room, or the Bull and the Bear. I have observed that the Waldorf and the Plaza have served as crossroads in the city. They have been fancy places everybody could traipse through.

I write this because the Waldorf Astoria closes this week for a three to four-year renovation. What new potential will a discerning eye detect in such a storied place.

If I walk a little bit further north and stand at the corner of 57th Street I see new residential and commercial construction everywhere. Further, I can also see kinds of retail space waiting to be claimed. I wonder what kind of economy will support all of this, and what kind of technologies reach their
potential in these new homes, offices, and stores. Just how many times has New York rebuilt itself?

We head now into the Lenten part of the year’s circle, and these days play us a “Reveille” and call us to wake up to the to nature’s Spring just over the horizon, and to the eternal Spring ushered in by the Resurrection. An exciting way to keep the discipline of these days would be to look for our own fallow places. Finding “room for growth” either names a problem or uncovers potential. For example, fasting makes room for deeper hungers, prayer sets those before God, and somehow, generosity of life results.

In the end, our goal is to inhabit ourselves more and more completely so that all of our surprising resources come into play.

This year we are discerning room for growth in Ash Wednesday itself. For the first time we will, on this day, have a full Solemn Mass at 6 pm at St. Vincent Ferrer. If you can delay coming for your
ashes, you will be rewarded by receiving them to the extraordinary accompaniment of Allegri’s Misere, his haunting setting of the 50th Psalm. The rest of that tumultuous day will be as usual.

May the days of Lent bring the serenity that comes from befriending the truth about ourselves.

Mardi Gras Peace!

Fr. Walter

February 23, 2017

Awareness Weekend Coming – March 4-5

Human Trafficking