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

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


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