Sunday, December 27, 2009

Church Shopping Part VI: Sts Currier & Ives

The next congregation I visited was located within a historical village populated by restored 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings. The church itself was built in 1862 in the Romanesque Revival style and is a New York City landmark. The antiquity and charm of the church and its surroundings bring to mind sentimental scenes of Christmas caroling, riding in a one-horse open sleigh, and other images of old-time Americana, hence my nickname for the parish.

It is a beautiful brick church with wonderful stained glass windows. There were about 150 people crowded in at a noon Mass, with room for about 40 more. A young lady wearing a choir robe led the congregation in the entrance hymn of Adeste Fidelis- in Latin and English. She had a heavenly voice, one of the best I've ever heard. A good percentage of the congregation was even singing along with her, but that Catholic miracle can perhaps be explained by the fact that it was Christmas carols we were singing. People like and know those songs. The real test comes during the rest of the year, when most congregations usually sit mute during the hymns, and usually for good cause owing to the unsingable nature of most modern hymns.

The Mass proceeded without incident. There were only 2 things I shall comment on. The first was during the second reading. The reading was Col: 3:12-21, and the young lady reading it (not the singer) rather conspicuously omitted the last few sentences, which contained Paul's famous admonition for wives to be subordinate to their husbands. It made me wonder why these few sentences were left out. Is this a politically correct parish, where they dare not offend the feminists? Why do Catholic misalettes even offer a "short form" of this reading, or any reading? Are we ashamed of the Word of God? Are we looking for any angle to make the Mass go faster, even by 30 seconds? The whole thing was absurd.

The second thing I'd like to comment on is, of course, the sermon. The priest appeared to be Filipino, and spoke English with a bit of difficulty. He started off reiterating, almost word for word, that day's Gospel reading. That really gets under my skin. WE JUST HEARD THE GOSPEL! WE'RE NOT IDIOTS! WHY ARE YOU REPEATING IT??? As it was the feast of the Holy Family, he then went on to lament the disintegration of so many families today and attributed that state of affairs to the fact that families don't spend much time with each other nowadays. O....K....I suppose that is one cause of the problem. Would you care to offer a solution, Father? Since one of the conspicuous sins of our Staten Island community is crass consumerism, would you care to admonish us with the prophetic role of your office and declare that mothers should stay home to take care of their children, that fathers do not need to work like slaves to buy million dollar McMansions, 4 Escalades and every ridiculous gadget that Best Buy dangles in front of our faces? Unfortunately, he let a potentially edifying point remain undeveloped and descended into platitudes. He went on to tell us that the Holy Family is the ideal family because Joseph worked hard to support his family, Mary was holy, and Jesus didn't embarrass his parents by flaunting His divinity over them. I kid you not. Like pretty much every Catholic sermon I've ever heard, it was vague, meaningless and thus without any value whatsoever. I suppose I should thank God that it was merely banal, and not heretical or moronic.

Nevertheless, it seemed like a vibrant parish with good people. Perhaps I'll come back for a second look.

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