As I rest this evening in a New York Apartment with very good friends, we laugh over a joke. "Day 8 of the pilgrimage, David decides there is no God and resorts to 356 days of debauchery for the remainder of the year." We sit and laugh because today was the first of the "bad days." I dropped and broke my camera today (after my work was done.) and the process is straining my schedule for the next few weeks as I use a loaner camera and await word on what it will take to repair the camera. This is very, very frustrating, not to mention expensive to fix. As my cousin said though… it is a good thing it happened in New York where you can get it fixed. Try handling the problem in Africa. Thank God for insurance!
New York is the delta of American culture. It holds every icon, every culture, and every possibility. Everything in New York is BIG. And so is the principal Catholic Church in the city, St. Patrick's Cathedral.
St. Patrick's is huge. Just huge. One wonders "Why it needs to be that way?" The Church celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord today, which is one of my favorite Feast days. Normally, this is celebrated on a Sunday, but not this year. It is also one of the oldest documented feasts in the Church (older than the celebration of Christmas and originating in Egypt.)
I can say with assurance that the "celebration" was… well boring. There was a sense of functionalism dominating the liturgy.
"Let's get through it because people need to get back to work and the tourists need to get shopping." seemed to be the attitude.
All the while I thought, "Why? Why does it have to be this way? Yesterday I was celebrating a Mass that was alive and joyous, and now I feel cold, confined, and rushed.
Walking around the city gave me a clue to the nature of the pace of the Mass and the intense size of St. Patrick's.
New York is BIG. Everything is BIG. The buildings are BIG. The problems are BIG (funny story… the nation is hearing stories about New York City today having an awful smell. Apparently the smell of mercaptan, which is used to give odor to gasoline, was found all over the city. Ryan and I walked through Times Square at the time reporters were with their trucks, covering the story, all the while oblivious to the crisis we didn't even know existed.)
In all this BIGNESS, the Church needs to be BIG as well. Christ is to be announced in every culture. So in this culture, the culture that is uniquely New York, the way for Christ to speak is in the REALLY BIG, and that's why St. Patrick's needs to be what it is, a massive monument to the story of a man who death could not contain and at the same time was humble enough to be baptized by fellow human being.
So even if I felt cold, distant, and lonely in St. Patrick's, I also felt something exciting. It is similar to walking around this great city. It is easy to feel cold, distant, and lonely as another hundred people get off of the train, and another hundred people get off of the train, but it is also exciting. In the heart of a BIG city and in the hearth of a BIG cathedral, it is possible to find the communion of friends and merriment as we share the stories and joys of our lives – even broken cameras.
Today's pictures can be seen by clicking here — do I still need to remind everyone that you need to have Google Earth downloaded first?