Before I moved to New York I had a notion that the city's churches were few and far between. Sure, there was St. Patrick's for the Catholics and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for the Episcopalians and ... well there must be a few other houses of worship hidden in the depths of the city for everyone else.
How little I knew.
We have at least three Catholic churches within walking distance of our apartment, and I regularly pass two or three other churches and a temple just doing normal neighborhood things like shopping and walking to the subway.
Manhattan is no different. About two or three times a month we attend a mass in the city depending on our plans for the weekend. When we are planning on visiting a certain museum, eating at a certain restaurant or exploring a certain neighborhood, I pop in the zip code at MassTimes.org and up pops a list of the three or four dozen closest Catholic churches.
We've seen some beautiful churches this way, and some very interesting artifacts instead. The church we went to near Lincoln Center last weekend had a glass cabinet displaying a death mask. The Catholic church closest to our apartment has a statue of a saint that looks exactly like Sean Connery circa "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
As for services, last night's was by far the most interesting. I found a Slovenian church near NYU, and lo and behold the mass was in a small chapel squeezed between apartments. The mass was in English, but I have a feeling the priest didn't speak much of the language. There was absolutely no homily and no music. Only 15 people -- 16 if you count the priest -- were there. The whole thing was over and done with in 30 minutes flat.
Which made me feel even guiltier that Paul and I walked in 10 minutes late. Yeah, there's a million jokes you could make about Catholic guilt right now, and they're probably all well-deserved.