Two dates last week are deserving of attention.
Last Saturday, October 5, was the 140th anniversary of the dedication of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Fourteen decades as “America’s Home Parish!”
Never will I forget the comment of Pope Francis four years ago when the Popemobile arrived at the northeast corner of 50th and Fifth.
“The cathedral is right in the middle of everything,” he whispered to me as he looked up at it. “And that’s where it should be,” he concluded. “St. Patrick’s reminds us that God is in the midst of His people!”
The tourist board of our city tells me our cathedral is on the top five list of “must see spots” in New York.
But visitors to St. Patrick’s unfailingly tell me that, while they might enter as a tourist, just out of curiosity, they are transformed into a pilgrim who loses consciousness of time and enters the eternal. Yes, they sense an awe, a mystery, a “beyondness” in St. Pat’s.
It’s hardly just a museum, but a living temple of faith and prayer. The Blessed Sacrament, the shrines, the candles, Mass often throughout the day, frequent availability of confession, the witness of people locked-in-prayer...our cathedral is alive, welcoming provocative of reverence and meditation.
Wherever I go, all over our country and our world, people will share with me stories of grace and mercy under those renowned spires. It’s not the “Miracle on 34th Street,” but “The Miracle on Fifth Avenue.”
Happy Birthday, St. Pat’s!
Then Monday, October 7, was the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.
Two weeks ago I spent the day with mom. My grandnephew, Charlie, invited mom and me to visit his first grade classroom at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School in Washington, Missouri. He told me that each morning they prayed a decade of the Rosary together.
They sure did! Mom and I went in; the six and seven year olds took their rosaries from their pockets, and we prayed the third decade of the Luminous Mysteries.
The teacher, Ms. Rosemary King, told me that, not only did the Rosary help her kids learn to pray, but it taught them the essential prayers—the Apostles’ Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be—and the pivotal episodes in the saving life of Jesus and His Mother. Each of the four weeks of the month, they would take one of the sets of the mysteries — Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious—and pray a decade. In a month, they retrace all twenty mysteries of Our Lord’s life.
I was not surprised at all by her insight that the Rosary is a great teaching tool. Our tradition holds that it was given to St. Dominic by Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to combat the popular but false opinion of those called the “Albigensians,” who held that the Incarnation —God’s revelation that the second Person of the Blessed Trinity took flesh and became one of us in Jesus Christ, true God and true man—was a sham, a myth.
As we repeat the prayers of the Bible and the Church fifty times, and reflect on the truths of our Lord’s life—he really was conceived, born, taught, healed, called, helped, suffered, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit —become real, dramatic, alive. The Incarnation is the most true and real event ever. The Rosary protects that radiant fact.
Well, even if you missed the October 5th anniversary of the Dedication of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, you can still celebrate it with a visit; and, even if you forgot the October Feast of the Holy Rosary, the entire month is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.