New Church To Glow At Ground Zero

I must confess that, being neither a New Yorker nor Greek Orthodox, I was unaware that a significant, new church is under construction at Ground Zero in Manhattan. Designed by Catalan architect Santiago Calatrava, the St. Nicholas National Shrine will replace the now-demolished St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed on 9/11 when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed onto it. The hope is that the church will be completed in time for Easter of next year.

I encourage you to watch the video of what the completed building will be like, and to pay particular attention around the midway point to see what effect it will have at night on its somber surroundings. Thanks to the materials that will be used in its construction, St. Nicholas will actually glow from within, rather like alabaster does when you put a candle behind it. Moreover, the placement of the building within an elevated park will give it a far greater physical prominence in the neighborhood than it held prior to the previous church’s construction. As the parish website points out: “It is clear that the Church will be a lamp on a lampstand, and a city set on a hill (cf. Matthew 5:14,15).”

What struck me immediately was how wonderfully appropriate this house of God will be, in a place where so many cried out to Him in despair. There is a tremendous, symbolic poignancy in the juxtaposition of this small but dignified building, located just across from the massive memorial fountain-waterfall. This part of the 9/11 memorial is certainly a very powerful design, summing up the feelings of those who lost loved ones on that day. Yet it has always struck me as being dangerously nihilistic, like a well descending into nothingness.

Although not a part of the 9/11 memorial itself, St. Nicholas will nevertheless be a fitting companion to it. You will not be able to visit the waterfall and pools without seeing the church, looking as if it was perched solidly on the precipice of an abyss, as a refuge from what terrifies us. It will no doubt receive many visitors seeking somewhere to pray, but I think its greater significance over time will be as a reminder of the bulwark of Faith, particularly in times of trouble.

image

The Courtier in Aleteia: A Papal Pilgrimage in the Holy Land

Check out my latest for Aleteia today, reviewing Diana von Glahn’s new series, “A Papal Pilgrimage in the Holy Land”, which begins airing on Catholic television networks tomorrow. In this three-part travel documentary, Diana chronicles Pope Francis’ historic visit to the Holy Land, and in her own well-informed, enthusiastic way she introduces us to the people and places of this sacred but troubled part of the world, where Christians in particular have suffered so much in recent years. Follow the link in the article for air dates and times in your area, or visit TheFaithfulTraveler.com

My special thanks to the always gracious Elizabeth Scalia and her team at Aleteia for letting me share my thoughts with their readers once again!

image

DC Lent Events: Two Upcoming Opportunities

Passiontide
Date: Saturday, March 12th
Time: 7:00-8:00 pm
Location: St. Dominic’s (L’Enfant Plaza)

I’ve written about events at beautiful St. Dominic’s Parish before, such as in this piece for New Liturgical Movement, and its splendid NeoGothic architecture has been featured on my Instagram account. Now the Dominican Friars are pleased to invite you to attend their second annual Lenten service titled “Passiontide”. And there is an old skool-style video game – I kid you not – that the Friars have invented to get you interested in attending:

There’s a huge candlelit vigil at St. Dominic’s Church called Passiontide. Preaching, chanting, and Lenten readings by the Dominican Friars. A large celebration follows. Sat March 12 at 7pm. Here’s a VIDEO GAME about the event. RSVP here. Help with food and setup is welcome.

You can see some really beautiful photographs from last year’s Passiontide service here.

Last weekend I got to hang out with the Dominican Friars at Dominican House and eat a mountain of tater tots, which has NO bearing on my plugging this event for them, none at all. However I want to encourage you to take that extra step this Lent, even if you already plan to attend the Triduum, and do something a bit different, that stretches you out a bit more and challenges you to make this your best Lent yet. Here is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.

Stations of the Cross and Friday Fish Fry
Date: Friday, March 11th and 18th
Time: 6:30-9:30 PM
Location: Epiphany Parish (Georgetown)

Father Adam Park, one of the most enthusiastic young priests whom you will ever meet, hosts this weekly event at historic Epiphany Parish in Georgetown during Lent. The traditional practice of the Stations of the Cross is held in this pretty, Italianate church, built in the 1920’s, and is followed by a Friday Fish Fry supper afterwards. I ran into Fr. Park yesterday at the Newman Center on campus at GWU, where he has two hours of Eucharistic Adoration followed by Mass, every weekday beginning at 4:00pm, and he reminded me that this prayerful but enjoyable evening deserves my attention. And as I see it, it also deserves yours.

There is always a smart and interesting group at the evening, which is particularly popular among DC-area young professionals, and it is a good place to meet new people. More importantly however, it allows us to take time out on a Friday and walk with Christ, retracing His steps on that Good Friday 2,000 years ago. As He carries His Cross, we pause to pray and meditate along the way, reminding ourselves of His sacrifice.

For practical information, you can visit Epiphany Parish’s website. There are only two of these evenings remaining on the calendar, because we are getting to the end of the Lenten season already. Again, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to do something more this Lent!

image