NYC EXILE – DAY 6 (FINAL): Misc. and a horrifying church visit

I am back at The Cupboard Under The Stairs again after my exile for reasons of the total power down of the building for a few days.  The electricity is flowing, but it is still dark in here.  But that’s another story.

As a wrap up, here are some items from my last couple days which didn’t make it into earlier posts.

You might recall that I had been searching out fabrics for sets of Pontifical vestments in white (to take some pressure off of the gold set) and in rose (because every diocese needs a Pontifical set in rose).  Hence, I stopped at the ecclesiastical fabric company in Manhattan’s Garment District (on the block opposite to where Holy Innocents is), La Lame.  I was looking for trim.






At the Met, I saw this.  This is “Laughing Fool”, Netherlandish, c. 1500.


What is interesting is the inclusion of the eye-glasses in juxtaposition to the way he peeks through his fingers, thusly implying that he knows more than he says.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, this is a 13th c. French ivory in a style that harks to the era of St. Louis IX (+1270).  Note the Child reaching to touch the face of the Virgin, often found in Byzantine icons.


Another… in oak, also Parisian.



On a larger scale, a statue Meune Valley, 14th c., from a chapel of the Beguines of St. Catherine.


And in limestone, Lorraine, early 14th c.



What’s up with this?   Behind this is probably a verse from the Song of Songs (2:6 with some context):

I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow, whom I desired: and his fruit was sweet to my palate. He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in me. Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples: because I languish with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.  I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and the harts of the, fields, that you stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake, till she please. The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices.  Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come.

One then needs time at The Strand – a great bookstore – before meeting friends for lunch.


I especially enjoyed a couple racks of old pulp fiction.   I must get that vampire novel done.


A visit to St. Francis Xavier Church horrified me.

Look what these barbarian Jesuits did to the altar of this otherwise beautiful church.


So, arrogant.  So… effete.


And let’s make sure the jazz band is in the sanctuary.



What they did to a confessional by the door.   No.. no… don’t put a priest in it during the day for the people who just pop in.  They might see an opportunity to GO TO CONFESSION and… and… take it!


So tasteful.  So… dainty.

So as not to leave you with a bad taste, here are some lovely water lilies by Monet.


And my aforementioned lunch choice.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Mike says:

    When I see desecrations like those at St. Francis Xavier (and the lower-key desecrations at the Church of the Gesù in Rome), I turn my mind to the haunting simplicity of the memorial stained-glass windows at Copley Crypt Chapel of the North American Martyrs at Georgetown University, a haven of faithful witness in a cesspit of apostasy.

  2. JimGB says:

    Having visited there recently, it is truly dispiriting to see what has happened at St. Francis Xavier, with the glorious high altar reduced to a mere fern and candlestick stand. Where the tabernacle used to be there is a tacky screen that imitates flowing water. And a potted fern ridiculously placed in the niche where the crucifix used to be. But at least they did not demolish it and maybe in some future, saner world it can be restored. The Jesuits should be ashamed of themselves, but I know they are not.

  3. Hoover says:

    Were there fish in the Jesuit high altar pond?

  4. TomG says:

    JimGB: you can’t shame a progressive.

  5. Charles E Flynn says:

    From :

    23 years of LGBT Ministry at Xavier
    With great joy you are invited to share our celebration of Eucharist; As we are all Eucharist for each other.

  6. DisturbedMary says:

    St. Francis Xavier — truly ugly the way men adore Arrogance. I wouldn’t set foot in that Church without having a pocketful of blessed salt and a bottle of holy water.

  7. iPadre says:

    I’m glad I did not get to see St. Francis Xavier last year after all. Saved my stomach.

    I do love to visit La Lame!

  8. doreilly says:

    This post begs me to ask a question I have often wondered, after seeing their well decorated confessional.

    I have seen this in many Catholic churches where despite the fact that they have built-in confessionals they,for some bizarre reason, choose not to use them. Instead they do confessions in some side room, in a folding chair, with a pathetic kneeler and some cheap fabric divider in case you decide you would like behind the screen, if you can manage to get into the room without running over the priest.

    I never could understand this peculiar practice. Some of the other changes, to the alter and whatnot, even if I don’t agree with them, I can at least understand the misguided logic behind it. The covering up of established confessional, in favor of the use of a place less suited to the practice I never have been able to understand.

  9. edm says:

    LaLame’s not only has some nice things, but also the staff is very nice. They are very helpful.
    On another subject…
    That is one of the most horrible re-orderings of a church building that I have seen. Furthermore, if they are trying to be so “liturgically correct”, why would you have a baptismal font in the sanctuary, beyond the Ikea Table ( sorry, meant Altar) if Baptism is the entrance into the Church? It defies both traditional and modern sensibilities. To think what it must have cost…

  10. Sandy says:

    “….otherwise beautiful” indeed! I gasped when I saw what must be a bench and picnic table where the altar should be. How can a priest even stand there, it’s too low? It just makes you wonder, what is wrong with these people to cause such desecration! And drums?!!!

    Out west we don’t have these ancient churches; that makes it all the more infuriating that they are not appreciated at times by those who should preserve them. I would love to worship the Lord in such a glorious place.

  11. Kerry says:

    St. Michael the Archangel, be our protection,
    Against the wickedness and snare drums of the devil…

  12. Stephen McMullen says:

    Oh of course……chop off the main altar so the sacrifice of the mass can no longer be offered there. And, well, we HAVE to have the band right up front with MIKES for everyone to make SURE they are heard……from the sanctuary! Well at least, Father, you did not have to stay and hear the aboriginal pollution that passes for sacred music there…..

  13. Stephen McMullen says:

    Oh of course……chop off the main altar so the sacrifice of the mass can no longer be offered there. And, well, we HAVE to have the band right up front with MIKES for everyone to make SURE they are heard……from the sanctuary! Well at least, Father, you did not have to stay and hear the aboriginal pollution that passes for sacred music there….. not even going to ask if there was an organ…..the console probably has a white sheet pulled over it….RIP. You would be surprised….well maybe you would not… many parishes here in St. Louis have gone “all folk/all the time.” Seems like every week I hear of another one that has turned over……………

  14. Nan says:

    An example of why people don’t realize Jesuits are Catholic.

  15. jameeka says:

    Thank you very much, Fr Z, for those stunning photos of sculptures of BVM and baby Jesus—with the link to the Song of Songs.

    All those trims are quite beautiful, too, against the white. Especially the black/gold.

  16. Mojoron says:

    I am curious about the park benches by the altar. What is their stated purpose? Bring a lunch, maybe a corn dog or a pastrami?

  17. Prayerful says:

    I always worried what the modern Jesuits would do to the beautiful churches they inherited. At least the Conciliar rubbish can be cleared out one day. There have been far worse V2 renovations, or wreckovations. Even now churches that are relatively unscatched are threatened with Star Trek altars and the assorted junk.

    I don’t know how my local church (almost nothing compared to that but with its own 19th century beauty, St Kevin, Harrington St Dublin) survived V2. The Novus Ordo Missae altar is just a wheeled table that appears for the ill attended Novus Ordo. It is now the base of the Dublin Latin Mass chaplaincy which Archbishop Martin (appointed by Pope Francis to something or the other recently for the Synod on the Family, so the church is doubly safe) strongly supports, but that has been only around for maybe 10 years.

    There are many things to pray for, but spare one or two for the survival of our churches.

  18. Wirkes says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for posting pictures so beautiful of Virgin and Child. And even the ugly renovations. I welcome anything that distracts me from the recent Papal Exhortation ” The Joy of ‘the love that dares not speak its name'” FrW

  19. frjim4321 says:

    Please, that is an offense to all things sacred, including Jazz.

    The band is probably a “praise band,” and probably does LifeTeenie or Stupidville music, but certainly not Jazz.

    Looks like they have hand bell tables.

    Is that real pipe organ, or an appliance?

  20. APX says:

    And let’s make sure the jazz band is in the sanctuary

    My piano teacher wrote an actual jazz Mass that gets performed every year during the co-cathedral Saturday vigil Mass during the Jazz Festival. My mom always tried to drag me to it in an attempt to make me think Mass was “cool” and “hip”. Ick.

  21. torch621 says:

    What on earth happened to that confessional? =(

  22. Deo Credo says:

    Is it necessary to say “barbarian jesuits?” Doesn’t the word “jesuit” imply barbarism these days? I thought SJ was some sort of mason-speak for heretic.

  23. mo7 says:

    Father, have you had a chance to see The Cloisters? Aside from the marvelous medieval art, they host a medieval Christmas play by a group called the Waverly Consort, sung completely in Latin with ancient instruments in the reconstructed chapel there.

  24. Filipino Catholic says:

    One does not simply “repurpose” a confessional.

    The wreckovation doesn’t look too bad for now though — there are worse out there that deserve the iconoclast’s hammer.

  25. Prayerful says:

    Yes, on a wreckovation scale of 1 to 10, this ranks at about 1. A workman could get rid of it in a few hours.

  26. benedetta says:

    Wait, Father, I’m confused?! I was told clearly and on no uncertain terms when I was a child by the priests that “We do not worship statues” and that was the reason why my parish removed all of them and the candles etcetera, and, further, it was explained to us that this had to do with “Vatican II”, and further, that if we wanted statues and candles and kneelers and such, then, we must hate Vatican II and were ignorant peasants. Thus shamed into assent, we all complied if we knew what was good for us.

    Now, you are saying that this church has set up, in confessionals, a novel and new place whereupon people may kneel and “worship a statue”?! So in other words, we must be “statues, for one another”? No? Yes? I do not find this peculiar teaching to be coherent overall, nor relevant, to my life and times…No wonder people there need a bench near the faux water and silk plants for a moment to regroup and recover…

  27. Uxixu says:

    It’s a travesty but one of accretion more than actual destruction. All very reparable.

    Ah, St. Ignatius, St. Robert Bellarmine, Fr. John Hardon, SJ pray for us.

  28. APX says:

    Upon closer examination of those church pictures, gives new meaning to hearing “poo-eri” (I was listening to Victoria’s Pueri Habæmus at the same time, which emphasizes the “pu” at the start.).

  29. aviva meriam says:

    Why are the Jesuits almost always involved in this type of stuff ? Why can’t they leave a confessional stand in it’s intended beauty (let alone use it correctly)?

    And why is it so many of the older crowd LOVES their teachings, their retreat centers and their books? I just withdrew from a woman’s religious book club over this stuff …..

    And the sad part is that so many are thirsty for authentic teaching……..

    (and no, despite his acceptance, my son will NOT attend my Jesuit alma mater).

  30. Charivari Rob says:

    Why wouldn’t you have the baptismal font in the sanctuary if that’s how the place was built? Many older churches were built that way.

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    Okay, I know that jazz Masses are not really appreciated, here, but, some very famous musicians, such as Dave Brubeck and Mary Lou Willams have written some. I treat them like liturgical dance – great for outside of Church.

    The Chicken

  32. APX says:

    The problem is Jazz Masses aren’t kept outside of Mass. I enjoy much of the old St Louis Jesuits stuff and Carey Landry stuff…outside of Mass. To me it’s the equivalent to Catholic drinking music. i will say, however, if I had to choose between the current Mass settings and Fr. Perkovich’s polka Mass setting for Mass, I’d take the polka Mass, toned down instrumentally.

  33. Maynardus says:

    The confessional just inside the door is a powerful reminder of how practical and well-grounded the Church – and the Jesuits – once were in their approach to souls. Like your friend Fr. Heilman has done, this arrangement make confession as easy to access as possible, especially for busy folks in large cities. One might almost call that… “pastoral’!

    Last summer I noticed that the largest church in Quebec City, St. Roch, had a similar arrangement with a prominent confessional just inside the main doors… alas, this one had been turned into a sort of a display stand, complete with LED flatscreen, providing info and history about the church. There is even a brass mailslot in the confessional door for donations… Mon Dieu! But don’t worry, the Pastoral Center is staffed from 12-3 daily and Confession is “possible” per one of the signs!

  34. Giuseppe says:

    What would the late Justice Antonin Scalia think of the church of his high school (Xavier)?

  35. LeeF says:

    Unfortunately churches, er I mean worship spaces, that have been desecrated by the libs is so commonplace that a new example just elicits a yawn from me. What I am more interested in is pictures of Father’s cupboard habitat. Is it small, drafty and cold? Can he fully stand up in there? Does the door have a slot through which they feed him twice a day?

  36. APX says:

    23 years of LGBT Ministry at Xavier
    With great joy you are invited to share our celebration of Eucharist; As we are all Eucharist for each other.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Just read the ministries page. Oddly enough, though, they appear to have a decent music program for Mass with a 30-40 person choir.

  37. doreilly says:

    It’s not how big the choir is. It is how you use it.

  38. edm says:

    By the way, dear ones,
    according to their website, that old high altar WAS MOVED forward to create a sacristy behind it. That must have been quite the expensive project. I find it hard to believe that a church building that size had inadequate sacristies. Just an FYI.

  39. Mary Jane says:

    Microphones…ugh. Myself, my husband, and three others from our choir recently sang for my brothers wedding at St Mary of the Angels in Chicago, and – with just the 5 of us and no microphones – we could be heard just fine (and yes we were in the choir loft).

  40. APX says:

    Mary Jane,

    Microphones, when used properly, have their place for use in church during Mass. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Yes, they’re often overused, used incorrectly, etc, but sometimes church acoustics not being what they were at the time the church was built, combined with other unfavourable conditions, they work in a pinch when used from a distance (ie: someone isn’t standing directly in front of it, etc).

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