A Holy Place Destroyed.

After Business Recitation on Friday, I decided to attend the short 12:30 daily mass held in the small church next to my dorm. Located on 96th and Lexington Avenue, the small neighborhood chapel is one of the few places that seem familiar. The wooden pews, stone altar, golden tabernacle, and flickering candles are common to all Catholic churches throughout the world. For me, the building has been a sanctuary, allowing me to step away from the chaos outside in the streets. It is a time for me to sit and pray or maybe just think; it helps me put things in perspective.
On this certain Friday, I arrived at 12:35, a few minutes late. I walked up the side aisle, genuflected and sat myself down on the far right side of the wooden pew. I asked God for comfort, for strength, for patience; nothing too out of the ordinary. In deep thought, I closed my eyes periodically, listening to the mass but also meditating on my own life. During Communion, Catholics kneel while the Eucharist is being consecrated. It is a time for deep prayer and I often close my eyes in order to concentrate more deeply.
After the prayers had been said and the consecration had taken place, Communion is distributed and everyone forms a line and receives the Eucharist distributed by the priest at the front of the Church. This was all very routine for me, but the familiarity brought comfort. Because all the pews look identical, it is often hard to determine which pew you were sitting in. On returning, I looked for my backpack as a marker for where I had been sitting. However, even after checking multiple times I was unable to locate it. I spent the last few minutes of the mass, frantic.
I assumed at that moment it was probably stolen. I feverishly searched each set of pews to no avail. I expected that because my backpack didn’t contain anything valuable, it wouldn’t be taken. It only contained a few folders and notebooks full of notes, a black umbrella, and a plastic “Polish Spring” water bottle. However, the entire experience was a little bit traumatic. My place of peace had been permeated by the outside. Not even a church was immune to outside influences, and this was extremely hard to take in.

The Church (St. Francis de Sales)


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3 Responses to A Holy Place Destroyed.

  1. Joseph Maugeri says:

    Some people are the worst. I guess you learned a lesson about the city though: never leave your belongings unattended, no matter what. The worst part is, that the person probably looked through your bag, took out the umbrella and dumped the rest. And communion only takes about a minute to receive, it’s not even like your bag was unattended for long. Good thing your laptop wasn’t in there though…

  2. Alessandra Rao says:

    I am so sorry to hear that….and how ironic–out of all places, a theif decides to steal in a holy place. Luckily you didn’t have a laptop in there. Getting robbed is such a terrible feeling regardless. A few years ago I was in Florida and I left my bag somewhere in a supermarket. In there was my camera, wallet, and a lot of money. I spent hours looking all over for it in the supermarket, convinced that it was gone forever. Then I went to the back office, hopeless, yet I still asked if anyone brought in a purse. To my surprise, some kind person actually brought it back, with everything in there, including all my money. Did you ask around the church or the office to se if anyone brought back your bag? It’s possible.

  3. rubinsammy says:

    I remember when you told me this the first time, I was in shock. I understood if you had your Macbook, but you only had your Business and Public Policy notes. Who would want them? A student who doesn’t take notes? Your professor? Someone needing toilet paper?

    This reminds me of my friend in High School. He also got his bag stolen. He had a few notes, folders of looseleaf paper, and his graphing calculator. A week later, he finds his bag in a classroom just laying there. He goes through his bag and finds that the thief didn’t care for the 100 dollar graphing calculator, but instead for a few sheets of looseleaf.

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