Friday, November 21, 2014

7QT: More impromptu pilgrimage days

In which I traipse around strange cities looking for Masses at all hours of the morning.

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Stained glass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle

Last Saturday was the Feast of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He was declared a Doctor because he wrote a lot of stuff that affected the way a lot of people understand the faith. St. Albert was a teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas who was outshone somewhat by (and canonized after) his student. But one of the coolest things about St. Albert, in my humble opinion, is that he was a scientist. I mean a real scientist, who conducted scientific experiments.

I recently discovered the website of an old friend from college ( who now draws and sells amazing iconography. In fact, one of his works was commissioned by the Vatican! I encourage everyone to buy a zillion prints from him. But anyway, on the site he gives little anecdotes from the lives of the Saints depicted in his icons. And lo and behold, I found this gem:

"In the bas-de-page I illustrated an old story told of St. Albert: he spent decades inventing a mechanical head that answered questions posed to it. St. Thomas Aquinas, either annoyed or frightened by the automaton, smashed it to pieces."

So I guess I have a fellow scientist/engineer in St. Albert. To echo the words of Fabio, that's "scientist slash engineer, and not the other way around"!

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Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle

During a business trip to Seattle this summer, I got up extra early and had an easy time finding Blessed Sacrament Church. This is a Dominican parish with Eucharistic Adoration, Morning Prayer, Mass, and the rosary each weekday morning. I wanted to take that parish with me! The Dominicans there have also resurrected the Mass in the Dominican Rite, somewhat like the Traditional Latin Mass. Chanting the Divine Office every morning definitely helped me feel like a contemplative in the modern world.

Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle

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St. Lucy's in Newark

My trip to Newark was a little bit more interesting. Let's just say that had it not been a Holy Day of Obligation I would not have attended a weekday Mass in Newark. My first night there I took a little walk to try to locate St. Lucy's Church. According to Google Maps it would be about a twenty minute walk. I dutifully followed my GMaps directions and soon found myself in an area that… well, let's just say that it seemed rougher than Baltimore. So I backtracked and tried another direction, thankful that I'd printed out a little map. After about ten minutes of walking the sidewalk ended. I walked a very short way along the poorly lit shoulder thinking I might be ok because it was a fairly big, four-lane road. Then some guy pulled over on the other side of the road and beckoned me over to his car. I was able to wave him off but I started thinking that maybe it was time to go back to the hotel. I have a guardian angel, but God doesn't want me to be stupid! For the record, I was dressed modestly. I like to think the guy was a Good Samaritan trying to warn me not to walk any farther.

St. Lucy's Newark

In the end I identified a less confusing route to St. Lucy's with sidewalks the whole way. Walking through the slums in the early morning light was less scary. The Church is absolutely gorgeous and worth the pilgrimage to get there. It also contains the National Shrine of St. Gerard. The statue of St. Gerard looked kind of like a vampire being stabbed to death with a wooden cross. But trusting the Magisterium and Gerard's official canonization, I stopped to pray for all of the pregnant ladies I know.

National Shrine of St. Gerard at St. Lucy's in Newark.

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St. Catherine of Siena Chapel
"Chapel on the Rock"

Recently I made a several day work trip to Colorado and somehow my hotel room was only booked for one night. Thankfully Allison lives out there and graciously hosted me for the rest of the week. We saw tons of elk, one of which was almost close enough to pet, and foxes and bunnies and deer. We also stopped at the Chapel on the Rock at the San Malo retreat center. Apparently Pope John Paul II stopped to pray there during his trip to World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. Recently the retreat center was closed due to a devastating fire and mud slides but the chapel, being literally built on a rock, survived. There is an imposing statue of Jesus on a hill and we found a lot of crosses made out of pebbles and sticks and flowers on the ground below. (For the record, these are Allison's photos.)

Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at San Malo

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St. Patrick's in San Francisco

Our annual science conference is always held in the same place in San Francisco, just down the street from St. Patrick's Church. This is a church where you will see all kinds of people. One morning I was finishing my last decade of the rosary after Mass and a young man, covered in tattoos, stopped by and asked "Are you Catholic?" Kneeling after Mass with rosary in hand, I wasn't sure how to answer that. Then he said, "I mean, are you really Catholic?" I assured him that I am and he sat down to ask some questions about the RCIA program and entering the Church. He was an addict, but clean at the time, and living on the streets. I gave him a rosary and bought him coffee after Mass on a couple of other mornings. We talked about Catholicism and he told me some of his story. He never asked for money. On the last day he hugged me and then went his way. Please pray for Daniel!

St. Patrick's in San Francisco

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Portziuncola at National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi

One year in San Francisco I walked with a friend to the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. The website for the Shrine has an extremely cool virtual tour. The shrine includes a replica of the Porziuncola, or "small portion of land", which consisted of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels. The original Porziuncola was given to St. Francis for his new order. This replica, tucked away in the middle of the city, provides a place of refuge for the modern day pilgrim.

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Altar window at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle

Happy Feast of Christ the King!! Advent is coming. Here is an explanation of the Holy Mass set to Revelator by Josh Garrels: Marana tha!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. I always enjoy reading your blog, this post is no exception!! What beautiful churches, and beautiful stories. While I worry about your safety, I admire your faith and courage. You were definitely meant to be there for Daniel. I will pray for him, and for you!!

    1. Thanks! And we went to Starbucks. If I hadn't given up coffee yet I probably would have been more in danger of heart explosion from the excessively caffeinated coffee. ;-)

  2. Love your tour of different churches in cities all over. I have a friend that lives in Seattle, and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding... At Blessed Sacrament! It was fun to come over here from QT's and see pictures of a church I'd been to before. :)

    1. Wow, what a beautiful place to have a wedding. I fell in love. :-) Thanks for stopping by!