With all the years I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve never attended the Saturday evening Easter Vigil mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. For the most part, it’s because I’m usually somewhere else with friends. But this year, with Easter coming so early, I decided to stay in the city.
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton
Then came the inspiration, to walk down to the Cathedral for the Saturday Easter service. A spectacular celebration of The Resurrection of Christ. Renewed life. Joy. Light. In churches around the world, Easter begins with this most stunning of services on Saturday evening.
Since New York is a magnet for tourists, our midtown iconic destinations, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just across from Rockefeller Center, is constantly buzzing with people, cameras, flash bulbs and excitement. But it’s also a parish church and NY’s local citizens frequently attend mass there, as well.
My maternal grandmother attended daily mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She was a true matriarch and lived an exciting city life at The Biltmore Hotel on East 43td St. We frequently went with her, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for mass, so although it’s a real tourist attraction, for me it’s also home.
The mass begins with the cathedral cloaked in total darkness. Then, a blazing fire is ignited at the back of the church. The Cardinal begins the ceremony with readings. All of the people hold candles which are subsequently lit from the same fire. It’s breathtaking, as the church slowly illuminates by candle light and then finally the full-on brightness of every chandelier. It’s so moving and takes your breath away. I find that the pomp and circumstance of rituals like these are so stirring and special. They’re perfect too, if you’re alone on a holiday.
Plan your holidays, but if you find yourself alone on one, I recommend looking at your surroundings as a tourist would. Get out and explore. Do something you’ve never thought of before. Thinking like a tourist wherever you are will give you wonderful experiences to treasure. And that’s “A Table For One”.
Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady
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