Sunday, June 28, 2015
Dorothy Day: Unquenchable flame in a church slated for closure
Last evening I attended Mass at the Church of the Nativity in honor of Dorothy Day. I had never been there before. From the outside it looks like a spiritual bunker, consistent with Pope Francis' vision of the Church as a field hospital for the wounded. The sanctuary is spare and simple with a 60's Corita Kent-ish vibe. The Mass was celebrated in English and Spanish, music led by a male duo that sang in a melody/descant format accompanied by piano. The music was bilingual and echoed the teachings of Dorothy, whose icon stood on an easel to the right of center as you faced the altar.
As the regulars trickled in, most paused to kneel briefly in front of the tabernacle as if to greet Jesus on entering his house. Some prayed in English during the Spanish prayers and some prayed in Spanish during the English prayers.
Martha Hennessy, Dorothy's granddaughter, read a brief excerpt from her writings.
After the Mass everyone went downstairs to share a home-baked cake brought by Martha. A parishioner who had helped prepare the church for the Mass told me: "This is a place that welcomes everyone, not matter color, how you look what you are wearing." And it was true. The Mass and the after-Mass constituted a beautiful feast presented by the sheep to the Lamb of God.
Parish of the Nativity: another flame that should not be extinguished.