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In Our Distressed Nation, Nothing is More Essential than what Barbarians consider Unessential – By Fr. George W. Rutler

In this image made from video posted on a social media account affiliated with the Islamic State group on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a militant topples an ancient artifact in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. The extremist group has destroyed a number of shrines --including Muslim holy sites -- in order to eliminate what it views as heresy. The militants are also believed to have sold ancient artifacts on the black market in order to finance their bloody campaign across the region. (AP Photo via militant social media account)

July 12, 2015
by Fr. George W. Rutler

In our part of Manhattan there is no summer slowdown, and if there is demographic slack, any void is filled by the large number of tourists. The relentless pounding of steam hammers is an unnecessary reminder that our parish is in the midst of the biggest real estate development in the history of the nation. We are part of that, as a spiritual animus and not as mere observers.

Stones and windows and marble in our present church came from the church of 1857. It was moved to build the Pennsylvania Station designed by McKim, Mead & White that was later destroyed by modern barbarians whose wrecking balls and dynamite are more potent than the axes and battering rams of the old Vandals and Huns. The sacrificial offerings of the poor parishioners built the best church they could. It never occurred to those who arrived on our docks as refugees, to give God what remained after their ski vacations and summer cottages. The first parish school the immigrants built looked like a Parisian mansion, for they wanted the Faith taught to their children in petrine tribute to Petrine dogma.

The best intentions could not afford all the costs of the new church. The reredos behind the High Altar remained unfinished until, over the past few months, we continued the work of polychroming. The increasing numbers of young people in the parish provided a pool of volunteers and, as God provides for us when we provide for God, various experts showed up unexpectedly to offer their help. My father liked to do gold-leafing as a hobby, and he taught me. I taught several others who painstakingly accomplished much in at least 800 man-hours. One of our new parishioners lent scaffolding and several of the workers in his construction company—Ecuadoreans of singular craftsmanship and reverence. Our team represented more than half a dozen ethnic backgrounds united in the “One, Holy, Catholic” faith, for the Church is universal in grace, and thus is more than just international. A Jewish friend joined in. The work was finished in time for what would have been my own father’s one hundredth birthday. Had he not already climbed the ladder that Jacob saw in a dream, I am sure he would have been up on the scaffold helping.

I think of the youth who in the days of Oliver Cromwell and his iconoclasts built a church in defiance of a hostile government. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died at the age of 27. The tablet in his church in Leicestershire is inscribed:

In the year 1653 when all things sacred were throughout the nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet founded this church; whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in the worst times and hoped them in the most calamitous.

Make a Donation, of any amount, to the Church of St. Michael.

Our website is http://www.StMichaelNYC.com

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