Free & Fit NYC - Ash Wednesday Reflection - by Tim Cheux

Free & Fit NYC - Ash Wednesday Reflection - by Tim Cheux

On Wednesday the 26th April 2020, Ash Wednesday, I visited the Roman Catholic Church Our Lady of Grace for their 7:30pm Mass and Ash Wednesday service. Upon arrival to the Church I took off my hat, prepared myself to enter the sanctuary and get ready for Worship. I was greeted by the Priest of the Church who very kindly informed me of the time of the service, that I was very welcome to sit and he opened the doors to us early comers as we arrived. Unfortunately, I was somewhat twenty minutes early due to my understanding of the service being at 7pm, not 7:30pm, but this was a change due to the service schedule in the Lenten season. The Church is a beautiful, medieval modern architecture, rich in iconography, stained glass and large high Church ceilings. The sanctuary was recently remodeled with new pews in all the aisles throughout the sanctuary and felt more spacious, comfortable and I was able to stretch my legs out, sit, knell and pray more easily than before. Having attended the Church’s evening service regularly over the past two years I was familiar with the style of service, liturgy and sung hymnal songs. This was my first experience living in a Parish community outside of my Anglican tradition in a new country and due to my upbringing feel like this is my local Church. The Priest is relevant, kind, charismatic and very approachable. The service for Ash Wednesday featured the Sunday evening musicians with a small choir, guitarist, solo singer and other musicians supporting them. All are invited every Sunday to sing, take part and help lead worship. Previously when attending in January liturgical readers were also encouraged to sign up to lead prayers of the people and take part in readings. The service itself was beautiful with a French, African American reader, female lay reader speaking the liturgy and the Priest of the Church presiding and preaching. His message was memorable, relevant and challenging. We all were offered the chance to receive ashes and communion for which only a handful of people did not. The Church was almost full with families, children, young adults and elderly members all present. Upon departure we were given presents, prayer books and lenten devotionals. It was a fantastic and richly formational experience.