There is something crazy wonderful to me about spending time in a church during "off hours" ... during hours of the day in which one is not typically in church. Yesterday, St. Bartholomew's had a day-long prayer vigil for the unborn, lasting from the end of the 10:10 am Holy Communion until the 6 pm Evensong/Benediction service.
Parishioners had signed up for half-hour time slots to come and light candles and pray for the protection of the unborn (something that I feel is particularly needed given the pro-abortion views of our President Elect, for whom we also prayed, of course).
My wife and I had signed up for an early time slot, after which we went over to watch movies with Mrs. G (the Rector's wife and Youth leader) and the youth of our parish: Miracle on 34th Street and The Keys of the Kingdom.
Then back to St. Bart's with the whole Youth Group in tow. The evening services were wonderful. I think it is the first time I'd been to Benediction at St. Bartholomew's, as I don't recall having seen the monstrance before yesterday. It was very moving.
But going back to the prayer vigil, and the subject of off-hours church-going: praying in the stillness of the early afternoon church, surrounded by many lit candles, reminded me of two of my favourite stories. I won't spoil either of them for you, but simply commend them to you as possible additions to your holyday reading list:
James Agee - The Morning Watch - set during Holy Week at an Anglo-Catholic boarding school.
Henry James - The Altar of the Dead (Click on link to left or this one to read it FREE online). This story has always haunted me, and did so particularly yesterday, as I lit a candle (in part) for those dead by abortion. I have recommened this story, I think, to over 100 people now, and so far I don't know for sure if any of them actually read it. If you do read it (or have read it) please be kind enough to comment here. I'd love to know what you think!