Yesterday, after educating the faithful as they emerged from St. Patrick's Cathedral, I had the opportunity to enter Our Lady of Vilnius for the first time since its closure.
The church was an empty shell. The Jonynas windows were gone and the church was dimly illuminated by the bare fluorescents that had backlit them. Where the altar had been, chalices were arrayed on a folding table. The icon of Our Lady that had gazed down upon us from above the altar was no longer there. As I turned to my right, I saw her face gazing dimly out from under a film of plastic wrap. The icon sat on the floor in the rear of the church, propped up against a wall.
The statues were lying on the floor like fatalities, tightly shrouded in shrink wrap and labeled with "OLV" followed by what was most likely a catalog number. They were surrounded by smaller numbered parcels, the wrap obscuring the contents.
Our beloved sanctuary looked like it had been sacked by barbarians: a heinous hybrid of a battlefield, an archaeological dig and a yard sale.
It was my understanding that, once a canonical appeal is lodged, all activities related to the disposition of properties should cease.
Our Lady is still present to us, no matter where Her image resides and we should pray now, more than ever, for Her intercession.