Monday, August 20, 2007

Knights of Lithuania

This Sunday I attended my first meeting as a member of the Knights of Lithuania, Council 12.

I had first met my fellow Knights last year in the basement hall of Our Lady of Vilnius. I was happy to meet many people of my parents' generation. Indeed, several of them may have knelt beside my father and aunts as children, upstairs in the sanctuary.

Despite the closure of our church, spirits were fairly high and I think that people enjoyed seeing each other after such a long time.

Especially inspiring was the appearance of Mr. A. The last time we had seen him and his wife was a month before the closure of the church. He had always done the readings in Lithuanian. I didn't understand the words, but I loved hearing the language in his rich, deep voice. When I could find a Lithuanian missal, I would follow along to learn how the sounds stacked up against the letters. When I couldn't, I followed along in English, learning the meanings of the words. I had always considered him and his wife to be the heart of the Lithuanian community here.

They were always the first to arrive, making sure that the altar was set up, that the coffee was perking and that the missalettes were on the seats. I could not speak to them fluently because I do not speak Lithuanian, but we exchanged a few words in Russian and we always exchanged smiles.

The Sunday that Mr. A. had taken ill, I arrived early for Mass and had found the door locked. As I knew the church was in danger of closing, I feared the worst and went to the rectory. Joy reassured me that the church hadn't been closed and let me in so that I could walk through and open the front door for the others. I breathed a sigh of relief, felt a great gladness at the reprieve and sadly acknowledged that this might be a dress rehearsal for the future. I was saddened to hear of Mr. A.'s illness, which was announced at that day's Mass. He remained in our thoughts and prayers throughout.

Before the church was closed, the absence of this couple threw us into dissarray. We learned everything that they had done by its absence: coffee, flowers for the altar, prayer books and readings. We all took turns hesitantly trying to fill this void. We had almost gotten into a rhythm with our new duties when we were confronted with another void; the locking of the the church.

Seeing Mr. A. was beautiful, a resurrection of sorts. He looked much as he always looked, except walking with a cane. He and his wife were beaming and seeing them again gave us such a lift.

People brought cakes, cookies and fruits to share, and I was happy to be among people that showed so much heart, generosity, humor and longevity. I enjoyed hearing stories and reminiscences that intertwined personal history, the history of the community and the history of our parish.

I am happy to be in the same club as Mr. and Mrs. A., true knights in shining armor.



Anonymous said...

Albert Einstein explained the universe by relativities, but cautioned that God does not play with dice. There is something providential to assemble the OLoV people to preserve their faith and their church, when the vicars of Jesus Christ are selling their beloved church to merchants. Evil has not triumphed over the good! Saulius Simoliunas

Nobody's Wife said...

Thank you for your attention and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Our Lithuanian Church in Niagara Falls, NY., St. George's, the ONLY Lithuanian Church in the entire Buffalo Diocese, has been announced to close. My parents, who emigrated to the US in the early 1900s, were among the founders of this church. We are deeply troubled and disappointed in this decision by the Bishop, dispite recommendations of the vicariate group members to keep the church open as a chapel. Please pray for God's intervention so that our beautiful small church can remain open.

Anonymous said...

Why are so many Lithuanian Churches in the US being closed? There is an agreement between the United States and Lithuania as of August 2006 to protect Lithuanian Heritage. This agreement is certainly NOT being considered. Write to the Hon. Audrous Bruzga, Lithuanian Ambassador to the US and to His Excellency The Most Rev. Pietro Sambi, JCD, The Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, DC. Perhaps some intervention on their part may help all of us.