Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cardinal Dulles, Bettie Page and Our Lady of Vilnius

Yesterday I was saddened to hear of the passing of Cardinal Avery Dulles, with whom I literally had a nodding acquaintance. Later in the day I heard of the passing of famous pin-up girl, Bettie Page.

This morning, in a juxtaposition worthy of Our Lady of Vilnius, the two noteworthies each command half of the same obituary page in the print version of The New York Times.

Yes, gentle reader, this is kind of how it looked. These are the photos that illustrated each obit.

And this is the setting where I imagine their meeting of the minds:

And in my imagination, Cardinal Dulles sits across the table from Bettie Page, now modestly attired in a trenchcoat. They are sipping coffee or tea from paper cups and talking quietly and earnestly. Dorothy Day is walking across the room to join them. Avery Dulles is wearing the same bemused smile we see in the photograph.

Our Lady of Vilnius is the place where I could see most clearly that we all have our places in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In it's shabby display of history accumulated rather than preserved, it provided a setting for all possibilities, a place where no work of the Holy Spirit would be too surprising.

Let us pray for the motley crew of souls who departed this earth yesterday, so much like us. And let us ask them to help our community and its unique spiritual heritage survive.


Anonymous said...

Obituary pages are really great equalizers! Yes, I can imagine those two holding forth over coffee, under the glittery disco ball at Our Lady of Vilnius, where so many answered the call to be disciples.
Ellen Halloran

Anonymous said...

When I was an undergrad at Fordham in the early '70's Dorothy Day was a very strong intellectual presence on campus. There was a woman named Mary who was studying for a Master's degree in Theology at the time. She very beautiful, though not young. Her beauty was evident despite a cultivated drabness. I later learned that she was a former exotic dancer and a protege of Dorothy Day, even receiving mention in Dorothy Day's autobiography. Because I lived within walking distance of Rose Hill in the 1980's, I went to Mass at the Fordham University Church. I was befriended by a wheelchair boung sports enthusiast named John Quinn. Mr. Quinn, my father and I would socialize outside the church after Mass. Whenever Avery Dulles was the celebrant, he would stop and greet us and exchange pleasantries. He was always kind and pleasant. It may sound like a ludicrous fantasy, the Cardinal and the pin-up chatting over coffee. I doubt that they would be discussing the process theology of Teilhard, but I am sure that Cardinal Dulles would treat any soul with respectful interest. This in itself has been the root of many a transformation.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to write an obituary for the closest friends as Dalia Bulgaris was to me, but finally my obituary about her appeared in the Lithuanian paper Dirva, published in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 16, 2008. She was my coworker in 1956 in the Students columns in that paper and she remained a subscriber of the papeer until her death for more than 50 years. Saulius Simoloiunas

Nobody's Wife said...


It's nice to hear from you. I miss Dalia very much. People think that I am irrational, bordering on crazy for my attachment to Our Lady of Vilnius. It was great to have someone as intelligent as Dalia share my sentiments. I think of her often. If you have anything about her that you would like to share on this blog, please send it.