Sunday, June 29, 2008
"One of my favorites in the category of "small parish churches" is Our Lady of Vilnius, founded in 1905 to minister to the city's Lithuanian population. Like so many small churches throughout the five boroughs, this parish serves as a focal point for the neighborhood, even long after much of the local Lithuanian population has moved elsewhere. Located on Dominick Street in Soho, it sits just opposite the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, and for years I've noticed it with curiosity as we've left the city for destinations far afield."
Though not gone, we are close to forgotten by the media and by those who do not believe in miracles. Thanks BrianC for noticing and valuing what we, too, hold dear. Now I have another blog to visit when I feel like my sensibility is going extinct.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Born a Jew, hidden in a Christian household in Holland and subsequently reunited with her father, an Ethical Culturist, in the United States, Sanne was well educated regarding the world's religions and endorsed the best in all of them while belonging to none. Nonetheless, while enjoying a period of remission and recovery, she accompanied me to Our Lady of Vilnius on February 18, 2007, the next to last Sunday Mass before our closure. She sat by my side during Mass and later shook the hand of Father Eugene Sawicki who had kept both of us in his prayers throughout her illness. She witnessed first hand the place that had become so important to me and saw the people I had described in anecdotes.
Though she did not attend our church I see her as very much present there: in the prayers of the parishioners during Masses that I requested, in the constant prayers and support extended to me by Father Eugene and Joy McAleer during her illness, in the old and worn little building that symbolized many of the values that she upheld. Sanne had an uncanny ability to "tell it like it is" articulating views that were true, descriptive, crisp, live and often screamingly funny. What I will miss most is the good laughs that we shared, laughs that I doubt anyone else will ever provide.
Without the support of Our Lady of Vilnius, I doubt that I could have stood by my friend and witness the severe ravages of her illness. Without Sanne's support, I doubt that I could have sustained my efforts on behalf of Our Lady of Vilnius. Sanne will remain in our prayers and I hope that she will continue to help us and our parish.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Last month a box of what others considered detritus was salvaged from Our Lady of Vilnius Church. Many voices speak and sing from these clippings, manuscripts and bulletins. This is one of them, speaking on Sunday, July 27, 1997:
"Instead of raising your voice in the newspapers, raise it before the Tabernacle"
-Council on Unnecessary Letters to the Press; St. John Marie Vianney.
"But I would say, after rasing your voice to the Lord in the Tabernacle it would do no hurt to raise your voice in the letters to the newspapers on behalf of the people of God and against the injustices imposed upon them by the City Fathers. A voice raised on behalf of the people is itself a beautiful prayer. It goes straight to the Heart of God.
The Lord says: "Pray Always." When you walk the streets pray for the people. When you wait a half hour for a bus and feel sick from the heat (because the rich and powerful have last week decided to cut bus service still further while giving more money to the Real Estate and Wall Street types) pray for the sick...all need your healing prayer.
St. John Vianney continues:
"I often think that when we come to adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we should obtain everything we want, if we would ask for it with a very lively faith and a pure heart."
Bulletin: The summer is here arranged for our enjoyment. Despite all the surrounding nonsense we can rely on the promise of God that, in the long run, all will be well. If we are breathing and complaining, that's a good sign. We are still sharing in the greatest of God's gift, the gift of life. So make the best of it. Like the design says on my T shirt: "Dont worry, Be Happy." The Lord is always with us. We are always in His Heart."