Today Cardinal Egan came to visit the parish of St. Matthew and gaze upon the remnants of St. Stanislaus, the artifacts and the people as well.
At 10:00 AM Father Fernan stood at the foot of the driveway awaiting the Cardinal's arrival. The St. Stanislaus "Society" as we are now called, was having our weekly coffee social in the rectory meeting room giving us a bird's eye view as the sleek black minivan rolled up and turned into the driveway.
Cardinal Egan and his retinue alit and, after greeting Father Fernan and joshing with Father Smyth, they all piled back in and visited St. Stanislaus at the Cardinal's request. I wished that I could have been a fly on the wall on that event, but sanity prevailed and I stayed with my friends at coffee instead of tearing down Whitman Street to head them off at the pass.
I went over to the church early to get a good seat. Some journalists were roaming around taking photos of the St. Stanislaus patrimony, so I decided to do the same thing myself. This is a photo of the altar of St. Stanislaus, now ensconced in an alcove that once housed Father Smyth's confessional.
The Cardinal gave a very smooth homily, beginning with the rhetorical question of why the parish was a pearl of great price. Of course cynicism led my mind to wander to the minivan's ride to the church of St. Stanislaus on Main Street with a possible side trip to the spacious lot housing the rectory on the corner of Washington and Warburton, but I opened my heart to the Cardinal's message as he went on to explain the importance of the pulpit, where the Word is preached, the altar where the Sacrifice is offered and the front door by which we leave to do His work as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. I held my small icon of Our Lady of Vilnius in my hand, the same one that accompanied me to two courtrooms and the Pope's Mass at Yankee Stadium. Danielle, to my left, pointed to the icon and said, "Maybe that's your sacrifice." Well maybe it is. The parishes of Our Lady of Vilnius and St. Stanislaus Kostka are my sacrifice.
No one could doubt the value of the Cardinal's words, but he spoke in generalities, from a perspective where all parishes are pearls of great price for the same reason. Those of us who are very up close and personal see pearls of even greater price than the Cardinal can behold. I wish the Cardinal would ask us real questions, not rhetorical questions. I wish he had come before the closings, not after, to examine all of these pearls born of a grain of sand each with their spectacular beauties and their unique flaws. I wish that one of these luminiscent gems could still live and glow and kindle fire in hearts. Cardinal Egan gestured towards the altar and stained glass from St. Stanislaus, referring to them as "remembrances"
Can we save Our Lady of Vilnius from becoming a remembrance? Can the Cardinal come to see the beauty of this tiny pearl?