Saturday, August 23, 2008

Celebrating Lithuanian American Heritage

.... and letting my freak flag fly!

It is a beautiful clear day in the suburbs of western Westchester as Lithuania prepares to square off against Argentina for the Bronze Medal in Olympic basketball on the other side of the world, Beijing, China.

My 1992 Lithuanian Bronze Medal T-Shirt is one of my most prized possessions. In 1992 my father, afflicted with metastatic cancer but nonetheless capable of having a good time (I think that this toughness and resilience is a Lithuanian thing) sat in his living room and witnessed this extraordinary event in Barcelona.

Lithuania itself was newly independent, their basketball team took the country out media obscurity in America and stood on the medal podium respendent in tie-dye courtesy of Jerry Garcia.

It was Lithuanian, it was American, it was funky, jubilant and elevating: in short, it was very "Our Lady of Vilnius."

I have requested the intercession of Our Lady to influence the outcome of basketball before without good outcomes, but that was for Irish Christian Brothers schools. I am going to pray that this team that symbolizes my heritage, in the same way as Our Lady of Vilnius parish does, triumphs once again for the bronze, stands on the international stage and brings to the attention of all the merit of small nations. May we do the same for our parish and all small parishes. Amen!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lithuanian-American Mariel ┼Żagunis Wins Gold in Women's Sabre!

This picture is from Athens, not Biejing, but I like it because Mariel looks like she's decked out for Jonines, very Lithuanian.

Thank you, Mariel, for once more bringing my sport and my ethnicity onto the podium !

All of us at Our Lady of Vilnius are with you in spirit and will keep you in our prayers when we gather tomorrow in front of the church.

Really worth archiving...really

This photo is from Frank Lynch's blog,Really not worth archiving...really. I do not know Mr. Lynch and I have not yet explored his site to the extent that I would like to, but I thank him very much for strolling down our dead end block and noticing our plight.

Because our Lithuanian flags are flying and mostly Lithuanians are gathering in public to pray and spread the word, it is easy for the public to perceive the loss of our church as very circumscribed, but it is not. Like ripples from a stone plunked into a still pond, the consequences of loss spread out to affect many, even those who we think are anonymous and impervious, walking down Varick Street or sitting in their cars waiting to enter the Holland Tunnel.

Thanks again to Frank Lynch. Let's get to know him by visiting his site.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Reflection on the Price of the Pearl

A reader commented on my post from last Sunday. I thought it was well worth bringing to the fore:

"Way, way back in first grade Sister Mary Alacquoe was answering the questions of a classmate who told how every Wednesday afternoon he answered the door and there was a very polite lady from Jehovah's Witnesses. The woman always carried a Bible and would stand at the doorway reading and quoting scripture in an effort to convert this little six year old parochial school student.

I'm reminded of Sister's response - "anyone can quote scripture to their own advantage" - when I read here about Cardinal Egan's talk about the "pearl of great price." It's a powerful image - to think of a precious, luminescent, lustrous pearl embodied in the tapestry, the altar, the crucifix. We are transfixed by the beauty before us and so is Cardinal Egan. However, we all should focus on the part of that lovely phrase which is not so easy to understand or visualize - the "great price."All of these items were purchased at an economic price - they did not materialize out of thin air. They were paid for by long hours of immigrant work, some of it surely rewarding and much of it simply gruelling labor to raise and support a Catholic family. Out of the currency gained by this labor further sacrifices were made by these working class people for their church, for the glory of God, to honor St. Stanislaus Kostka, to remember Our Lady of Vilnius. What item of clothing was not purchased? what toys were not bought? what entertainment was passed up? what vacations were shortened or not even taken? so these good people would have a church worthy of their aspirations and a place to meet and be a community of God's people.

The Cardinal can talk all he wants about the altar of sacrifice. The real altar of sacrifice in this matter is labor of the people who actually purchased these "pearls of great price."