Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

There is nothing to do but watch breath rise in prayer
Upon the icy winter air
A hope slimmer than the wisp of smoke rising from this votive light
lies in potential spaces:
Between the sheets of a child's bed,
in the sac that holds the heart.

As we hurtle through a blackened universe pricked with light,
we are alone,
we are together,
we are many,
we are one.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sad News Closer to Home

Though, as a Bronx native Brooklyn is terra incognita to me, I always read the Annunciation Parish (Apreiskimo Parapijos) newsletter with great interest. More than a parish newsletter, it is a primer of Lithuanian culture and spirituality. Since the closure of Our Lady of Vilnius, Annunciation has become the mainstay of keeping the faith, Lithuanian style, in the New York metropolitan area. I was saddened to open my "Zinios" and read that Vladas Sidas had passed on. Though I have only met Pat, the writer of "Zinios" a few times, she and Vladas have become a part of my life through the "Zinios". The details are below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 Parish Lithuanian Affairs Committee Chairman Vladas Sidas

Walked home to the Lord after suffering a massive heart attack.

His wake will be held at Hillebrand Funeral Home, 63-17 Woodhaven Boulevard, Rego Park, NY. Sunday, December 14, 2-5 pm. Rosary and Farewell Speeches at 7pm.

Funeral Monday, December 15, 10 AM Annunciation Church.

Burial will be at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the Building Maintenance Fund of Annunciation Parish. Aciu.

May he rest in peace in the arms of the Risen Savior!

The above is excerpted from Pat's newsletter. May we echo her prayer for Vladas and honor him as requested.

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.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We'll Be Your Mirror

On Sunday, when Eugene Sirotkine conducts the Hudson Valley Singers, he will have his back to you, but we'll be his mirror. The choristers will have no scores to hide behind and all eyes will be on Eugene as he channels Mozart and Weber, bringing to life choruses and arias from Der Freisch├╝tz, La Clemenza di Tito, Idomoneo and more. A roster of excellent soloists will be headed by Olga Makarina, soprano, and John Bernard, tenor. At the piano will be Caren Levine, accompanist, coach and person extraordinaire.

Date: Sunday, December 14, 2008
Time: 3:00 PM
Place: Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church
60 Forest Park Avenue at Larchmont Avenue
Larchmont, NY

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Words on Truth and Falsity from Thomas Merton on the Anniversary of His Death

Thomas Merton died on December 10, 1968. Robert P. Imbelli commemorates his death and that of Karl Barth in a post on dotCommonweal.

Included in this post is an excerpt from Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation that may offer Our Lady of Vilnius supporters some solace:

"Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied.

With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please.

We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face. But we cannot make these choices with impunity. Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them.

If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it!"

Monday, December 08, 2008

This Tuesday Only: Vilnius on Fulton Street (Tallin, too)

Every road in my life leads to Our Lady of Vilnius, or at least passes through.

This Tuesday evening, "Tuesday Evening Hour, Inc." will present a slide show lecture by Engineer/Naturist/World Traveler and Photographer, Vlassios Pyrpyris.

Topic: ESTONIA & LITHUANIA - Tallin & Vilnius
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Time: 6:30 PM
Place: St. Margaret's House, 49 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038
Suggested Donation: $2.00

What are the OLV connections to this event other than the obvious? I was alerted to this event by OLV parishioner, Ellen Halloran. I was subsequently invited to it by friend and former St. Stanislaus Kostka chorister, John W. John, an avid and fine photographer whose feet have touched the hallowed ground of the OLV basement, knows Mr. Pyrpyris through the Sierra Club photography group.

In addition, Marjorie Grimm, the Director of the series, was once one of the iron filings drawn to Our Lady of Vilnius in the 1980's. Though not Lithuanian she made the trip from Brooklyn to Broome Street because she liked the community.