Monday, November 28, 2011

New English Vernacular Mass

When I was young I looked forward to graduating from my First Communion prayerbook to my first missal. Back then it was a book with some gravitas: black leatherette binding, pages edged in gold and richly colored ribbon place markers. The Latin Mass was on the left with the English translation on the facing page. By listening and looking back and forth across the two pages, I learned the Mass in both Latin and English. As a second grader both versions of the liturgy were mysterious and foreign compared to the immigrant English of my home and neighborhood. I enjoyed the process of attempting to understand the content in both tongues, of puzzling and pondering over the possible meanings and how they related to the sounds. Was it just because I was a child, or would this contemplation have been a lifelong pursuit if not upended by Vatican II?

Vatican II ushered in the English Mass and ushered out my beautiful missal. In came the missalette, a disposable thing that resembled Reader's Digest. It made the ritual seem less ancient, less permanent, more accessible and stylistically more secular. Mass was friendlier, but less awesome. Did the simplicity of the vernacular give us the illusion that we have somehow tamed and mastered the mystery of the Mass?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Inspiration: Keep your eye on the Hawk

And strengthen your wings to out-flap the Cardinal!

On Wednesday evening, the men's basketball team of St. Joseph's, a Jesuit college from Philly, lost to Iona in double overtime. Although the Iona victory was remarkable, the St. Joseph Hawk mascot was even more remarkable. He flapped his wings throughout the entire game, including half-time. When well-wishers stopped him to shake his wing, he kept flapping the other!

Apparently the Hawk has been flapping like this since 1956 to embody the motto "THE HAWK WILL NEVER DIE!" The fortitude and persistence of this mascot was an inspiration. Below is a video from St. Joseph's University showing the power of the Hawk:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to all from Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC

An Our Lady of Vilnius "aciu labai!" for all of our blessings

We thank God for Our Lady of Vilnius parish where our faith was nourished and where our ancestors could be Lithuanian when it was not permitted in Lithuania.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We Love This Parish and All of Its People: Past, Present and Future!

"OLV is a hideous ecclesiastical structure that should have long ago been demolished and replaced with something more fitting the dignity of God, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the people of Lithuania. In simple English the place is a dump, its location is ludicrous, and its importance is arguable."

- Old Parishioner, March 27, 2007

Getting Sentimental Over You, Old Parishioner

On March 12, 2007 "Old Parishioner" submitted one of my favorite comments to this blog. Ironically, though he takes issue with the effort to save the church, his voice is very "Our Lady of Vilnius." He is clearly a person that I would have enjoyed arguing with in our basement hall. Here's to you, Old Parishioner. If there was a booze with your name to stand on the liquor store shelf next to "Old Crow" and "Old Grand Dad," I would raise a shot in honor of you!

Old parishioner said...

"Anonymous, are you for real? I understand that OLV has emotional, even ethnic and perhaps historical value to the Lithuanian community of the New York area (though I do not remember seeing the same reaction when St. George in Williamsburg Brooklyn was closed, but perhaps being in the geographical center of the then Puerto Rican ghetto detracted considerably from whatever value it had), but to speak of it as a structure worthy of landmark status is beyond the most kind stretches of credibility. OLV is a hideous ecclesiastical structure that should have long ago been demolished and replaced with something more fitting the dignity of God, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the people of Lithuania. In simple English the place is a dump, its location is ludicrous, and its importance is arguable. It was a dump before the renovations under Father Palubinskas, and it became even more so after Father Vito “UP DATED” the interior. I tell you what see if you can get some of the folks at voice of the faithless to take the building off the hands of the Arch-diocese and turn it into a museum; you can display those hideous windows that Fr. Palubinskas rescued from St. George, at a great cost to the parish I might add, and display them for all of Soho to see—the artistic glory of the Lithuanian community in exile."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reality TV: Our Lady of Vilnius hearing video now available on the web!

The New York State Court of Appeals made the Nov. 15th hearing of the case (Blaudziunas v. Egan) available on the web. Visit their web archive page and click on the link for "No. 231 Blaudziunas v. Egan." You will need Windows Media Player to view this video.

CLICK HERE to go directly to video.

Watch the search for truth and justice in action.

Some new reportage on Our Lady of Vilnius in Lithuanian press

Lithuanian website "BNS Spaudos centras" has published and article by plaintiff Mindaugas Blaudziunas titled "Lapkričio mėn 15 d. Niujorko lietuvių Aušros Vartų bažnyčios bylą nagrinėjo Aukščiausias Niujorko valstijos teismas" .

For those that do not read Lithuanian, here is the Englis text produced by Google Translate. It will give you the gist. In the meantime, I have a Lithuanian friend amending the translation below for correctness and spin.

November 15, New York Lithuanian Church of Our Lady of the case dealt with the Supreme Court of New YorkCategories: Culture, Law Enforcement2011-11-18 15:17Judgement of the Court to answer the question whether the Roman Catholic Church congregation has a legal right to decide the fate of the church.New York, in November. 17 In 2011.Mindaugas BlaudžiūnasParishioner AV AV Conservation CommitteeOur Lady of New York (called Our Lady of Vilnius) legal battle against the parishioners of the Archdiocese of New York for its preservation of the church reached a point kuliminacinį. On November 15, the case was discussed at the highest New York Court of Appeals in Albany. Having listened to the arguments put forward by the judges will decide whether the Archdiocese of New York City has the right to demolish the church building, the AV without the consent of the parishioners.New York's Cardinal Egan E. Decision Our Lady's Church (the UA) was closed in 2007 Within a few weeks, the church building was evacuated and riuošiamas demolition. Cardinal parishioners filed in court, preparing for demolition was halted.About 40 minutes. the court session that lasted 7 panel of judges made their arguments and their questions answered AV parishioners and the Archdiocese of New York, lawyers representing.AV by H. Kresky said, according to the New York State Religious Corporations Law 5th paragraph of the parish is a religious corporation. Parishioners to read the corporate members and to decide church property (ie, corporations) and the fate of the management issues. Or demolition of a building or a church, congregation decides, not the Archdiocese.Based on the U.S. constitution's first supplement (Congress may not impose religion nor the law of one) and said that the Roman Catholic Church is herarchinė structure and are governed by canon (church) law the law, the archdiocese attorney, P. Johnson said that the religious corporations, paragraph 5 of the Civil įstaymo Catholic churches are not. Asked whether he pripažysta that the church is the AV rel. Corporation, Mr. Johnson agreed with the facts, but argued that the parishioners are not members of the corporation and the right to pull the court has no diocese. When asked what his understanding is that members of the corporation, Mr. Johnson replied that they did not exist. P. Johnson suggested the court case."Court proceedings are the same issues that have been made to the court in 2008 defending the destruction of the Irish community in New York City-owned historic St. Brigid church," remarked Mr. Kresky. "Before the St.. Brigid Church of the proceedings had a ready stipius arguments. However, the trial court did not take place before the court because the archdiocese announced that in connection with the anonymous donor's proposal for the repair and restoration of the church donated the sum of $ 20 mil, St.. Brigid repairs and will be transferred to the faithful. This case poses a very important legal issues were not examined in court. Prepared arguments St. Brigid case, I applied the Church of Our Lady of the defense in court. They are now important as regards legal issues will be fully dealt with at the highest state court. "AV by H. Kresky sessions of the court was satisfied. "... The judges questions clearly shows the importance of topics of interest for judges to consider this issue fully. Judges decision will be historic. This decision could legitimize the parish church legal position in asset management and determine the fate of many other churches ..." he said.Date for a judicial decision is not set. It may take longer than a few months.Seeking religious independence, AV Lithuanian Catholic parish in New York was founded in 1905 After 5 years of the church building was completed. The Church was not only in Lithuanian, but also around the living nelietuviakalbių house of worship. Lithuania grabbed the independence and the arrival in New York for an increasing number of new Lithuanian, AV experienced a great revival, and the value of the new Lithuanian parish pastoral care has increased significantly.In 2007 in February. AV E. Savickis pastor was summoned to a cardinal. At the time of the Archdiocese of ministers changed the locks of the church, and Cardinal E. Savickis said that from the day the church is closed. There are also deleted the parish. Sudden closure of the church and decided to demolish it, the Lithuanians lost within the last person the New York Archdiocese of the Lithuanian church.Lithuanian efforts to restore the parish church to recover and preserve the building from destruction going on since 2007, In addition to the civil court, parishioners filed an appeal with the Vatican supreme located kanonininės rights crimes of analyzing organizations. New York Lithuanian community pirmininikė R.Žukaitė New York Cardinal Egan presented the E. about 4000 thousand. people signed a petition in 2008 During his visit to Rome for the preservation of the church in the AV Pope Benedict XVI called Lithuanian resp. President Vladimir The President. For more than four years old, every Sunday a group of parishioners gather AV stairs to the church for prayer and exchange.Stamp of the church is closed, the parish financially self-maintained and fully offered Archdiocese of New York. Parish with Lithuania stunned and encouraged to think of the fact 400 people and have over 100 years-old of the parish community, the grounds for revocation.2002 Lithuania and the U.S. government signed an agreement on the National Heritage Conservation areas in these countries. AS the church is included in the list of protected objects. Gates of Dawn, as the NAC. Lithuanian heritage, part of the U.S., the preservation of this year, official letters of support distributed to the Lithuanian Minister of Culture A. Gelūnas and Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister A. Azubalis.Parishioners, Our Lady of the New York Rescue Committee and the Lithuanian American community appeals to all believers and the virtuous people of Lithuania and asks for his intercession in the fight against the illegal closure of Our Lady of the Church and the Archdiocese of New York's desire to destroy one of the oldest and noblest spiritual, historical and architectural monuments created by Lithuanian foreign.Contact (s) of person (s):Mindaugas BlaudžiūnasParishioner AV AV Conservation Committee917 647 1603 (New York) Tel.Mindaugasb@msn.comLithuania - Vilnius Kaminskas 8687 17622Published Vilius Kaminskas, Our Lady's Parish in New York

Sunday, November 20, 2011

RIP Jellybean: Our Lady of Vilnius parish cat has passed away

Our Lady of Vilnius rectory cat, Jellybean, passed away on Friday, November 18, 2011 with former parish trustee, Joy McAleer by his side.

Like Our Lady of Vilnius parishioners, Jellybean stoically moved forward in life despite infirmity, adversity and loss. Jellybean is mentioned by Dalia Bulvicius in a history prepared for the parish's 95th anniversary in 1995:
"Last but not least is the parish cat Jellybean who deigns us with his presence in the hall on special occasions."

They say that "even a cat can look at a king." Apparently Jellybean once had the opportunity to gaze upon a prince of the Church. According to parish lore, which may be apocryphal, Cardinal Egan once visited the parish and casually remarked that Jellybean was overweight. The parish cat wisely kept his own counsel.

While serving the parish, Jellybean was cordial but not intrusive, his presence offering comfort to those who arrived at the rectory in distress.

When the rectory closed Jellybean retired from public life, enjoying a regimen of chilled water, cat grass, wet and dry cat food, naps on a sun-dappled carpet and the gentle companionship of Ms. McAleer.

Lest his reputation be unnecessarily tarnished, I will make it clear that Jellybean was not the orange cat who, tail aloft, attempted to participate in the liturgy via dramatic entrances from the sacristy or center aisle. These were the antics of a different cat named "Morka."

Jellybean occasionally expressed some envy of another orange cat, Chico, who made his way to publication as Pope Benedict XVI's biographer. Jellybean hoped to attract a literary agent who could propel his writings into print. While this did not happen during his lifetime, his admirers will certainly catalog and edit his literary legacy and make every effort to make it available to the public.

Jellybean is survived by many parishioners whose lives he touched. While we do not have a list of his progeny, we assume they exist based on accounts of missed rectory curfews. We hope that they are numerous and touch as many lives as Jellybean.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Villager covers Our Lady of Vilnius' legal landmark

The Villager has kept an eye on Our Lady of Vilnius since August 2006 when they published Our Lady of Vilnius 101: Lady of Vilnius and 'Pretzels' and 'Provolone' May Lose Home. They document the latest landmark in our struggle for survival in Albert Amateau's story Fight to save church goes to state’s highest court.

Read the story and add your opinion to the forum that follows. The Villager site works best for me in Chrome.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Today is the feast of our patroness: The Mother of Mercy of the Gate of Dawn

On this feast of Our Lady, let us thank her for her constant loving care and vigilance. An excerpt from a program for the 95th anniversary of Our Lady of Vilnius parish, which took place in 1995:

"As we end let us thank God the Almighty for sparing this church many times in the past. The construction of the Holland Tunnel in the early twenties, the Great Depression of the early thirties, World War I, II the Korean and Vietnam wars. These indeed had left with scars and loss of membership. But like the Phoenix we are survivors and rise from the ashes awaiting our 100 anniversary. As experience has already proven, we can rest assured that Our lady of Vilnius - The Worker of Ausros Vartai will lead us and our future heirs to a brighter day in the years ahead."

by Dalia Bulvicius

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Pilgrimage moves north Albany

Every year in the middle of November, tens of thousands of believers gather in Vilnius for the annual pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of Vilnius in the Gates of Dawn.

The streets are covered with wood, and kept especially clean, as many pilgrims approach the chapel and climb the stairwell to the icon on their knees. For eight days, Masses, prayer services, recitations of the rosary, and communal meditations occur around the clock.

The culmination of these days of prayer is the feast of our Patroness, known by more than one name to all that love her: Our Lady of Vilnius, Our Lady of Ostra Brama and the Mother of Mercy of the Gate of Dawn, among others.

On the eve of the feast, as devotees all over the world honor and petition our Vilnius Marija, the case of Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC will be heard in Albany at the NY State Court of Appeals. Join us during this sacred time to pray for the preservation of Our Lady of Vilnius parish and church:

Hail Mary, full of grace,

Theotokos, and Mother of all mankind. Pray for your children in their times of suffering and need. Mother of Peace and Truth, Mother of our Savior, Queen of heaven and earth, pray that we imitate your Son in our lives and in our deaths. Spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the graces of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit that we may claim our eternal inheritance after living a holy life. Be with us always as we conform ourselves to the will of God.

CLICK HERE for travel info for urban pilgrims

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Blaudziunas v. Egan 101: The Our Lady of Vilnius Case

"In September, 2008 the New York Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear oral argument on the issue of whether the Archdiocese of New York could demolish historic St. Brigid Church without the permission of the parishioners. The parishioners claimed that Section 5 of the Religious Corporation Law required their permission before the chief asset of a religious corporation could be used for a purpose other than the support and maintenance of the corporation.

The Archdiocese argued that the hierarchical nature of the Roman Catholic Church exempted it from that stricture. The parishioners responded that the Archdiocese waived any such special treatment when it elected to incorporate St. Brigid and many other parishes under the Religious Corporation Law; it could not claim the benefit of corporate status (such as limited liability) without abiding by its requirements.

On May 19, 2008, before the case was to be heard, the Archdiocese announced that an anonymous donor had come forward with $20 million to restore and reopen St. Brigid. The appeal became moot and this important legal issue was not decided by New York’s highest court.

On November 15, 2011, however, the Court of Appeals will hear argument on the same legal issues in a case involving Our Lady of Vilna Church in lower Manhattan, built by Lithuanian immigrants in the early twentieth century. The outcome of the case will determine the fate of this and other churches among the hundreds of incorporated parishes in New York.

I will be arguing on behalf of the parishioners. Peter Johnson, Jr. will appear for the Archdiocese."

Posted on Mr. Kresky's blog, Legal Briefs

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Join us at NYS Court of Appeals Hearing in Albany next Tuesday!

Please join us in observing this historic hearing on Tuesday, at the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany.

Are parishioners members of religious corporations? Do they have the right to vote if a church is to become anything other than a place for divine worship?

Be with us in the courtroom as these issues are addressed.

CLICK HERE for details and travel information.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Villager gives us the scoop on the possible rezoning of OLV country

This week's edition of The Villager gives us Al Amateau's piece "In the heights: Hashing out plan for Hudson Square". The informative article gives a variety of individual perspectives on the proposed re-zoning of the printing dis..., er, Hudson Square.

Of the Broome Street block that Our Lady of Vilnius stands on:
"The proposal calls for downzoning short residential blocks on Watts, Broome and Dominick Sts. near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, but David Reck, who presented the Community Board 2 submission last week, said residential property owners on those blocks say the downzoning is unwarranted."

Can a good Samaritan tell this poor aged blogger what "downzoning" means?