By Msgr. Steven Ferrari
Walking through an always-crowded Times Square on a recent Tuesday evening, on my way to see Denzel Washington in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” I wore my new cap.
Recently purchased at the Strand Bookstore (“18 Miles of Books” is their old motto – a bibliophile’s dream of heaven!), the dark blue cap was emblazoned, in bold white all-caps letters with the phrase: “MAKE AMERICA READ AGAIN.”
A strong male voice next to me echoed aloud the cap’s message. I stopped to have a brief conversation with the tall, middle-aged man.
“When I was young, my mother didn’t allow me to go out to play on the streets. I stayed in the house and I had to read. Now I am grateful. I learned how to speak, to articulate, to express myself properly,” he remarked. He shook my hand firmly before we both continued on our separate ways.
A few minutes later, I stood with an open book in hand outside the Bernard Jacobs Theater on West 45th Street. I awaited the arrival of my niece and her fiance, who would endure the nearly four-hour show with me. I overheard the soft, female voice of a young woman standing nearby. She read the cap’s message to her friend before approaching me.
“I love it!” she exclaimed. “I’m a teacher and I love the message.”
Another woman in line ahead of me outside the theater was also standing reading a book. (As we all know, nowadays mostly everyone else has their fingers and eyes glued to handheld gadgets.) She noticed the cap, but misread it, obviously confusing its message with a much more now-famous one.
Her facial expression betrayed her misunderstanding.
“No,” I said, “look again.”
A gentle smile replaced the frown when she captured the cap’s wording correctly. She then returned to reading her book, as I did mine.
As The Tablet publishes its yearly list of what some of the faithful of the diocese are planning to read this summer, I wish to reinforce the importance of reading. The great Latin American author Jorge Luis Borges once wrote, “I have always imagined Paradise will be a kind of library.”
I might add, “or a bookstore.”
For those who love books, reading can indeed transport one to an other-worldly realm. Getting lost in a good read can expand the mind and illuminate the soul. So this summer, keep cool and read on!
Msgr. Ferrari is the pastor of St. Teresa’s parish in Woodside.