His Love Still Lights the World
Dear Editor: As a member of the Jewish faith, I entered St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Brooklyn, with trepidations. I didn’t want to disrespect or dishonor my roots and heritage. At the same time, I have been on a journey and quest for spiritual enlightenment and growth. My fears were unfounded as I have been made welcome into the congregation.
It is Father Greg (Stankus) that has made it a wonderful experience. Courageous, charismatic, inspirational, and witty are just some of the words I would use to describe him. He says more in 15 minutes than most politicians who speak for two hours. It is obvious that he is in physical distress, yet when he speaks his voice is strong and clear and his words are powerful. We all wait for his funny, satirical, and clever comments. He always rises to the occasion. I recently dubbed him the “Jackie Mason” of the Catholic Church. To me, he is a man who on a Saturday night you can have a beer with and watch a ballgame, and on Sunday he is your spiritual advisor.
Father Greg is a true Brooklyn original — a throwback to a bygone era of egg creams and Ebbets Field. There are only two people I would travel and pay to see; one is Neil Diamond and the other is Father Greg.
A Tragedy That Has a Cure
Dear Editor: I was deeply moved by the column by Alice Chen (“Stop Asian Hate, Let Us All Live In Peace,” July 24). At the same time, I was heartbroken by the incident she told about her victimization in words by a racist who caused her such embarrassment and pain.
She identifies herself as a parishioner of Regina Pacis Church and is therefore my neighbor in Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. That such a vicious verbal attack should take place in a neighborhood that belongs to her and me was a terrible thing to read but sadly not surprising. The vast majority of people in this part of Brooklyn are good and decent people who I am confident share my sadness in reading about what she endured, but there are still some who, like her attacker, are cruel and totally lacking in the Christian values that all of us should share but some of us do not.
Growing up in the late fifties and the sixties, I’ve always been proud, at least until recent times, that good and intelligent people have tossed aside the racial prejudice that up until that time had been such an awful factor in our society. It was my opinion that, while there was still prejudice in our community, most people had come to be ashamed of it and were no longer willing to express it in either jokes or in terms that were anything other than jokes. However, such talk has obviously made a hideous comeback, as Ms. Chen found out to her sadness and dismay.
Her reaction to this event, at the time and in her words in the Tablet, show her to be a woman of genuine goodness and real Christian faith, a commendable woman in every way. However, the hurt and humiliation she expressed saddened me to the depths of my soul. There is no rational excuse for what she endured and she has been, and will remain, in my prayers. I hope that I will be able to become as good a Christian as she is.
Not the least of the gifts she gave us in her column was the solution to this problem: “I believe that if we stand together and voice our opinions, we can make a change. We can create a world of love and respect.”
And God bless her for responding to such a diabolical event in such an utterly Christ-like way.
As she says so well, the solution is to look at one another and see ourselves as God sees us: His daughters and sons and therefore our sisters and brothers. This is the only way, and it is the best way because it is the way of Our Brother and Lord Jesus Christ.
Father Anthony Raso
Editor’s note: Father Raso is the parochial vicar for Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
For Young Child Try Byzantine Hail Mary
Dear Editor: The conscientious father wanting to teach his young daughter the Rosary but hesitant about the Roman/Latin rite Hail Mary’s “hour of death” verse perhaps should consider using the Byzantine Catholic approximate equivalent:
“Hail, O Virgin God-Bearer [Theotokos], Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou has borne the Savior of our souls.”
There are various valid translations of the Byzantine Hail Theotokos prayer, but none include the “hour of our death” intercessory petition verse which was added to the Roman/Latin rite Hail Mary during plagues that began ravaging the West around the mid-13th century.
This writer became aware of the differences in the Hail Mary’s rite versions while researching how to devise an ecumenical arrangement of traditional rosary prayers and meditations which Catholics and diverse other Christians could join together to honor Mary, worship Jesus and promote Christians.
Thomas C. McCarthy