Letters to the Editor

Words Still Ring True

Dear Editor: The Tablet (March 10) brought the very happy news that Blessed Pope Paul VI will be a declared a saint in late October. It brought back such great memories of his one-day visit to New York City to address the United Nations in early October 1965.

It was a beautiful and sunny day.  As students of Mater Christi H.S, Astoria, we were assigned space in Queens Plaza North to cheer him as his motorcade passed.  Since he was the first Pope to visit the United States, it was a most historical event. (Pope Pius XII had previously been to the States in 1936 but that was as Cardinal Secretary of State.) When I change subway trains at the outdoor Queensborough Plaza station, from the 7 to the N, I often look down at the spot where I saw him so many years ago.

I am not exactly sure when but several years later, I distinctly remember Blessed Paul admonishing us to be aware of the continuing presence of the evil devil in our midst who was tempting us and causing us to do terrible things. (Of course, the secular press and media had a field day with his comments.) How ironic then that the announcement of his canonization is in the same edition of The Tablet as your editorial “Unholy TV Chatter,” which detailed appalling and blasphemous comments made about prayer and the saints. It goes to show that nothing has changed since His Holiness made his remarks almost five decades ago.

To show how foolish and stupid critical remarks about prayer are, please let me tell a little story about my very good Jewish friends, Irving and Mae Welch. When we first became friends in 1973, they claimed to be atheists, but over the years I noticed that they were returning, in some ways, to their Jewish faith. Both remarked about my devotion (to the best of my feeble ability) to Roman Catholicism. Irving had watched Bishop Sheen’s television show in the 1950s and freely professed his admiration for him. Mae loved that I always wore a crucifix around my neck. In 1985, we took a two-week tour of Italy. The trip naturally included stops at various churches. Usually, there was a priest on duty and he would ask us to join him in a short prayer after which he would give us a blessing. I noticed that Irv and Mae would always stand directly in front of the priest and devoutly listen to the prayers and accept the blessing.

Having observed this behavior, I finally asked them about this. Mae responded very simply and wisely: “We all need as many blessings as are given to us.”