From Rome to Yonkers

Robert Moynihan, founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, normally reports from Rome.

But he’s been visiting the U.S., and wound up recently in Yonkers.

He was intending to stay with someone in Brookly, but because of an illness, found his way to a friary of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a relatively young religious community that serves the poor primarily in NYC and Yonkers.

You’ve probably seen them in their gray robes and long beards.

He writes about attending evening prayer with the friars in their “small, wood-paneled chapel.” He starts like this:

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The prayer for Tuesday, September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (photo of icon in the Friary chapel, left), was prayed by 12 friars, but it was shared by hundreds and thousands of others across this city, and this country. and this world.

Sometimes we forget how powerful prayer can be.

It is healing.

In a time when, in America, the sole topic of conversation is the president’s health care plan, it is astonishing how little mention is made of prayer.

Yet, in the silence of chapels and churches, of convents and monasteries, of college Newman centers and FOCUS gatherings, in homes and hospitals, a common evening prayer rises.

What is this prayer like? What is its purpose? What is its meaning?

This prayer is like a murmur, an appeal, a cry.

Its purpose is to “connect” this world, which presses upon us, and surrounds us, with another world, which is available to us only if we collect ourselves, and turn ourselves toward it — an eternal world.

Its meaning is to communicate the reality and life of that eternal world to the incomplete reality and life of this passing world.

At no time in history have our minds, all of our minds, been so over-run with slogans and images made by others and transmitted to us via technologies which can reach us almost everywhere at every time. These slogans and images distract, intrigue, fascinate, and enfold us.

A retreat to silence is a tactical decision in the battle for our souls.

And this is the spiritual wisdom of the Church.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.