Day 3 in Rome
I should have brought more dark shirts in anticipation of eating more spaghetti.
St. Peter’s Basilica!!!
The wait in line was not nearly as long as I expected.
Metal detectors. Would I be in trouble with my stainless steel water bottle?
No problem (whew!)
Inside the Basilica: Oh my Oh my Oh my Oh my!!
Beautiful carvings of different colored stone. Enormous statues.
There are some big, fancy monuments to popes. The cynical part of me immediately asked: Does that really serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Would Pope Francis approve? Add to that the corruption of many Church leaders in that era, the scandalous way finances were handled, we start with a lot of questions.
There have ever been the twin tasks of praising the Glory of God and serving the needs of the people.
Should the money have gone to the feeding of the poor instead of building magnificent Churches?
There have been many, many others things that money has been spent on that have not been of such enduring value. It seems that beautiful churches are the first thing that some want to cannibalize to feed the poor, when they should be the last thing after everything else.
As for the corruption, the unworthiness of some of the key figures? The Church has ever been messy. There have been the good, the bad and the ugly. In the midst of it, the Gospel story has been told. That is the most important thing that I learned when I was in Jerusalem: In the midst of the human imperfections, the story still has power.
A more balanced reading of history says that there were good, even saintly people, including popes, working in the midst of the messiness. The heart that seeks God must focus on the grace in the midst of the messiness, or never encounter the depth, the richness and the beauty God has for us.
Mass at St. Peter’s.
I was a ways back, but had a view of the altar. The view was often obscured by people holding up smartphones and tablets. One guy in front of me decided that during Mass was a great time to take several dozen pictures of the ceiling with his telephoto lens. Come on, folks, is this the way we pray? Ah, well, the messiness of the Church goes all the way through, and in encountered everywhere. It is now for me to focus on the gift in the midst of the messiness. Perhaps that is why God brought me here today. I never know how He is going to be working.
Had dinner with Fr. Tony Russo who is here on sabbatical.
Psalm for today: 84.