Tag Archives: Christian

Day 12 in Rome

Tuesday Oct 15

Day 12 in Rome

You know you are in the area of the Jewish ghetto when you see ads for kosher food.

It was a small area and it didn’t take long to find the Synagogue and Hebrew Museum. (they didn’t want pictures taken, so see more at http://lnx.museoebraico.roma.it/w/?lang=en).

There was also a place that had schwarma, but it was not lunch time. (I’ve wanted to try schwarma ever since the Avengers movie.  I later found a place in Grand Rapids that served it.)

The history of Judaism in Rome involved a lot of persecution by Christians, including some bizarre practices. Jews were confined to a ghetto, forced to wear distinctive insignia on their clothing and banned from all the professions except money lending and selling used clothing. Sometimes thing got better and sometimes worse. There were mentions of some  great defenders like Gregory the great who gave orders that Jews “were not to be persecuted” (score one for Gregory the Great), but there would come a time when things would get bad and then worse, and all of Gregory’s ideas would be forgotten. We have made a lot of progress in the latter half of the 20th century, but can we say “never again”? How can we say for sure that the wind will not turn again in a century or two or five? The council of Nicea certainly wanted to wipe out Arianism for all time. They did not succeed. Heresies never really die. They did, however, cement as much as possible onto the consciousness of the Church that Jesus, a man, is “God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father, through whom all things were  made (got the point?). This did as much as they could to set us on the right course and give as many tools as possible to those who would fight this error in the future.

*The first principle to hammer home is to trust the power of the Gospel story. If we trust in that power, we focus our energy, not on attacking those who think differently, but doing a better and better job telling our story in word and action. Does anyone think we do not have room to grow in how well we share the power and beauty of the Gospel story?

2nd principle: While anyone persecuting anyone is bad, and persecuting people in the name of Christianity is a special horror, there is something uniquely bizarre about Christian anti-Semitism. Folks, we worship a Jewish person!

We have received countless treasures from Judaism. That itself should give us cause to look upon the Hebrew people with reverence. They are related to our boss.

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Palatine

The Palatine, the oldest part of Rome, almost 2800 years old, setting part of the stage for western civilization.

The Circus Maximus was a place of entertainment and violence.

Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus

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What will our place look like in 2800 years? What legacy will we leave?

The Coliseum: one of the greatest entertainment centers Rome has left us: a lot to see and to imagine. On the one hand, people could get a break from the stresses of life. On the other hand, bread and circuses while the empire crumbled.                                                            Coliseum1.jpg[1]                                  Coliseum2.jpg[1]

Yes, I was really there

Yes, I was really there

Where does our empire stand? Are we scapegoating anyone now? Are there some group that are acceptable to mistreat while we are distracted from central issues?

Canticle for today: Isaiah 2: 2-5

Is there a nicer way to end the day than eating gelato looking at the copula of St. Peter’s Basilica? Can’t really do that in Michigan.

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Day 10 in Rome

Sunday October 13

Day 10 in Rome.

Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia

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Piazza de La Scala.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=piazza+della+scala&view=detailv2&&id=8553525ED3F8B8DB9DD1216E140B9BAEC972C5E6&selectedIndex=2&ccid=HWPkiKR1&simid=608047763519047546&thid=JN.hYOj5sbAOOvJJ%2f2XO5fh7A

Here is the Church of S. Maria de la Scala.

Café Aristocampo do la Scala has a drink called a Garabaldi (Campari with orange juice). Forget statues, what kind of cocktail would you like named after you?

Santa Maria en Trastavere

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Lots of Gold mosaic. (I did not get a good interior shot, so see one at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Santa_Maria_in_Trastevere-inside.jpg)

Saw the monuments of Giuseppe and Anita Garibaldi and their fight for the republic.

Giuseppi Garabaldi

   Giuseppi Garabaldi

Anita Garabaldi

Anita Garabaldi

It seems they were fighting French who were trying to restore the temporal power of the pope. It is sad that such a prized part of Italian history would involve such a dimension of negativity about the pope, but I think it is good that the pope was separated from the role of secular ruler. Temporal power brings added temptation to egomania, and even more importantly, temptation to trust temporal power to build the kingdom, rather than trusting the power of the Gospel Story.

We seek to influence the structures of society by the power of the Story.

Psalm for today: 19

Day 9 in Rome

Saturday Oct 12

Day 9 in Rome

Perhaps I have been too worried about finding the right place to eat. There seems to be a formula for finding a good restaurant in Rome:

Step 1: Find a restaurant.

Step 2: Eat there.

At least, this has worked for me.

When I get back, I will be facing brown rice, tofu and chicken breasts.

People trying to sell tours of the Vatican museum paint such horror stories of waiting in line trying to get a ticket. The wait was just about an hour, and then 16 Euros and I’m in and free to wander.

There is so much art here. I’m not focusing so much on information as taking in the beauty.

Many, many picture and carvings focused on telling the story, mostly Biblical stories, though some of later saints. Beauty was put in the service of impressing the Christian story on people’s minds and hearts.

I’m very glad I took the tour of the Vatican Museum, and I’m very glad I came back by myself.

Such an investment in the telling of stories.
Relationships are communicated in stories. A large part of knowing people is knowing their stories.

How well do we know the stories of our faith?

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Those who know the stories will recognize the images:

The sacrifice of Isaac

The bronze serpent in the desert

The Annunciation

St. Lawrence (with grill)

St. Peter (keys)

St. Paul (book and sword)

Bartholomew (knife and empty skin)

Coronation of Mary.

There are some pictures of contemporary Church figures with Biblical Saints and some pictures of Bible stories with the characters wearing contemporary clothing surrounded by contemporary architecture (contemporary with the artists, not the Biblical figures). This shows that the Bible stories are timeless, as well as rooted in a specific historical time, and we are a part of the story.

Why does the Vatican Museum have ancient Egyptian art, so many Greek and Roman statues including Emperors and pagan gods?

To share the Gospel story we must be lovers of the human story, for the story of the universe is the story of salvation, and if we are to share the human story with the human race, we must know the human story. There are some things, however, that work against the project.

Hundreds of the Greek and Roman statues have inscribed in bold red letters “Munificent Pio VI PM” or something like that. It is either someone seeking to butter up the pope or the pope himself feeding his own voracious ego. Either way, it is not good.

There seem to be two basic errors when encountering the Gospel story:

  1. I am not part of the story, or
  2. The story is about me.

In St. Peter’s square there are so many references to Alexander VII. Of course, when you are pope in the middle ages or renaissance, the temptation to think “It’s all about me” must be enormous.

Raphael did some good stuff. I especially liked his transfiguration and coronation of Mary,

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but best of all was one room, on one side The School of Athens, and on the other, Disputation on the Holy Sacrament, actually about the triumph of the belief in the Real Presence. My response is: “I want one.” Ah, well.

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Could never take enough pictures here. Thank heavens for the internet.

Psalm for today: 115

Day 8 in Rome

Friday Oct 11

Day 8 in Rome

Got a bit of laundry done, not as expensive as I thought. Might take fewer clothes next time.

I wandered a bit, trying to get to know the neighborhood around the Vatican. That is a job in itself. I’d like to get into the Vatican museum without a tour group.

Slipped into the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia. As I did the office of readings, a group came in and sat down. Then I noticed they were setting up for Mass.

Mass begin – Surprise, in Polish. My Polish in worse than my Italian, which is terrible, but I got the readings from my smart phone (Remember how sad life was before smart phones?). There are slight variations in when to kneel and when to stand, but otherwyse it is familiar territory, language or no. How wonderful to wander into a Mass and be at home.

Can’t pronounce Gnocchi (nyo – kee). They are so patient with the violence I do to their language.

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia has Mass in English or 10 am on Sunday. Should I go there or back to St. Peter’s? Decisions

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There are many tour groups going around. There are many merchants with trinkets. There are many people trying to sell African collapsible wooden bowls. Clever idea; too bad I don’t need one.

I am so happy that I decided on two weeks instead of one. One week would have not been enough, and I would have been frustrated. Two weeks is, of course, not enough to do everything, but it is enough to say I have done a lot and had room to spend the afternoon sitting outdoors at the restaurant Borgo Nuovo writing, thinking and eating slowly. Sometimes life moves hard and fast and it takes a while to stop, to come to a full stop.

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Day 6 in Rome

ImageWednesday 10-9

Day 6 in Rome

Church of John the Baptist just across the Tiber from the Vatican. Just another über- magnificent church in Rome.  

The sculptures, the walls, the pillars the floors and the paintings all took skill, lots of skill.

 

 

I had been told the pope would be blessing at the square, Wednesday at 10:30, but I was careless about the time, and didn’t arrive until there was less than an hour and a half to go. Next time I go earlier. I that point there was no hope.

Castel Sant’ Angelo

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Very old, back to the time of Hadrian. It has been a fortress, a palace, and prison and now a museum. Different popes added different things to it. People come and go, buildings take different forms, but here they remain.

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The story is that there had been a plague, and in 590, there was an apparition of St. Michael sheathing his sword, and the ended.

There is a great view from the roof

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It is raining lightly, but I’m having lunch outdoors. They have tents and plastic walls to protect us. I America outdoor seating is a luxury; here it is a necessity. They do not have enough space to survive with only indoor seating. Bathrooms are always down narrow stairs, and even in nice restaurants, they are nasty looking.

The Staff have shirts that say on the back, “Bebere humanum est ergo bibamus” which I believe means “It is human to drink, therefore we drink.” Makes sense to me.

Interesting salad: lettuce, artichokes, tuna, fresh mozzarella, some other shredded cheese with bread it makes a meal (with wine, of course).

I had forgotten how much I love foreign travel. There is so much to learn, so much to see and so many ways things are different.

Church of St Agnes in Agony, in the Piazza Navona. Such a contrast to the piazza.

Day 5 in Rome (part 3)

Finally Chiese Gesu (the Church of Jesus).

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Wow! So beautiful. Can’t believe how beautiful it is. Those Jesuits never were ones to do things half way. I must come back here and contemplate. The art often has the theme of victory over evil.

Pantheon. Powerful old building. The Façade seems not quite to fit, but I can’t argue with it. Believed to be built as a temple to all the gods, it has been remade as the Church of Mary of the Martyrs, once again the theme of Christianity conquering paganism. As with all the holy places, there is a dress code, and no eating, drinking, smoking or phone calls. Here they are especially strict; they also demand silence. How do we show that our sacred spaces are sacred and our special places are special?

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Fontana di Trevi: They really know how to do fountains in this town.

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Psalm for today: 93