Tag Archives: Christianity

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.

Schoolathens.jpg[1]    Disputation.jpg[1]

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

Psalm for today: 115

Day 7 in Rome

Thursday 10-10

Day 7 in Rome

Church of St. Phillip Oratory (Chiesa Nuova).

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I’m getting addicted to these marvelous churches. What am I going to do when I get home?  The ones in Michigan are beautiful in their own way, but not like this. There’s a little chapel with the body of St. Phillip Neri. In a glass case. We don’t have things like this in Michigan.

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The Church of St. Andreas della Valle

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St. Andrew is the patron of the diocese of Grand Rapids.

I came just as Mass began in a side chapel.

I wish I had learned my Latin responses better.

During the consecration, the priest held up the host and I was aware that simple white host was infinitely holier than all the buildings combined. The true power of the churches is as vessels of the work of Jesus.

Church of Gesu again.

It is not as breath – taking as the first time, perhaps because the sun is not shining the same way through the windows, or perhaps because I have seen it before and am getting accustomed to it. Ah, well, nothing that is of the earth can be a permanent thrill. When I got to the second glorious mystery of the rosary it occurred to me that earth the glories appear briefly, and then leave us to tell the story.

Church of St. John Lateran.

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Oh, my.

The Cathedral, the mother church of the whole Catholic world. The literal Chair of the Pope, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome.

Twelve foot high statues of the apostles.

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So much history here.

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Unlike St. Peter’s the original was not replaced, but when it was broken was repaired. Modification were made, so it bears the stamp of many hands and many eras, sort of like Catholic culture.

There are many pictures and sculptures, some of stories of popes and the Church, most of Bible stories. Ultimately, the beauty is at the service of the Gospel Story.

St. Mary Major.

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Oh, yes, more of the same.

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It is good.

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Octopus salad. Why can’t we get octopus salad in the Grand Rapids area?

Wearing a dark shirt: this calls for spaghetti.

There are a lot of beggars on the street. I feel bad, but I have learned to question whether giving them money is the best way to help the poor. This, of course, means that I had better do something to help (no, I’m not going to tell you what, at least not today).

Psalm for today: 90.