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Rome: Day 4

November 7, 2012


Today was a day of beauty.

I say that in part because it is the day we took in the masterpieces of the church via the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel. But, that was just the tip of the iceberg of a day filled with beauty.

This morning, as we approached St. Peter’s for our private Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it was clear that something was different. The entrance we had used the day before was closed, as was all of the square, as the Vatican police prepared for the Pope’s Wednesday audience. We walked along the colonnade that runs along the left side of the square to an alternative entrance. Turning the final corner towards the security checkpoint, we found a crowd of hundreds of Polish pilgrims standing before us. The sight was overwhelming as they waved their flags and jumped up and down, laughing and singing in celebration and praise. On one level we just wanted to join them. On another level we wondered how on earth we were going to get through them and into the Vatican. Eventually a car parted the crowd so we chased it to the gates before we were enveloped by the crowd of pilgrims.

I was challenged by the joy of these people. I wish I could have photographed their faces, so filled with enthusiasm. It is like nothing I ever seen in the United States. We’re far too “cool” or cynical or something to be so filled with passion, to express our selves. These pilgrims were a reminder of how contagious joy really is. Beautiful.

Mass in the crypts of St. Peter’s was, of course, wonderful once again. I had the joy of proclaiming the word of God. After waking up to see the election results, I got this reminder from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.


There is too much beauty to begin to describe in the Vatican museums so I’ll just focus on one thing, the Creation of Adam in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We’ve all seen that image hundreds, if not thousands, of times. We focus on the outstretched finger of God and Adam with his oh so famous “front piece,” (sorry, obscure reference to the television show Arrested Development). Today I felt like my eyes were opened for the first time to the image I had never seen in the painting. Sure, God’s finger is outstretched to Adam, but under his other arm is Eve and his hand is laid upon a child. There, in the center of of the Pope’s personal chapel is the greatest teaching on marriage that the world has ever known: a man created with the gift of woman in store, just waiting to be shared. From the woman and through God come children, family, the domestic church. It reminded me that, though I am a pilgrim here in the city of Rome and I have been given the gift to see and pray and write, my central mission and vocation is the same which stands at the center of that chapel: to be a father and a husband. Beautiful.

Tomorrow we head to Assisi after Mass at St. Peter’s in the morning. Once again, don’t hesitate to email me special intentions for Mass. God bless you.

Other beautiful moments:
Ascending from the crypts of St. Peters to see the basilica alit for Mass while the Polish pilgrims filled the church with hymns of praise.

The booming sound of 200 seminarians reciting vespers at the Pontifical University of North America. Also, the view of Rome from the roof of the University.

There was some discussion on our tour as to whether or not Michelangelo might have been a homosexual. Waldo and I agreed he very well could of been because his work was…FABULOUS! And, yes, Waldo dared me to put this on the blog.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Patrick permalink
    November 7, 2012 11:03 pm

    Thanks for helping me to see this beautiful piece of art with new eyes! Fabulous!

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