It was the AP (Associated Press – or Amazing Priests, if you like) story that was published last Thursday that started the ball rolling on what has now become an avalanche of views of my video of the two priests, Fathers David Rider and John Gibson dancing at the Rector’s Dinner last April at NAC (they were seminarians then). As I write, there have been 1,415,931 views! Trisha Thomas did the research and wrote the story and took AP’s cameramen to NAC to video some footage. Her extensive account of this saga is on her blog: http://www.mozzarellamamma.com/2014/romes-dueling-dancing-duo/
It was quite a weekend for me – not only watching the numbers grow on the video and continuing to answer requests to air it or otherwise feature it but I have also been spending time with some friends who are visiting Rome: Isabella and her mother who were in town from Vienna, Austria; Gary and Meredith Krupp from New York (you know Gary from my radio shows and blogs and from The World Over), and Marie Fiscus from Toronto, Canada. Michael Hesemann just landed in Rome and two of my dearest friends from Amman, Jordan, are about to land.
Marie works for Air Canada and is in Rome on a brief holiday. She has friends from previous visits and one of her friends, Luigi, who has a B&B in Rome, arranged, though his brothers (it is definitely WHO you know in Italy), for a small group to attend a beautiful concert last night in St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls. We all met up at the basilica and ended up in the third row to hear Verdi’s “Requiem” performed by the IlluminArt Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra from Japan, conducted by the amazing 44-year-old female conductor Tomomi Nishimoto.
One of the men who helped arrange everything for this small group of Luigi’s friends is Gilberto, who has worked for the Vatican in one capacity or another for 50 years!! We discovered after the concert that we live about 100 feet from each other on Via di Porta Cavalleggeri! Gilberto was our guardian angel all evening and made it possible for me to greet a longtime friend, Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the basilica. Truly an evening to remember – in so many ways.
I uploaded two brief videos of several minutes of the “Requiem” and only wish I had known precisely when the concert would finish (even though I was reading the lyrics in the program) because the end was extraordinary! Not the music! The silence! As the last note was played, every member of the choir and orchestra bowed their heads and they – and we – all remained in total silence for perhaps a minute! A stunning and unexpected – and perfect! – conclusion!
Here is a slide show of St. Paul’s basilica and a few pictures of the orchestra.
And now a look back at some of the news of the weekend. I am highlighting the Pope’s remarks to members of the Schönstatt movement because he talks about marriage and the family and we’ve only recently concluded the synod on the family.
“MARRIAGE NEVER BEEN ATTACKED SO MUCH AS NOW”
Saturday morning, in a lively exchange with over 7,000 members of the Schoenstatt movement, an international Marian and apostolic organization marking the centenary of its founding in Germany, Pope Francis participated in a Q&A session, replying to questions on a broad range of topics. Schoenstatt members are both lay and religious, including many priests, from scores of nations around the world.
Pope Francis stated that the institution of Christian marriage has never been attacked so much as nowadays given the temporary or “throw-away” culture that has become so widespread. He said marriage should not be seen just a social rite and urged priests to stay close to couples and especially children experiencing the trauma of a family break-up.
In its report on the meeting, Vatican Radio listed some of the wide range of issues treated by the Holy Father as he answered questions off-the-cuff: mistaken views about marriage and its true meaning, the temporary or throw-away culture, the need to be courageous and daring, Mary’s missionary role, the Devil’s aim for disunity and a look at why the concept of solidarity is under attack.
In a question about marriage, the Pope was asked what advice he would offer to those who don’t feel welcome in the Church. He stressed the need for priests to stay close to each member of their flock without becoming scandalized over what takes place within the family. He said a bishop during the recent synod on the family asked whether priests are aware of what children feel and the psychological damage caused when their parents separate? The Pope noted how, in some of these cases, the parent who is separating ends up living at home only part-time with the children, and he described this as a “new and totally destructive” form of co-habitation.
Francis said the Christian family and marriage have never been so attacked as they are nowadays because of growing relativism over the concept of the sacrament of marriage. When it comes to preparing for marriage, he said all too often there is a misunderstanding over the difference between the sacrament of marriage and the social rite. Marriage is forever, he said, but in our present society there is a temporary or throw-away mindset that has become widespread.
Turning to the missionary role of Mary, the Pope reminded people that nobody can search for faith without the help of Mary, the Mother of God, saying a Church without Mary is like an orphanage. When asked how he maintains a sense of joy and hope despite the many problems and wars in our world, Pope Francis replied that he uses prayer, trust, courage and daring. To dare is a grace, he said, and a prayer without courage or daring is a prayer that doesn’t work.
Asked about reform of the Church, the Pope said people describe him as a revolutionary but he pointed out that the Church has always been that way and is constantly reforming itself. He stressed that the first revolution or way of renewing the Church is through inner holiness and that counts far more than more external ways such as reforming the Curia and the Vatican bank. Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of having a freedom of spirit and warned against closing ourselves up in a mass of rules and regulations, thus becoming a caricature of the doctors of law.
The theme of our throw-away society was touched on a number of times by the Pope – as he has done throughout his pontificate. In yet another reply, he said our present-day culture is one that destroys the human bonds that bind us together. And in this context, he continued, one word that risks dying or disappearing in our society is ‘solidarity’ and this is also a symptom of our inability to forge alliances.
Pope Francis also warned about the Devil, stressing that he exists and that his first weapon is creating disunity.
THE DIVINE LAW: LOVE FOR GOD AND FOR NEIGHBOR
An estimated 80,000 plus faithful filled St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray the noon Angelus with the Pope and listen to his Sunday reflections on the day’s Gospel reading.
Sunday’s Gospel by Matthew recounts the day that some Pharisees put Jesus to the test by asking him which commandment was the most important in the Law. Francis explained that Jesus, citing the book of Deuteronomy, answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
“He could have stopped there,” said the Pope. “Instead, Jesus adds something else that was not asked by the expert of the law. Indeed, he said: ‘And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’. Even this second commandment is not invented by Jesus, but rather taken from the Book of Leviticus. Its newness consists precisely in putting together these two commandments – the love for God and love for one’s neighbor – revealing that they are inseparable and complementary, they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot love God without loving your neighbor and you can’t love your neighbur without loving God.”
In fact, said Pope Francis, “the visible sign that a Christian can show to give witness to the world … of the love of God is the love of his brethren. The commandment of love for God and one’s neighbor is the first, not because it is the first in the list of commandment. Jesus does not place it at the top, but rather at the center since it is the heart from which everything must begin and to which everything must return and refer to. … In the light of Jesus’ words, love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love. We can never separate religious life from the service of the brothers and sisters, to those real brethren we meet.
After these reflections and praying the Angelus with the faithful, the Holy Father recalled the beatification Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil of Mother Assunta Marchetti: the Italian-born co-founder of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, known as “Scalabrinians” after the late 19th century bishop of Piacenza, Giuseppe Scalabrini, who helped found the missionary congregation originally dedicated to maintaining Catholic faith and practice among emigres to the New World, which now focuses its missionary work on migrants, refugees and displaced persons.
Pope Francis had greetings for pilgrims from Italy and around the world, with special words for the Peruvian community in Rome, which came to St. Peter’s Square in procession with an image of El Senor de los Milagros – the Lord of Miracles – an image of Christ crucified that was painted by an anonymous freedman in the 17th century in Lima, and that has become a focus of deep veneration and intense devotion, especially among Peruvians. (source VIS)
BUST OF BENEDICT XVI UNVEILED AT PONTIFICAL ACADEMY
This morning, Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as they meet in plenary session, and witnessed the unveiling of a bust of his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI. Speaking in the academy headquarters, the lovely Casina Pio IV in the heart of the Vatican gardens, Francis called his predecessor, “a great Pope: great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love for the Church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety.” Today’s unveiling comes as the academy meets on the theme of evolving concepts of nature.
The Pope recalled that Benedict XVI was the first to invite a president of this academy to participate in the Synod on new evangelization, “aware of the importance of science in modern culture.”
Pope Francis noted that the Catholic intellectual tradition has always affirmed the fundamental compatibility of a natural order that unfolds and develops, with the idea that the universe has been made, and does not merely happen. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation,” he said. “The scienctist, must [nevertheless] be moved by a trust in the idea that nature hides, within her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities that it is the task of intellect and freedom to discover and actuate, in order to achieve the [kind of] development that is in the design of the Creator.”
Click here for his full talk: http://www.visnews-en.blogspot.it/2014/10/francis-in-pontifical-academy-of.html