Now that I've gotten over my jet lag, I can begin to post about some of the many things for which I was thankful during my pilgrimage to Rome last week. They include:
- The beauty of St. Peter's Basilica: The sunlight beamed magically upon Bernini's monument to the Chair of St. Peter when I visited the basilica on my last day in the Eternal City.
Pope Benedict last month spoke to the Church's newest cardinals about the chair and the Holy Spirit window:
"After passing through the magnificent central nave, and continuing past the transepts, the pilgrim arrives in the apse and sees before him an enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of great Fathers of the Church from East and West. And above the throne, surrounded by triumphant angels suspended in the air, the glory of the Holy Spirit shines through the oval window. What does this sculptural composition say to us, this product of Bernini’s genius? It represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.
"The window of the apse opens the Church towards the outside, towards the whole of creation, while the image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows God as the source of light. But there is also another aspect to point out: the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital 'O,' to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads. The Church is the place where God 'reaches' us and where we 'set off' towards him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.
- Divine providence: I had the great pleasure of attending Mass at the Angelicum for the university's patronal feast—that of St. Thomas Aquinas which the Dominican-run institution celebrates on March 7 (as on the old calendar). While I was there, I prayed for an old friend I had not seen in more than a year. Then, exiting the church after Mass, I found myself face-to-face with that same friend, whom I had thought was back in the States. (She's a religious sister whose obedience precludes publicity, otherwise I'd name her.) So I had the unexpected joy of catching up over lunch with someone I had missed very much.
- Delicious food: And, speaking of lunch, below is a video taken by my friend during that meal. It was too lovely not to share.