How many priests does it take to dress a Bishop? (keep reading for the answer)
It's funny how, in one weekend, many unrelated events can come together to you teach a lesson.
Uno: Friday evening, several of us went to a talk on "What it means to be a priest with Pope Francis." Now, I must admit that I didn't understand much - The Bishop who talked had a strong Roman accent and even Fr. Loris (an Italian and one of my Italian teachers) looked at me afterwards and said, "He used some really difficult words!" But, I did take away a few things, namely that we must "go out of ourselves" and be with people in an attitude of sympathy. We can't stay closed in within ourselves. (Okay, good advice with any Pope and for non-priests as well!)
|Not really a picture of the talk, but it was near Santa Maria in Trastevere. So, here's where we were.|
Due: Saturday morning, we celebrated a festive mass and lunch here in our house for the culmination of a weeklong conference for "New Leaders" of our Marianist Units. Most of the leaders came from Africa, India and Asia. Afterwards at dinner, we sang songs in all our different languages. The face of the Society is definitely changing, and there is a richness that comes with this.
|Mass with the New Leaders|
|Fr. Romolo leading us in an Italian song.|
Tre: Saturday afternoon, the local parish in which we live consecrated its new church building. It's not your typical Roman church in that it's quite simple (no frescoes or mosaics) and it was full of people and a lot of noisy kids! As holy water was sprinkled, incense burned and chrism-oil smeared, it struck me that, yes, these things make the place holy. But, maybe even more so, it is the people who make the place holy. Those who come to pray, to celebrate the mysteries of life, to celebrate the daily dying and rising to new life.
Quattro: Saturday evening, I had dinner with a friend who will be leaving Rome to go onto newer pursuits. He often teases me about my blog, so I have to include him here. So, as I was telling him about the Church dedication, he suggested that I start with the question posed at the beginning. To consecrate an altar is messy business. Chrism is spread over it and the Bishop rubs it all around. So, he has to take off his cross and outer vestments. It made me laugh when a swarm of priests surrounded him to do this. So (spoiler alert) you're not going to like my answer to the question (keep reading), but it's a way to say goodbye to a friend.
Cinque: Also on Saturday evening, the Marianists in Dayton gathered to say goodbye to our Novitiate building. Soon, it will be torn down and a new, smaller, more economically-feasible building erected. There are many memories of this 100+ year building. It's where many of us received our initial formation - there was a lot of laughing and some crying; there was a lot of praying and much frivolity; there were lessons learned, both in the classroom and out. In an odd way, for those of us who lived there, I think it always felt like home, a place where we could return and be embraced.
Sei: Sunday morning, we hear the following in our Gospel reading for mass:
While some people were speaking about the temple...Jesus said, "All that you see here--the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down....But not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives."
For those really paying attention, I left out the "gruesome" parts...impending persecution, hatred, earthquakes, destruction. But, I think these passages quoted above, have helped bring some sense and order to all these seemingly random events of this weekend. Things change. Popes are elected and then move on (either to another world or a monastery in the Vatican.) Directions change and we must go to new places. Buildings are built and eventually will crumble. Friends come and go. We never know where this crazy adventure we call life will take us. And yet, in the midst of all this, God is constant, watching even the hairs on our heads. Stone upon stone will be thrown down, but our lives (and evidently our hair) are secure in the hands of God. And it is here that we find our true security and stability.
At the start of our mass on Saturday, we read a letter from our Superior General who is recuperating from cancer surgery and couldn't be with us. The following words regarding his absence touched me:
We make plans as if we were the lord and master of our own time, but every now and then, God dismantles these plans in order that we may see that we are only "useless servants;" that God is the true and only Lord; and that our time, as with all things in life, is his.
Sette: That's seven in Italian. I'll say that's the answer to the question. Seven priests to dress a Bishop. I don't really know the answer, but the scene during the dedication just made me laugh :) And in the midst of all this change, we sometimes just have to sit back and laugh and remember that God is in control. And so I'll leave you with pictures of the Brothers enjoying pranzo together - smiling and laughing all the time.
|And a little champagne never hurts, either.|