May 15, 2000
volume 11, no. 92
CATHOLIC PewPoint for Monday, May 15, 2000
Fittingly, our first view of Europe reminded us so vividly of God's creation as we marveled at the pristine Alps as we sped southward. The trees in full bloom and yet the snow covered peaks glistened in the sunlight as the melting snow cascaded abundantly over crevices into fast-flowing mountain streams. The magnificence and brilliant light of this was interrupted often by the pitch-black of the long tunnels, as we would go from day to night in a split second and back to day a few minutes later, only to be plunged back into darkness. It served as a reminder of God's graces and how man, given the light of Christ speeds into the darkness of sin, but through Baptism and the Sacraments, specifically Reconciliation, we are able to once again be brought back into the brilliant rays of the Son, only to once again opt for the darkness through sin as is man's finite pull through Original Sin.
After a harrowing experience in Milan where we barely made connections to Rome, we traveled through Florence and by Assisi, two cities we will visit this week with our pilgrimage group arranged by Regina Tours and the Catholic Travel Club. The rolling hills of the Tuscany region gave way to the higher Umbrian foothills before we descended into Rome during the twilight hours on Tuesday night. Thirty-six hours after leaving the West Coast we were finally in the eternal city.
Yet, Rome is a contrast of all that is holy with all that is immoral and wrong with the world. It is a microcosm of society today. This was brought home abundantly when our youngest son Kellin, who just turned fifteen on April 28th, had his birthday present - a "Game Boy color video unit - pilfered in the train station as we were hurrying for a taxi. It was the old bump-and-distract routine played out by Rome's famous, or should we say, infamous Gypsies. His dad felt worse for Kellin than anyone because we should have been prepared, especially since yours truly had his wallet taken seven years ago to the day near the Colosseum in the same manner. While it was important to our son because it whiles away the time during travel, it was a strong reminder to be even more careful and alert. He asked his mom and dad, why this had to happen, why would God allow it to, and for a teenager hearing that "God allows these things to happen for a reason, but reasons that we don't always understand and we grow from them" doesn't hold a lot of weight when one loses something they had depended on. It was a reminder also to us to guard our things ever closer, especially the notebook and camera which makes it possible to share this all with you as we travel. It is also a reminder that material things are fleeting and unimportant in the overall scope of one's soul, and so often we are bogged down by these "trappings" and modern conveniences. But, again, a teenager doesn't very often see it that way. Hopefully our travel insurance will cover the theft.
We arrived at our hotel - Hotel Spring House on via Mocenigo 7, a hotel this editor has stayed at three times when in Rome because of its proximity to the Vatican and fairly reasonable rates. It is just two blocks north of the Vatican Museum and they have the best croissants in the world - sweet and puffy. After lugging our luggage to our room and all taking turns refreshing with much-needed showers, we dropped into a comfortable bed - dead to the world. Wow - a bed - something we had forgotten existed since Sunday night.
Wednesday morning - our nineteenth wedding anniversary - dawned bright and sunny as we wolfed down those famous croissants, juice, fruit and tasty cold-cuts and then scurried to St. Peter's for Mass and the Papal Audience. Something we didn't realize was, because the audience was being held in the Square and the demand for tickets was so high as well as very, very tight security, the Basilica was closed until noon. Ergo, we were not able to attend Mass in the chapel crypt as we had so hoped. Nevertheless, we went to the famous "Bronze Door" where the ever-courteous and loyal Swiss Guards stand watch. After showing clearance this editor went to the area where our tickets were being held for the Papal Audience. Through the graciousness of His Excellency Archbishop John Foley, Prefect for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, we were granted excellent seats just three rows behind the cardinals and bishops to the side of the Holy Father. It provided an excellent point to take the pictures you see on the front page today. It was not lost on us the theme of the Pope's address in spreading the Gospel and making disciples of others in bringing many more to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the whole basis of the DailyCATHOLIC and why we have labored in love for many years because we must center our life on God. By doing that, all else will fall into place in His time and in His way.
This was evident in the fact that the "way" we thought the day would go was not the way He planned it. There is a lesson in humility and acceptance for the heat and exhaustion of the long trip finally caught up to our sons and Cyndi. Our oldest son Kevin, who will turn eighteen on November 22nd, has inherited his dad's condition of heat prostration and he had to be taken to the Vatican doctors and the coolness of air-conditioning during the audience. Fortunately it was after the Holy Father's English address so we didn't miss anything we could understand and he was recovered enough to return just in time for the Apostolic blessing at the end. Because of the seating area we were in, there might have been the possibility of actually presenting a special packet of laminated copies of the DailyCATHOLIC to him afterwards as the people were lining up. But, because Kevin was so dehydrated we needed to get him back to the hotel and rest. Again, God has a reason and we don't always understand, but we accept and in that kind of fiat there are greater graces. The strain of the crowds, heat, and jet-lag caught up with Cyndi when we returned and she was done for the day, as was Kellin.
For some reason, God allowed yours truly to keep going and though we had so wanted to celebrate our nineteenth wedding anniversary that evening at our favorite restaurant, this editor hiked there and ordered everything to go, including their world-famous Profiterrol dessert - a chocolate delight to die for. We ended our day in the early evening enjoying our dinner on our own private balcony with the Vatican wall in full view and the beautiful Roman trees indigenous to this area silhouetting the twilight sky above St. Peter's.
We accepted the day as it had gone, naturally disappointed, but realizing Joseph probably would have liked to sleep on too when the angel awoke him charging him to take Jesus and the Blessed Mother to Egypt and away from the comfort of Nazareth. So also, we were being taken away from the comfort of the seat of our Faith, but in the long run God will open a door wider that we will walk through. After contacting Archbishop Foley following the audience and thanking him for the wonderful seats, he advised avenues we could take to assure His Holiness gets the special laminated pack of full color front pages of the DailyCATHOLIC in English, Russian, Italian, Spanish and French editions that we printed out last week before leaving We wanted him to have them before he left on his trip to Fatima to beatify the Shepherd Children Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco.
Today, Thursday, May 11th as we write, we will make the presentation through the Curial Office of the Secretary of State. The packet includes a laminated birthday greeting to His Holiness that will also appear in the special weekend issue on Thursday celebrating John Paul the Great's 80th Birthday. Later today we will join up with the pilgrimage group arriving at midday as we transfer to the Casa San Alberto Hotel, located midway between the Vatican and Castel Sant'Angelo on the Tiber River. Archbishop Foley, in his e-mail to us the week before we left had written, "Please call my office when you arrive in Rome and we will try to fix a time to meet." However, his schedule became backlogged with the unexpected death of his good friend and fellow Philadelphian Cardinal John J. O'Connor and he flew back to New York for the funeral on Monday, May 8th and was back in Rome by Tuesday night. There was no time to meet Thursday for his docket was full from 7:30 a.m. on and Friday he was flying to Cannes to celebrate Holy Mass for Catholic film makers, workers, actors and actresses at the Cannes Film Festival. We can only hope and pray his words to them will wake them up to begin producing quality, moral films that have value. They need the Archbishop's attention more than we do...there's no doubt of that!
Though understandably we could be disappointed and chagrined at the opportunities that were missed on our anniversary, we are not dismayed or discouraged. It reminds us of an old ad slogan made famous by General Electric: "GE brings good things to life." Drop the "E" and make it "God brings good things to life!" That's the lesson we learned this week for no matter where you are, no matter how hopes can be dashed, if you have the peace of Christ in your heart, you can never be lost, disappointed or discouraged. And so we cross the threshold of hope joyful and content that we are doing His will no matter the obstacles. Because of that we are not dismayed. Our Jubilee Journey of Joy for Jesus is still full of jubilation even though things don't always work out the way you planned. After all, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, but one can never go astray if we do His will.
May 15, 2000 |
volume 11, no. 92
CATHOLIC PewPOINT on special "JUBILEE JOURNEY FOR JESUS"