Saturday, September 24, 2005

Live from Rome V - Why Church and State Separation is Such a Good idea.

Well as I mentioned yesterday today was the day that we visited Monte Cassino, the first Benedictine Monastery founded by Saint Benedict himself. It was beautifully situated on a mountain, baroque glory, marble, fountains, statues, frescoes, mosiac, and canvas... BEAUTIFUL.

Apparently, in WWII the allied troops destroyed the town of Cassino and the Monastery of Monte Cassino thinking that the monastery was keeping German troops. Everything was destroyed except the high altar, underwhich the bones of Saint Benedict and his twin sister Saint Scholastica reside. In fact, the altar was hit by a bomb... but the bomb stopped, embedded itself in the floor, and didn't go off. The only things left standing after the attack were Saint Benedict's statue, and the altar.

However, the government rebuilt the monastery according to it's original specifications which were kept in the archives in Rome. The monastery is now the property of Governmenta Italiana, not the monks. According to the tour guide: '' This is our national treasure.''

The Monks for their part, own only the liturgical appointments in the monastery (Vestments, Chalices, etc.)

When the time came for mass, it was the guard who unlocked the tabernacle so the priest could take out the reserve elements. The guard walked up and down the isles during mass to make sure people didn't have their cell phones on. The guard also served as acolyte and silenced the people by saying SHHHHHH!!!!

More than that, after mass, and after the tour, we were all sitting in the plaza and on the steps. We were tired, the weather was perfect, fountains were splashing, and we had our shoes off, we were enjoying being in our ''Mother House''. All of a sudden, the guards came through... and made everyone stand... Apparently you aren't allowed to sit! He then made everyone be completely silent rather than the quiet banter we experienced before.

So there we were... standing in the middle of the plaza... standing there completely quiet, uncomfortable and confused! You see, Benedictines are all about hospitality... the moments before the guard came we were talking about God and what we had learned, about Mass, and becoming better friends... After, we were almost afraid to be community.

I know that this guard was merely doing his job, but his ethos was vastly different from the ethos on which the Monastery was originally founded: ''All guests are to be treated as Christ''. It was then I realized what it meant for the government to own the church, and what effect that can have on Christian community. I could not imagine, if Jesus had traveled for miles and walked up a mountain, and was tired that we would make him stand and not speak. As wonderful as it all was, something is wrong in Monte Cassino.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Live From Rome IV - I am SO moving to Rome!

Oh my goodness! I am moving to Rome!!!!!!!!It is the most beautiful, gritty, real, gorgeous, fantastic, rich, city I have ever been in. Today... I stood beside the grave of Raphael, the reliquery of Saint Agnes, and stood beside the Altar of Saint Katherine of Sienna. I have seen beautiful artwork, beatiful churches, drank wine, ate good food, and tomorrow I go to the Abby at Monte Cassino... AAAAAHHH!!!! I AM SO EXCITED I HAVE TO WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS!

Okay now that that is over... let's talk about poverty. At the entrance to every church there is a poor or disabled person begging for alms. They are in the square... they are everywhere. Meanwhile the police take posts outside every ATM machine to protect against theives... So here is the question... Why in the center of one of the most powerful churches in the world, is noone doing anything about the theives and the poverty? Why is it that tourists are picking up the slack of feeding the hungry when the church is not?

So I need to move here with my methodist sensibilities... I need to start a mission here... or... I need to pray that someone will take on the mission here... because as much as I want to move to Rome... it is not my calling to start a mission here... however, I am going to find some missions here in Rome to contribute to...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Live From Rome III

So I got sick today... bad things were happening is about as far as I will go to describe it. The food here is great... but not in reverse. Anyway, I'm fine now except when I was sleeping off the effects of sickness earlier today I made it hard to sleep now... it is three AM here in Italy.

Tomorrow, or is it today, I am going into the city. The friend I was going to go with had to back out suddenly so I will be going with another group of folks. A poet and his wife actually. We will all be traveling into the city to see several of the sites. I hope the cappella sistina will be among them... but the wait can be as long as three hours so at this point it looks doubtful.

So here is emergency alternate plan B... I will save every red cent and and come back here again with a friend... and I will take a Michelangelo Tour of Italy... I'd go to Florence, the chapel, the Musea De Vaticano... I'll visit anything Michelangelo. Who among my many readers would like to come with me? (Please note that I am completely serious so if you say yes plan on saving up for the trip as well.)

Anyway, I've gotten some really great pictures that I will post to my blog as soon as Isaac shows me how. The food here is fantastic... I am thinking about buying an Authentic Italian Cookbook so that I can make real italian food at home... Every night we have wine with dinner... but the wine isn't very good so I usually drink water. (Before you contact the Ethos Committee please note that I have graduated and drink no more than one glass which I sip all throughout the meal. Because it is not very good wine I never have a second glass and I don't think I'll be having another glass with dinner anyway. I think I'll have to wait to have good wine at Christmas.)

Today's talks were about the mission of the Benedictine Oblate... and wouldn't you know it this is where we disagree. They talked about the importance of interreligious dialogue and how we oblates are called to have a hand in that... however, as much as I appreciate Intereligious Dialogue I would not go so far as to say other religions are right... headed toward the same truth or some such nonsense. I of course advocate respect and dialogue, but am not blind to our differences. So I guess in that way I differ from many here in the congress.

One more thing... my roomate Anthony is from Trinidad and Tabago... he is really cool! More on him later!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Live From Rome II

Well, here I am in Rome again writing to you about everything that is going on here at the Salesinium. This morning the congress discussed "Oblation as Family Communion" where we discussed how the loving family has been appointed by God to be Salvivic. That through Christ's eartly ministry, and now in the church the family can be a herald of salvation.

Beyond that, I have a friend who will be traveling into the city with me on Friday to go and see the sights... including my blessed Sistine Chapel. O Lord, let them be open!!!

Anyway, much love from Rome. Continue to pray me through friends...

Michelangelo

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Live fromRome

Hey everyone, I am writing to you from Rome. While i have been away Isaac has been working on my blog. He's done a great job huh?

So here I am writing to you from Rome where even the keyboards are different. I have learned the meaning of jet lag... and am suddenly thankful for the reformation. Having a great time... but sadly, I might not be able to see the Sistine Chapel as planned.

Michael

Friday, September 16, 2005

Almost Time...

In between now and noon tomorrow I still have to...

1.) Finish packing
2.) Finish cleaning the house (I hate to come home to a dirty house)
3.) Finish Laundry
4.) Finish leaving instructions for church on sunday 18 & 25
5.) Send out my final emails before leaving

Writing this blog is another thing I wanted to do before I left. First of all, you can read up on the events of the congress at the website...

www.oblatesworldcongress.com

I don't know what I am expecting... but God has pulled me behind the proverbial woodshed. I AGAIN started to think about what would happen if my wallet was stolen... I started to stew and worry... and then God started firing off questions...

"Michael... if your wallet is stolen... will you fall over dead?"

"No Lord"

"Michael... if you are robbed... are they going to send you home from the congress in shame?"

"No Lord"

"Michael... If you lose your wallet do you think Italy will just keep you and you'll never see home agajn? Is that reasonable?"

"No Lord"

"Michael... If I am sending you to Rome out of the thousands and thousand of oblates, monasteries and not to mention catholics, is it not also true that whether you have the time of your life or the worst trip ever, I will in fact bring purpose to it? Whatever happened to that Wesleyan admonition to 'suffer me what you will. Let me be brought high by you or laid low by you?' What happened to 'I heard and my bones wasted away but the Lord is in his Holy Temple?' Michael, what happened to faith?"

"Ouch Lord, that one kind of hurt..."

"Good."

And so here I am... doubting my faith. I do not doubt the object of my faith but instead, my own faith in it. To be abundantly clear... I can with my whole heart affirm the creeds of our church and the teachings of scripture... but I see in this conversation a chink in my armor. A place where I distrust God. A place where I believe in God, but do not believe God. I have not even left the house... and the dialogue with my soul has already begun...

THE PRAYER OF SAINT BENEDICT

O Lord, I place myself in Your hands and dedicate myself to You. I pledge myself to do Your will in all things: To love the Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength. Not to kill, not to steal not to covet, not to bear false witness, to honor all persons. Not to do to another what I should not want done to myself. Not to seek after pleasures. 

To love fasting. To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick.To bury the dead. 
To help those in trouble. To console the sorrowing. To hold myself aloof from worldly ways.To prefer nothing to the love of Christ. 

Not to give way to anger.Not to foster a desire for revenge. Not to entertain deceit in the heart. Not to make a false peace. 

Not to forsake charity. Not to swear, lest I swear falsely. To speak the truth with heart and tongue. Not to return evil for evil 

To do no injury, indeed, even to bear patiently any injury done to me. To love my enemies. 
Not to curse those who curse me but rather to bless them. To bear persecution for justice's sake. 

Not to be proud.Not to be given to intoxicating drink. Not to be an overeater. Not to be lazy. 
Not to be slothful Not to be a detractor. 

To put my trust in God. To refer the good I see in myself to God. To refer any evil I see in myself to myself. To fear the day of judgment. To be in dread of hell. 

To desire eternal life with spiritual longing. To keep death before my eyes daily. 
To keep constant watch over my actions. To remember that God sees me everywhere. 

To call upon Christ for defense against evil thoughts that arise in my heart. To guard my tongue against wicked speech. To avoid much speaking. To avoid idle talk. 

Not to seek to appear clever. To read only what is good to read. To pray often. 
To ask forgiveness daily for my sins, and to seek ways to amend my life. 

To obey my superiors in all things rightful. Not to desire to be thought holy, but to seek holiness. To fulfill the commandments of God by good works. 

To love chastity. To hate no one. Not be jealous or envious of anyone. Not to love strife. 
Not to love pride. 

To honor the aged. To pray for my enemies. To make peace after a quarrel, before the setting of the sun. Never to despair of your mercy, O God of mercy. AMEN

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The New Harry Potter IPod

Okay, I know I already have an IPod and that I probably don't need two but Apple just announced that they were selling a New Harry Potter Special Edition IPod with all six of the books downloaded into it... oh help me I want one I want one I want one... The back of the IPod is embossed with the Hogwarts Crest. SIGH... Now all I have to do is justify the purchase and scrounge up the money...

Hmm... I am going to Rome soon... Maybe I can sell indulgences! I'll say a prayer for you in Vatican City and you can commit the sin of your choice. Going rate: $50.00 per sin. (No COD's)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Which Saint are you?

Julian
You are Julian of Norwich! It's all about God, to
you. You're convinced that the world has a
happy ending. Everyone else is convinced that
you're a closet hippie, but you love them
anyway.


Which Saint Are You?
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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Storm Paths

Charity Hospital in New Orleans saw the darkness of the human heart, as a sniper fired upon the sick fleeing the rising flood waters. The heart of darkness, the hand of the evil one, the result of sin seen both in the presence of illness and the presence of terror. Marti Gra like madness in real life, the crazed debauchery of attempted murder. The sick and innocent --as always-- the first victims.

Slowly methodically the storm of sin rages a path through the human heart as people loot and steal televisions when they have no power with which to watch them. An unknown fear as the French Quarter may never be seen again. These days we have seen the storm of sin rage a path through the human heart. Natural disaster brought out the darkness of the stained human soul.

Storms move fast and interact and there is a God whose path is dark on the wings of a storm, a different storm developing. This, stripped naked by the evil, beat bloody with the irrational, hands empty with the poverty, arms outstretched with the hungry, died with the empty... God. Gathering his people to forge a storm path of righteousness through the ravaged south.

The sound of his lightning proclaiming this is not a moment to ruminate on death and air, but to proclaim in the storms wake, the soft miracle of the spring rain.