So today started off slow, but definitely became a whirlwind. We went from seeing the chimney for the Sistine chapel get installed to a marathon of sights- trying to get as much in as we could in these pre-conclave days. You can see below some pics and sights.
Here's my homily for the first mass of the pilgrimage given at the Chiesa Di S. Agnesne. (Sorry for some of the character mistakes. It wasn't copied from one word program to another, but I'm too tired to edit through it right now.
SATURDAY - March 9, 2013
A writer had a dream in which she visited Hell. To her surprise it wasn't like the Hell she had pictured at all.. She was led along a labyrinth of dark, dank passages, from which there were many doors leading to a number of cells. And each of these cells was almost like a chapel - they were each identical. The central piece of furniture in each cell was an altar, and before each altar knelt sickly, weakly, greeny-gray ghostly figure in prayer and adoration
Who are they worshipping?the writer asked her guide?
Themselves was the reply this is pure self-worship... They are feeding on themselves and their own spiritual vitality in a kind of self-spiritual cannibalism... That=s why they look so sickly and emaciated.
The writer was appalled and saddened by row upon row of cells with their non-communicating inmates, spending eternity in solitary confinement, themselves first, last and the only object of worship.
Thomas Merton once said Humility is absolutely necessary if one is to avoid acting like a baby all one=s life. To grow up, in fact, means to become humble, to throw away the illusion that I am the center of everything and that other people exist to provide me comfort and pleasure.
As we gather on this first day of this Lenten pilgrimage, this Gospel seems a perfect starting point. A call to embrace the humble, God-centered, faith of the tax collector we just heard about. And as we begin our visits to Churches, Cathedrals, Basilicas, we might find that call to humbleness a bit distracting in such - well extravagantness.
Yet, the difference is that when we view these places as places that are meant to do the exact opposite of our writers night in hell, where these holy sites call us to look up, to look outside of ourselves... to see that focus of worship isn=t us but God alone B the adoration belongs to Jesus Christ our King, our Supreme Shepherd, we are drawn into the beauty of what faith does for us creatures- brings life, creativity, joy.
As we walk together these days in the earthly home of our faith, we are privileged to be here at a historic time... and the eyes of the world are fixating in the hype of Papal-palooza (Cardinals gone wild?) We are in a sense being entrusted with this call to prayer... That our next Holy Father, our Cardinal-electors entrusted with that sacred task, that each and every one of us who is blessed to be called AChristian@ may embrace the humble, God-centered faith of the tax-collector from today=s Gospel. Drawing us beyond our own sense of self and recognized the joy of being a beloved son and daughter of a Heavenly Father who is the source of all meaning and happiness in our lives.