Monday 28 April 2008

Courage, love and the Spirit

My thoughts are still in Frascati, with hundreds of youngsters milling about in the evening... What can a Salesian do about these? How might he approach them? We have the institutional way, of course, but is there some other way? Is it possible to go to the riverside, like Paul in today's first reading (Acts 16:11-15), and talk to the youth gathered there? And then it struck me that we Salesians are not very different from the disciples gathered together in the Upper Room. Some of us are bold by nature, others timid and introverted, but whether bold or timid, our hope is in the power of the Spirit that is given to us. It is the Spirit that makes the difference, the Spirit who changes a group of frightened, disillusioned men and women into bold witnesses to Jesus. Da mihi animas: it is the Lord who entrusts people to us...

In his book, L'ospite inquietante: il nichilismo e i giovani [A Disturbing Guest: Nihilism and Youth], Galimberti recommends that we give up the frenetic Jewish-Christian search for meaning and return to the Greeks with their 'Know thyself.' I was thinking: frenetic search for meaning? Or the daily attempt to contemplate and accept the fact not only that we have been loved, but also that that love has been declared to us? The meaning that comes from love - the greatest meaning of all. The energy that comes from love. The quiet glow, silent witness, the different forms of courage...

Villa Sora, Frascati



Villa Sora, or Villa del Duca di Sora, is one of the twelve great villas of the Roman Hills - and a Salesian house since the time of Don Bosco. Leonardo Mancini, the young Rector of Villa Sora, gave me a guided tour this afternoon of this beautiful old villa. Giacomo Boncompagni, the original Duca of Sora was the natural son of Pope Gregory XIII, and the villa contains an important painting of the Pope which was borrowed some years ago by an American museum. St Charles Borromeo, friend of the Pope, seems to have spent time in the villa. Cardinal Cagliero had a room here, which is now the Provincial's room. But perhaps the villa is precious to the Salesians because because Bl. Zeffirino Namuncura spent the last five months of his life here. I was privileged to see Zeffirino's 'pagella' or report card. He seems to have worked very hard, this young man from the remote Pampas of Patagonia. His marks are good, and Mancini said he stood second in his class. The report card is one of the few surviving mementos of Zeffirino at Villa Sora. Zeffirino passed away at the Fatebenefratelli Hospital on the Isola Tiberina - on the very island where about 900 years ago, a British monk called Rahere saw a vision commanding him to put up a church to St Bartholomew at Smithfield on the outskirts of the then city of London. The world is a small place - perhaps because it is held in the mystery of God's heart.

Sunday 27 April 2008

Hugo Wolfram

One of the interesting people I met during my trip to England was Hugo Wolfram. Hugo is the father of Stephen Wolfram, the inventor and owner of the famous software Mathematica, a copy of which, according to Phyllis Wallbank, has even been sent to the moon. Stephen runs the enterprise from the US, while his brother Conrad manages the European market.

Hugo's wife, Phyllis tells me, was a Philosophy don at Oxford. She died several years ago, and Hugo is now married to Phyllis' daughter Judith.

I met Hugo some years ago, probably during my first trip to England. He struck me then as a warm, friendly person, quite knowledgeable and extremely interested in people - and that impression was only confirmed when we met him the other day at Oxford.

Peter Koenig: Religious Artist


I met Peter and Tina Koenig once again during my visit to England earlier this month. Peter paints exclusively biblical and religious themes, and I find his painting extraordinary, his use of colours vibrant, his lines strong, and his use of symbols powerful.


Peter has contributed a number of paintings to his parish church of Our Lady of Peace, Burnam. Being Eastertide, there is a huge painting of the Risen Lord emerging from the tomb, with a sheaf of wheat in one hand, a sickle (emerging right out of the painting) in the other, and the water of life gushing out from his side - right into the baptismal font which, in this church, occupies centre space in the apse. The sheaves of wheat probably have multiple meanings: the eleven sheaves bowing to Joseph's sheaf in Genesis; the harvest of the end time; the Great Reaper; the bread of life...


Blogging

Why this need for a blog? Perhaps writing little news items has become a habit or a need after the experience of the General Chapter... And also, there are so many things to say that are not really news...

I want to write about the interesting people I met in England: Phyllis Wallbank, Peter Koenig, Hugo Wolfram, Timothy Russ... About life in the UPS... About writing plans...

Preparing for Naples

I am still struggling with the Naples paper on the universal viewpoint and its transcultural possibilities. Yesterday I managed to compose a fair enough page on Interreligious Theologizing, which I took mostly from the earlier paper on Applying Lonergan's Method. Today I began working on the possible relevance of the method for International Relations and Commerce. I have been trying to pull together Lonergan's call for a Summa Sociologica with the call for a critical human science and cosmopolis in Insight, and with the intriguing hints towards applying dialectic to community and to human studies and sciences in the last chapter of Method.

But today is Sunday in Rome, and so finishing Camilleri's Campo del Vasaio was good, and anyway I simply could not put down the book...

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“EVANGELIZATION – DOES IT CALL FOR SOMETHING NEW FROM CONSECRATED LIFE?” MARKO RUPNIK, SJ “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novit...