Besides my lack of skills with a camera, it is also the case that virtually all the interesting bits of Assisi are within the churches, where no photography is allowed. I did get to con-celebrate Mass in the basilica with a number of other priests in Italy for the diaconate ordination, and offered my Mass for a beloved directee of mine who succumbed to cancer just after my arrival here - that was a great blessing, joy, and consolation for me.
The real treasure of Assisi is, of course, the man himself, Francis, and Clare and the mighty band of poor men and women who followed after them. It is hard for me to know what to say about it all - I was intensely happy and peaceful my whole time in Assisi (sadly, just a few hours), and felt utterly at home there. There is so much of Franciscan spirituality in the Madonna House life and spirit that it felt very much like being in another expression of my own vocation.
Meanwhile, I arrived back to hear that Pope Francis (who I saw again today at the General Audience - stay tuned!) gave another media interview that is causing some distress and anxiety among at least some Catholics. I am not going to address all that right now (I'm on holidays here, folks! Mind you, from my little reading, it sounds like another case of 'Pope says more Catholic stuff, and people are shocked'), but wish to give the following gentle reminders from Giotto, found on the walls of the Basilica there, as to what it is that upholds the Church, what the constant stream of life and love is that runs through the life of the Church that is the perpetual renewal and restoration of it from century to century.
|Dream of Pope Innocent, showing St. Francis holding up the Lateran cathedral in Rome|
|Pope Innocent approves the Franciscan rule of life|
Which looks something like this, perhaps:
|Francis preaching to the birds|
|Francis receiving the stigmata|
This is holiness - love of God and love of neighbour. Identification with Christ, and the profundity of gentleness and tender mercy that flows from those wounds, those stigmata. It is this--which of course is nothing else than the living presence of Christ flowing through his redeemed flock--that upholds the Church, gives it life and joy and constant renewal. It is this which should be our primary focus, as we strive to serve God in whatever way He has asked us to do.
Which reminds me: tomorrow is the big event that I'm actually here for, the diaconate ordination of Michael Weitl. I will not blog tomorrow, then, but will talk to you all again (God willing!) on Friday.