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Thread: Chiesa del Santissimo Nome de Gesu all' Argentine.

  1. #1
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    Jun 2009
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    Chiesa del Santissimo Nome de Gesu all' Argentine.

    Its 5.30am here on the sixth floor of a hotel in Taichung overlooking a still dormant main street intersection in the Xitun District. The recent tropical storm is a memory; though a dampness hangs in the air like an expended afterthought. Over to the east of the island, the sun has started its ascent over the peaks of the central mountain range, whilst to the west, Mainland China still sleeps.

    I had been wrestling a lot lately with what I want to do, (or more importantly), what I want to contribute, in whatever time I have left in this mortal existence. Dark nights of the soul I believe it is referred to in some quarters.

    Less arduous and more refreshing though, is the fact that I now have back the desire to write. It’s been a long time in purdah, but it seems that I’m currently aware of a kind of deep well of thought, that seems to refill itself during the night, and is available for transcribing at dawn.

    Last night I had gone to bed having read a homily given by Pope Francis at the Jesuit Church in Rome (Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all'Argentina) back in 2014. For those of you not familiar with it, it is the church where St Ignatius of Loyola and other Jesuit leaders are buried. The Mass undertaken on this occasion was a celebration of thanksgiving for the then recent canonisation of St Peter Faber, who, with St Ignatius and St Francis Xavier, was a founding member of the Society of Jesus and the first of the Jesuits to be ordained a priest. The decree, signed was an “equivalent canonisation,” in which the Pope inserts the name of the new saint in the universal calendar of saints without verifying a miracle performed through his intercession and without holding a formal canonisation ceremony.

    I suppose at this juncture I really should explain that I am so cautious of coming across as some kind of Catholic zealot spreading the Word. In fact, though raised in that faith, I have the annoying habit to some, of questioning everything, even Church dogma. Grahame Green would have approved, I’m sure!!

    Anyway, on this occasion in Rome, the Pope, (himself a Jesuit) made a number of points that resonated with me. It might also be a coincidence that once, while in Rome viewing the Spanish Steps, I occasioned to wander into this particular church, which if I remember correctly was not exactly impressive in the conventional sense regards its exterior façade.

    It had been quite dark inside, very elaborate in that way that only Mother Church architectural expression can evoke. Mass had just started, the priests were starting to walk slowly in muted procession down the main aisle, and a server in cassock and surplice swung the censer emitting the smoke and smell of incense. For some reason I had not participated, but had drifted to a side chapel containing a downward facing cross on which the Nazarene was impaled. Perhaps it was a catalyst for some deep-seated emotion, but I became alone and overwhelmed with tears barely suppressed. It was sad, unexpected, but not frightening.

    But back to the main theme. The Jesuits had sustained a bad press over the years with their religious fervour as “Gods soldiers,” to the extent that it was only in 2014 that the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus by Pope Pius VII had been granted after it had been suppressed for 41 years starting in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV.

    The Pope however; likely as a matter of good manners and diplomatic nicety, made no reference to this in his homily. Although the message he delivered was directed at the assembled Jesuits, what did strike home with me, were parts of it as applicable to a wider assembly.

    He spoke of the concept of a restlessness for God which I presume invariably one grapples with at the end of a life, and of an understanding of His dreams and desires. The strength of the Church he pointed out does not reside in itself and its organisational abilities, but hides in what he called rather sublimely “the deep waters of God,” and it was those deep waters which would stir up our desires and these in turn would widen the heart.

    This then moved on to an exhortation to be willing to empty ourselves and feel, think, love, see and walk like a Christ, that to my mind was so complex both as a man and as a prophet.

    “To avoid losing his way”, the Pope said, “a Jesuit must be a person whose thinking is incomplete, whose thinking is open, so that he is always looking at the horizon for a God who endlessly surprises us.”
    That is of course the exciting bit. Not blind faith, but the prospect of surprises, and perhaps even occasions of dark humour in a Deity so close, yet so little understood.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Uncanny Valley
    Ah, Taichung's a great town, but try to keep clear of the betal nut girls. And don't worry about your purpose too much. You've been living your purpose all these years whether you knew it or not. There's nothing you can do about it now. Just go forward when the time comes

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