Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rome May 2011: Mainly Spiritual Reflections (plus more reactions to the Vat. Blogmeet) Part 3


One thing I did not mention in the last post was the nagging worry and lack I had felt about not having been to Mass the previous day. In one sense I was firmly in control of practical matters, in another I was completely out of control of events as they were unfolding. I had made a Spiritual Communion during the TV broadcast of the Beatification and given myself into Our Lord's will. Today perhaps He would provide the opportunity.

I rose relatively late on that second morning and whilst preparing to go down for breakfast learned from the TV  of Osama Bin Laden's killing by the Americans. That this news broke the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II made it easy to suspect that the hand of God had been at work in the business. On the other hand it was quite apparent to me that the timing of the event was politically motivated to give early and powerful muscle to President Obama's eventual election campaign. There was no vengeful rejoicing, either in my hotel room or in the Italian TV studio. My own first reaction was fear that this would set off international and violent Islamic reprisals  I prayed for Asia Bibi and the other Christians cruelly imprisoned for so-called contravention of Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws. After breakfast, I rang my husband for a brief exchange of views and then settled down to making some notes for the afternoon's blogmeet.

Paix Liturgique man (hereinafter referred to as PL) had originally said he would arrive to collect me at 1.30pm. An hour before that, still fearful that he may not turn up, I went down to the reception area to wait for him. I leave you to imagine the relief that flooded me when he arrived on time and we set off together to find some lunch.
He knew the area well as he had lived in it until March, when he had moved to the outskirts of Rome where the cost of living is much lower. On the way to the pasta place (used by local Romans and rare;y if ever, found by tourists), he told me what the Vatican had said that morning about how Christians should react to the killing of Bin Laden. Both of us were in full accord with the Vatican statement.. PL is a charming young Frenchman, totally dedicated to 'the Reform of the Reform' and married to a Roman wife, who he told me, had lost her Faith until the moment six years ago, when Joseph Ratzinger stepped out onto the central Loggia as Pope. PL  speaks fluent Italian and English and at a great rate of knots. With my French as well, we had no problem in communication. His speed of delivery and his knowledge, reminded me very much of the way in which my dear friend Paul Priest comments on blogs and writes his emails. Over lunch, which was the first hot meal I had eaten since the previous Friday night, we had an intense preliminary discussion about the composition of the list of invited bloggers that had been published by the PCCS. I had previously assessed that the anglophone bloggers all seemed to be pro-magisterium and loyal to the Pope.  PL confirmed that at least in France and Italy, the Anglophone blogosphere has an exemplary reputation in its intelligent understanding and infomed support of the Holy See, and  the Pontificate of Pope Benedict.. In other words this must have been noted by the Vatican itself. PL's superior knowledge of the Italian and French blogging and media scenes, enabled him to reveal a) that there were several non-catholics on the list, including one from the French section of the Salvation Army! and b) that there were one or two less orthodox French representatives.  I was glad to be prepared for this but wondered how it would affect the conduct of the afternoon. We agreed that the inclusion of a) and b) must have been the result of Vatican diplomacy, but wondered whether the meeting would be an attempt to bite off more than it could chew in the alloted four hours at its disposal. Neither of us drank wine over lunch. Wits had to be kept totally intact. (No alcohol passed my lips during the entire time I was in Rome and the water diet continued until Tuesday when I managed to buy some fruit juice!)

Several other matters were discussed over lunch, the details of which I expect will come back later. We walked as far as the station where PL had to buy tickets for a train journey the following day, and then took a cab to the Palazzo Pio X. We were running out of time and the driver took us an illegal but shorter way. Even so, we were stuck for several anxious minutes in a narrow sidestreet behind a stationary Roman dust cart and its human operatives, going about their lawful occasions in a maddeningly leisurely way.


1. In spite of Archbishop Celli's opening claim that this was NOT a meeting of Catholic Bloggers, I really think in the event that is the very thing that itt turned out to be. Catholic Bloggers were in a definite majority. All the speakers on both panels, and all but one of the questioners from the floor were convinced Catholics. I do think the Vatican had been genuine in its attempt at outreach to non-catholic Christians, and at the very least it thus covered itself agains possible accusations of exclusivity and of being inward-looking.

2. The meeting very definitely attempted too much in such a short space of time. It really warranted a day-long event. Added to this, the mixture of private independent bloggers and those official ones run by professional journalists, made it difficult to point up the very important differences between these two types of author. That said, there was no attempt on the part of the latter group , to monopolise the meeting. The sense of togetherness and community was uppermost throughout. A longer meeting would have allowed the important difference to become clearer. On the other hand, the opportunity to make personal contact with these journalists was a very definite plus. (For instance I am now in touch with one of the most important American ones.)

3. One was tremendously impressed when the Vatican official invited us to do something many of us,  already do, namely to help the Church fight and correct mainstream media  'misrepresentation' of the Pope, the Church and the Catholic Faith. It was salutary to learn about the difficulties the Holy See faces in the running of its own sites and media outreach. Encouraging also to learn about their plans in the very near future to put up a single site which will access all their outlets.(See Edward Pentin's earlier mentioned Zenit article.) In short the Church was gladly and graatefully accepting us as valued soldiers in the spiritual battle she has on hand.

4. The matter of the temptation to make one's blog into a platform for egotism was mentioned first by Elizabeth Scalia and Fr Lombardi took it up in his later address. I think it is something of which most of us are deeply conscious and try to avoid.  Nevertheless, I think he encapsuled it memorably in his motto-like conclusion: 'Service not Ego'.

5. I was very interested to listen to Fr Lombarrdi's comments. In the course of describing the difficulties and vast compass and responsibilities of his own job, it became clear to me that he knows all about the criticisms to which he is subject, and that people have sometimes found his public 'clarifications' of Papal actions and words, confusing rather than enlightening.  I detected a tiny element of self defensiveness here, and for goodness sake he has a right to that. In any case his bearing and his words were distingished by their humility and one could not help but be in sympathy with him.

6. I have already mentioned the lack of emphasis on spirituallly based blogs, and came away determined to sharpen the focas of my own blogs in that aspect.

7. The simultaneous final praying of the Our Father in at least ten vernaculars made us sound like a veritable 'tower of Babel', not the right effect at all. A golden opportunity was missed to celebrate and demonstrate the unifying power of Latin as the universal language of the Church at prayer in multi-national gatherings. The Holy Father has made great and educative strides in affirming Latin over the past six years. It was sad that although the Vatican followed his lead in making the meeting open to all, they did not follow his example as far as the use of Latin is concerned. It was probably done like this so that the few non-Catholics felt comfortable. I have to argue with that thinking. Now is not the time, but if anyone challenges me on this point, I will respond most vociferously!!

8. As the meeting began to break up, PL became surrounded by several members of the French Liberal catholic Press Corps. All very charming on the surface, but it was clear to him and also to me, what they were up to. I have to be careful here and may post at greater length about it on another occasion. However, it was a first practical demonstration to me, that being in favour of the EF involves much more in France than it does in England. Let us just say for the moment, that French Politics is involved to an extent which in no way applies to the situation of the British Catholic .

It was twilight when we left and neither of us was able to follow the group to a bar for drinks and relaxed conversation. After I'd found a necessary cash dispenser, PL hailed me a cab. It was dark by the time I arrived back at the hotel. Sadly still no Mass. Perhaps tomorrw, was again my fervent prayer.

To be continued tomorrow

God bless all here,

In Christo pro Papa,



Richard Collins said...

Many thanks for this post Jane; you were well represented in London!

Jane said...

Hello Richard. I missed you and your blog whilst I was away in Rome.
HAVE HAD VERY POSITIVE FEEDBACK ABOUT THE LONDON MEETIN FROM DYLAN, MAC AND LIZ. Have told Dylan that I'm in agreement with things as they were decided,and that I'd like to join the group blog. I await marching orders in the next stage of Spiritual battle.
St. Michael pray for us!