Friday, June 29, 2007

‘When in Rome…’ Eyes and Ears in the Eternal City

The first in an occasional series from one of our Alumni who is in formation at the English College in Rome.
It has now been nearly a year since starting seminary formation at the Venerable English College, Rome, and now is perhaps a good time to pause a bit and reflect on it all. It is said that John Paul II encouraged seminarians to ‘learn Rome’, during their time here. Indeed, to take him at his word, the past year has opened my eyes and ears to a city which cradles a profound and remarkable amalgamation of faith and culture, something not apparent during previous, more or less fleeting visits, and which has some rather interesting consequences.

What is there to learn, then? Lived prayer, primarily: prayer not simply as an action, but also as an attitude towards daily life. The growth of these two branches of prayer has led to some interesting implications, namely, due to the nuanced blend of faith and culture in Rome, one can be walking down the street, see a wonderful sculpture or piece of architecture, or hear some startling music, and somehow, it becomes substance for prayer. I don’t mean this in a literal sense; I don’t find myself praying for Michelangelo or the Trevi Fountain for instance! I mean that seeing or hearing something beautiful on a human level may act as a sort of skylight onto the Triune God, if, indeed, one has the eyes to see it and ears to hear it. At prayer, the memory of these little aesthetic signs enables prayer to be somehow more incarnational as all those material things of daily life, both the beautiful and the ugly, are not simply put to one side in order to make way for something more pure and spiritual, but are caught up in the dramatic process of offering up everything to the mystery of God, which at heart, I suppose, is what priestly vocation is all about. For me, this has been an experience specific to Roman life, although, of course, this need not be the case at all; inspiration being more or less readily available wherever one cares to look. However, I wonder if this captures something of what John Paul II meant when he encouraged seminarians to ‘learn Rome’.
David Wingfield was a member of the community at Newman House during the Academic Year 2004-5.

1 comment:

Biby Cletus said...

Hi i just surfed in searching for interesting facts on Essenes in the blogs.
you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I'll be back for more. i live
far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across
the world thinks.

On a related note perhaps you might find the following article interesting.
we are currently doing a series of posts on essenes and their culture and i'll
like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya there....

Facts on Essene Culture

Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.
Bijoy Cletus - Kerala, India