Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rome and the Gesù

I arrived in Rome in mid-afternoon Friday.

After getting settled into the small lodging, I had to decide how to best use the time I had left that afternoon.

I decided to look to my Jesuit roots; I have my undergraduate degree from the Jesuit University of Scranton and my Ph.D. from Boston College, and I deeply appreciate Ignatian spirituality, the witness of Jesuits like the martyred Jesuits of th UCA in El Salvador, and the writings of the late Dean Brackley and of the Salvadoran theologian Jon Sobrino.

So I went first to the Gesù church, which is very Baroque. (I almost called it a Baroque monstrosity.)

Much of the church was roped off and so I didn't get close to the tomb of Ignatius or the relic of the arm of St. Francis Xavier, with which he baptized thousands in India and other places in the Far East. Nor could I get close to the image of the Madonna Della Strada.

So I sought out the rooms of St. Ignatius in the building next door. I entered and soon ran across a young US Jesuit explaining the exhibit in the rooms on the first floor, I passed him and headed upstairs.

There is what was Ignatius' office and bedroom, as well as the chapel, where he said Mass and where he died.

I looked around and when the young Jesuit came I listened in.  What really was important though was just sitting in the chapel for probably close to half an hour.

I sat without much attempt to develop any thoughts. It as enough just to be there.

Yet, all of a sudden, I recalled the "Suscipe" prayer of St. Ignatius, especially the sung version:

Take, Lord, receive all my liberty,
My memory, my understanding, my entire will....
Give me only your love and your grace;
That's enough for me.

This prayer was all sort a culmination of the message and sense I had of Francis and the Gospel in Assisi.

Give me yourself, trust in me.

I prayed and felt the peace of that call, as well as the challenge of mission and trust in the loving Providence of God.

1 comment:

Cobalt Violet said...

Thanks for the link!
I am bummed that I missed this! I had read about Il Gesù in art history and wish I'd done more research before I went. I guess, that means I will have to head back to Rome! There is so much to see, it's never ending.