As busy and consuming as the Oblate congress was, I did manage to see some of Rome itself–on its own terms, more or less.
On the surface, Rome is all distraction and too-muchness: too many people, too many cars, buses and motor scooters, too many historical sites, too many churches, too many languages, and too many cultures–from high religion to high fashion.
Beneath that substantial veneer, however, it is clear that Rome is simply being itself. Rome has always been a crossroads, in every way. It continues to be a crossing, especially in the areas of history and the Christian Church. Of course there are enormous excesses and those very excesses are much of why so many of us go to Rome. But, the religious excesses are related to one clear fact: faith matters; faith matters more than anything else in all the world.
God gives us far more than we can ever comprehend or process. St. Peter’s Basilica reflects that abundance–the Sistine Chapel too, in a very different way. There’s simply too much! Too much marble, too many frescoes and mosaics and statues, too much gold, too may chapels and altars, too many tombs. It’s all too enormous, too beautiful, too magnificent, too pretentious, too outrageous.
In short, it all reflects, however imperfectly, the grace of God and the utter prodigality of his giving.