I was very pleased with the blognic we had yesterday evening here in Rome. I got off to a rocky start, but eventually everything got under way.
First, it was a really busy day. In the morning I had the missa cantata at San Gregorio ai Mutatori. One of the things I mentioned in the sermon, in Italian, was that the texts for the 1st Sunday of Lent in the older Missal had been used uninterruptedly in Rome, where we were, for nearly 15 centuries. This draws us into to an amazing tradition and imposes a great responsibility on us as well. Then I proposed that we would do well to return to a close reflection on Psalm 90 (91) which dominated the whole Mass along with the Gospel. The psalmist is singing of absolute trust in the Lord. Yes, Lent is about the discipline of saying "No" to yourself about good things, and learning to say "Yes" more readily to works of mercy, but on the first Sunday of Lent, for centuries the Church has proposed at the beginning of our Lenten discipline the theme of total trust in God. There was more, but I also mentioned that Pope Benedict has a chapter on the Gospel reading, the temptation of the Lord in the desert, in his book Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, St. Augustine has a couple sermons on Ps. 90 (91) in his Expositions of the Psalms. The Pope’s chapter, reading Ps. 90 more than once during Lent, and using St. Augustine to drill into it might help your own program for Lent, if you haven’t really thought of what you ought to be doing yet.
After Mass, then I had to dash to a celebration of the Chinese new year, of the Rat, with some Chinese friends, hosted by the Taiwan China ambassador to the Holy See. It was a wonderful feast with interesting conversation, and your humble corespondent won something in the raffle!
Then I had jsut enough time to get changed and start heading to the blognic location.
"But Father! But Father!" you might be wondering aloud. "Enough of all this detail of your day. What’s so hard about getting a blognic started? Why was it ‘rocky’?"
The secret to many things in life is "location, location, location".
Our friend here MR had set something up for us at the Abbey Theatre pub on the V. del Governo Vecchio, behind the Chiesa Nuova. As I arrived I found a few people waiting outside. I then learned that the entire place was jammed with spittle-flecked English rugby fanatics.
Not a good combination, in our experience. Some Romans out there might remember when that same combination occured when Scott Hahn was to speak at a Theology on Tap session. It was ugly.
So, a small group had already gone off to find another place to meet. We decided to go to another pub: the Black Duke near the Pantheon.
I was very concerned that we might lose some people this way, but it was ou best option. My apologies to those for whom it our absence at the Abbey was a mystery. We picked a couple folks up through cell phone calls, but one for sure we lost, MB, with whom I spoke later.
In any event, we settled in to a big booth with lots of extra chairs, ordered various drinks and just shot the breeze.
In such a crowd it might not be a surprise to anyone that much of the discussion revolved around rubrics, the new prayers for the Jews on Good Friday (that was spirited!) and even… imagine this… a little comparing of the Novus Ordo with the older form of Mass!
It was a wonderful evening and I am especially grateful to those who helped organize it and then took the time to show up. It was nice to make a few new acquaintances as well.