I know there's been some small flurry of interest that Pope Francis has been in the U.S. next week.
A lesser-known news item: next week I am going to Rome!
This will be my first trip to Europe in 35 or 40 years. Last time, I was in no shape to appreciate to appreciate the art, the food, the churches, or really anything. So I'm excited.
Sister Maximilian Marie, O.P., has taken me under her wing and secured me a ticket to the Papal Mass on Oct. 4th that opens the Family Synod, and to the Oct. 14 Papal Audience (the Pope apparently holds a Papal Audience at 10 am each Wednesday he's in town). How great is that?
I have my new passport, my room, my guide books my copies of I, Claudius, John Varriano's A Literary Companion to Rome, A Traveller in Rome by H.V. Morton, and about fifty million suggestions to drink coffee at this cafe, visit this church, walk to that market, and not to on any account miss all kinds of things I'm sure I'll miss. The sisters are having me for Pranzano I think it's called (lunch) one day, and for tea another, and I may take a day trip to Assisi.
Also, I'm to have coffee with a delightful seminarian who generously angled to get me a Scavi tour.
Other than that, I just want to wander the streets (think of the pictures), go to Mass, take in the gardens, and pray with all my heart for the human family.
Every single day this yeas has been so packed, shaken down and overflowing, I could write a book on it. I've been without a permanent address, mostly by choice, so that's been interesting.
My weekly arts and culture column is almost a full-time job. I take the honor and the responsibility seriously and the gift I receive in return--the people, the inspiration, the sense of a rich extra dimension--the Kingdom of God like yeast, all through the loaf--is stupendous.
I also have a new book out, and if all goes well, two more out next year, and my monthly column for Magnificat. The "Credible Witness" essays need to be submitted six months in advance and the line-up for 2016 includes many of my heroes: Dorothy Day, Franz Jaggerstatter, Fr. Stanley Rother, Fr. Ed Dowling.
Another big project: I'm co-writing the memoir of Kathleen Eaton-Bravo, founder and CEO of Obria, formerly known as BirthChoice, which brings free medical clinics to under-served communities with a focus on crisis pregnancies. She prefers the term "life-affirming" to "pro-life," tries to give the prospective mother every available option in favor of giving birth to the child, and believes in accepting, loving, and supporting the mother (and father), whether she chooses to have an abortion or not. To me, that's the crucial Christ-like link that's been missing in the terribly polarized pro-choice/pro-life battle. It's messy wading into these waters. There's no pat, ends-neatly-tied-up solution to any human situation. The solution is love.
So the project is inviting me to stretch on a number of different levels. To go to a place that's not safe and secure, where the labels disappear, where we consent to be vulnerable, misunderstood, and possibly shunned--by both "sides"--is the place on the outskirts where Christ stood.
In the end, it is always two human beings. Can I reach out my hand to my brother, to my sister, and say: Tell my your story? Can I listen?...
Here's the link to a piece called "The Man in the Skirt: The Church as Field Hospital." It was inspired by a cross-dresser I saw almost every day at Mass this past summer.
Somehow it's in the spirit of the message of Pope Francis--which is straight, rock-bottom, from the Gospels.
|ECHO PARK BOULEVARD,|
HEADING SOUTH FROM CERRO GORDO
FALL COMES TO L.A.!