A very nice reflection from The Catholic Thing.
Rome these past days has had a certain soft autumnal cast. The skies are gold and blue, as at other times of the year here, but the air is cool. The leaves on the trees don’t change into bright colors, the way they do in more northerly climes, before they fall. They go quickly from green to brown or gray, and then stand with a somber, subdued dignity over an Eternal City.
The only thing that seems to contradict this quiet contraction towards winter is the gathering of starlings, millions of them swirling above the Tiber River and nowhere else, especially at dusk, when they race around noisy and alive, feeding on food not visible to human eyes. At some point, they’ll head south together, to Sicily maybe, or even to Africa.
At this time of the year in Rome, the controversies swirling around the Church seem to fade back quite naturally into the large flow of millennia. I heard the other day from a reliable Italian friend, who had heard from a reliable Italian friend of his own inside the Vatican Curia, that a “new document” is going to be issued soon, probably in the next few weeks. Contents uncertain: maybe bio-ethics, gay marriage, some of the other issues roiling the Church.
It may be. And it may be that it will give another spur to worldwide media speculations about where the papacy of Pope Francis is likely to take things. I don’t know.
I’m here to give some lectures at one of the pontifical universities. And I’ll be talking more myself with people here about ecclesial controversies. But for the moment, it’s been helpful to be here without bothering too much about all that. And to be reminded that, for good and ill, Rome seems, beyond all human calculation, to endure. And even, in its way, to work.
I usually go to Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s – the music is beautiful and, for me, it has made a difference, several times, to pray and receive Communion over the bones of the first pope. Personal experience aside, however, we’re so familiar with the story that it’s difficult to imagine how a fisherman from a backwater in the Middle East came to the imperial capital and changed the course of the world. But so it was.