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The Sistine Chapel with the Creation Story and the Last Judgment by Michelangelo as well as the world-renowned Rafael Rooms are often referenced when speaking about the Vatican Museums. Some people might make mention of the early Christian collections with the famous Good Shepherd and numerous Christian Sarcophagi. Others will remark about the amazing collection of modern and contemporary sacred art started by Saint Pope Paul VI. But who would expect to find a vast collection of indigenous art and artifacts from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania in the Vatican Museums?
In 1925, Pope Pius XI organized a major exposition of art and artifacts that reflected the artistic, cultural and spiritual traditions of the different peoples of the world. Of the 100,000 objects that were sent for the exhibition some 40,000 were given to the pope and remained in the Vatican collections after the exhibition. This was the beginning of what was then known as the Vatican’s Ethological Museum.
A few years ago, Pope Francis renamed this museum and gave it the title of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World. At the same time he asked that this museum be completely re-imagined and be given a much more prominent place among the different collections in the Vatican Museums.
During the opening of the partially completed Anima Mundi Museum in October of 2019 Pope Francis commented on the transparency of this new museum. All walls and exhibition cases within the Anima Mundi Museum are made out of highly transparent glass which allows the visitor to experience art from one continent while seeing art from all the other continents. Pope Francis said: “In these showcases, over the course of time, thousands of works coming from every part of the world will find space, and this kind of installation is meant to place them effectively in dialogue among themselves. And as works of art are the expression of the spirit of peoples, the message received is that one needs to always look at every culture, at the other, with openness of spirit and with benevolence.”
On October 7, I was able to visit the Anima Mundi Museum with Fr. Nicola Mapelli who is the director of this museum. He spoke about the objects in the transparent cases as ambassadors of the different cultures in our wonderfully diverse world. I was very moved by the deep longings; the fears and hopes; the joys and sorrows all of us share as they are expressed in these many objects, no matter where and when they were made. We are so very different from one another, and yet we are so very much the same.
The following Wednesday, during his weekly audience Pope Francis spoke about the relationship between Christian freedom and our diverse cultures during his meditation on the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians. He was clear to state that welcoming the Christian faith does not “involve renouncing the heart of cultures and traditions, but only that which may hinder the newness and purity of the Gospel.”
True Christian freedom, the Pope said, enables us “to acquire the full dignity of the children of God,” while allowing us to remain anchored in our own cultural heritage and at the same time being open to what is good and true in every culture.
The Pope deeply lamented the “many errors” that have occurred in the history of evangelization “by seeking to impose a single cultural model.” These errors, he said, have deprived the Church of “the richness of many local expressions that the cultural traditions of entire peoples bring with them.”
It was not lost on me that my visit to the Anima Mundi Museum and Pope Francis’ meditations fell on either side of October 11, a day known by some as Columbus Day and by others as Indigenous People’s Day.
As we move forward toward a world and a Church that is more inclusive, diverse, and equitable let us take an honest look at our past, let us be transparent about our present and let us courageously march toward the future, embracing the open and respectful dialogue so needed for the well-being of our world, our church, our community and ourselves.
Unfortunately we are experiencing a connection issue with the internet today and are unable to stream today's Mass. We apologize and hope to have this corrected tomorrow.
Recordings of previous Masses are avaialable at https://preview-jvobkrqm.jwpapp.com/
Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary. I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these still challenging times.
I’d like to begin today by thanking all those who have made or increased their commitment of financial support to our Basilica Fund. Your commitment of financial support, no matter how small, or how large, enables us to continue to do those things that fulfill our vision here at The Basilica.
However, as I mentioned when I spoke at the Masses a couple of weeks ago, if you are not able to make an ongoing commitment of financial support for our parish, I ask you to give what you can, when you can. I thank you in advance for whatever financial support you can commit to. Please know whatever you are able to give will be appreciated.
If you are not able to make a financial commitment or to contribute even occasionally, I ask you to pray for our parish and for your fellow parishioners. Please know your prayers both needed and are deeply appreciated.
And, if for some reason, you are experiencing some financial difficulties, please contact our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. We may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.
As your pastor, I thank you in advance for whatever financial support you can offer our parish.
On another topic, while it is heartening for me to see so many people back at The Basilica after many months, I want to make sure we are continuing to make The Basilica a safe place for them to be. For this reason, I want to strongly encourage people to wear a facemask when you are on The Basilica campus for a liturgy other activity.
As I have mentioned previously, in welcoming people back to worship, one of the challenges we face is resuming, renewing, and in some cases rebuilding, our liturgical ministry teams. If you have been involved in our liturgical ministry and not been contacted yet, or if you are interested in becoming involved please contact us.
As always, if you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join them via livestream. We will continue to livestream the 9:30am Mass and our Noon Mass, Monday through Friday. We are also looking for volunteers to help with this, so if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Mae Desaire.
During the coming weeks, we will be looking at bringing back on line more of our ministries. I will keep you informed as this happens. In closing, please know that as we move forward, our primary concern, as always, will be the safety and security of those who come to our campus.
I will continue to keep you informed as we move forward. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about these changes I invite you to contact me at the parish office. My contact information is available on our parish website.
Let me close today in prayer.
Dear God –
For this day, help me to keep my heart open.
Help me to observe the beauty around me; to appreciate all that I see.
Help me to notice the blessings in my life, and to ignore those things that do not measure up to my expectations.
Guide me dear God to be of service to others, and to go through this day with humor and grace, and no regrets.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord we pray. Amen.
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