“A Beautiful and Holy Purpose” | Postcards from Rome 2019

May 29, 2019

Top highlights of the week (May 21-26):

1) Morning in Paray-le Monial and Mass in the chapel where the Sacred Heart was revealed to St. Margaret Mary.
2) Seeing Ars for the first time as we walked from a nearby village, using the same path St. Jean Vianney may have used on his first journey to his new parish.
3) Sitting in a medieval square in Lyon as a procession exited the city’s cathedral accompanied by a full peal of bells.
4) Peace and prayer in the pastoral setting of Ars.
5) Seeing Europe for the first time.

Reflection

The Abbey of Cluny was, at one time, the most important and powerful religious house in Western Europe. This immensely wealthy abbey boasted one of the largest churches in the world, a constant stream of pilgrims, and a vast number of other Benedictine communities under its control. Yet, this once proud and beautiful abbey is now a ruin; torn apart by age and the ravages of the Revolution. On seeing it for the first time this last week, I could not help but feel great sorrow for what was lost, and remembered with pain that disastrous fire that almost claimed another beautiful heirloom of the Church in France: Notre Dame de Paris. In that sorrow, I meditated on why we might offer these beautiful things to the glory of God, though they pass away through decline or destruction. Is it worth it for us to build such things for God? Why do we go to the effort when it may just pass away?

We, of course, give glory to God always out of love for Him, even if it may never seem enough or may suffer the way of destruction. The human life is a fragile thing too and is subject to death with the travails of time and age. Nevertheless, we are called to give that life fully to God out of love for Him, as he gave His life out of love for us. It is always worth the effort to give glory to our Lord, and none understood this better than the saints. The true treasures of the Church in France are her saints: St Jean Vianney, St Margaret Mary Alacoque, St Claude de la Colombiere, St. Louis IX, St. Joan of Arc, and St Francis de Sales to name a few. Yes, their lives were difficult and eventually ended, but the glory and love they offered to the Lord in their lives is still living in the heart of the Church. With their inspiration and example, we too, can build our lives into a cathedral, a beautiful temple to the Holy Spirit that gives glory to God. Always reliant on the grace of God, they allowed their lives to be used by Him for a beautiful and holy purpose. We continue to offer the Lord our best in art and architecture, but we do this while offering our own lives for transformation into temples dedicated to Him. He will not fail to answer such a prayer.

Alex Dugas
The Rome Experience Class of 2019
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Athenaeum of Ohio

Photo: Cluny Abbey, founded in 910. Learn more: http://www.cluny-abbaye.fr/en/