For some reason, after constant times of reflection, note taking, and journaling over these past two and a half weeks, I am having a difficult time trying to focus on a few specific moments during this time of travel. It has been overwhelming to encounter such artistically and historically rich cities and countries in a very short amount of time, and I have recently realized how difficult it is to process it all at once.
However, one aspect of this journey that has connected with me in a strong way, a way that I did not expect, was the peace and rest I found as I entered a few of the cathedrals we have visited. The Basilica at Montserrat outside of Barcelona and the Santa Maria Della Vittoria in Rome were a few important moments for me.
I had a very spiritual time while visiting Montserrat, even though the Basilica was crowded with tourists, worshippers, and flashing cameras. For the most part I was stuck at the very back, trying to peek at what I could of the service. I finally got a little further up as the choir boys were singing, and I tried to imagine that I wasn’t amongst the crowds as I closed my eyes and listened to the haunting voices.
Later, after the service had ended, the crowd had left and just the organ was playing, I walked in and sat in a pew near the altar. I tried to put aside my own worldview in order to understand the amazing piece of architecture in its purest form, fully created to express love for God. I became frustrated with my own watered down faith, that often becomes bogged down with relativity and leaves out a force or purpose. I believe our contemporary churches have struggled to be too strong because of their fear to offends or disrupts others
Sitting there allowed me to understand sixteenth century Catholicism in a new light, but more importantly, placed my North American Christian life in perspective with the beautiful story of architecture , art and faith from so many centuries ago.