There is a scene in the movie The English Patient, after they have discovered the Cave of the Swimmers, when one of the group of archaeologists says to the others something like, “How does one express in words the feelings that right now are quite natural?”
This is the sentiment I feel as I sit here writing these words at a very late hour. This evening we had the privilege of speaking with a handful of people who are intimately connected with some of the happenings in the Synod Hall today, due to the connections of a friend of a friend of a friend. The discussion was one I will never forget, and it will all be in the news cycle in due time.
But I am putting the cart before the horse. Let me back up and begin at the beginning.
In yesterday’s episode, we had managed to carefully dodge the devil’s tail, so this morning we confidently brought a heavy load of boxes to the area near St. Peters and began distributing books in earnest. That lasted perhaps 30-40 minutes before we were approached by…haha…yes, more police!
We explained the conversation we had yesterday and that we had been given the “thumbs up.” But they explained that the Police we spoke to were the STATE police. They, on the other hand, were the MUNICIPAL Police. Different animal. Because yeah, here in Italy it really is that Byzantine. It’s like an onion the size of the dome of St. Peters…one layer after another after another, ad nauseam.
They told us they didn’t care what the other Police told us, or about the Flyer permit, etc. The area surrounding the Vatican is a controlled area, due to the heightened threat of terrorism. It’s not that they suspected us, they were actually nice and saw that what we were doing was not harmful, but here they are sticklers for their insane maze of rules. We had to have a permit to be there if we weren’t simply tourists. It’s not a seller’s permit, or a flyer permit, it’s an I-have-permission-to-stand-here permit. Don’t laugh, no really…
So once again we were shooed away, but as usual, the office hours for the particular government office we had been sentenced to “do time” in were so crazy that we couldn’t get there before they closed for lunch, and they didn’t open again until…wait for it…5PM. So we had a LOT of time to kill.
Several of our group have connections at the Angelicum, also known as The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas. So we took our heavy load of books there to share on the “free books” table for the students. While we were there, we were invited to sit in on one of the Philosophy classes taught by Father Francesco Giordano, who is the Director of the Rome office of Human Life International. This was quite a rare treat, especially when we also had the chance to speak with him at length after class. Here is a true warrior of the faith, who deserves many prayers of support.
Since we were in the area, we made a brief visit to the churches of Mother of Perpetual Help and St. Mary Major, where we prayed a late holy hour. Then it was off to our unexpectedly unique dinner.
All through these hours of contemplation, I took stock of our project and though we are taking advantage of the stumbling blocks to simply find other routes of distribution, in particular to get them into the hands of seminarians, I still feel strongly that we were called to put these in the hands of the man on the street. Those who would never find something like this, because they are not looking for it.
Though I have little interest in standing in another government office, I have resigned myself to trying once more to iron out the red tape and once and for all get official permission. I’m not holding my breath, and if I find that it will take a week, then it’s out of the question, as we will be on our way home by then.
But I am not prepared to abandon our primary mission. So…please pray that tomorrow morning Our Lady will open the doors for us and allow us to continue doing what we came to Rome to do. And as usual, tune in tomorrow to find out what happens.