This morning was different as compared to another day, we could sleep in and not need to get up until 7.00 a.m.!!! Wow! As always our boys managed to quickly get themselves out of bed, dressed and ready to go by 7.25 am as we gathered to enter the massive Chapel at the seminary.
We have taught the timber wolves and explorers how to effectively walk in a straight line and how to enter the chapel without any unnecessary noise as many seminarians were present praying before their day would get underway.
After some silent reflection and prayers, Brother Kevin came and gave us a talk about the meaning of the Last Supper and how Holy Thursday was the start of the most important time of the year for our church. You could see our youth paying careful attention to every word that was said.
Then off to breakfast for buns, cereal, milk and packing our lunch consisting of pita bread, hand, cheese, chips, fruit, and orange drink as we prepared to set off for our great adventure, a visit to the Vatican Museum.
Today must have been a popular day to go to the museum as upon arrival we saw many thousands of people in line waiting to get in. Fortunately, we arrived holding group reservations and thus could bypass a line that would have taken 2 plus hours to get through just to enter the main lobby of the museum. We promptly passed through security but had to check in our day bags for security reasons. A good idea for us as it meant a more comfortable walk through the museum.
Our visit would not be a simple random one, rather an enriching one as we had two professional tour guides Brother Kevin and Brother John lead us through the museum in two groups, one for the timber wolves and the other for our Explorers.
We saw so much, paintings, sculptures, drawings, each with a story and a unique place in history. The understanding of our faith and its development was brought to life in great detail through stories (boys especially like stories) and a direct link to biblical references. The timber wolves had lots of questions for Brother John. The highlight of our visit was for many the Sistine Chapel. Before entering Brother Kevin using an electronic display screen provided us all with a detailed understanding of the incredible meanings of the different scenes that we would encounter. He told the story of how the Pope of the day used this chapel for his private chapel and how he wanted it to look. Leonardo De Vinci was hired to undertake the work and what he produced far exceeded the wildest expectations of the day. One Cardinal complained to the Pope that it was scandalous for some many of the paintings to include people who were nude. Leonardo De Vinci responded that we are made in the likeness of God and that the human body is a thing of beauty, not one of shame and that his work was meant to be looked at without lust or other negative connotations. The Cardinal carried on with his complaints while the work was underway. When the painting was completed the Cardinal was horrified to see that the face of the devil in the scene of the last judgment was the face of the Cardinal. When this Cardinal went to the Pope to complain the Pope was reported to have responded by saying… people that are in purgatory will be rescued and saved but those who are in hell are beyond any hope and thus there was nothing that he the Pope could or would do. The complaints from the Cardinal ended at that point.
We could not stay long in the Sistine Chapel as the crowds were so immense and pushing to move. The guards attempted to keep order, to keep the noise down and to prevent people from taking photos with little effect. The crowds would lessen their noise only to have it raise back up to a higher level later.
We exited the Museum after almost 4 hours of walking with our brains a little overloaded as to what we had witnessed, truly an amazing sight to behold. It is interesting that the museum generally does not display any recent artworks (in the last 500 plus years).
A stop for lunch as next in order on the steps in a public area where we basked in the beautiful warm Rome sunlight with a slight breeze blowing through the area. We enjoyed resting our feet and consuming a well-earned lunch.
We then departed back to home the seminary for a visit of one of 3 sites that are recognized as experts on the Shroud of Turin for a tour at the University that is part of the seminary.
The speaker Brother Thomas helped us all understand how to read the markings on the Shroud while also recognizing that science can not explain how the shroud captured so much detail as to our Lord, his body and the sufferings that he went through. Our timber wolves and explorers had many many questions for Brother Thomas who is viewed to be an expert on the subject.
Collectively better understand the extreme sufferings that our Lord went through and how horrific this suffering was for our Lord Jesus Christ who allowed all this to happen due to our sins while making the perfect sacrifice to our Lord so that the gates of heaven could be opened.
After the lengthy talk, which left the boys spellbound we toured the various exhibits on display before visiting a life-size bronze image of our Lord as taken from the shroud. Many of us were very moved by what we saw and learned and others like the writer of this story were moved to tears.
The Mass of the Last Supper was very moving with many Priests and Seminarians present as we gathered to pray, sing, contemplate, witness the washing of feet of 12 men, and to receive both the body and blood of our Lord at Holy Communion.
At the end of the Mass, we have exited the building to bring Jesus to the Garden of Olives where he spent the evening before being betrayed by Judas. Each of us carried a candle in procession to this special place. Upon arrival, we joined many hundreds of others in silent adoration before heading off to dinner and the watching of the opening scenes as to the agony of Jesus in the garden. This is always a moving and intense scene.
Dinner was awesome with chicken wraps and rice. Our boys went back for seconds and thirds as they worked up an apatite.
From there we returned to keep Jesus company for better than one hour and for some up to two hours. Many of our boys and leaders went to confession some for a second time while being there to keep Jesus company. Parents if you could see hoe well your son prayers in front of our Lord in silent adoration, many of you woud shed tears of joy!
We then dragged our tired but very happy selves off to bed. Another beautiful and very successful day thanks be to God!
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