Culture & Religion
December Mon 24, 2012
In a brief news item that managed to snick into the top news last week end I heard something about closing the Sistine Chapel to the public until the restoration work is concluded. This reminded me of the story of the painter Paolo Veronese who was called in by the Inquisition for including in his paintings “inappropriate figures” in a painting about the Last Supper. Veronese reminded them that such figures are found even in Michelangelo’s original work, in the Sistine Chapel. Immediately a member of the Inquisition Tribunal rose to defend Michelangelo with a reply that has become famous: “But in these figures what is there that is not inspired by the Holy Spirit?”. In an address to representative of the Blessed John Paul II Institute for the Studies of Marriage and Family some time ago, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that story and made a point that we should always remember: “As people of the modern age, we struggle to understand these words because the body appears to us as inert matter, heavy, opposed to knowledge and to the freedom proper to the spirit. However the bodies Michelangelo depicted are robed in love, life, splendor. He wanted in this way to show that our bodies hide a mystery. In them the spirit is manifest and active. They are called to be spiritual bodies, as St Paul says (cf. 1 Cor 15:44). Consequently we can ask ourselves: can this destiny of the body enlighten the stages of its journey? If our body is called to be spiritual, should not its history be that of the covenant between body and spirit? Indeed, far from being opposed to the spirit, the body is the place where the spirit can dwell.” During this past week all the bodies of the children killed in the Sandy Hook school in Connecticut were buried, and even though the big news of the week was the dispute about the fiscal cliff, now and then we were confronted with the burial ceremonies of those children. Another issue in the leading news stories of the week was the growing success of the same-sex marriage cause, and the infamous words of the CEO of the National Rifle Association about guns in schools and the fears of those terrified that their right to bear arms will be taken away by the Liberals under Obama. Then there is Christmas.
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