Thursday, March 1, 2018

St. Frances of Rome

My boyhood parish church, St. Frances of Rome, in the Bronx, was where I had my first memorable experiences of God.  All we had back then, and it was enough for me, was the basement part of what was supposed to become a bigger, more ornate church to be built on top of it.  That did not happen in my lifetime at St. Frances of Rome.  I knew every part of that basement church, as I was a student in the school and was a frequent altar server.  Whenever I went in there, I felt that I was around God.  It was what you might call "bonding with buildings."  The question I ask is, "Did the bonding experience of building and God change my heart?"  I would have to say, "Not much."  I had guys I did not like.  I judged people and got into fights.  Inside the church building I was better.  I think this is what is called "externalizing" the faith.  It is most affected by external beauty, but that does not translate into active internal beauty that sees all people as connected, and in my faith, as Christ.  Now you might have no interest in buildings and faith, but maybe your externalizing connection is with nature, a special place or walk that holds you in its beauty.  Ask the same question.  "Does the external beauty make you see more beautifully from the inside, act more compassionate, loving and forgiving?"  For many of us, we need more than external scenes or buildings if we are going to change for the better.

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