Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A City Without Hope

As mentioned in my first post about our trip to Rome I wanted to share a few thoughts from our visit to Vatican City. I went with no expectations of what things may be like, other than one friend told me everything is about the pope.

When entering Vatican Square, which is really a circle, I was immediately struck by all of the statues, which were just a foretaste of what it would be like inside St. Peter's Basilica (SPB). The size of SPB was far greater than I expected, but most of it was not for the worship of God. It seemed that most of SPB was devoted to displaying statutes of popes and various "saints." Thus, it was very man-centered in what it had to offer people. It offered commemorations to people who had done "great" things or who contributed in some way to the further growth and development of the Roman Church.

When entering the basilica there were people praying and probably overwhelmed by the fact that they had completed their pilgrimage. But that was truly it for them. It was really the end of their pilgrimage, because their touring of the basilica will lead them no closer to heaven than the statutes outside.

At the end of our tour I was struck by the fact that one can visit the Vatican and go through the basilica, see the tombs of the popes (where John Paul II was buried and people were praying and bowing towards his grave), see some church documents on display, and come out of all that having absolutely no clue what the gospel is! In fact, I don't even remember seeing a Bible anywhere.

All the thousands of people that tour this City of Idols leave there not having a clue as to how to get to the very place the "Church" promises to lead them. Stunning!

When in the prayer room I remember praying that God would open the people's hearts and minds to see the Truth and to rescue them from the House of Idols, the Household of Satan which they were visiting.

Some may say that it is a harsh way to say it, but Jesus was harsh when confronting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. I come away from this city which offers no hope and pray that I would be faithful to Christ, and that I would be faithful to the proclamation of the gospel. Sola fide!!!