Congrats to the Catholic worldwide community with the first Pope elected originating from outside Europe! Congrats for choosing from a different more humble order, Jesuit! Hopes are high that this new Pope Francis I, will bring the necessary changes to the Catholic organization so layered with controversies. Why write about Catholicism in a Yogic blog? Receptivity is key for One-ness. Sri Aurobindo said, “Whenever there is sincerity and goodwill the Divine’s help is also there.” Personally I find a profound energy pervades sacred spaces regardless of the philosophy or religion. There is something very peaceful that exudes from consecrated spaces be it: Temple, Church, Synagogue, Mosque, and Monasteries, I always make time to visit and take in the special vibrations when I can visit. Whether it is the Mosquee in Paris, Jama Masjid in Delhi, Isha Dhyanalingam in Coimbatore, India, St. John the Divine in New York or a friend’s child’s Bat Mitzvah or a family Seder. The Dalai Lama always says for those interested in Buddhism to continue to follow the faith that they are familiar and accustomed to. Religion and Spiritual practices are two separate functions. For many religion is the first path towards moral and ethical preparations within their culture and community. We as a worldwide community of peoples have so many valuable and amazing different patterns, perspectives, habits as answers for the basic questions of how to live well. Loving humanity keeps one curious about the differences and how these differences even have commonality.
I have been fortunate to have lived in Rome, Italy for over a year, many years ago and have several occasions to visit several times. The first time was when a Christmas eve had arrived I so wanted to go to St. Peter’s for the Midnight Mass as for all my years as a girl I “had” to watch it on television, as my stepfather and brothers were Catholic. I felt compelled to go there but was afraid to go and knew it was impossible to get inside with the crowds and at that time an invitation was necessary to enter the Basilica. Expressing my concerns to a group congregated at a lunch meal at the American Academy in Rome, a brave soul, the late Warren Tanner, a proud Jew!, called out if you want to go, we will get you in by hook or crook! So a small group of New Yorkers, led by this amazing Jewish artist, Warren, past all the Caribineri, the Swiss Guards, and Papal clergy right up the steps into the doorways and into a front pew with a great view to the Mass. First thing I noticed was that the Basilica was lighted by electric lights and all the frescos, all the sculptures were so vivid and easier to see than when normally walking through with only daylight. I realized the great Renaissance artists never got to see their masterpieces in such lighted splendor and I realized the power of art used as propaganda, something the Papacy knew from thousand of years ago. The power of the Papacy became evident to me at that instant and all my History and Political science studies as an undergraduate filled in the gaps between oohs and awes recognizing the Papacy was in effect a government that exerted power over millions for hundreds of years mostly for its power and not for the souls of its masses. But yet knowing all of this kept drawing me to always visit when in Rome as again, three years ago. We could only arrive there by late Christmas morning and I was afraid we couldn’t get close enough. Surprised to find there we could walk up to the fountain and the seats assembled hardly were filled. After a short time the Swiss Guards invited standing folks like us to have a seat!!! I was amazed how few had assembled and how the impact of all the controversies had impacted the following at the Vatican…Fast foward…let’s see what Pope Francis I, brings for Catholics worldwide.
Something happens to folks after some time following religious orders…sometimes they begin to yearn to know about their own Divinity and they begin to seek Spiritual pathways…some may choose to wear two hats continuing with their religious faith (often family and cultural ties are linked with religion and many find a way to keep connected sanely) and a new spiritual path and some choose to stay simply on the spiritual path…options are endless…Best wishes to All, Namaste