Rome Day #6- Latin mass, cat sanctuaries and martyrs.

Benedictionem nobis, Domine, conferat salutarem sacra semper oblatio: ut, quod agit mysterio virtutue perficiat. (May this holy offering, O Lord, always bring to us Thy healing blessing: that what it represents in a mystery, it may accomplish with power. Through our Lord.)

One of the things on my bucket list was to attend a worship service in Latin. I've spent the last two years studying Latin (along with my class) and I couldn't wait to experience early Christianity firsthand. Obviously the only church that still does a Latin service is the Catholic church and my class is 92% protestant. I'm not going to lie, going to Latin Mass today was a little bit like watching a movie with someone you know won't approve of the language.  I think probably some were more uncomfortable than others, but I can safely say everyone learned something or got something out of it. Most of the kids were not used to standing sitting and kneeling constantly, and no one was used to hard wooden kneelers. After the tenth or eleventh time we were on our knees all of us were beginning to feel like we were channeling arthritic eighty year olds. I told the class that every time their knees hurt, to think of how Christ suffered and died on the cross for our sins and not to take it for granted. Afterwards, I got a few "Mrs. Ramsey, I don't think I've ever thought about the cross so much with my knees hurting and that giant painting of Jesus up on the front altar." Hopefully my Scottish reformation ancestors aren't rolling over in their graves right now.  In the end though, I try to be a big tent Christian and am grateful for the things the early church gave us.  One of the things Ithink the reformation (maybe) got wrong was the focus on words and writing. While I am glad the Bible got translated into common languages, I think we lost all of the other five senses.  Even though my Latin turned out to be vastly inadequate, and I could barely understand the service, there was no end of paintings, mosaics, incense, music and sunlight streaming through the window to remind me that God himself meets us in worship.  

After church we got lunch in the Jewish ghetto and did an audio tour of Trastevere which is a little neighorhood on the west side of the Tiber river. We stood on the bridge that ceasar wrote his name on, and discovered an island where they put all of the sick and crazy people (oh, and women having babies, because clearly that makes sense). We also explored (as much as we could) the ruins where Caesar was betrayed and stabbed on the steps of the senate. "Et tu, Brute?". The ancient senate is now a cat sanctuary run by a humane society. So you can go down and watch a tabby clean its paws on the steps where the ancient world's most powerful dictator died, and then pop underneath one of the ruins which has been retrofitted into an animal shelter of sorts and pet a cat while you chat with a cat volunteer.  Only in Rome. 

We also visited (one of) Rome's oldest churches. It started out as a expensive Roman villa. A girl got married and didn't tell her new husband she was a Christian until the wedding night. Instead of shunning her or turning her in, he became a Christian too. They turned their villa into a home church and Christians have been worshipping there ever since.  The husband was eventually put to death for being a Christian, and when that just caused the little church to grow, the government beheaded the wife as well. But the home church thrived on, and underneath the (now big) church you can still see remnants of the first church and house.  

In some ways Rome is like a puzzle. You could sit down in any one spot and try to put together the conglomeration of all the different layers of history jammed together in one spot.  

Tomorrow is "day trip day".  So we're all splitting up. I can't wait to see the pictures from everyone's adventures.