Nice to be back in Raleigh after some time away. I was at a pastors/guardians meeting in northern New Jersey last week, and when the meetings ended, I spent some time in Philadelphia at St. Francis Inn and also in Washington D.C. on my way back. I love to have free time in Philadelphia. I took the subway downtown, spent some time at the Art Museum which has a whole wing dedicated to European Art, 1100-1500, and includes a painting by Jan Van Eyck from the 1400s of St. Francis receiving the stigmata (the wounds of Christ), and a magnifying glass next to the painting so you can see the many tiny details in the painting. I also saw the movie, “Woman in Gold” with Helen Mirren, about a woman trying to reclaim a painting which was stolen from her family by the Nazis during the war. Worth seeing.
While I was in Philadelphia, there was a group from our parish spending a week at St. Francis Inn. One night we all went out to Pat’s King of the Steaks in South Philly for authentic Philly cheesesteaks. Pat’s is serious about their steaks. You have to know what kind of steak you want, what kind of cheese and also if you want it “wit or witout” onions (it’s Philly-speak, very much its own language). It was a nice night in the city and we sat outside at picnic tables. Our group from St. Francis got rave reviews from the team at St. Francis Inn for the work they did during the week.
Also while I was in Philly, the much-anticipated encyclical “Laudato Si’ from Pope Francis was released. This Sunday evening at 7:30 pm, our parish will be hosting an ecumenical prayer service in our chapel in honor of the encyclical. All are welcome. Such a blessing Pope Francis has been for our church and for our world – speaking boldly about critical issues such as the care of the earth, and a couple of weeks back, meeting with the president of Russia and urging him to seek peace in Ukraine. This is our faith at its best: grounded in our tradition and bringing the moral values of that tradition into the public square.
Last Sunday I got to see the end of “The Color Purple” sponsored by Justice Theater Project right here on our campus. At the very end there was a moment to remember the victims of the shootings in Charleston, SC. Wasn’t it something that one of the relatives of the victims forgave the shooter? In the midst of such violence, a gesture straight from the gospels, a reminder of the power of deep faith even in a violent and unforgiving world.
Finally, this week our parish will be hosting homeless families right on our campus as part of our partnership with Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network (WIHN). Thanks to all who have helped to organize this.
Blessings on your week!