I’ve made friends here with a professor from another private university in Florida, where he teaches philosophy and religion, and is also an ordained Lutheran priest. He is currently in the process of “crossing the Tiber” – converting to the Roman Catholic church, where he will be ordained again, and will probably be active in parish ministry. He and I have shared some taxi rides and lots of long conversations about faith, denominations, evangelism, etc. He and I visited the Rio cathedral yesterday afternoon. Construction on the “new” cathedral began in the 1960s and it was completed in 1976.
It was consecrated as a cathedral by Pope John Paul II in 1980, and features a beautiful statue of the newest saint outside. You can see the descriptive plates on the base have been removed, probably so they can be replaced with new ones that celebrate his recent canonization.
We were there on Saturday afternoon, but there was no mass. Having seen it up close, this morning, which we had free anyway, Mark and I instead went to the Monastery of Saint Benedict in Centro Rio (Moisterio de San Bento). The monastery was founded by that order in 1590 and has been on the site continuously, and some of the oldest buildings in Rio that are still in use are part of the cloister. The monks chant the Divine Mass in Latin on Sundays in the Gregorian style, and it was a solemn and beautiful service, in a packed house. (The nave appears to seat about 250-300, and many had to stand for the entire 90 minute service). The worship space is beautifully baroque and ornate, more in the tradition of Brazil than in the Benedictine tradition.
This afternoon our group had a unique cultural opportunity, but I didn’t go. We were invited to participate in a Candomble’ religious service. Candomble’ is a syncretic religion, combining parts of many different African traditions with Latin American and even some Catholic concepts. It is poly-theistic, and charismatic. During the ceremonies there is much music and dancing, and usually one or more of the participants will fall into a trance in which they are possessed by one of the lesser gods. At the conclusion there is a feast. They are not always on Sundays, and they often last late into the night. I have tried to be open minded about all the cultural experiences we are having, and I am not making any judgment about Candomble. I simply chose not to participate.
Staying in this afternoon was refreshing, and that’s good because the next 3 days are the most intensely scheduled days in our entire seminar. I even got to watch the F1 race from Monaco, and the Indy 500. Really a great day.
Good night, and God bless,