Sightseeing, Nigerian Food & the Eucharist

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Father Morelli left the loft. He was Saturday afternoon and he was going to meet Genet at Monte Mario. They would go for a walk in the park after admiring the views of Rome from the hill. Afterwards, they would visit Santa Croce a Monte Mario. He was looking forward to that and to seeing her.

He knew that they spent a lot of time together. They saw each other every week and spent hours together. He wondered what his mother would say. No doubt she would be pleased and assume that something was going on between them. He knew that Sister Caterina didn’t approve but his personal life wasn’t her concern. Martha and Mary were Jesus’ friends and the apostle Paul had women friends as well, so why couldn’t Genet be his? He enjoyed her company and their discussions. As he walked to his car, he wondered what discussion they were going to have today.

After he parked his car close to her apartment building, he walked to Monte Mario where she was waiting for him. They exchanged greetings and then, he looked around him. “What a view,” he exclaimed. “From here you can see St. Peter’s and Vatican City.”

“Yes, it’s quite a view. There’s a restaurant up here called Lo Zodiaco. A friend told me that she went there with her husband and from there they had a spectacular panoramic view over Rome.”

“The name of the restaurant sounds familiar.”

“If you weren’t a priest, you and I could have had dinner there one evening and enjoy the view.”

“Maybe we can go with my parents or just with my mother.”

“I guess we can do that.”

They stayed there for a while and then, they went for a walk in the park with its flora and unique trees, such as cork-trees, maples and hazels and animals and birds, such as peregrine falcon and dormouse. They spent about a little over an hour just enjoying their surroundings. Genet used her cell to take many photos.

They visited Villa Mazzanti with its English garden, four hectares with a wood of mostly Mediterranean plants crossed by a serpentine path, which ascended up the slopes of the hill. At the end of the climb, they were greeted by an artificial lake. Next, they visited Villa Mellini, built during the time of Pope Sixtus IV. The 15th-century building was situated in a large park with tree-lined avenues where writers such as Wolfgang Goethe, Stendhal, and Henry James got their inspiration. William Wordsworth, also wrote a sonnet dedicated to the Villa Mellini, entitled The Pine of Monte Mario at Rome. They visited Museo Astronomico Copernicano located inside Villa Mellini park. It was small but it had an interesting collection of telescopes, lenses, protractors, sundials, hourglasses and clocks, including the first portable clocks which originated in the 17th Century but didn’t keep precise time.

After they left there, they headed to Santa Croce a Monte Mario. “I read that this is also called the chapel of the Holy Crucifix in memory of Emperor Constantine’s vision of the cross.”

“While I was waiting for you, I googled it and found out that the building was rebuilt in 1470 the building by the Mellini brothers at the same time they were constructing their villa.”

“Unfortunately, the church was destroyed in the 19th century to construct a military fort. Today, all we can see are the church’s remains.”

“What a pity.”

“Yes.”

“Are you hungry?”

“Actually, I am.”

“We can eat at my place.”

“Take out?”

“No! I can cook, you know.”

“Okay.”

“You don’t sound convinced. I’ll have you know that I started learning how to cook when I was six. By the time I was 10, I could prepare a meal by myself.”

“I stand corrected.”

They went to her apartment. “Make yourself at home while I go and get things ready.”

Supper turned out to be Doro Wat served with salad and rice. Father Morelli breathed in the aroma. “This smells and looks really good.”

Genet smiled. “I promise you it will taste good too.”

“Is it an Ethiopian dish?”

“Yes. It’s Doro Wat which is a spicy chicken stew that’s gluten and grain-free. I usually have it with injera which is a pancake-like flatbread, It’s the staple in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and some parts of Sudan.”

Father Morelli blessed the meal and began to eat. He enjoyed the salad and when he took his first mouthful of the stew, his eyes widened and his face lit up. “Questo è molto delizioso!”

Genet smiled. “I’m happy you think so.”

He tucked into the meal with relish and washed it down with a tall glass of fruity juice. “Hmm. I’ve never had this drink before. What is it?”

“It’s an Ethiopian Spris. It’s made with with mango, papaya, and lime juice.”

For dessert, they had an Ethiopian fruit salad. After she cleared away the dishes and quickly washed them, she rejoined him at the table. “Thank you for one of the best meals I have ever had,” he said.

“You’re welcome.”

“You and I usually have discussions about faith or the Bible. Is there anything you would like to ask me about today?”

“Yes. Could you explain transubstantiation to me? I have googled it and the definitions I came across were very confusing.”

“A simple definition which my grandmother taught me was, when we celebrate the Eucharist, God changes the bread and wine so that they become Jesus, Himself. Although it still looks and tastes like bread and wine, it is really Jesus disguised as bread and wine.”

“That’s the easiest definition I’ve heard for transubstantiation but I don’t believe in it. Jesus was speaking spiritually not literally. It was the same when He told the people to eat His flesh and drink His blood in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. The people murmured among themselves, asking ‘how can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’ Jesus’ words were always spiritual, not literal. How could they think that He would encourage cannibalism? It’s the same thing when He told Nicodemus about being born again, Nicodemus took Him literally that’s why he wondered, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ So, Jesus had to clarify that He was talking about being born of the Holy Spirit. It as a spiritual rebirth, not a physical one. Likewise, Jesus wasn’t speaking of Himself as physical food but spiritual food when He told the people to eat His flesh and drink His blood. He explained to the disciples that the Spirit gives life while the flesh profits nothing. The words that He speaks to them are spirit, and they are life. When we accept or believe in Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit who gives life. Unless, we partake of Jesus, we will not have life. Jesus is our sustenance. Just as we need food and drink to survive, we need Him who became flesh and blood.”

“Jesus said to the disciples at the Lord’s Supper after blessing the bread, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ After He gave thanks and gave them the cup of wine which they drank, he said to them, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.’”

“It was all symbolic, Roberto. It’s the same as when Jesus said to the religious leaders, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ They thought He was talking about the physical temple which had taken 46 years to build but He was talking about the temple of His body.”

“Thomas Aquinas believed that it is Christ’s true flesh which we take.”

“When did Catholics begin to believe in transubstantiation?”

“The earliest known use of the term transubstantiation to describe the change from bread and wine to body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist was by Hildebert de Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours, in the 11th century. And then, in 1551, the Council of Trent declared that the doctrine of transubstantiation is a dogma of faith. So, transubstantiation which is central to the Catholic faith, may have been around for a very long time.”

“Is the Catholic Church the only one which believes in transubstantiation?”

“No. Other churches like the Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East do as well. They agree that in a valid Divine Liturgy, bread and wine truly and actually become the body and blood of Christ.”

“I know that you believe in it but as far as I’m concerned, transubstantiation is false doctrine. Jesus was likening the bread to His flesh just as He did when He said that He as the bread from heaven. And the wine was merely a symbol or representation of His blood. How could we think that Jesus would want us to literally eat His flesh and drink His blood? We’re not cannibals.”

“Catholics are not cannibals because we believe in transubstantiation.”

“On Catholic Answers, someone asked if Catholics are cannibals. The answer was that In cannibalism, only part of the victim is consumed. The bones, sinews, etc. aren’t eaten. In the Eucharist, we consume every bit of the Lord, eyes, hair, blood, bones, etc. This is done under the appearances of bread and wine. A person consuming another person is cannibalism.”

“In cannibalism, once one eats the flesh of the victim, it’s gone forever. In the Eucharist, we can consume him every day. We don’t change him one bit. He remains the same.”

“God told Noah and his family, ‘you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

“Yes, but that won’t apply to Christ. He told us to eat His flesh and drink His blood.”

“Yes, but He didn’t mean for us to do that literally, Roberto.”

“Look, why don’t we agree to disagree on this?”

“I’ll agree to drop it for now.”

“Fine.”

She got up from the table. “Let’s go out on the terrace for a while.”

He got up and followed her into the living-room. They went out onto the terrace and stood, looking at the flickering lights of the city. A half-hour later he left.

Sources: Catholic Answers; Turismo Roma; Guide to Sanctuaries; Roma Natura; City Seeker; Rome; Wikipedia; Insanely Good Recipes; Insanely Good Recipes; 14hh; Christian History Institute; Wikipedia; Britannica; Wikipedia

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