Melanie’s post yesterday bordered on an internet based Magnum Opus, so I won’t add too much here. One thing we’ve been meaning to mention was from a couple of weeks back when we visited the Duomo in Como (yes, Italian does tend to rhyme with itself more than other languages!) Joel was in his stroller, so had a different vantage point than the rest of us, but also a different perspective on Catholic church ritual too. As we rounded a pillar he spied one of the tables full of candles burning near a statue of Mary or someone similar. “Birthday Cake!” he bellowed and pointed. He took a couple of minutes to convince that it wasn’t a birthday cake, and nor should he be shouting in the quiet church building. As we were about to step out into the bright sunshine a group of about 50 folks entered the door, so we had to stand aside and wait for them to pass. They were a group of elderly tourists. I leaned over to Melanie’s Dad and told him they were actually a school group that left in 1957, but had lost their bus. Somehow that struck us as funny and we contained ourselves until we stepped outside.
So why a sandwich? Well, we had amusing moments at the beginning and at the end of our time in the church. But in between there was the quite different sensation of sadness at all the trappings and images of biblical truth, but the absence of the gospel in the state religion here and across so many European countries. People are now starting to call Europe the new dark continent in spiritual terms. This is not just because of French-led secularism, growing paganism and occultism from Turin to Glastonbury, or the results of surveys measuring responsiveness to evangelism (the top 10 most resistant people groups are all European)…there is a great darkness found in both the buildings and the influence of the Roman Catholic church in this part of the world.
As we celebrate the fact of Easter, let’s pray for the light to shine in Europe again.