Please pray for the older American lady I met today in the atrium of the Vatican Basilica. She had lost her group; was having an anxiety attack in front of an Italian Vatican employee; did not know the name or location of her group, driver or hotel and was in way over her head.
Later, some proud and sunburnt bikers glided into the piazza San Pietro celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. In just under four weeks they as a couple rode their bikes from Holland to Rome and had a great time. God bless them. Last July I met in the same piazza another couple from Holland who had done the same.
Then at Stazione Roma San Pietro I got chatting with two Mormon missioners. Poor kids, they never know anything. Yes, they've had more catechesis than most Catholics, but still know very little - and as Americans know nothing of history.
Today it was an honor to be in the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel) not just once, but twice. The great honor of my life these recent years has been to live in the Holy City and to enter the Sistine Chapel often and to worship regularly in the hallowed Usus Antiquior. All glory and honor to the Lord ( = can I get an Amen)!
As a tour guide one meets Americans from all over the world and their ignorance is revealed when they ask the guide odd questions. Priests get the same, too. Such a pity our parochial and public schools have failed our people. Americans by and large know nothing of archeology, art history, architecture, history in general, religion, etc. Proof? Ask any Rome tour guide. Our schools went with math and science and reading comp and ignored the rest.
Best clients? The kids. Why? You can see how it's already too late with the adults - the kids are fine, but the adults are already stuck with hard and stony hearts.
Absolute best clients? High school kids. Why? High school is the age to make and keep them Catholic. They listen and believe. At that age it's not yet too late. Somebody just has to be able to explain it to them. We need youthful teachers who can teach and inspire.
Worst kids? College kids. They are rude, bored and already lost. Thinking not of the tour, but of booze and finding a date (getting "drunk" and getting "laid"). I've had it with all of them. Worst group I had was from Notre Dame.
Kids with the best catechesis? Black kids. I've seen it and said it a thousand times: black America and southern blacks know the Gospel and they know it better than white kids and this is a fact. They know the Bible, Genesis, Revelation and Jesus and they are quick on their toes and not afraid to speak and answer about Jesus.
How much do American Catholics know about anything Catholic? Nothing or just about. A lot of it is misunderstanding or misconceptions or pieces of the story. Often a bit of a blur. They often seem really unsure of just about everything.
The Vatican Museums tour is for most kids (and adults!) a first introduction to Christianity and this is the truth. The good guide really gets 'em while explaining the Sistine Chapel - you get them with creation and then you see how they become thunderstruck which sometimes leads to them having a first "spiritual" experience before your eyes a little later in the tour. Sometimes they weep. Sometimes it hurts. Conversion is pain.
Rain Your fire upon the nations, Holy Ghost!