Friday, August 29, 2008

This just in, from Rimini:

I know that less and less of my blog is original these days, but I can't say anything better than this:

Prisoners Exhibit at Meeting 2008, Rimini

Keeping Watch - To Be Redeemed

The prison exhibit was the most popular at Meeting 2008 in Rimini. I kept coming back to see when the crowds would thin out to get better pictures, but this is the way it was at 10:00pm last night and all though the week.

We had a guided tour in English the other day by a young man who worked as a guard in the Padua Prison for two years. He spoke of the dignity of the prisoners, the need for rehabilitation and the freedom some find even behind bars through the community of believers in Christ. He talked about how they walked the Way of the Cross through the prison corridors, and at the end they brought the cross to the bishop and asked him to carry it.

Entry to the Prisoners Exhibit

When we entered the exhibit, we walked through these barred gates and were given passes by a guard in order to offer a small impression of prison as a place.

John the Baptist visited by his disciples in prison by Andrea Pisano (photo)

There were several fine art reproductions depicting prison, and this one is from Andrea Pisano of the disciples of St. John visiting him in prison. It is especially appropriate today on the feast of St. John the Baptist's martyrdom.

The faces depicted in this exhibit are friends of ours (the Communion and Liberation movement) who are currently serving time in prison. This was almost the most moving part of the exhibit (I'll explain). It seems these are people we should have known, but who have been hidden away. These portraits gave me the same impression of depth and closeness as those of the Carthusian monks who look at us in the film Into Great Silence.

The following contribution and photo are of Joshua, a friend of ours from the U.S. I am sorry I can't translate the message here. But instead, you can find a letter of his in English here offering his witness.

Joshua's Contribution

Joshua on Video

Colomba Pasquale

At the end of the exhibit, we walk into the Patisserie or Bakery. The people serving us free samples and selling baked goods are actually prisoners and guards, dressed identically as to not be distinguishable.


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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."