Monday, May 01, 2006

The Family Meal

Here's the annual group-shot from Friday's American Cardinals dinner in Washington. Top row, far right is the new Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, whose extemporaneous remarks were received with rapt attention.

As you can see, they've ditched the ferraiolos. Pity....

Per custom, Vincentian Fr David O'Connell, the president of the Catholic University of America, delivered the homily at the traditional pre-dinner liturgy.

Here's a snip, with a charming revelation:
Just a few short miles from here is the National Gallery of Art, containing one of the world’s finest collections of paintings, sculpture and other works of art dating from the early Middle ages until the present. One of the most frequented of the galleries houses a beautiful exhibit of French impressionist paintings. Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas and Monet are all represented. Earlier in my life I painted quite a bit and I loved to do Monet studies. The real beauty of his impressionist paintings, their most notable feature and challenge, is the interplay between color and light in nature. The color is in the object itself; its appearance and its beauty, however, depend upon the light to bring it out, to give it life. Impressionist artwork can be breathtaking as you see how important light is to color, as you realize how light can capture and change the way you look at the world.

The scripture readings of today’s Mass are brief, only a few sentences each. Good things come in small packages, so they say. As with impressionist painting, the thing that comes to the surface in both scripture readings today is the notion of light.

St. Paul writes of “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God ... who said ‘let light shine out of darkness’.” St. Paul reminds us, as he did the Corinthian people, that the darkness gives way to the light that is “on the face of Jesus Christ.” No greater work of art, no greater subject for light can be imagined. The more we look on the face of Jesus, like an impressionist painting, the more light we see and the more we are transfixed by it. As the psalmist says, “In your light, we see light itself.”
Every year, a $10,000 award is given to some initiative in the dinner's host city in recognition of its work. This year, the American Cardinals Encouragement Award went to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who operate a residence in the District named for their founder, Bl Jeanne Jugan.

Of course, the Little Sisters took devoted care of the saintly Cardinal Hickey in his final days, so that also provided a nice touch.

The dinner began as an annual circuit among the traditional cardinalatial sees of the United States. Over time, however, that got a little repetitive, so it began to go to non-cardinalatial (but still very luxe) places like San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Miami.

Dinner 07's destination has already been announced. And get your poker chips ready, kids -- the red hats are goin' to Vegas! (The first non-archdiocese to host the event.)