Hello everyone, welcome back to Theology Tuesdays! As was true for my last post, the past two weeks were very eventful. I visited Santa Croce for the second time, took a day trip to Loppiano, saw the Carnevale in Viareggio, and went to the Opera. So far, for Spring Break I went to Interlaken, Switzerland for the weekend and took another day trip to four cities in the Tuscany region: San Gimignano, Chianti, Monteriggioni, and Siena.
Okay, now that I am done trying to remember the fifty-million things I did the past two weeks, I would like to comment on some theological reflections I’ve made while on my travels. Specifically, it was theologically significant to me to learn about the purpose of the Carnevale in Viareggio. Although it is now largely a secular event, the Carnevale originated to help prepare for the fasting and sacrifices many Christians underwent during the season of Lent. The Carnevale helped the people of Viareggio prepare by allowing a great day of feast and celebration before giving up these inherently good pleasures for sake of holiness. In fact, the very word, “Carnevale,” actually means “removal of meat.” This is in reference to the fasting Catholics observe in Lent on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. (Some Catholics even observe a Wednesdays fast in their Lenten practice, in addition to Fridays).
The fact that Carnevale now is, for most of the participants, solely a day of pleasure reminded me of the example in the Gospels of how Jesus was also tempted to give into inordinate pleasure-seeking in his “season of Lent” (see Matthew 4:1-11). In the desert, our Lord is faced with three temptations which all essentially revolve around forsaking the will of the Father. This was the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent this year. For instance, the temptation of the devil for Christ to turn the stones into bread can be seen as a temptation for Jesus to forsake his mission and instead focus on his own physical needs. Instead, Jesus recalls the Holy Scripture and denounces Satan’s temptation, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4). While it is important for the Christian to not ignore the virtue of temperance (seeking good things to the proper amount) while pursuing holiness, there is also much to be said about depriving yourself of these good things for a time as a way to grow in holiness. That is what the season of Lent should be about for us.
On top of my thoughts on Carnevale, I would also like to share about my trip to Loppiano. In Loppiano, I visited the University of Sophia and the church there. It is a small town, and most of the people there consist of students at the university. The town was founded by Chiara Lubich, with the intention of creating a community with love at the center: Lubrich called this the “economy of love.” Thus, the whole town has a very large focus on redistributing their old, used items for the poor. This made me remember the example of the Apostles, who would gladly “sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need” (Acts 2:45, New American Standard Bible).
That’s it for this week! I hope you all will return next time and thank you very much for giving me your time. Also, here are some additional pictures from my other excursions: