When an opportunity for me to visit Rome came up unexpectedly not long ago, I dropped everything, including blogging assignments. I will probably never have another crack at a trip to Italy with my husband. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I wanted to go.

I figured I might be able to write along the way. Surely there would be time. That’s not how it worked out. No one warned me of the overload of sights and impressions I’d be experiencing, and the deep contrasts I’d be witnessing. They packed an emotional punch. Perhaps the biggest contrast that hit my Catholic sensibilities was the one between churches as places of historical interest and churches as places of faith.

Rome is a city of church domes, not skyscrapers. Vatican City’s crown jewel, St. Peter’s Basilica, holds a commanding position. A walk through Rome reveals other churches that catch the eye: architectural marvels, places of art and beauty, accessible to believer and nonbeliever alike. One could be forgiven for valuing them simply as museums and artifacts of a certain period in history. That might be what brings someone through the doors for the first time.

Yet these aren’t mere artifacts of a lost time. They are places of worship. It’s odd how I felt that so strongly in St. Peter’s, thronged as it was with tourists. In the little side chapels within the nave, people were kneeling. Maybe one in twenty of the people in the vast church was there for prayer. Yet that five percent made the difference between a museum and a church. I asked where daily Mass was said, since obviously the “main” part of the church was occupied by tourists from all over the world. A guide pointed me to one of the side chapels, set apart only by a quiet attendant welcoming to the pews anyone who wanted to pray.

A few years ago, on another unexpected journey, I made a pilgrimage to St. Mark’s in Venice. The main doors, the big ones, were designated for tourists, of whom there were many. Who could visit the city without taking in that stunning edifice? For those wanting to pray, there was a smaller door off to the side: not to shunt anyone aside, but to guide pilgrims to a quiet area devoid of cameras and chatter.

In both Rome and Venice, I recognized those little side chapels as powerhouses, even if my Italy guidebook didn’t.

I came home to my little parish church, where the architecture is far more modest and draws no tourists. No one would ever confuse it with a museum. I came home to neighbors as appalled as I by the news of yet more abuse, more episcopal failures, more reminders that if my faith in God relies on anyone’s miter and staff then my faith is doomed to shatter.

Tough news to come home to after Rome, for sure. Yet in a way, my journey had set me up to face tough news. Rome was a challenging place for me. Beautiful and vibrant, yes. But around every corner and under every dome was that contrast and tension: museum, or house of worship?  I think that as long as those side chapels are occupied by people at prayer, the tension resolves in favor of worship.

I think that these days, both in Rome and at home, prayer is not only worship of God but also an act of defiance against people who need to be defied: all those who would weaken others’ faith, break bruised reeds, betray trust. A dangerous attitude, that. Prayer without humility and love becomes the clanging cymbal of which St. Paul warned us. Yet abandoning prayer altogether leaves the field to the museum-goers. I’m not prepared to do that.

Rome and Vatican City were a revelation to me. Nothing I studied prepared me properly for all the food, sights, history, and the accompanying  sensory overload. Yet quite against my will, elbowing its way into all my other memories is that sight of people praying off to the side in St. Peter’s. One in twenty, giving soul to the church, quietly pushing back against all that would render it a mere museum.

I spoke to Kendra Von Esh about her book: Am I Cathoilc at the 2018 Catholic Marketing Trade Show in Lancaster PA.

Kendra’s web site is here, you can buy her book here


Aug 22nd Voices of CMN 2018 Kendra Von Esh Author: Am I Catholic

Aug 21st Voices of CMN 2018 Jennifer Angelle Hugs from Heaven

Aug 20th Voices of CMN 2018 John and Claire Grabowski Authors of One Body

Aug 19th Voices of CMN 2018 Fr. Bill McCarthy Author: God Bless America

Aug 18th Voices of CMN 2018 Fr. Chris Alar Author: After Suicide

Aug 17th Voices of CMN 2018 Dr Hellen Hoffner Author Catholic Traditions and Treasures

Aug 16th Voices of CMN 2018 Chris Faddis Author: It is well Life in the Storm

Aug 15th Voices of CMN 2018 Bud McFarlane and Ginny Mooney on the Messiah mini series

Aug 14th Voices of CMN 2018 Virginia Pillars Author Broken Brain Fortified Faith

Aug 13th Voices of CMN 2018 David Tittle Musicians for Life new CD “It’s a Life”

Aug 12th Voices of CMN 2018 Novena for Our Nation Starting Aug 15th & Rosary Coast to Coast Oct 7th

Aug 11th Voices at the 2018 CMN Moria Noonan Co-Author: Spiritual Deceptions

Aug 10th Voices of CMN 2018 Lesliea Wahl Author: An Unexpected Role

Aug 9th Voices of CMN 2018 Gerard Hasenhuetti Compassionate Capitalism The Intersection of Economic Growth and Social Justice

Aug 8th
Voices at CMN 2018 Ruth Apollonia Author of Annabelle of Anchony

Voices at CMN 2018 Kimberly Cook My Hand in Yours Yours in Mine Catholic Authors

Aug 6th Voices at CMN 2018 August Turak Author: Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life

Aug 5th Voices at CMN 2018 Fr. Edward Looney Author A Heart Like Mary’s

Aug 4th: Karina Fabian of the Catholic Writers Guild or A Preview of Blogging Attractions


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Lars Mikkelson who played Charles Augustus Magnussen in Sherlock

John Watson: But if you just know it, then you don’t have proof.
Charles Augustus Magnussen: Proof? What would I need proof for? I’m in news, you moron. I don’t have to prove it – I just have to print it.

Sherlock: His Last Vow 2014

Curly: Hey, what’s this stuff for anyway?
Larry: Why it’s a cleaner, you chump.
Curly: I know. It’s auto polish.
Moe: You boys really want to know what it’s for?
Larry & Curley: Yeah!
Moe: It’s for sale. Now get busy selling it.

The Three Stooges Dizzy Doctors 1937

Something stuck me when I was reading this piece at the Volokh Conspiracy about a study on bias in what is newsworthy. (emphasis mine) via instapundit

How did it turn out? You can guess, can’t you? For all six issues, subjects rated stories as possessing greater intrinsic newsworthiness when they offered ammunition for “their side” of a controversy.

The article is entitled “Perceptions of Newsworthiness Are Contaminated by a Political Usefulness Bias,” and it was published a week or two ago in Royal Society Open Science.

Is the point obvious? Evidently not to everybody. When it is pointed out that news staffs at newspapers across the country tend to be monolithically left of center, the response is often that this is not a problem, since the job of a news reporter is simply to report the truth, and truth is just truth. Well, that’s not quite true … news reporters have to decide what stories are newsworthy (and what facts within stories are newsworthy).

Now I have written a lot about what is newsworthy in the past about things that are “newsworthy”, here is how Merriam Webster defines it: (again emphasis mine)

Definition of newsworthy

interesting enough to the general public to warrant reporting

That’s the dirty little secret. It’s not reporters who decide what it newsworthy, it’s not anchors or pundits on CNN or CBS that decide what is newsworthy, it’s not never newspaper editors that decide what is newsworthy, it’s the general public that decides that a piece of news or information is interesting enough that it’s worth paying for with their time and their money or both.

It is the editor and/or producers job to sport such stories as they are developing and/or to recognize such stories brought to them by their reporters or freelancers and arrange coverage in on their platform either print, video or web and if said story generates the eyeballs that produce the revenues that pays the bills to stick with it or if it doesn’t to drop or ignore it.

The bottom line job of a reporter, to generate revenue, the only value of truth in that endeavor is to generate credibility for the platform and or to protect said platform from legal actions that might cost revenue.

That’s the reality and it high time that people understand it.