The last two days of this pilgrimage were spent listening to Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at a concert, and hearing a Marching Band the next day, who just happened to be going by. Vienna is a musical city.
But one of the highlights for me was to celebrate the Holy Mass in the very place, St. Michael Church, where portions of Mozart’s Requiem Mass were first played. It originally took place as a Memorial for this famous composer just days after he died. This piece, which I have had the privilege of performing when I was a member of the Choral Arts Ensemble, was yet unfinished. When it was first sung in public for Mozart’s memorial they only used the completed sections. It was later completed by Franz Süssmayer, an associate of Mozart’s who worked with him on various musical projects.
A word about Baroque art and architecture. In the sculpture above the main altar in St. Michael Church there appear to be hundreds of angels and cherubim flying around. They remind us of the vast realities of God’s creation, as we say in the Nicene Creed, those creations that are “visible and invisible”. Angels are invisible. In the church itself the people celebrating Mass can feel dwarfed by all the imagery in the tall church. But the artist’s intention – and the theological point, I believe – is for us to feel encouraged by the power of God beyond our imagining, which is also God’s strength and providence for us. In other words, the purpose of the grand art and architecture is not to make us feel insignificant, but rather to help us to feel protected and confident of God’s power in our world and in our lives.
The next day we left for the USA, departing at 4am from the hotel. It has been a marvelous pilgrimage for the sake of spiritual and cultural growth. At the last Mass I asked the pilgrims three questions: “Where were you in your spiritual life when we started this pilgrimage? Where has this journey taken you? What will be different about you as you journey home?”
In some sense, we are all on pilgrimage. It is up to us to remain attentive as to how God is calling us to continue to grow in faith. Not standing still, but always moving closer to Christ Jesus.
Arreviderci and auf wiedersehen to the pilgrimage to Italy and Austria. Hello to the day to day ways in which Jesus walks with us in our pilgrimage of life.
This image demonstrates the magnitude of the space and sculptures as I make a point to the assembly regarding the meaning of the imagery of St. Michael and the other angels, in their weightless glory, defeat Satan and his angels. For a greater detail of the scene above the altar click here. Note God’s watchful eye over the entire ordeal (rays of light) and all the cherubim as well.