Monday, June 25, 2018

Honeymoon in Paris - Day 7 (Last Day in Paris)

    Sunday was our last full day in France.  After waking up, I walked over to the Boulangerie Saint Louis for croissants and americanos.  We eventually got moving and made our way to Saint Julien-le-Pauvre, a Melkite Catholic church located in the across the street from Notre Dame.  Divine Liturgy was about to start and we noticed that there were several kids dressed for their first communion.  The Eastern Catholic in me was sad that they were doing this, as that is a latinization of our traditions of giving all sacraments of initiation at the same time.  Present for the Divine Liturgy were three priests and the Bishop.

     My limited French revealed that the children who were making their "first communion" had already been baptized, chrismated and received first communion on the day of their baptism.  It was a ceremonial thing that was happening.

     We left Divine Liturgy and set out to find the relics of St. Genevieve at St. Etienne-du-Mont which sat in the shadow of the Pantheon.  When we tried to get into the church we saw that it was closed until 1:00PM.  We got some lunch at a bistro and went inside the Pantheon.

     The Pantheon was built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary containing her relics.  Sadly, during the French Revolution, the government ordered that the building be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen.    One of the things that stood out to me was a picture I took of La Convention Nationale.  This major work of sculpture stands where the altar used to be.  It features soldiers on the right and members of the National Convention on the left.  It was the National Convention who ordered the executions of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  Yet, above this symbol of secularism and nationalism stands an icon of Christ the King along with St. Michael and St. Genevieve.  Vive Le Christ Le Roi.

     We finished the audio tour and made our way to St. Etienne...only to find the doors were still locked.  We walked all around looking for an open door but to no avail.  We heard music coming from inside and found out there was a concert taking place.  At the intermission, Jennie found someone to pay so we could get inside the church.  The concert was being given by the Reykjavik Cathedral Choir.  The singing was fantastic and the acoustics of the church were incredible.  After the concert we found the relics of St. Genevieve and saw the rest of the church.

     We made our way back to the Hotel, where I stayed while Jennie went to the 6PM mass at Notre Dame.  Earlier in the day I had tweaked my back and I was having a bit of trouble moving around.  After mass, we left the hotel and walked towards La Brasserie de I'Isle Saint-Louis for dinner and drinks.  As we were leaving the hotel, the streets were wet from an earlier rain.  Walking and dancing in the rain was my beautiful wife.

20180610_210553 from Patrick Cullen on Vimeo.

     We sat on the patio, overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame.  We had dinner and drinks.  The waiter brought the check, I paid with my card and we were off.  Later in the night I realized that he charged by card 1.50 euros, instead of the 90 it was supposed to be.  I guess that helped with my poor exchange rate math of the previous 6 days!  We walked over to Notre Dame on more time to take in the view of the Cathedral all lit up.  We made our way back to the room around 11pm and packed our bags for the long trip home.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Honeymoon in France - Back to Paris

     The day started early with a 7:20am train ride back to Paris.  The entire trip was on the TGV, with no driving in between.  We arrived in Paris around 12:30pm and took a taxi back to the hotel.  We grabbed lunch at the cafe near Notre Dame and planned the rest of the day.

     Jennie had mentioned a trip to Versailles, but it was over one hour to get there via subway or car.  We chose to stay a bit more local and walked to the Louvre.  Since we were getting there near the closing time, there was no line to wait in and in minutes we were walking the galleries.

    What does a first time Louvre visitor look for?  The Mona Lisa of course.  We made our way to that gallery and were pleasantly surprised at the large amount of religious art found along the way.  Many of the paints were done in Byzantine icon styles.  We finally found the Mona Lisa and it was a bit underwhelming.  The crowd was at least 20 people deep, everyone clamoring for a selfie with the painting.  We got a peek, shrugged our shoulders and left that gallery.  Closing time was approaching so we decided to make our exit and find some food.

    As we were walking we saw a sign for St. Germain.  We went inside and found a mixture of beautiful catholic architecture, surrounding a post-conciliar altar that looked hideous.  France was a place where the "spirit of Vatican II" could be seen.  In magnificent churches and cathedrals, where many saints walked, worshiped and prayed, you see the sad attempt to modernize the mass.  Look at the modern altar in St. Germain.  Surrounded by a beautiful aspe and grand high altar is this:

Contrast that with the rest of this beautiful church and see what the Spirit of Vatican II has done to the churches. 

We left St. Germain and found our way to a sidewalk bistro.  We ordered some good French wine and a cheese/meat plate.  Most of the cheeses were great, except for that horrible tasting/smelling camembert.  It was disgusting.  But, sitting in the shadows of St. Chapelle watching the Parisiens line up for a concert was a great way to end the day.

We walked back to the hotel, stopped for some sorbet and called it a night.

Orphaned at 50

      The title of this post seems strange to write, and is probably even stranger to read.  But that is my reality right now.  I lost my fi...