14th May 2020 Thought for Today
From the real world, sublime and challenging
Rio de Janeiro 2 – The great embrace…
A number have asked Jane and I what was the greatest highlight of our travels around South America between January and March this year?
One of them was the visit to ‘Christ the Redeemer’ on Friday 24th January, at 11.30am for the Eucharist in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Apparition, the Patron saint of Brazil. The Chapel is at the base of the amazing statue of Christ and was dedicated in 2006 to mark the 75th Anniversary of the completion of the 98 feet high landmark. Christ appeared out of heavy clouds on that morning with great glory as the photo illustrates. To arrive at the statue we had a twenty five minute walk through the urban rain forest of Tijuca Park.
The statue was built by public subscription after an appeal from the Catholic churches of Brazil between 1922 and1931. The great arms of Christ which embraced us that morning are 92 feet in span.The statue weighs 635 tons of reinforced concrete lined with soapstone. Its designer was Parisian sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian Engineer Heitor da Costa. It is one of the seven modern wonders of the world and one of several UNESCO Heritage Sites we visited on our explorations.
Seven passengers from the ship and three of the crew attended the service led by Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest Father Vel, assisted by Geronsi our server and theological student. Father Vel made us so welcome to the tiny Chapel (octagonal 6 x 6 metres) and to Rio. He asked me to sing the introit, and to lead ‘Spirit of the Living God’ at the end of the service. Also, at his request, I was invited to read Psalm 57 and a reading from Samuel 24. He reflected to us in his homily our unity in Christ and his embrace. It included words of wisdom on Lectio Divina and Brexit as well!
The overwhelming beauty of the Communion was that whatever our denomination we were welcome to receive the sacrament. After the service I gave Father the Litany of Reconciliation from Coventry Cathedral and another couple gave him a memento of Scotland. We had our group photograph taken. The locals and visitors were allowed in to the Chapel for Communion and a blessing at the end of the service. It was a rare privilege to attend a service in that glorious place as the Chapel usually has a daily short service at 11am for prayers and the occasional wedding.
It gave a new meaning to being at the feet of Christ and appreciating his embrace in a new way.
Edward and Jane