One of our assignments for Honors this week was — Following up on last week’s discussion – we now pose this query… You and Leonardo are planning a dinner party and can invite three guests from our list of nominations. Who will they be? Why did you chose them? What question would you ask each of them? And what might they ask each other? In other words, what are you curious about concerning these people?
Below is my post on the class’ discussion board. Ahhh… I’m tired. Boy, I can’t wait to get graded on this… (NOT!)
If I were to have the honor of having Leonardo da Vinci and three others over for dinner, I would invite Martin Luther, Galileo Galilei, and Pope John Paul II. I would choose these three because of their part in the history of the Church. I would think that they would be able to discuss their roles and the misconceptions that surround them without getting heated. And I would most definitely want in on that.
I have many questions for them, and I would sit at the table with a notebook and a pen next to my plate, the first page being a list of questions I would have thought up well before they arrived for dinner…
Of Martin Luther, I would ask:
1. Is Protestantism today what you envisioned it to be?
2. For one so learned in Theology, how does it make you feel when people today try to separate Faith and Intelligence?
3. What would you say to the man who claims to be Christian yet denies the Incarnation?
4. What would you say to Cafeteria Catholics now, or to so-called ‘Liberal’ Catholics?
5. Say you were in a room with Dr. Hahn, Matthew Kelly, or Michael Walsh; would you finally come home?
Of Galileo, I would want to know:
1. What did Maria Celeste and Suor Arcangela look like?
2. Were you frustrated that the Church could not, at the time, reconcile the truths you had discovered with the Faith, the way Maria Celeste evidently managed to do in time? If so, did you ever feel that your daughter was preaching to the choir in her letters to you?
3. How did you form such a beautiful relationship with your daughter? What advice would you have for fathers and daughters today who wish to be blessed with the same?
4. Did you ever regret putting Maria Celeste in the convent?
5. What did you like to talk about best with His Holiness, Urban VIII?
6. Could you give me an account, as best as you can remember it, of your debate with Urban VIII about floating bodies after the banquet at the Florentine court?
7. Your comments, please, on His Holiness’ JPII’s observation, “A tragic mutual incomprehension has been interpreted as the reflection of a fundamental opposition between science and faith.”?
8. Pray tell, how do you like your Basilica-turned-museum? Do the things that I have read about you there make you smile now? Have you accepted them as the Church’s apology?
9. Please, how does it make you feel, you who were always a devout Catholic, to see how the enemies of the Church today use your case to criticize the Faith that you, as we know from your eldest daughter, so undividedly loved and strove to uphold? How does it make you feel when they overlook your own chosen loyalties?
10. How do you feel about the myths that surround you, particularly concerning your supposed defiance leaving the trial chamber, a legend that was not born until nearly 125 years after your death? What would you say to them now?
Of His Holiness, I would beg to be told:
1. How did you find it in yourself to love the man who tried to kill you?
2. What is your favorite song?
3. What was the most difficult theological question anyone ever asked you?
As I run out of questions that I have written down and search my mind for more, perhaps I will hear them speaking to each other…
Leonardo will ask His Holiness, “What is love?” and I will eagerly listen for his definition. In how many words will His Holiness define what the entire Theology of the Body outlines and more?
I think I hear Martin Luther ask Galileo, “How did it feel to be considered, in your time, the biggest enemy of the Catholic Church since myself?” And when Galileo has given his reply, he will ask of Luther, “Where did your logic go? If I, an untrained layman, could explain the fundamental misuse of the Bible to Christina d’Medici in defense of my findings *not* contradicting Sacred Scripture, how could you, so learned in the Faith, have erred so greatly?” and I will lean forward in my seat with my pen hovering over my pad, anxious to hear some wisdom… Should I ever learn to be as great a thinker as these men, I think my biggest fear would be erring as Luther did.
His Holiness and Leonardo now turn to listen to Luther as well, and when he has done, His Holiness will ask, in a quiet mournful tone, as a father to a child who needs his correction, but his love more than anything, “You began with your heart in the right place, a heart clearly after St. Paul’s in reprimanding St. Peter… How did you fail to separate the sin from the sinner?” and I will grow cold inside, because I know how often I have failed to do so myself… I will listen quietly, and try as best I can to internalize what is being said. I want the words branded in my mind, burning so terribly that I need not write them down and will never forget them.
There will be a pause… and then His Holiness will turn to Galileo and ask, “Was there any resentment against Us when you died? Especially in light of the fact that what led to your great suffering was not even your own fault; merely that you had misunderstood Cardinal Bellarmine and acted in what you truly and honestly believed to be an entirely appropriate manner?” When he has given his answer, Galileo will then ask His Holiness, “How would you have handled the ecclesiastical politics of my time?”
Questions, questions, questions… there will be no shortage of them. Dinner will be long gone and dessert long past, and perhaps we will sit around a fire after having opened a bottle of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio… How appropriate for the company… and perhaps when all conversation is extinguished and the guests have taken their leave, I will turn to Leonardo and ask him, “Did you ever regret not settling down and having a family?”
And when he has answered that, he may expect to see me yawn and bid him goodnight, but I’m afraid there’s one more thing I want to ask…
“Can you teach me to draw?”