Romano Guardini

The Lord's Prayer: Guardini vs Bergoglio

Did The Lord’s Prayer need revision? Have we had it wrong all these centuries? Pope Francis thinks so. He announced last week that he is blue-penciling the Our Father. By Francis’ lights, that ancient Matthean phrase “Lead us not into temptation” needs correction. It has been misleading from the get-go. The wording ought to go more like like this: “do not let us fall into temptation.” Francis explained:
It is I who fall, it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell.
Continue Reading
Anonymous. Fresco (14th C). Basilica of San Abbondio, Como.

For all the anecdotes recorded in the Passion chronicle, there seems a lacuna at the heart of it. Something goes missing. Something in the text lacks explication. The politics of it are plain enough. But is there not a rupture in the psychology of the crowd, an unaccountable fickleness? Why the discontinuity between Jesus’ reception into Jerusalem and the calls to crucify him days later? Were the Jews that mercurial and unstable? Romano Guardini anticipated the question and answered it in The Lord. Continue Reading
Nicolas Bataille. Dragons Vomiting Frogs (14th C). Apocalypse of Angers, Tapestry Museum, Angers, F.

Writing in 1956, Romano Guardini reflected on man’s place in a world hurtling toward what we call today postmodernism. The End of the Modern World is a bleak reflection but a necessary one. Guardini, professor of philosophy and theology that he was, leaped beyond abstractions here to enter the battle for souls that theoretical formulas deflect. One stark passage alone is worth volumes of academic theology written by court theologians for fellow courtiers. He is speaking of the eschatological conditions under which modern man lives and the religious temper of his self-created future:
With these words I proclaim no facile apocalyptic.
Continue Reading
In the End, Perhaps, Lightness of Heart

I came to Hans Sedlmayr’s Art in Crisis, first published in 1948 , through Roger Kimball’s essay in which he termed the text a “blistering polemic.” I confess a weakness for blistering polemics. Nothing warms the heart faster in these imperiously nonjudgmental days. Morevover, Sedlmayr’s cultural pessimism conforms more convincingly to fallen man and his ever-falling times than our current dalliance with the saving powers of beauty. For a concise bio of Sedlmayr go directly to the Dictionary of Art Historians. Continue Reading
Venice, Redux

My term “engine of evangelization” might have created some confusion. Let me clarify. God knows, the art world is mission territory. To be sure. But that is not the purpose of Vatican City’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale. No one proposes to proselytize the money changers with a lagoon view at the Hotel Danieli. The Vatican seeks to become a player on the contemporary art scene ostensibly to counter the wider, prevailing drift toward secularization. As Newsweek phrased it, the Vatican “hopes to revive its cultural side” with new interpretations of “tired spiritual art.” Continue Reading