Saturday, October 6, 2012

Paris language school

After a very enjoyable two months at St. Joseph's in Devils Lake I departed for Paris to learn the French language.  I stayed in the parish Saint Louis en l'île.  There are two islands in the Seine river which runs through the heart of Paris: the larger one is where the Cathedral Notre Dame is built.  The smaller one behind it is where I lived.  The parish where I stayed is one of the parish houses of the Paris seminary:  their seminarians live in various parishes and then go out for their classes.  I stayed in the top floor of the presbytery, and the seminarians live literally on top of the church.  I got to know many of the parishioners, which was very nice. 
Above: Notre Dame and a barge floating down the Seine.  Below:  St. Louis Parish

Paris has many many museums.  Perhaps the most famous of them is the Louvre.  It has very diverse collections:  painting, sculpture, egyptian art, ancient middle eastern art, artifacts from Greece and Rome, medieval artifacts, etc.  I went there twice, and did not see nearly everything. 
My favorite thing at the Louvre were the busts of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle from the I century A.D.. They are probably the best representation that we have of these Greek philosophers.  Socrates is below.
I took an intensive course in French at the Institute Catholique de Paris.  Below is a picture of my classmates.  We had a picnick in the Luxembourg garden on the last day.  They were all quite dedicated, so we managed to learn a lot in a month.
The courtyard of the Institute Catholique below.
Every Parisian who I told I was staying at Saint Louis en l'île said 'vous avez de bonne chance' i.e. 'you got lucky.'  Now I believe more in providence than in luck, and it just so happened that God his his loving providence allowed me to have access to an amazing pipe organ - built in 2005 according to classic German style.  The pastor showed me where the keys were so I could play at night after the church was closed up.  I have to admit it was a bit intimidating to play the orgain in a city where figures like Marcel Dupre, Maurice Durufle and Olivier Messaien were parish organists.   
View of Paris from the Tour de Montparnasse.

Some night shots: Notre Dame and traffic. Below - the rest of the island is covered with government buildings and a jail. When someone is imprisoned he first goes to the island, because it is in the center of the city, and then from there they get moved to prisons on the outskirts of the city.  Their experience of the island is a lot different than the thousands of tourists who visit it each day. 
Another highlight was the museum of of the Paris sewers.  It was good to balance out all of the high culture with a little bit of practicality.  The museum, besides giving one a chance to see first hand the functioning of the Paris sewer system, traced the history of the city from Roman times in terms of fresh water and wastewater.  Its amazing how much influence both of those things have on almost every aspect of life.   
I'm back in Rome now, and school begins on Tuesday.  This is my 23rd and last year of school.  On Thursday 31 men from the North American College were ordained deacons.  It was a beautiful Mass, and it is really neat to see so many friends become ordained ministers of the Church. 

Do not hesitate to contact me if you are in need of prayer, or if you would like me to offer a Mass for your intentions. 

I've posted some more pictures here: