WHEN DURING THE HOLY MASS FATHER ARIEL Smashed A GUITAR ON THE COLUMN OF THE NAVE OF A PARISH CHURCH
When he goes to places he doesn't know, he prefers to have a policeman nearby who can possibly block him, "privilege" this granted of motu proprio a me, poor wretch that I am! Simple reason: holding a Bengal tiger is easier and less dangerous than holding him.
— Stories never written —
I'm 12 year old that I live and work closely with him, are therefore a living archive of the deeds of Father Ariel S. Levi di Gualdo. Naturally, when you are meek, one does not narrate one's most beautiful deeds, for matters of meekness. I fear that one day I will have to give an account to God for having prevented the performance of various not beautiful feats, but beautiful. And who knows what punishment I will have to suffer for this, when I stand before the judgment of God, having prevented the realization of certain strokes of genius.
Characteristic of Father Ariel is to surprise you with things you would never expect. Because of this, when he begins with certain performance, always and strictly sudden and unexpected, people can't even react in the moment, because they need to get into the order of ideas that what happened is true, which just really happened.
May 2010, a brother of Father Ariel, Colombian, while he was doing his doctorate in sacred liturgy in a pontifical university in Rome he carried out the ministry of second assistant pastor in a parish that I won't name, in a suburbicarian diocese of Rome which I will not name. Having decided to make a pilgrimage to Fatima and stay in Portugal for a few days, calls Father Ariel and asks him if he can replace him for the evening Mass on Saturday and for that of Sunday morning. He accepts right away, also for the deep fraternal and emotional bond he nurtures towards that priest, who was master of ceremonies at his priestly ordination.
As it usually does, he asks me if I can accompany him and carry out the service of acolyte, not being able to admit that when he goes to places he doesn't know, he prefers to have a policeman nearby who can possibly block him, "privilege" this granted of motu proprio a me, poor wretch that I am! Simple reason: holding a Bengal tiger is easier and less dangerous than holding him.
Against guitars Father Ariel has nothing, why the guitar, if played well, by professionals and musicians, it can be a splendid liturgical instrument. Time and again we have heard guitarists play arias by J.S. Bach, on other occasions even accompany Gregorian chants in the background. An authentic marvel.
But when he hears about sixty-year-old post-sixty-eight-year-olds play the guitars they can't play, if anything on the melody of When the Saints Go Marching In, Father Ariel might even make you regret not meeting Jack the Ripper instead, with which all in all could go better.
I admit: Sunday morning that coretto hit rock bottom. During Communion they began to sing a song taken from the famous opera Jesus Christ Superstar. And here it must be stated: Father Ariel greatly appreciates both that work and the ballet of Martha Graham Dance Company, which he considers one of his greatest works rock in the twentieth century. But, at the same time, he is a presbyter and a theologian of solid doctrine and knows that that work and the lyrics of his songs strongly deny the divinity of Christ. That's when the chorus begins to sing on the words translated into Italian of the Magdalene in love with Christ: "… it's a man, he's just a man". Father Ariel ceases to distribute Communion, goes up to the altar, he places the pyx on it, he kneels reverently, descends under the presbytery, he takes the guitar from the guitarist's hand and smashes it on the column of a nave. He leaves the guitar in pieces on the floor and says: “At the end of real concerts rock that's how it's done".
A grave silence fell in the church. And as if nothing happened, composed and frozen like a piece of ice, the Eucharistic celebration continued and ended.
The pastor didn't dare say anything, I assume fearing ending up with a bronze candlestick stamped on my back. But the next day he was the first to support the protest of those choristers to the Bishop, saying he didn't know that priest and blaming the second assistant pastor who had called him to replace him. Obviously Father Ariel had already taken care to call his Bishop, who at the time was Msgr. Luigi Negri, and tell him the story.
No later than Monday afternoon the Bishop of that Diocese calls Mons. Luigi Negri, which basically was perhaps even more indisposed of the Father Ariel himself in the face of certain liturgical antics, and that so calms him down: «I reassure you and please also reassure the guitarist that all in all it went really well for him, rather thank God, because for the type that is, I'm amazed that he smashed the guitar on the column and not on his head».
Spent a year, while the Colombian priest was about to leave Rome at the end of his studies and return to his diocese, a few days before taking the plane he confided to Father Ariel that he had invited him on purpose to replace him, imagining that in the face of similar things he would have reacted, after he had had to put up with that choir and that ignorant parish priest for two years in matters of doctrine and faith, that he didn't even realize the heresies that those people sang during Mass.
But I repeat: being Father Ariel meek, deeply tame, avoid narrating some of his finest deeds, certainly for a speech of profound humility.
the Island of Patmos, 9 January 2023
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