Monday, 23 June 2014

The 7 second Mona Lisa

Back in the 1960s (remember those?) the French Ministry of Culture arranged for the original of the Mona Lisa to tour Japan so that it could be viewed and admired by a race keenly appreciative of art and of Franzwa art especially.

Very quickly they found that the galleries and The French Embassy offices where the ML was displayed, became swamped and gridlocked by thousand upon thousand of Japanese hungry for a culture bite.

Things got out of hand. The normally quiet and polite Japanese people had changed into a lynch mob intent upon gaining some minutes of reflective appreciation in the presence of the painting.

The authorities, acting  in a typically Japanese manner, worked out through logic and a slide rule that each person required no more than 7 seconds in which to  drink in the portrait, gasp at the artist's fine sense of perspective and think deeply on the use of colours and shade.

They then set about enforcing the rule so that there was a constant, shuffling flow of bodies, each pausing for the mandatory 7 seconds.

That leads me to consider how much time we spend before a crucifix each day or, if we are fortunate, before the Blessed Sacrament?

Of course, we have The Forty Hours devotion, but that's only once every few months or so and, if we were to do a calculation based on the length of time that would would out at per day, it would probably be less than seven seconds per day.

At school, the good Dominican nuns of Burnt Oak used to tell us to spend three minutes. "with" Our Lord each day and remember His Blessed Name at every sensible opportunity.

That meant focusing on the intricate brain surgery or hi speed train tasks in front of you and, afterwards, when all was complete,  say a quick prayer.

I don't think that in the last fifty years of an ever increasing foot on the pedal world, we spend much time at all thinking of things spiritual.
I certainly don't think that many Catholic schools would encourage their students to pray often or spend a daily period with The Lord.

Perhaps we do need a directive along the Japanese lines that tells us we must spend seven seconds in silent prayer each day.....and then, keep shuffling on.


  1. During a visit to what remains of Westminster Abbey the docent / watchdog stationed at the tomb of Bloody Elizabeth reminded us "Once around Elizabeth and out." I can't imagine that anyone intended to spend any time praying for her, but of course for Good Queen Mary, buried with her, yes.

  2. (And, yes, I prayed for poor Elizabeth too, but from a sense of duty, not from enthusiasm.)

  3. St Alphonsus' prayer before the Blessed Sacrament:

    The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. The authorities didn't notice until a day or so later when someone who had come into sketch her wanted to know where she was. I do wonder why in all those churches where the Tabernacle has been disappeared no one seems to notice. How many churches still have a monstrance and exposition? I haven't seen one in years.