William E. Schaffner, S.J.
Father Schaffner felt a strong attraction to beauty. He loved listening to classical music and loved the luminous quality of mosaics. Without Willie’s interest, most of his friends would know nothing about the Mausoleum in Ravenna, Italy, named for an Empress-Mother of the Western Roman Empire, Galla Placidia. This small mausoleum was decorated in the early fifth century with extraordinary mosaics. Because of the interest that Father Schaffner later showed in these mosaics, his visit there to view, admire and photograph them was certainly one of the high points of his life.
There was a way in which the desire perfectly to hear and to see beauty overwhelmed him. To reproduce its features engaged him. He struggled to get just the best reproduction of sound and sight. This struggle was without doubt part of a spiritual search for God; he struggled to find God in this beauty. It was a part of his prayer.
And now the struggle for this perfection of sound and sight has come to an end. Jesus now opens Willie’s eyes just as he opened the eyes of the blind. Jesus now opens Willie’s ears just as he opened the ears of the deaf. Willie sees and hears a reality in the kingdom of God which the old earthly sounds and scenes could only suggest.