"And so we came to Rome" - Acts 28:14

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Signing off

Tonight brings our pilgrimage to an end.  Early tomorrow the class will disperse - some back to the Twin Cities, some to other parts of Europe for a little more touring before school starts again, and a few will linger a few more days in Rome.  So, to our dear family, friends, and all who have followed us during our time in Rome and Assisi - THANK YOU for your interest, enthusiasm, and prayers.  We have prayed for you at all our liturgies and have carried many personal intentions in our hearts as we have visited all the holy places to be found in this city - where the Apostles brought the Good News and offered themselves for its spread in glorious martyrdom.  We thank Monsignor Callaghan, Fr. Pish, and most especially Fr. Juan Miguel Betancourt, for making this time possible.  We acknowledge and are grateful for the generosity of the St. Paul Seminary's benefactors whose giving has been instrumental  in our formation for priestly service. We remember too the generosity and spiritual guidance of Fr. Joseph Carola, S.J., during our retreat, as well as all those who arranged for and hosted our visits in Rome.

Solemn Blessing for Feasts of Ss. Peter and Paul
Roman Missal, 3rd Edition

May almighty God bless you,
for he has made you steadfast in Saint Peter’s saving confession
and through it has set you on the solid rock of the Church’s faith.
R. Amen.

And having instructed you
by the tireless preaching of Saint Paul,
may God teach you constantly by his example
to win brothers and sisters for Christ.
R. Amen.

So that by the keys of St Peter and the words of St Paul,
and by the support of their intercession,
God may bring us happily to that homeland
that Peter attained on a cross
and Paul by the blade of a sword.
R. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever.
R. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vespers with the Holy Father

On the eve of our last full day in Rome, we had the joy of celebrating Second Vespers for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul with Pope Benedict at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  We arrived early and had good seats right on the rail to see the procession.  Even though we were mere feet from the Pope, it was a challenge to get good photos.  The liturgy was beautiful, with Latin chant and a homily from the Holy Father.  The Pope also acknowledged several guests from other ecclesial communities as today marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 

Waiting outside the Basilica - we were among the first in line, two hours early

Staking out a good spot "on the rail"

The "Worship Aid"

Deacons Ben Hadrich Robert Abotzabire enjoy a brief word with the Papal Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini.  Msgr. Marini is almost always seen next to the Pope at all liturgies at which the Holy Father presides.

Deacons Brandon Moravitz and Evan Koop waiting for Vespers to begin

Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone (L) and another Prince of the Church process ahead of the Pope

Swiss Guards man the aisle during Vespers

The Servant of the Servants of God

More of the Roman Curia

The last two days have brought a few more visits to the Roman Congregations.  Last night we visited the Congregation for Divine Worship, where we were hosted by Monsignor Thomas Fucinaro, priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, NE.  Msgr. Fucinaro disussed the work of his Congregation, answered our questions, and passed along greetings to us from the Prefect, Cardinal Canizares-Llovera. 

Msgr. Fucinaro answers our questions at the Congregation for Divine Worship

 This morning, we visited the offices of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is the arm of the Roman Curia that is responsible for promoting human rights and the development of peoples throughout the world.  We were hosted by the Undersecretary of the Council, Dr. Flaminia Giovanelli, who is the highest-ranking laywoman in the Roman Curia.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Secretariat of State and Emmanuel Community

Later this afternoon, we were taken on a very exclusive tour of the Apostolic Palace (where the Papal Apartment is located - no photos allowed!) to see the offices and library of the Vatican Secretary of State.  We were shown around by an American priest of the Diocese of Scranton, Fr. Washington, who works in the English-speaking office (and, incidentally, was the priest who introduced us to the Holy Father at the Audience two weeks ago).  We were taken to what is surely one of the best photo-ops in Rome, the balcony of the Secretary of State, only about a hundred yards from the Papal window, and overlooking the front of St. Peter's Basilica.

Following the visit to the Vatican, we spent the rest of the evening with the Emmanuel Community's School of Mission in Rome.  The Emmanuel Community, founded by layman Pierre Goursat in France forty years ago, is dedicated to Eucharistic adoration, works of compassion, and evangelization.  We enjoyed conversation and dinner with young students from around the world participating in the nine month-long School of Mission, in which they live a structured life of prayer, study, and service.

St. Mary Major & St. Prassede, and Congregation of Bishops

Please excuse the lack of updates over the weekend - though there be no shortage of activity.  Members of the class made a few trips to greater Italy - most notably Venice and Milan, and Florence.  We will gather some pictures of these expeditions to post soon.  Here in Rome, the internet connection was unavailable until today, so were going to catch up now.  Thank you for your patience and continued interest!

Our first stop on this, the last Monday of our time in Rome, completed our circuit of the four Papal Basilicas: this time we visited Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), originally constructed to commemorate the Council of Ephesus in 431 and the approval of the title "Mother of God" (Theotokos) for the Blessed Mother. The Basilica's main treasures are the Holy Manger, the main altar containing the body of St. Matthew, and the Borghese chapel, home of the Salus Populi Romani icon, traditionally held to have been painted by St. Luke. This is where Pope Pius XII celebrated his first Mass. The main celebrant of our Mass today was none other than our Rector, Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, lately arrived from St. Paul!   

Class entering the grand Basilica of Our Lady
Praying at the reliquary containing the Holy Manger
Beginning of Mass
Deacon John Rutten proclaiming the Gospel
Msgr. Callaghan preaching
Deacon Evan Koop distributing the Precious Blood
Burial place of the great Baroque master Bernini at St. Mary Major

After St. Mary Major, we took a short walk down a side street to the Basilica of Santa Prassede, a minor basilica which has special significance for us as seminarians.  Santa Prassede was the titular church of the great St. Charles Borromeo, who, before becoming the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, served as Secretary of State for his uncle, Pope Pius IV.  St. Charles used to feed the poor from a table in the church, which is now housed in a special reliquary.  There is also a chair used by the Saint, as well as a piece of the pillar of the Scourging (not pictured)

Chair of St. Charles Borromeo

Closeup of the table from which St. Charles regularly fed the poor of Rome

After lunch, we were visited at the Domus by an American priest who is an official in the Congregation for Bishops, the Curial office responsible for the naming and vetting of bishops throughout the world.  He explained the interesting process of how bishops are named and proposed to the Holy Father.

Meeting with the official from the Congregation of Bishops

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vir Ecclesiae

"Man of the Church"

Catacombs of St. Sebastian

Yesterday, on the Feast of St. Sebastian, Deacons Ben Hadrich and Ben Kociemba made a special visit to the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, just outside the city of Rome, near the Catacombs of St. Callistus which the class visited last week.  The Deacons were able to attend a special procession with the relics of St. Sebastian, which are only brought out for public veneration once every year, on the feast day of the Saint.  

Deacon Ben Hadrich at the Church at the Catacombs of St. Sebastian.  Deacon Hadrich has a special devotion to St. Sebastian, whom he chose as his Confirmation saint. 

Altar with Statue of St. Sebastian

Close up of the statue