Friday, March 31, 2006

From Poland Will Come the Spark

One year ago today...

"From Poland will Come the Spark that will prepare the world for my final coming"

I read these words back in 1978 from St. Faustina's diary that were spoken to her by Jesus. They were published before anyone had even thought of a Polish pope, but somehow one knew that Jesus was referring to this pope and twenty six years later the spark has spread it's fire throughout the world and the devotion to the Divine Mercy is one of the most popular.

I wrote to the pope back in those early days and received the standard reply from a Monsignor that the Holy Father had received my message and sent his blessings. Enclosed in the letter was a small crucifix. What I had written the pope was the following message from teh Gospel of John in Polish:

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young,
you girded yourself and walked where you would;
but when you are old,
you will stretch out your hands,
and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go."
(This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.)
And after this he said to him, "Follow me."
John 21:18-19

It is Our Lord's message to St. Peter. I was reminded of this today at Mass when the Gospel reading was from John and the verses immediately preceding this passage. When I sent it to the Holy Father those many years ago I did so because I thought of how his embracing of the Petrine office was taking him away from his beloved Poland. But in these last years it has seemed even more prophetic as he is wheeled out and put around.

If indeed he is the spark that was to prepare the world for the Lord's coming what awaits us after his entrance into the Father's Kingdom?

One Year later...2006:

In the middle of the night on February 24/25th on a plane somewhere over the west European cost as light broke through the darkness this passage from St. Faustina's diary entered my mind and the words "write and remind others about this message."

I forgot about it for the most part after the excitement of the days in Rome, but was reminded of it when I prayed at the tomb of Pope John Paul II and then this:

The beautiful Encyclical of Pope Benedict is yet another invitation from the God of Love...

Yet how many of us are mired in judgment--judging and being judged?

Picking up stones to cast at others, while worthy of being stoned?

Forgetful of the price paid for our salvation, forgetful of the gift being offered in the Confessional and the altar?

Lord have mercy on us!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pope to China, Russia and Canada

One of these is not like the others...

All in the news.

Quebec in 2008?



Pope's General Audience

From Asia News Italy:

The Church, “in spite of all human frailties”, expresses the communion, the “participation in trinitary life”. It is a “gift that brings us out of our solitude and enables us to participate in the love that binds us to God and to one another.” We can understand its greatness “only if we consider the divisions and conflicts that afflict relations between individuals, groups and entire peoples.”

Today, on a true day of spring, Benedict XVI spoke of the gift of communion to 40,000 faithful gathered for the general audience in St Peter’s Square. Communion is a gift from which the Church stems and which the Church expresses, he said. Through its apostolic ministry, it “will live across time building and nourishing the communion in Christ and the Spirit”.

“The Twelve prepared their successors (cf 1 Clem 42, 4) so that their mission might continue after their death. In the course of time, the Church, organically structured under the guidance of its legitimate Pastors, has thus continued to exist in the world as the mystery of communion in which is somewhat reflected the trinitary communion itself”.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Archbiship Marini Hospitalized?

Rumor floating around Rome is that Papal Master of Ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini has suffered a heart attack and has been hospitalized.

Now if this is true, let me make one comment. I noticed at the Mass on Saturday that Marini kept rubbing his eyes during the Pope's homily. ..which struck me as strange as these papal attendants usually are very stoic. If there is someone with medical knowledge could rubbing of the eyes be a warning sign?

It might be that Marini is getting too old to handle the rigours of papal liturgies (three in the past three days)!

Btw, I wasn't the only one who noticed. Check out what Shouts has to say:

Just as Marini being passed over for cardinal doesn't necessarily mean
anything neither does his remaining on the job as M.C. As is always the case we
don't get to decide for him what the Pope's actions (or lack thereof) mean.
Besides, there's always next year for more red hats, right? Perhaps that's why
Piero seemed so out of it at yesterday's Consistory?
Perhaps, the axe is about
to fall and he's bummed? Maybe the axe has already fallen and it just isn't
public yet so he's feeling whistful for the "old days" of the last millenium
when he had more control?

(emphasis mind)

Cardinal Masses' From on Site Bloggers

Cardinal O'Malley's mass at the North American College via Sister Bernadette


Cardinal Leveda's Mass via Zadok

Yes, We Can!

Half a million protest immigration bill in LA...

From Access North Georgia:

More than 500,000 protesters - demanding that Congress abandon attempts to make
illegal immigration a felony and to build more walls along the border -
surprised police who estimated the crowd size using aerial photographs and other
techniques, police Cmdr. Louis Gray Jr. said.

Wearing white T-shirts to
symbolize peace, the demonstrators chanted "Mexico!" "USA!" and "Si se puede,"
an old Mexican-American civil rights shout that means "Yes, we can."

Article on Fr. Robert Barron in the NY TImes

I thoroughly enjoy Father Baron's talks as well as his books.

In Chicago, Energizing the Catholics

Daily Lenten Audio Post

Sunday, March 26, 2006

And in the Angelus...on the Color of Red

From Asia News Italy:

“The Consistory was an opportunity to feel closer than ever to all those Christians who suffer persecution because of their faith. Their witness, which we are informed of daily, and above all the sacrifice of those who were killed, are edifying for us and urge us to an ever more sincere and generous Gospel commitment.” The pope also recalled that the red colour of the Cardinal’s vestments, “the colour of blood”, indicated the “fidelity” and readiness of cardinals to spread the Gospel “to the point of sacrificing one’s life”.

Pope in Pink (Rose)-- Laetare Sunday

Liturgy check in your parish, what color vestments did your presider wear today?

Pope mentions John Paul's undelivered homily in his, from:

Pope Benedict XVI commemorated his predecessor on Sunday by quoting a passage on Christian love from a homily that the late John Paul II should have recited on April 3, 2005 - a day after his death last year.

"To humanity, which at times appears lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, our risen lord offers in gift his love, which forgives, reconciles and opens our heart to hope. It is a love that conquers the hearts and brings peace," said Benedict, quoting John Paul's planned homily.

"It was written in the divine plans that he should leave us on the eve of that day, Saturday April 2, as we all remember. This is why he was no longer able to utter these words, which I want to recall today to all of you," Benedict said while addressing the faithful gathered in a parish in Rome created under John Paul's pontificate.

"In this sort of testament, we are invited to understand and embrace the divine mercy (of God)," Benedict said.

Daily Lenten Podcast

this is an audio post - click to play

From the book of Lenten meditations written by me:

The Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ to Your Life

Reflection on Today's Gospel

Jesus said to Nicodemus:“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have
eternal life.”For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.For
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed
in the name of the only Son of God.And this is the verdict,that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light,because their works were
evil.For everyone who does wicked things hates the lightand does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

(Image from the ceiling of the Gesu in Rome of souls repelled by the name of Jesus and the Light plunging downward to their damnation)


Since I'm fresh back from Rome, I cannot read this Sunday's Gospel without thinking of the ceiling of the Gesu in Rome. It is the triumph of the name of Jesus and it plays on the contrast between light and darkness...those who move toward the name are almost lost in the light, while those repelled by the name are in darkness and seem to be plunging downward and about to crash on those looking upward (one of the best 3-D images I've ever witnessed). And of course this image immediately impacts you the viewer..."am I drawn toward the name of Jesus or repelled by it" we all immediately might put ourselves in the "drawn towards" category, but don't be so quick to judge, but rather ask yourself "am I willing to die to myself and glorify the name of Jesus?"
Do I prefer the light that Jesus brings to the darkness of my intellect or do I prefer my thoughts to Jesus' teaching in the Gospel?

One of the best homilies I ever heard was on this Gospel and it also was one of the shortest homilies I ever heard. It was given by an old Jesuit in his 90's who read the Gospel in a halting voice and then preached these words in a tearful voice:

"'This is the judgment, the light came into the world but men preferred darkness.' What a tragedy!"

His simple "What a tragedy" gave me pause to think about the gravity of this choice and years later having witnessed the mother church of the Jesuits I can't help but think when he gave the homily that the image of the Gesu ceiling was in the back of his mind and those plunging souls falling to their own damnation because of their preference to darkness.

Last night I was reading a passage from a book on Monastic Practices, I believe written by a Cistercian and the passage was specifically about Vigils and keeping watch in the night. The monk talked about the deeds of darkness and how monks are called to watch and pray specifically for the Lord's coming in the midst of the night for all of those who may be plunging at that moment into the deeper darkness. Who knows how many souls have been saved because in some monastery at that "hour of darkness" monks were "watching and praying" per the Lord's command and light broke through and drew a soul toward the Name?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord

From Pope Benedict's Homily Today:
Saint Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?" The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: "Hail, full of grace" (cf. Sermo 291:6). In fact, the Angel, "appearing to her", does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: "Full of grace - gratia plena", which in the original Greek is 6,P"D4JTµXv0, "beloved" (cf. Lk 1:28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6:7). It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response: in being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God’s love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom through obedience to the Father. In the second reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ’s Incarnation: "When Christ came into the world, he said: . . . ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God’" (Heb 10:5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements from Christ and from the Virgin, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God’s loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration.
What a great gift, dear Brothers, to be able to conduct this evocative celebration on the Solemnity of the Lord’s Annunciation! What an abundance of light we can draw from this mystery for our lives as ministers of the Church! You above all, dear new Cardinals, what great sustenance you can receive for your mission as the eminent "Senate" of Peter’s Successor! This providential circumstance helps us to consider today’s event, which emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other principle, the Marian one, which is even more fundamental. The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the Council, by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in harmony with his motto Totus tuus. In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981 in Saint Peter’s Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace, looking down over Saint Peter’s Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal. The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary’s acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed. Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his successors, is "included" under the Virgin’s mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her "yes" to God’s will. This link with Mary naturally evokes a strong affective resonance in all of us, but first of all it has an objective value. Between Mary and the Church there is indeed a connatural relationship that was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council in its felicitous decision to place the treatment of the Blessed Virgin at the conclusion of the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.

Daily Audio Post for the Annunciation of the Lord

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, March 24, 2006

Titular Churches of New Cardinals

1. Card. WILLIAM JOSEPH LEVADA Diaconia di Santa Maria in Domnica

2. Card. FRANC RODÉ Diaconia di San Francesco Saverio alla Garbatella

3. Card. AGOSTINO VALLINI Diaconia di San Pier Damiani ai Monti di San Paolo

4. Card. JORGE LIBERATO UROSA SAVINO Titolo di Santa Maria ai Monti

5. Card. GAUDENCIO B. ROSALES Titolo del Santissimo Nome di Maria a Via Latina

6. Card. JEAN-PIERRE RICARD Titolo di Sant’Agostino

7. Card. ANTONIO CAÑIZARES LLOVERA Titolo di San Pancrazio

8. Card. NICHOLAS CHEONG JINSUK Titolo di Santa Maria Immacolata di Lourdes a Boccea

9. Card. SEAN PATRICK O’MALLEY, O.F.M. Cap. Titolo di Santa Maria della Vittoria

10. Card. STANIS?AW DZIWISZ Titolo di Santa Maria del Popolo

11. Card. CARLO CAFFARRA Titolo di San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini

12. Card. JOSEPH ZEN ZE-KIUN, S.D.B. Titolo di Santa Maria Madre del Redentore a Tor Bella Monaca

13. Card. ANDREA CORDERO LANZA DI MONTEZEMOLO Diaconia di Santa Maria in Portico

14. Card. PETER POREKU DERY Diaconia di Sant’Elena fuori Porta Prenestina

15. Card. ALBERT VANHOYE, S.I. Diaconia di Santa Maria della Mercede e Sant’Adriano a Villa Albani

Note: Cardinal Law, I believe is the titular bishop of Saint Sussanna (the American Church) and now Cardinal O'Malley's church is very close to it--although it would have been nice to give him the Capuchin church but I'm guessing someone already has it.

New Cardinals of the Church

Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana is given the sign of peace by Pope Benedict XVI after being made a cardinal. In one of the more shocking commentaries I've heard, the American commentator used this episode to remark and I paraphrase "Isn't it strange to see the pope getting up to aid a cardinal who is bound to a wheel chair as opposed to the pope himself being bound to a chair," (a reference to the late Pope John Paul II).
I would note that the only two cardinals that the pope arose out of his seat to greet (and in this case to make Archbishop Dery a cardinal) were Archbishop Dery and Archbishop Levada--the latter clearly as a sign of the friendship between the two men.
Something that my Rome trip has given me is a new understanding of the churches of Rome, so that in this morning's ceremony when the pope announced to each new cardinal their titular church in Rome, I knew not only what he was saying but also where they are and what they are like.
Here are the new American cardinals and also the new cardinal of Pope John Paul's former See, his secretary:

Daily Audio Lenten Post

Thursday, March 23, 2006

In Rome, House Blessings for Easter

From A Young American in Rome:

I walked out of my apartment building this morning and noticed that an announcement was posted on the main door. I stared at it for a minute, trying to translate whether the building would be without hot water or have a temporary power outage.

None of that -- it was naming the date that a Catholic priest would be in the building to bless each residence with holy water for Easter. As I looked up and down the street, I saw that every door had the same sign posted. This caught me by surprise - I only know of priests coming to bless houses in exorcism horror movies!

Apparently, this is a ritual that was traditionally done on the eve of Easter. Homes are blessed by the parish priest in memory of the angel who signed door-posts with lamb's blood in Egypt. Although Easter is a ways away, I suppose Rome is just too big for the priests to hit every house the day before Easter.

Head of Cardinal Class?

While everyone will be thinking about the late, great Pope John Paul II as the first anniversary of this death approaches his most trusted companion will be made a cardinal. The Archbishop of Krakow arrives at his old home, the Vatican:

Needs of the Asian Catholics

Expressed by the new Cardinal of the Philipines, from Asia Italy News:

How do you think the Church should proceed towards this end?

Evangelization is the main challenge for the Church in Asia. But evangelization must have a new expression, adapted to the needs of this continent, while keeping to the same message: the word of Christ. I think we should follow the path of so-called “integral evangelization” indicated by Paul VI, sensitive to people’s problems and to faith inculturation, with the aim of freeing men and women from slavery: of vices, sins, and corruption. And this is especially evident and necessary in the Philippines.

Synod of Concerns

From Yahoo News:
Benedict's No. 2, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, opened the meeting by thanking the pope for seeking the advice of the cardinals, saying it "shows us the importance your Holiness places on the votes of our college."

The daylong session came on the eve of Benedict's first ceremony to elevate 15 prelates to the top tier of the Catholic hierarchy — additions the pope has said reflect the global reach of the church.

The agenda of Thursday's meeting appeared to be fairly open. Cardinals have said they expect the discussion to include relations with Islam and the Orthodox Church, international terrorism and the reform of the Vatican hierarchy.

Daily Audio Lenten Post

this is an audio post - click to play

From the book of Lenten meditations written by me:

The Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ to Your Life

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Clarification on Title "Patriarch of the West"

And why it isn't being used anymore. From the Vatican Information Service:

"From a historical perspective," the communique reads, "the ancient Patriarchates of the East, defined by the Councils of Constantinople (381) and of Chalcedon (451), covered a fairly clearly demarcated territory. At the same time, the territory of the see of the Bishop of Rome remained somewhat vague. In the East, under the ecclesiastical imperial system of Justinian (527-565), alongside the four Eastern Patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), the Pope was included as the Patriarch of the West. Rome, on the other hand, favored the idea of the three Petrine episcopal sees: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. Without using the title 'Patriarch of the West,' the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-870), the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the Council of Florence (1439), listed the Pope as the first of the then five Patriarchs.

"The title 'Patriarch of the West' was adopted in the year 642 by Pope Theodore. Thereafter it appeared only occasionally and did not have a clear meaning. It flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in the context of a general increase in the Pope's titles, and appeared for the first time in the 'Annuario Pontificio' in 1863."

The term 'West' currently refers to a cultural context not limited only to Western Europe but including North America, Australia and New Zealand, thus differentiating itself from other cultural contexts, says the communique. "If we wished to give the term 'West' a meaning applicable to ecclesiastical juridical language, it could be understood only in reference to the Latin Church." In this way, the title "Patriarch of the West," would describe the Bishop of Rome's special relationship with the Latin Church, and his special jurisdiction over her.

"The title 'Patriarch of the West,' never very clear, over history has become obsolete and practically unusable. It seems pointless, then, to insist on maintaining it. Even more so now that the Catholic Church, with Vatican Council II, has found, in the form of episcopal conferences and their international meetings, the canonical structure best suited to the needs of the Latin Church today."

The communique concludes: "Abandoning the title of 'Patriarch of the West' clearly does not alter in any way the recognition of the ancient patriarchal Churches, so solemnly declared by Vatican Council II. ... The renouncement of this title aims to express a historical and theological reality, and at the same time, ... could prove useful to ecumenical dialogue."

Islam and Freedom of Religion?

Not to mention, didn't we overthrow the "extreme" version?

In Afghanistan, from CNN:

In the days of the Taliban, those promoting Christianity in Afghanistan could be arrested and those converting from Islam could be tortured and publicly executed.

That was supposed to change after U.S.-led forces ousted the oppressive, fundamentalist regime, but the case of 41-year-old Abdul Rahman has many Western nations wondering if Afghanistan is regressing.

Rahman, a father of two, was arrested last week and is now awaiting trial for rejecting Islam. He told local police, whom he approached on an unrelated matter, that he had converted to Christianity. Reports say he was carrying a Bible at the time.

Monk's Suicide Linked to DaVinci Code?

From The Telegraph:

A monk may have leapt to his death from a monastery after reading The Da Vinci Code, it emerged yesterday.

Abbot Alan Rees, 64, a revered figure in the Benedictine community, fell 30ft from a second-storey balcony at Belmont Abbey in Herefordshire last October.

The Swansea-born monk had suffered from depression for the past 12 years.

Pope' Wednesday Audience (Today)

Pope Benedict XVI:
In our catechesis on Christ and the Church, we have seen how the Church is built “on the foundation of the Apostles”. The Gospels show how Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry, chose the Twelve to become “fishers of men”. Saint John in particular presents the calling of the Apostles as the fruit of a life-changing, personal encounter with the Lord. More than just the proclamation of a message, the preaching of the Gospel is seen as a witness to the person of Jesus Christ and an invitation to enter into communion with him. Jesus sent his Apostles first to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”. This prophetic act should be understood in the light of Israel’s messianic expectation, according to which God, through his Chosen One, would gather his people like a shepherd his flock. This “gathering” is the sign of the coming of God’s Kingdom and the extension of his saving power to every nation and people. After the Resurrection, the universality of the mission entrusted to the Apostles would become explicit. The Risen Lord would send them forth to make disciples of every nation, even “to the ends of the earth”!

Daily Audio Lenten Post

this is an audio post - click to play

From the book of Lenten meditations written by me:

The Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ to Your Life

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From the Comments

A request:

Everyone who knows about St. Rita and her devotion to Christ, please ask her to pray for my daughter. Thank you. Mar

Daily Audio Lenten Post by Michael Dubruiel

From the book of Lenten meditations written by me, The Power of the Cross.

Update 2012:

The link to the mp3s is dead - I have no idea where to find them. But there is a complete series of discussions Michael Dubruiel had on The Power of the Cross with Bruce and Kris McGregor of KVSS in Omaha.

Apologies on the Comments

I just figured out that I have to personally aprove comments now, so that's why they haven't been appearing.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Roma Locuta Est (March 6th)

It was raining hard enough that I ran back up the stairs of the apartment to get an umbrella the final morning in Rome. Then I made my way to St. Peter's that now seemed almost like an old habit. A few nuns, also with umbrellas were in line with me. We made our way into St. Peter's. First, I made my way to the tomb of St. Gregory Nazianzen and in doing so found one of the kneelers where the conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence were listed--confession was one of the conditions, so I found an confessor who could hear confessions in English and made mine, then went back to the kneeler and said prayers for the intention of the Holy Father. Then I attended a Mass in Italian at the tomb of Blessed John XXIII. Then a visit to the tomb of Pope John Paul II where I prayed the Joyful mysteries of the rosary. Then to the Blessed Sacrament chapel to pray Morning Prayer. Then a rush out of St. Peter's and back to the apartment. When I got back there, the cab driver was already there (although it was about fifteen minutes before we had told him)...more rush to finish taking trash to a dumpster two blocks away, and then to bring the baggage down and take a final look around. Then through the streets and out of Rome through fogged up windows. That was two weeks ago today, but seems like a distant dream already.
When I took Latin over twenty-five years ago we learned a saying, Roma locuta est, causa finita, "Rome has spoken, the case is finished," meaning that the Pope had given the final word on some case of speculation, after a novena of full days in Rome it means something else to me now--a witness of history, martyrs, relics, art and a even a baby. Indeed Rome has spoken.

St. Helena and the Cross (First Sunday of Lent, March 5)

On Sunday morning, I made my way to Saint Peter's not to attend Mass (we would do that later as a family), but to visit the various tombs of the Saints, Blesseds and soon to be (think Pope John Paul II), praying the Office at the various altars and then the rosary. It is interesting to me that yesterday morning I awoke in the middle fo the night and watched a live Mass from the St. Peter's and it looked so different to me that at first I thought the Pope was at some other church (this is just the opposite of what I expected would be the case from here on), but I think when you only see a small image of something that is so massive it has that effect.
These early morning mini-pilgrimages had become a good way to begin the day and to keep the focus on Christ. In some way my infant son had set the tone on the very first visit to St. Peter's a week earlier when the two of us (he on my back in a baby carrier) had ducked into the Blessed Sacrament chapel and knelt in a back pew and he had spoken one word, "Christ." Like the children that St. Augustine heard saying "Tolle et lege," his simple "Christ" echoed in my ears as the proclamations of St. Peter inscripted in Latin and Greek on along the walls of St. Peter's visually confirmed the basis of the epicenter of the Church that Christ founded on Peter after he proclaimed with Divine insight "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
The bodies of incorrupt popes, that dot St. Peter's point to the awaiting of the resurrection but also speak of the sleep that all followers of Christ long to be awakened from--just as the oversized cross of St. Helena, spear of St. Longius, cloth of St. Veronica and cross of St. Andrew all hover toward the the altar where the pope alone says Mass--amidst the glory of the papacy, I doubt anyone serving in that office could not be reminded everytime that they mount that sanctuary that "here we have no lasting kingdom."
One morning remained on this trip to make this morning visit, it would be a hasty one due to our morning departure.
Making my way back to the apartment, everyone was beginning to pack what wasn't needed beyond today and there was a large bag of garbage needing removal (it is amazing how much garbage we Americans can produce on a continuous basis--of course having a baby in diapers produces its own gross--in every sense of the word). Everyone gathered what they would need and we headed the several blocks back to St. Peter's this time to the long line that circled the piazza to go through security. The church was filled with tourists, mass goers and seekers as well as the ever present saints, angels and monuments of popes. Once we made it clear that our intention was to attend Mass we were allowed into that area, taking seats right below St. Helena holding the cross, near where the relics of the cross are kept, over which angels hold the sign of the cross with a sign proclaiming "by this sign conquer" that led to Constantine's conversion--this image framed with columns that are from the original Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem--heady stuff and the foder for much meditation.
The Mass, celebrated in Latin was the same Mass that you attended that Sunday in whatever language you heard it in--certian parts stood out to me, because I have been studying the differences between the Latin and the English translation that we hear every time we go to Mass. In this mass of people from every continent and who spoke every language the Latin provided a common language (for this reason I applaud Benedict's decision to include the basic Latin prayers in the Compendium of the Catechism and hope that religious educators will make an effort to teach them).
I'm going to include a few photos of the Mass from fellow Catholic blogger Gashwin of Maior autem his est caritas who was at the same Mass. The first is of the procession and the second is of the chanting of the Gospel:

At Communion, the barriers around the high altar were opened up and we received Communion from one of the Canons of St. Peter's. I still marvel at the lack of order or even the thought that maybe their is an orderly way of doing this. At the conclusion of Mass we made our way with the throng out into St. Peter's square for the Sunday Angelus (our second on this trip). The wind was blowing the banner hanging from the Pope's study pretty steadily.
At noon the cannon on the nearby hill went off (this happens everyday at noon) and a second later the Pope appeared at the window. I'm going to use some Yahoo photos of this event from that particular day.
When he speaks, as I've mentioned in another post, his voice fills the piazza leading Joseph to conclude that the Pope is a loud talker, "He has a big voice," I believe were his exact words.

On the First Sunday of Lent he said in excellent English:

To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I extend a warm welcome. In a special way I greet the students from Trondheim Katedralskole in Norway and those from Duquesne University in the United States. As we begin this holy season of Lent, I pray that Almighty God will continue to bless the members of your communities with a vigorous faith and a generous spirit. Upon all of you, I invoke the abundant Blessings of Almighty God.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good Lent!

We then made our way to the ever present taxi's nearby and inquired about the price of having one of them take us to the airport in the morning. Someone was found who was available and he agreed to pick us up at our apartment in the morning and to take us to the airport for about 5 euro less then we had paid to get to the apartment. We then stopped to eat at a place very close to our apartment and had an okay meal. Amy went to the apartment and ran into the Roamin Roman who talked with her for a bit and told her that we must visit Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, I was more than happy to hear this as this was a Church that we hadn't visited yet and I wanted to see the Titulus that I had read might very well be the actual sign that hung over the cross because it didn't have the accuracy with the Gospels that one would expect a forgery to have. So as soon as lunch was over, we loaded up for the trip and set out without Katie who had reached her limit of force marches (she stayed behind and slept).
We took a cab to go directly to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Taking a cab is a quick way to get there, but with few exceptions, once you get there trying to find a cab that will take you back was more of a challenge. Anyway, we got there and went in and began our look around.
This is a church that could be said that St. Helena brought back with her...soil from the Holy Land was laid at the base of the church and some is visible under a glass, where for some reason people like to squeeze money to obscure the soil...which if not removed will one day become one with the soil.
The relics are not in the main church but in a seperate chapel through which a Cistercian monk who I asked to bless Michael and Joseph gave us a tour. He told us that Joseph was his baptismal name, but now in religion he was known as Michael...a happy coincidence.
The description of what we saw I will take from Churches of Rome, the images are mine:

Two thorns from the crown of thorns. The plant they come from has not been identified. They agree with other thorn relics.

(click on image for larger image)

The 'Titulus', part of the Title of the Cross bearing the words "Jesus of Nazareth, King...". It was found on 1 February 1492, built into the wall of the basilica behind a mosaic that was being repaired. The brick which covered it was inscribed 'TITULUS CRUCIS' - it can be seen in the outer relic chapel, together with a reconstruction of the whole Title. The relic was unknown at the time, but there are sources indicating that such a relic was venerated in the courtyard on Calvary in Jerusalem. The pilgim Aetheria (c. 385) mentions this, as does the pilgrim Antonius of Piacenza two centuries later. St Helena is said to have divided the relic into three parts, giving one to Constantine, keeping one in Jerusalem and sending the last to Rome. The relic was allegedly hidden in the wall c. 455, when the clergy needed to protect it from the attacking Visigoths. It is unknown why it was left there, and forgotten, until 1492, but it might simply be because the cleric responsible for hiding it was killed or displaced during the sack of the city. The workmen found a lead coffer sealed by Cardinal Gerardus, later Pope Lucius II. It is said to have been in quite good condition at the time, but Bosio wrote 60 or 70 years later that the red paint on the letters had faded and that worms had eaten away the words 'Jesus' and 'Judaeorum'. The words are cut from the right to the left, leading some scholars to believe they were cut by a Hebrew used to writing in that direction. It does seem unlikely that a medieval forger would do such a thing.

Splinters of the True Cross.

(again, you can click on the image for a larger image)

The finger of St. Thomas (the Churches in Rome site doesn't mention this but Father Michael did, saying that it was the index finger of St. Thomas that would have touched the wounds of Christ).

Leaving the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, we took out the ever used maps of Rome and discerned the direction of St. John Lateran's where we also knew we could catch the Metro train back toward the Trevi Fountain and another destination for this final day in Rome, the tomb of St. Gaspar del Bufalo ( a Saint that I had been telling Joseph was the real Superman...and when we returned from Rome we found the book that details the saints life, complete with illustrations one of which has a bandit shooting his gun at St. Gaspar and the bullets falling to the floor!). There was a park along our path with some children's rides and we stopped to allow Joseph to ride one (the plastic and the massive city wall behind is a nice contrast between ancient and modern I think).

Here we also came upon St. John Lateran in a new way, seeing it from a different approach and witnessing the statues of St. Francis and his companions facing the huge Church and thanks to Zadok who returned and took a photo of the images you now can see how they appear to hold the church up (based on the Pope's dream at the time):

In the bowels of the Metro station we bought a Metro pass (our week passes had expired the previous evening)and boarded the train heading for the Trevi Fountain for St. Gaspar's tomb. When we arrived at the Trevi, it was crowded and there was a church there that we went within. It was Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio,what I witnessed but didn't know at the time was the "hearts and viscera" of more than 22 popes...hmmm, but this wasn't the church of St. Gaspar. Walking out I asked two Italian police (one male, one female) in non intelligible Italian where St. Gaspar del Bufalo might be? They both shook their heads. "Santa Maria in Trivio"? Again, they had no idea, but pointed me the opposite direction of where the Church actually was, but this gave me the opportunity to see where several priests I know live in Rome and Santa Casa Maria at the old North American College. Then taking a left we passed another church which I we also stepped into, still no St. Gaspar, then took another left and we were back at the Trevi.
And there to the left was Santa Maria in Trivio and here the resting place of St. Gaspar in a bronze likeness that held its hand out so if you were kneeling you could grasp the hand of Gaspar as you prayed. I came late to even knowing St. Gaspar discovering him one day when traveling through Ohio and coming across the old Precious Blood Seminary that now serves as a retirement home for the Precious Blood priests and brothers. There is a relic of St. Gaspar's leg there and on a number of occaisions I have experienced the powerful intercession of St. Gaspar.
It is interesting to note and there were holy cards at Gaspar's tomb that just before the start of the Second Vatican Council that Blessed Pope John XXIII came here to this Church and the tomb of St. Gaspar to pray for the success of the Council. A fitting Church to put the cap on our pilgrimage (although I would still return to two others before leaving Rome).
We all knelt before St. Gaspar and offered private intentions and thanksgiving. Then rewarded Joseph with a trip to Burger King (might he have prayed to St. Gaspar for this treat?)before catching a bus that took us back to St. Peter's.
It was evening and we all set out for last minute souvenir shopping as well as a more practical concern of getting enough euro to pay the cab driver in the morning (this brought on some panic because the usual ATM's I used all weren't working for some reason).
But first I went to Santa Maria in Traspontinawhere I prayed the Evening Office and Compline,saying the Salve Regina kneeling before the brilliant image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Evening came, the Ninth Day!

Solemnity of Saint Joseph

From the Office of Readings:

Remember us, Saint Joseph, and plead for us to your foster-child. Ask your most holy bride, the Virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally. Amen.

Image of Saint Joseph with the child Jesus overlooking the Monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemeni in Kentucky.

Solemnity of St. Joseph Audio Post

Update 2012:

These audio files are no longer available.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Divine Mercy Image (Rome March 4th)

I took this picture on March 4th at St. Peter's in Chains (in Rome, not Cincinnati as someone thought). It looks as though there is fire emiting from the rays of Divine Mercy (that wasn't why I took the photo, but it's the way it turned out on my digital camera): Click on image to enlarge.

I was in Rome on pilgrimage. If you read what happened earlier in the day under the post "Mass with Cardinal Ruini" I wonder if this were not a sign? The anniversary of Pope John Paul's last nine days are coming up this week. Last year on Good Friday the live Vatican feed showed the Pope watching the Via Dolorossa from his private chapel, this would have been the day that the Novena of Divine Mercy began...nine days later he died just as the novena concluded and as Evening Prayer I for the Feast of Divine Mercy was beginning. May all who see this image, confess their sins and spend the remainder of this Lenten Season learning about the great Mercy of Jesus Christ!

Let me also recommend the book Mercy Minutes: Daily Gems from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalski which gives a few lines of St. Faustina's diary for meditation for everyday (edited by Father George Kosicki)

From Bones to Chains (March 4th Rome)

The first stop was the Capuchin Crypt in the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione de Cappuccini. A rather macabre collection of the bones of friars arranged in various postures to, well attract tourists and deliver a message read in the last of the five or six rooms, "where you are, we once were, where we are you, you soon will be." After our visit here, we did walk into the Church above. The body of St Felix of Cantalice lies under one of the altars and it didn't strike me at the time, but does now this is the very St. Felix for which St. Felix Friary in Huntington, IN was named after. This Friary is where a very young Albert Groeschel came and received the name Benedict (after Benedict Joseph Labre) and as a novice witnessed the ecstasy of one Venerable Solanus Casey. The Friary was sold some years ago, but the building remains and I often walk its grounds. This past December I was blessed to take Father Groeschel back to the friary of his novice year and to walk the halls and hear fantastic stories of what he witnessed while there. Today I prayed at the tomb of the St. Felix!
We next stepped into the church of Sant'Isidoro for a brief look around. I believe that we also stopped into a store for some snacks as I don't believe anyone had eaten breakfast on this particular morning.
Next we crossed the street to Santa Maria della Vittoriawhere the famous "St. Teresa in ecstasy" (a theme going here with Solanus) by Bernini. This church once housed a miraculous image of the nativity, but it was destroyed by a fire and a replica now replaces the original but enshrined in a "gloria" similar to the enshrinement of the Chair of St. Peter in the Basilica of St. Peter's. I include pictures here of this "replacement image" as well as evidence that Amy, Katie and half of Joseph saw "St. Teresa" (Michael the baby on my back and I were taking the picture).

Next we crossed the street to the Paulist and American Church of Santa Susanna. Amy recognized that pastor as someone she had met as a seminarian many years ago. It was kind of neat being in the American church and seeing everything inside aimed at us but one of the most interesting things inside the Church that I could have easily missed had I not been so nosy was The Cistercian Monastery of Santa Susanna, I purchased an Agnus Dei at their store (Agnus Dei: A sacred wax object blessed with a prayer of exorcism. Wear it in faith to protect yourself from evil). They also had water that the Sister said you could drink (the one working on the day I was there spoke almost no English) and I don't see any reference to it on the web site (I didn't drink it).
Next it was on to the Diocletian Baths and what now is the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. by now the transfer of the baby had taken place.
I think we missed out on some good stuff in this church, but as I learned too late there really isn't a good tour book when it comes to churches. The links that I've provided throughout this commentary would have been invaluable in book form (now there is a thought(and I probably should go back and check the accuracy).
From here on to the Termini to catch the B Train to St. Paul's Outside of the Wall. We had been on this train back on Thursday and it had been packed, today it wasn't that bad, in fact it was very roomy and there were small family bands entertaining and passing the cup which made the trip to St. Paul's very enjoyable. Being preoccupied with preventing pick pockets I didn't take a picture of them which is too bad. At the end when the youngest child was passing the cup he said "gratzie" to everyone who donated until he got to me, he said "thank you." I got this treatment throughout my time in Rome save on one day in St. Peter's square while waiting for Amy and Katie to return from the scavi tour when I was approached by a photographer who came at me speaking rapidly in Italian. When I told him I did not speak, he pointed at my unshaven face (one of the few days that I didn't shave) and he said in English "you look very Italian"...I think by then the sun had also darkened my very white Northern Indiana face a bit.
Arriving at San Paolo fuori le murawe were a little disappointed to find that there appeared to be no place to eat anywhere nearby (it was well past noon by now). The outside courtyard of St. Paul's was very nice and had a tropical feel about it with palm trees centered by a large statue of St. Paul with a sword. There was a Spanish group playing a guitar and singing as processed around the courtyard and then into the Church. Under the entrance was another large statue of St. Paul, again with a sword (and when blogger's picture thing starts working again I'll post a picture of Joseph standing near the statue so you can see how large it was).

There was another Holy Door (sealed off course). What I remember most about the inside of the Church besides how large it was, were the images of the popes (lots and lots that gave the impression that they were running out of room). It took awhile to find Benedict, but not too long because his image was the only one illuminated. Another very memorable site was the large Easter candle holder and its many images. In the Blessed Sacrament chapel we saw the mosaic that Ignatius and his companions first took vows before when the Jesuits were in their infancy. We saw the cloister through the door and visited the gift shop where I inquired about the whereabouts of a Trappist monastery, which after hearing where it was decided that would have to wait for some future trip.
Back to the train station and some moments of disorientation as to what direction we were headed in--but the right train finally came and we were entertained by a different family band and got off at the Coliseum. Here checking the time and realizing that San Clemente (our next stop) was closed for the afternoon siesta we headed in that direction and ate lunch.

Here there was a young child that was both entertained and entertained Michael Jacob and Joseph. There was also a fish tank in the window of the restaurant (we ate outside) that entertained both for a bit when only bread was forthcoming.
This was one of those typical Roman days when the weather seemed to turn abruptly colder for awhile, but thankfully once the food came it seemed to warm up again. Enough time had passed that we made our way up the street to San Clemente. This was another one of those church's that many had told me was a "must see" and I can understand why...this church gave the perfect perspective on what Rome and the history of Christianity is all about. Built on what originally was a pagan Temple Mithras, in San Clemente you can still see it by traveling through the layers of history.
A beggar was begging at the door where St. Servulus once begged and Gregory the Great preached a homily about it:
For I remember that, in my Homilies upon the Gospel, I told how in that porch which is in the way to St. Clement's Church, there lay a certain man called Servulus, whom I doubt not but you also do remember: who, as he was poor in wealth, so rich in merits. This man had long been afflicted with sickness: for from the first time that I knew him, to the very last hour of his life, never can I remember but that he was sick of the palsy, and that |195 so pitifully, that he could not stand, nor sit up in his bed: neither was he ever able to put his hand unto his mouth, or to turn from one side to the other. His mother and brethren did serve and attend him, and what he got in alms, that by their hands he bestowed upon other poor people. Read he could not, yet did he buy the holy scriptures, which very carefully he caused such religious men as he entertained to read unto him: by means whereof, according to his capacity, though, as I said, he knew not a letter of the book, yet did he fully learn the holy scripture. Very careful he was in his sickness always to give God thanks, and day and night to praise his holy name.
When the time was come, in which God determined to reward this his great patience: the pain of his body strook inwardly to his heart, which he feeling, and knowing as his last hour was not far off, called for all such strangers as lodged in his house, desiring them to sing hymns with him, for his last farewell and departure out of this life: and as he was himself singing with them, all on a sudden he cried out aloud, and bad them be silent, saying: "Do ye not hear the great and wonderful music which is in heaven?" and so whiles he lay giving of ear within himself to that divine harmony, his holy soul departed this mortal life: at which time, all that were there present felt a most pleasant and fragrant smell, whereby they perceived how true it was that Servulus said. A monk of mine, who yet liveth, was then present, and with many tears useth to tell us, that the sweetness of that smell never went away, but that they felt it continually until the time of his burial.

I gave Joseph a euro to place in the person's cup. If Joseph learned one thing during all these visits it was the joy of giving alms and of lighting candles while offering a prayer; a subtle lesson but one that probably will live long after his mother and I are gone.
It was here that we met up with a servant of God who had given me a ride from Charleston, SC to Myrtle Beach, SC last Fall where I was giving a talk. Amy is giving several talks in South Carolina next month and had been in touch with Gaurav and we knew that he was coming to Rome towards the end of our trip but never thought we would actually cross our path, but there he was in the courtyard of San Clemente. I went over and faked some Italian accent asking him if he were an American, at which he recognized me and laughed. We then hunted up Amy who was in the gift shop and took some pictures.

I spent time in prayer at the tomb of St. Cyril which is on the older level of the Church and didn't know until right now that St. Ignatius of Antioch was entombed at the main altar. The image of the cross on the apse of the Church is truly a beautiful piece of art that incorporates the image of Jesus as the Vine.
From here it was on to the great search for San Pietro in Vincoli. We walked a great deal, stopped and asked for directions. Came upon the Church of San Martino ai Monti (I think..somehow this is the right location, but it seemed like it was a different church). Going on a bit further we came to a street where looking left we saw Santa Maria Maggiore, much to our horror. We took out the maps again and tried to figure out where we were or more specifically where San Pietro in Vincoli was (there came a point where we were just kind of goofy--I look at the maps now and it all seems so clear but trying to find street names and asking directions sometimes seems of little use when actually in Rome). We headed back in the direction we had just came, followed a sign and then panicked again because we were almost at the Coliseum and still no San Pietro in Vincoli. We headed in another direction, no signs but just a hunch and finally there it was with a fairly good crowd around. I think Mass was going on in a side chapel, so we were still able to go in and look around to see the chains in the reliquary and Michelangelo's Moses.

Once outside of St. Peter in Chains we walked down a descending stairway and to the Metro Station Cavour where we boarded the train back to the Termini, there we caught a bus that we took back as far as Piazza Navona to see the French Church San Luigi dei Francesi where the altar of Saint Matthew is decorated entirely with three very famous Caravaggio paintings--including one that graces the cover of my favorite commentary on Matthew's Gospel by Frederick Dale Bruner. But first since we were in Piazza Navona and there was a church that we hadn't noticed before we stepped into the Church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore. Then on to San Luigi dei Francesi which we had been to on Thursday (but it was closed), tonight there was a fairly good crowd, mostly around the Caravaggio section. Someone had to put in an euro in order to keep the images illuminated but there seemed to be no shortage of generous souls present.
Almost as soon as we exited I spotted a taxi, which I hailed and we piled in. He started animatedly speaking to me in broken English something about the feet and an extra charge. Finally I discerned that he want the baby out of the carrier and into Amy's arms and I'm not sure if Joseph had put his feet up on the seat too, but anyway we spent most of the short drive with him reiterating his anxiety over a dirty taxi--I was glad to be let out at St. Peters and not charged extra (no tip for you!).
I'm sure we grabbed something to eat, but I have absolute no memory of it now.
Evening came, the Eighth Day!