Sunday, February 28, 2010
According to the PNAC website, "Sitting quietly by the side of the busy Via della Navicella, the Basilica of St. Mary in Domnica holds the distinction of being the station church for the Second Sunday in Lent. A tradition holds that on this location once stood the house of the Roman matron Cyriaca, from which St. Lawrence would distribute alms to the poor. At some later time, it is believed that this was the location of military barracks, or of a civil defense post. A diaconia with an attached chapel is known to have existed here from the time of the late eighth century, this possibly being established in some buildings from the military post. The name domnica might signify that this was built on land donated by the Emperor, which would make sense if its previous use was for military purposes. While the other Sundays of Lent are celebrated at the largest basilicas in the city, the station is held here today because there was originally no station for this day, the ordination liturgy at St. Peter’s on the previous day being considered the Mass for Sunday. When the liturgy was created for this day, this venerable diaconia was fixed as the station. Pope St. Paschal I replaced the diaconia with a larger basilica around the year 820. While little decoration from these times remains, one notable feature are the mosaics of the triumphal arch and apse, these being one example of the many mosaics he commissioned in churches built or repaired by him. In the mid-fifteenth century the church was near ruin, and later in that century the cardinal titular of the church, Giovanni de Medici, undertook a restoration and additions, including the fine porch. These works largely ended in 1513 when he was elected as Pope Leo X, in which office he would see the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The basilica was again restored in the mid-sixteenth century. From then until the present day the church has seen some minor additions and restorations, but is still today essentially a structure whose appearance reminds us of those last days before Europe descended into the wars of religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."
Not much more I can add! I hope you all have a wonderful Lent and enjoy your chocolate or whatever it is you gave up today, because Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Today’s station church was Santi XII Apostoli. The earliest known record of a Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome goes back to one built by Pope Julius I in the mid fourth century. That basilica was built near Trajan’s column. A successor to that church was begun by Pope Pelagius I in the mid sixth century. It was built on the present site of the basilica and was dedicated by Pope John III in 570. It was at this time that the relics of the apostles Saints Philip and James the Lesser were placed under the high altar. Saint Philip preached in Greece and Syria and was martyred by crucifixition. Saint James the Lesser was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and was martyred by being beaten to death by clubs.
The first basilica was Byzantine in its architectural structure, which makes sense since at the time Rome was under the control of Emperor Justinian in Constantinople. The basilica got along just fine until an earthquake in 1348 which heavily damaged it. Pope Martin V started a restoration in 1421 and this was followed up by more extensive restorations during the pontificate of Sixtus IV from 1471 to 1484. The basilica is currently staffed by Franciscans and they arrived here in 1463.
The high altar depicts the martyrdoms of Saints Philip and James the Lesser. It is the largest altar piece in all of Rome. Above the fresco is a depiction of the expulsion of the rebellious angels from heaven. The ceiling is painted with scenes depicting the glory of the Franciscan Order. The basilica also hosts the remains of the martyrs Saints Sabinus, Clement, Eugenia and Claudia. In the crypt opposite the remains of the two apostles is the remains of the martyrs Saints Diodorus, Marcian, Chrysanthius, and Daria. This basilica is the titular church of His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Scola who is the current Cardinal Patriarch of Venice and if an election were being held tomorrow for the next Pope he would certainly be on everyone’s top ten “most likely” list.
In today’s readings we hear the Prophet Ezekiel comments on what the Lord will do with the wicked man who turns away from sin and does what is right and just, “None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him.” As we go through Lent and the exercise of returning to God in our actions and in the deepest recesses of our heart we can most certainly take advantage of the Sacrament of Confession and reap the rewards of what the prophet Ezekiel pronounces. Reflecting on today’s reading from Ezekiel reminded me of the story of Saint Mary Alocoque who made famous the devotion of the Sacred Heart. On telling her spiritual director that she was receiving visions from Jesus he told her to ask Jesus the next time what some of her sins were so he could see if this was a true vision. She returned to her spiritual director with Jesus’ answer which was, “I do not remember them.” Such is the most glorious mercy of Our Savior who died for us in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Perhaps it would be good on this Friday in Lent to meditate on God’s mercy displayed most perfectly in Christ’s Passion. God the Father sent his only son to die for us so that our debt would be paid and that we may have eternal life with him. Glory be to God.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Greetings, friends and countrymen. It's Andrew again, humble author of TPT and guest blogger for today. It's funny how this station church practice has taught me more about the city of Rome, which I thought I knew pretty well already. Yesterday, on my early morning walk to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the station Mass there, I passed a church with an interesting facade and wondered if it might be a station church somewhere down the road. Lo and behold, it happens to be today's station church, San Lorenzo in Panisperna.
The church is named for St. Lawrence, one of Rome's most famous martyrs and one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic Church. A deacon of the Roman Church in the mid-3rd century, St. Lawrence was put in charge of the administration of Church property and keeping its records. When the emperor Valerian, hoping to quash the young Christian religion, asked Lawrence to give him the treasures of the Church, Lawrence is said to have returned a day later with all of the sick, lame, and orphaned in Rome that he could find and declared, "These are the treasures of the church!" Valerian, of course, did not take kindly to this bit of spiritual wisdom and threw him to prison. Lawrence further enraged the emperor and his court when he successfully converted his jailer and the jailer's family. Valerian ordered the deacon to be roasted alive. Lawrence nonetheless kept his sense of humor about him since tradition says that he advised his executioner, "You may turn me over, I'm done on this side." No joke, he's still the patron saint of chefs!
The church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna is reputedly the oldest church in Rome related to the saint's life. Though it has now been passed in importance by the place where St. Lawrence is buried, the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori Le Mura (also a Lenten station church, coming up in a few Sundays), the church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna was erected on the site of the saint's martyrdom some time in the mid-4th century. Not much is written about the church until the Middle Ages, when it was attached to an abbey, run first by the Benedictines and then by the Poor Clares. The word Panisperna, roughly translated "ham sandwich", likely comes from this time, when the sisters at San Lorenzo would distribute food to the city's poor along the road that runs in front of the church. (Others say it's because the church known to hand out really great ham sandwiches to the medieval pilgrims who were visiting Rome and walking from the Basilica of St. Mary Major to St. Peter's Basilica.) San Lorenzo is still run by the Franciscan order and continues to have an active ministry to the poor.
Beneath one of the side altars on the right hand side of the church rests the relics of St. Crispin and St. Crispinian. The two brothers, born into a noble Roman family in the third century, converted to Christianity and had to flee to Gaul because of their faith. There, they preached the Gospel and made shoes by night in order to get by. They were successful in spreading the Christian faith, enough in fact to make the emperor and the local governor take notice. Crispin and Crispinian were tortured and beheaded ca. 286 AD and their bodies were brought back to Rome some time in the Middle Ages. According to some accounts, the local governor, inspired by their faith, converted to Christianity himself and was later martyred.
The Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian occurs on October 25 and has long been commemorated in England. Historically, it is most famous for being the day on which the famous Battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415, when an English force led by Henry V defeated a much vaster French army. In Shakespeare's Henry V, one of the most famous passages from the Bard is given by Henry to his men in the moments preceding the battle -- the famous "St. Crispin's Day speech." Below, Kenneth Branagh delivers the speech in his film version from 1989:
The Mass readings for today speak to us of the importance of asking God in prayer for all that we need and, even more, of the assurance of God answering those prayers. Jesus tells us, just as he told his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you" (Mt 7:7). God is infinitely near to us, waiting to grant us what we need, whatever is best for us, if only we turn to him to ask. The saints surely knew this, especially perhaps the martyrs who must have turned to God in their hour of need, not so much to be rescued from their fate but to have the strength of perseverance in enduring it. What kind of amazing courage Lawrence must have had to face the grill of martyrdom! Surely such courage is only the fruit of intense prayer, prayer that relies confidently and solely on God. In this season of Lent, when we are called especially to rededicate ourselves to prayer, may the lives of the saints remind us of prayer's daily and indispensable role in our lives as Christians, remembering as Jesus tells us "how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him" (Mt. 7:11).
The station church practice is in full force, now more than a week into it. Pray that we may continue to persevere in this worthy Lenten practice!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Among the many gems in the basilica, Mary Major boasts a relic of the presepe, or Holy Crib in which held Jesus Christ after His Birth. There is also a famous image of Our Lady called Salus Populi Romani because it was said to have saved the city from the plague. This image is also said to have been painted by St. Luke due to its antiquity and the fact that Luke is said to have had close familiarity with Our Lady. Along the main nave, there are mosaics beautifully preserved from the 5th century, as are the mosaics on the triumphal arch. The gold that adorns the coffered ceiling is said to have been a gift from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain - the first gold brought back from the Americas. More importantly, this basilica contains the remains of St. Jerome and the Apostle St. Matthias, whose feast day is today on the old liturgical calendar. The apse mosaic, depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, is from the late 13th century.Below I have posted more detailed information on the history and description of the basilica, taken from http://www.sacred-destinations.com/.
Founded in the 4th century, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the five great ancient basilicas of Rome. It stands on the site of a temple to the goddess Cybele. According to a 13th-century legend, the first church was built here by Pope Liberius (352-66), on the site of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The legend has it that the Virgin appeared to Pope Liberius and the patrician Giovanni Patrizio on August 4, 352 (or 358), instructing them to build a church on the Esquiline Hill. That night, the floor plan was outlined by a miraculous snowfall [Hence its other title "Our Lady of the Snows"]. Archaeological evidence, on the other hand, indicates that the church was probably first built in the early 400s and completed under Pope Sixtus III (432-440). This was a time when churches dedicated to Mary were beginning to spring up all over the empire, prompted by devotion to the Virgin and the official acceptance of her title "Theotokos" (Mother of God) at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Dave from Charleston covered the Church for today as well. He has a really cool link posted where you can take a virtual tour of the Basilica. Check it out: BROTHER IN ROME
Also here is a picture from this past week.
Me and Andrew Hart of Little Rock, AR. In the red jacket is Father Rust--grew up in Mobile, AL but just this summer was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Memphis, TN. The tall guy next to him is Marco Pieri. Marco is actually from my home parish in Montgomery, AL called Church of the Holy Spirit. Marco is here with Auburn University's Architecture program for the spring semester. I found out he was here from two other of the Alabama seminarians here. They were standing and chatting outside of Mass at a Church in a nearby neighborhood. Marco was at the same Mass and heard them talking and just had to ask, "Hey are ya'll from the South?" Small World hunh!?
The guy to his right is a classmate from Atlanta named Mike. Hopefully they will be able to come visit us soon at our College.
Here is an article that the Catholic News Agency recently published about the Station Churches.
Also, here is link to our College's website which will show you the entire Lenten Schedule for Station Churches as well as a link to a book written by a NAC seminarian about the Station Churches.
OK. Now I would like to change gears a bit and share some about a good friend that I met in Rome at the beginning of last year--Edmond.
Sometime last fall, I went to a soup kitchen to help out one evening with a group of seminarians from our College. At this particular soup kitchen, there were several other volunteers--some Religious Sisters but mostly lay men and women. As we started to help prepare the tables for that evening's guests, I started to chat with another volunteer.
Assuming he was Italian, I started off in Italian which provoke a very disturbed look on his face. Quickly he asked me, "Father, may we please speak in English?" Laughing and relieved at the same time, as my Italian was still pretty poor at the time, I said, "Sure." Quickly I found out that his name was Edmond and that he was from Syria. His Godfather was Italian and was also volunteering there that night. After getting down the basics, Edmond asked me, "Father, may I tell you something?"
[Quick note: We always wear clerics when we leave the College for School or for our Apostolates (Ministerial work) which makes many think we are priests. But it is an old Roman tradition that all seminarians in Rome wear clerics, so we keep it up.]
I responded, "Sure. No problem. But just so you know...I am not a priest."
Edmond: "I don't care Father."
Edmond: "I must tell you. You look just like my hero!"
Me: "Hahahaha. Really!? Now, who is that?"
Edmond: "GEORGE BUSH!!!"
Me: "You have got to be kidding me?! Is this some kind of joke? Are you messing with me?"
[Note: This was shocking to me because since I have been abroad I have realized that George Bush is....well...let's just say not the most loved man around.]
Edmond: "No. This is no joke. I love this man. He prays to the God. He is so great. He loves God. He is so great for me!"
Me: (still incredulous) "Hahahaha. Wow. This is shocking. You are the first person I have met in Italy to say something like that."
Edmond: "I am serious. Look a this!"
With that, Edmond pulled out his cell phone to show me George Bush smiling back at me from his screensaver! Hahahahaha! It was too much! Still Edmond continued, "I have so many pictures of George Bush on my computer at home. All of my friends and family think I am crazy...but I do not care. I love this man. It is my dream to meet him. I also once dreamed of meeting Princess Diana, but she is dead now. So George Bush is my last hope. But now I meet you!!! And you look just like him! I am so blessed! This is so great!!!"
Me: "Hahahaha! Well, I'm happy to meet you too. Maybe one day we can both hang out with George Bush together and take some pictures?"
Edmond: "O Father, that would be so great!"
Soooo....needless to say, we really hit it off. We worked side-by-side for the rest of the evening and after a little while he introduced me to his Godfather. As it was time for us to part ways, Edmond had another question--"Father Victor."
Me: "You know I am not a priest."
Edmond: "I really don't care."
Me: "OK. Haha. Go ahead."
Edmond: "May I ask you one more thing."
Me: "Sure Edmond. Whatever you want."
Edmond: "Father, may I please give you my cellular telephone number?"
Me: "Hahahaha. Sure Edmond. That would be great."
So, ever since then I have kept Edmond's number, written on a torn-off piece of paper napkin in my desk drawer. Since then we have become good friends. Last spring, he helped me cook a really nice dinner for about 30 people when my Mom, little sister, and good friend Colleen Murphy came to visit!!!
Before going on, I think we should pause and do a quick compare and contrast:
I don't know. What do ya'll think???
Edmond lives just outside of Rome with his two brothers Rami and Sam in costal town called Ladispoli. Just after exams I had a couple days free and was able to go and visit them. They really are the best of people and treat me just like I am their brother. It was a great chance to catch up with them as well as just relax, be with non-seminarians, and spend a couple days in someone's house.
Edmond and his brothers, by trade, are seamen. Edmond and his youngest brother Sam are professionally trained naval engineers and Rami is a trained naval mechanic. There is a big port in Rome called Civita Vecchia. Because of this, all three of them progressively moved to Rome so that they could easily be contracted by various shipping companies in need of such services. Earlier this fall, a larger company bought out the smaller company they were working for, and they subsequently lost their jobs.
Since then, only Edmond has been able to find a job. He now works at a Pizza/Mid-Eastern Food Restaurant washing dishes, preparing food, and serving customers. When I visited, Edmond had to work most of the time, so I ended up spending a lot of time working at the restaurant.
The restaurant is owned and run by Deigo (his Italian name), an Iranian man, his Ukrainian wife Olga, and their son Alex. They have two more children--Denise and Dariush. A Romanian girl named Mikiella also works there as well as an Indian guy named Rajib. And recall that Edmond is Syrian. The working environment I would describe as....ECLECTIC to say the least!!!
Everyone working there is just getting by in life...materially. But they are happy people and very generous with what they have. Deigo, the owner, for example, gives Edmond and his brothers all of the food they want each day without any extra charge. Too, they fed me really well while I was there, refusing to accept any money for anything. It was a real refreshment to spend a couple days with them.
Before leaving, Deigo invited me to come back anytime and offered to prepare a special me for me and my friends for a good price if we ever wanted. This immediately gave me an idea.
I knew that this Saturday, we had our first Clericus Cup game coming up. The Clericus Cup was started about 5 years ago by the Vatican in collaboration with an Italian sports agency. What emerged was a soccer tournament in Rome amongst all of the different National and Religious Seminaries in Rome. It has grown in popularity each year, receiving press all around the world. It is like a Mini-Clerical World Cup!!! We have participated each year and went to the finals last year, losing to the two time Champions in a close game 1-0.
I am one of the Captains for our team this year. Along with our coaches, we had been trying to think of a good way to kick off the season. When Deigo offered to fix a nice meal, I thought, "Perfect! Post-Game Party!"
Normally the College rents a big bus to take us to the Clericus Cup games and back. So I asked the Rector if we could extend the reservation until about 4 PM. He generously agreed and helped me to arrange everything. Too I talked to Diego and Edmond and they agreed to prepare a big Mid-Eastern meal for 50 people!!!
Throughout the week, we had guys sign up to take the bus to Ladispoli (about a 30 minute drive outside Rome) for the Post-Game/Clericus Cup Opener BASH! We were, indeed, able to get 50 people to sign up...and even more importantly...we WON our first game against the Brazilians in a shoot out! The Catholic News Agency wrote an article on this game which you can find HERE.
I must pause here and mention our fans. They are incredible. Led by some of my closest friends from AL and LA, our College has really brought the American Fan Spirit to Rome! Deacon Peter Finney of New Orleans formally organized a Booster Club this year which has been working hard to get the house excited and involved in the Clericus Cup this year. He helped me to organize this big Post-Game Bash for example. Too he has spear headed the acquisition of many hilarious costumes to be worn by our fans at the games. Now it is common place to find Captain America, Batman, Elvis, WWII soldiers, and other American heroes at our games!!!! Too this year, Peter had pocket schedules made of all our games for the entire house. Their efforts have really brought a great spirit to the house of fraternity, collaboration, and unity.
One more thing about Peter....when I had the idea for the Post-Game Bash I immediately found him to see what he thought. He liked the idea and quickly it began to take shape. In discussing the idea I explained meeting Edmond and the story I recounted above. Peter was dying laughing when I told him about the George Bush thing...especially because he had just seen a bunch of George Bush masks in a costume shop the other day when he was looking for "Fan Gear."
Long story short, all of us showed up to the Post-Game Bash wearing George Bush masks which Edmond loved to say the least!!!
All things considered, Saturday was a special day for everyone involved. I had a few moments to spend with Deigo and Edmond alone at the Party. We were all so happy. Deigo commented that is was just amazing that we were all together...celebrating life as we were---Americans, Iranians, Ukrainians, Indians, Romanians, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims. I will never forget that. Such is the Power of the LOVE of God. When we embrace it....all boundaries vanish...along with all hate, division, pride, and anger. Amazing...really amazing....
Here are some pictures from all of this....
Jimmy again. Getting some air. Putting his head to use...
Does this make you feel American or what?
After the big Win! Victory tastes O so Sweet!
Batman and Captain America of course....hahahhaahaha
Me introducing the George Bush masks to everyone on the bus.
Part of our Crew at the bash.
THIS WEEK'S LINKS:
Here is a link to several different books written by Saints. Someone has turned several of these Spiritual Classics into PDF files.
Here is another link to a feature on the Clericus Cup posted on our College's Web Page. My buddy Jeff Starkovich from Lake Charles, LA runs this site. He told me that he will be posting pictures and articles about the Clericus Cup as the season progresses.
*Check out this video on the Cup. Another hilarious yet profound creation by Peter Finney--- Booster Club extraordinaire.
Official Site of the Clericus Cup: CLERICUS CUP
*One of the articles rotating on the page (from page load to page load it varies) is called "Il Sogno Americano" which means "The American Dream"
NEXT SUNDAY'S GOSPEL:
Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.
Alright Ya'll, Have a great week!
Stay tuned for the Daily Station Church Posts.
Let's keep praying for one another. And as always, hit me with an email if you have a specific prayer intention. Even if I don't reply for a couple days, know that I check my email every day and include all of the prayer requests.
PEACE AND JOY!!!!