Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Santa Maria in Via Lata

Hello People on the Way,

Today's church is Santa Maria in Via Lata located just off the busy Via del Corso running straight through the heart of Rome. Although situated just off this busy street, lined with shops full of designer clothing,

the remains under this church date back the first century! It is believed that St. Paul himself lived there for awhile while he was in Rome. Ever since, it has been a site used by Christians. As early as the fifth or sixth century, the first Church could have been built on this site.

As you take a walk inside, you immediately are struck by the deeply red marble columns holding up this oasis in the heart of Rome.

Following the red marble columns to the top of the dome, you then are captivated by Bernini's portrayal of the Assumption of Mary.

The Assumption (or the "Dormition" as it is called in the East) refers to the very ancient belief that Mary, rather than dying a natural death, was "assumed" body and soul into heaven at the end of her life. Why would early Christians believe this? Well, because they also believed that Mary was conceived without original sin. Now why would early Christians believe that? Because Jesus had to be fully man, and Mary was his mother. Jesus took his humanity from Mary. But Jesus was also God. Thus, sin could not touch his being. So, the flesh that the Son of God was to take on, had to be immaculate...pure...perfect. So, Mary was preserved by God's grace from the stain of original sin. If we read the book of Genesis, we learn that man dies because of sin. "Death" was not part of God's game plan for human life. It came only as a result of sin. So, if Mary was conceived without sin--the cause of natural death--then she would not die a natural death. Sooooooooo, the early Christians believed that Mary was ASSUMED into heaven...fully. And thus stands as the Queen over heaven and earth. She awaits all of us....she paved the way for all of us...to be with God....perfectly...fully....body and soul...at the end of time...and on into Eternity!

Hopefully that made some sense. I know these may be new insights for some of you, but I encourage you to think about them...take them to prayer...see how they settle...or move within you.

After having your mind melted by that fresco, you are ready to lower your gaze upon the icon of the Blessed Mother just below. This particular icon is entitled "Mary Fount of Light, Star of the Sea."

It is believed to date back to the late 12th century. The church had several holy cards in the back of the church bearing this image. On the back was a beautiful prayer which really struck me. I would like to share it with ya'll. I have bolded the part that struck me the most:

"An Act of Commitment

In the name and to the glory of the Blessed Trinity, who has chosen you to be the Mother of Christ the Saviour, and the Mother of a humanity in need of salvation. Aware of my unworthiness, but confident of your motherly help I, who through my Baptism have already been immersed in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, place myself (today) entirely in your hands, oh Mary:

To walk with you, to cooperate with you in the Church in the history of salvation to bring to completion with you, day after day, my commitment of love and service to my brothers and sisters. With you shining example of faith, with your life of witness to the gospel, with that love with which you reach out to all as your children, may I too embrace them all in your heart, transforming for their sake, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, my life and my every deed into an unceasing act of love and of offering. And thus would I prolong in myself your maternity in the order of grace, to the benefit of all humanity in this present life and in eternity to come.

Grant me, oh Mother, a deep knowledge of you. Immerse me in your moments of silence, which are moments of intense action. Give me your humble availability to the Lord, and your delicate care for the brethren. Lend me your heart with which to love; live through me your desire to save. Amen!"

A beautiful prayer, perhaps, we can offer together in a special way this day and each day until Easter.

After Mass, they opened the crypt and let us go and walk around the ruins dating back to the first century. The frescoes that remain lend scholars to believe that Oriental Christians occupied this house for a long time, because the style is only found in the East. Some scholars also maintain that the last picture displayed portrays a species of upper level primate indigenous to the flatlands of Central Alabama. How such a species made its way into the first century ruins of Rome, still remains a hot bed of contention.

Aiiiiiight. Until next time.

Keep it Real.

Play for Keeps.

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