Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I haven't posted in a couple of days because school is in full swing now and there isn't much time for leisure posting! But all the same, there is still time to greet pilgrims to the eternal city.
This past weekend Glen and Karen Griffiths came into town. They are parishioners at St. Jude in Chattanooga. I had the opportunity to spend some time with them on Sunday.
Here we are standing in front of St. Peter's:
We took a nice cruise down the Tiber river:
After a nice lunch and a lot of walking we made our way over to St. John Lateran and the Scala Santa:
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Well folks, the vote is in - at least for me that is. This morning I received my absentee ballot from Hamilton County. It is probably the only one that they sent to a Vatican City address! It will probably give someone in the courthouse a little chuckle or something to brag about; "I got to process a voter ballot from the Vatican!" or something like that! Well anyway, I personally walked it down to St. Peter's and dropped it in the mail box:
And now I must say a few words to encourage the faithful:
As you may or may not know, Participation in the life of society (and that means in politics too) is one of the permanent principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We as Christians are called to make our voices and values known to the world at large. A Christian is not and cannot be a relativist and we don't have the luxury of saying, "I'm okay, you're okay!" We cannot profess one thing to be true and yet hold that its opposite can also be true. This comes to a head when dealing with society at large.
Ours is a task dedicated to the redemption of humanity, because we are one body in Christ! We hold the truths of our faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore we hold the truth about human nature revealed in 'the-Word-made-flesh', to be true not only for us but for all. We believe what we believe because we believe it to be TRUE! The apostolic ministry of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about sharing this truth with humanity. Sharing it as the truth that will set us free and not simply as a suggestion or optional practice in order to be 'good' or simply for the right ordering of society.
This is especially important to keep in mind when dealing with the public arena and politics. Our faith is not and can never be 'merely a private matter!'. I seem to recall a passage from scripture, "But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven" Matthew 10:33 Politicians have a grave ethical and moral duty to be faithful to the Truth even if it is unpopular if not for themselves then for the greater good, otherwise they lack integrity and credibility and society suffers as a result. Catholic Politicians have an even more grave responsibility to this reality. They profess to believe what the Catholic Church holds and teaches as necessary and binding on all the faithful for their salvation in matter of faith and morals. To act contrary to this would be a grave offense against their own souls and would be injurious to the whole Church as well by introducing public scandal to the faithful. "It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones." Luke 17:2 As you can see, this is not just a mere personal opinion - this comes from the mouth of God-made-man, Jesus Christ.
As for us citizens, we too have a grave obligation to be faithful to this truth. I include here in this post a letter from the Bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth. It is worth a read-through and a serious consideration as this election gets nearer. I chose it among all the many statement of the bishops (which are many and pretty much say the same thing) because it gets right to the heart of the issue while addressing all the other arguments that people tend to make. Remember, it is not easy to be a follower of Jesus Christ, sometimes it means the cross, or sometimes it means choosing a candidate who is not 'our cup of tea', who may not represent our full spectrum of beliefs or values in all of its many facets but at the bottom gets the most important and foundational truth right. The Church does propose a way through this mess that we can count on, a way based in the truth of our faith, based not in politics or agendas, based not even on necessarily sectarian religious creed, but on a reasoned and grounded humanism that is based on the Natural Law.
This letter is powerful and direct. I took the liberty to bold and underline some sections. And so without further ado, here is the letter:
Office of the Bishop Office of the Bishop
Diocese of Dallas Diocese of Fort Worth
October 8, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The month of October is Respect Life Month in our churches. It is a time in which we as Catholics are called to reflect upon the gift of life that has been entrusted to us by our Creator and to focus our attention on the many attacks against human life that exist in our culture today. This year, Respect Life Month takes on a more profound meaning as we face an election in our country where the protection of human life itself, particularly that of the unborn, is very much at stake. Therefore, as your Bishops, we wish to take this opportunity to provide clear guidance on the proper formation of conscience concerning voting as faithful Catholics and to articulate the Church’s clear and unambiguous teaching on life issues as they relate to other issues of concern.
The Church teaches that all Catholics should participate as “faithful citizens” in the public square, especially through our voice in the voting booth, and that we have the responsibility to treat the decision for whom we will vote for with profound moral seriousness. We must approach the right and duty to vote with a properly formed and informed conscience in accordance with the teachings of the Church. Last November, the Bishops of the United States issued a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in which we and our brother Bishops issued clear moral guidelines to aid the faithful in proper formation of conscience with regard to the many issues we face in our nation today. Through this joint statement to the faithful of Dallas and Fort Worth, we seek to briefly summarize the key points and dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may be present among you concerning the teaching contained in the document, especially that which may have arisen from recent public misinterpretation
concerning this teaching.
1. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly teaches that not all issues have the same moral equivalence. Some issues involve “intrinsic evils”; that is, they can never under any circumstance or condition be morally justified. Preeminent among these intrinsic evils are legalized abortion, the promotion
of same sex unions and “marriages”, repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly states:
“There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called ‘intrinsically evil’ actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation,
‘abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others’ (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.” (22)
2. The destruction of the most innocent of human life through abortion and embryonic stem cell research not only undercuts the basic human right to life, but it also subverts and distorts the common good. As Pope
John Paul II clearly states:
“Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good… It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life,
upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop…” (The Gospel of Life, 72; 101)
3. Therefore, we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the “only issue” – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than 48 million innocent lives have been lost. Each year in our nation more than one million lives are lost through legalized abortion. Countless other lives are also lost through embryonic stem cell research. In the coming months our nation will once again elect our political leaders. This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation. As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act, and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished.
4. As Catholics we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror. As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about. There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of “prudential judgment.” But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate’s unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of “abortion rights.”
As Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship states:
“The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.” (28)
5. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate’s position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to
be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:
a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or “abortion rights,” a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,
b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no “truly grave moral” or “proportionate” reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.
To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or “abortion rights” when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.
6. In conclusion, as stated in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the decisions we make on these political and moral issues affect not only the general peace and prosperity of society at large, but also may affect each individual’s salvation. As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. With knowledge of the Church’s teaching on these grave matters, it is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to educate ourselves on where the candidates running for office stand on these issues, particularly those involving intrinsic evils. May God bless you.
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend Kevin J. Farrell
Bishop of Dallas
Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Fort Worth
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome, perhaps the first in which mass was openly celebrated. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s AD.
This is the queen of the churches in Trastevere. The inscription on the episcopal chair says that it is the first church dedicated to the Mother of God, although actually that privilege belongs to Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. In its foundation it is certainly one of the oldest churches in the city. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope St. Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, an asylum for retired soldiers. The area was given over to Christian use by the Emperor Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers, saying, “I prefer that it should belong to those who honor God, whatever be their form of worship.” In 340 Pope Julius I (337-352) rebuilt the titulus Callixti on a larger scale, and it became the titulus Iulii commemorating his patronage, one of the original twenty-five parishes in Rome; indeed it may be the first church in which Mass was celebrated openly. It underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries. In 1140-43 the church was re-erected on its old foundations under Innocent II The richly carved Ionic capitals reused along its nave were pillaged from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. When scholarship during the nineteenth century identified the faces in their carved decoration as Isis, Serapis and Harpocrates, a restoration under Pius IX in 1870 hammered off the offending faces.
The 13th-century mosaics in the apse are attributed to Pietro Cavallini.
The predecessor of the present church was probably built in the early fourth century although that church was the successor to one of the tituli, those Early Christian basilicas that were ascribed to a patron and perhaps literally inscribed with his name. Though nothing remains to establish with certainty where any of the public Christian edifices of Rome before the time of Constantine the Great were situated, the basilica on this site was known as Titulus Callisti, since a legend in the Liber Pontificalis ascribed the earliest church here to a foundation by Pope Callixtus I (died 222), whose remains, translated to the new structure, are preserved under the altar.
The present nave of this Romanesque church, rebuilt by Pope Innocent II (1138 –1148) and rededicated to the Virgin Mary, preserves its original basilica plan and stands on the earlier foundations. The 22 granite columns with Ionic and Corinthian capitals that separate the nave from the aisles came from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, as did the lintel of the entrance door.
Inside the church are a number of late 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini on the subject of the Life of the Virgin (1291) centering on a "Corontation of the Virgin" in the apse. Domenichino's octagonal ceiling painting, Assumption of the Virgin (1617) fits in the coffered ceiling setting he designed.
The façade of the church was restored by Carlo Fontana in 1702, who replaced the ancient porch with a sloping tiled roof— seen in Falda's view (upper right)— with the present classicizing one (below right). The octagonal fountain in the piazza in front of the church (Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere), which already appears in a map of 1472 , was also restored by Carlo Fontana. The image of Mary on the façade is believed to be the earliest iconographic depiction of the Virgin nursing Jesus.
The church keeps a relic of Saint Apollonia, her head, as well as a portion of the Holy Sponge. Among those buried in the church, are the relics of Pope Callixtus I and the body of Lorenzo Cardinal Campeggio.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
According to his legend, Sebastian was born at Narbonne, Gaul. He became a soldier in the Roman army at Rome in about 283, and encouraged Marcellian and Marcus, undersentence of death, to remain firm in their faith. Sebastian made numerous converts: among them were the master of the rolls, Nicostratus, who was in charge of prisoners and his wife, Zoe, a deaf mute whom he cured; the jailer Claudius; Chromatius, Prefect of Rome, whom he cured of gout; and Chromatius' son, Tiburtius. Chromatius set the prisoners free, freed his slaves, and resigned as prefect.
Sebastian was named captain in the praetorian guards by Emperor Diocletian, as did Emperor Maximian when Diocletian went to the East. Neither knew that Sebastian was a Christian. When it was discovered during Maximian's persecution of the Christians that Sebastian was indeed a Christian, he was ordered executed. He was shot with arrows and left for dead, but when the widow of St. Castulus went to recover his body, she found he was still alive and nursed him back to health. Soon after, Sebastian intercepted the Emperor, denounced him for his cruelty to Christians, and was beaten to death on the Emperor's orders.
Saint Sebastian was venerated at Milan as early as the time of St. Ambrose and was buried on the Appian Way. He is patron of archers, athletes, and soldiers, and is appealed to for protection against plagues. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=103
After St. Sebastian I had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cecilia Matella. Then I was off to St. John Lateran which is actually the cathedral of Rome (not St. Peter's which is merely the 'papal chapel' :) In the Baldichino (the little thingy above the altar) are the heads of both Peter and Paul. The altar is believed to be the one on which Peter celebrated the mass as he broke bread with the Christians of Rome.
After St. John Lateran I tried to stop into Santa Croce where the relics of the Cross of Christ are kept but they had a concert going on inside. So I passed on to St. Lawrence outside the walls. The church was still closed from their afternoon closure so I hopped on over to the Campo Verano.
According to ancient Roman tradition, the Campo Verano, the main cemetery, lies outside the city walls on the Via Tiburtina (the road to Tivoli). The North American College has a mausoleum there and it contains the mortal remains of Frank Parater, a seminarian from Richmond, Virginia whose cause is up for canonization. Our mausoleum is the tall one in the center:
After a walk through the city of the dead I went back to see about St. Lawrence.
St. Lawrence martyr
Feastday: August 10
Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping, "Father, where are you going without your deacon?" he said. "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the Pope. "in three days you will follow me." Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels to have more to give away.
The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. The Saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: "This is the Church's treasure!"
In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The Saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked. "Turn me over," he said to the judge. "I'm done on this side!" And just before he died, he said, "It's cooked enough now." Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic Faith might spread all over the world. After that, he went to receive the martyr's reward. Saint Lawrence's feast day is August 10th.
Here is a picture of the outside of the Church:
Now the folks back at St. Jude will be interested in this. I noticed the banner on the far right pillar. I went up to investigate and it blew my mind. The good people of St. Jude in Chattanooga have been preparing all year to celebrate their 5oth anniversary (the parish was founded in 1958) I hope that it will be a spectacular celebration, but that great milestone limps in comparison to the jubilee that St. Lawrence is celebrating this year. The Church was found in the year 258, that means they are celebrating their 1750th anniversary!!!! Wow!
After St. Lawrence, I took a nice ride through town and then up the tiber for the Piazza del Popolo and then decided to call it a day!
So you can see from the length of this post that the motorino is a very fine way to see Rome without getting too tuckered out. If I were to have used public transport and or personal transport (feet) there is no way I could have covered all that territory in one day perhaps even in two . . . But as it is, I had a good day to remind me of the many saints and sinners (read here taxi drivers who cut you off ;) who have graced this beautiful eternal city!