Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Italian Way of Life

Just to give you a taste 
of the Italian way of life 
I thought I would like to share 
a little video I came across 
on the blog of 
a brother in the house:

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And it's all true!

Tiber Flood

Many of you may have seen the reports from Rome that the Tiber is bursting at her seams.  It has been raining for over a month now.  It seems like every other day has brought us another weather system with more rain.   It is getting to be, to use a very cliché phrase, of biblical proportions.  Here is a picture of the Tiber river at what looks like summer-time (i.e normal) levels:

Here is a picture I took the other day while going to St. Peter's.  It is almost the same angle but I couldn't get closer because there are crews tying to dislodge the huge barges that broke loose from their moorings and got caught against the side of Ponte Sant'Angelo:

You can just barely see one of them though the second arch from the right.

Here's another comparison shot:

You can see the work crews trying to dislodge one of the barges.

Luckily for us who live in the former marshland that now is Rome, these retaining walls keep the water out.  They were put up in the late 19th century.  Before that, the Romans were at the mercy of the weather.  And there are many markers to prove it:

When Clement VIII, Pontifex Maximus was in his seventh year,



the oldest extant flood record (1277)

pictures from:  http://roma.freewebpages.org/roma-c4.htm

I think it appropriate here to quote the Sacred Scriptures, lest anyone think that poor Fr. David and the pitiable people of Rome are about to perish:

From the Book of Genesis:

God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark.  I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."

God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you:  I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds,

I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings. As the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting covenant that I have established between God and all living beings--all mortal creatures that are on earth." God told Noah: "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all mortal creatures that are on earth."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fr. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. - Carl J. Peter Lecture

The North American College hosts a speaker each year under the title of Carl J. Peter.  This years speaker was Fr. Augistine DiNoia, undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  It was an excellent talk.  Here is a link to the NAC website where the full text of his talk is listed: 


If you can't find the talk from the main website you can follow this direct link:

Christmas Caroling at the Greg

The Students of the Gregorian University have a nice tradition of caroling in between classes.  Each class/faculty/college can sign-up to sing in the Central Atrium.  The acoustics aren't very good for making out the individual lyrics but I guess it's the thought that counts!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Sorry about the delay, once again, in my blogging.  Time seems to have a funny way of slipping through the cracks!  Anyway, I had an exciting Thanksgiving weekend.  I and three other of my fellow priests here at the Casa Santa Maria decided to take a trip to Malta, a rocky little island in the middle of the Mediterranean with a lot of history.

We flew down in the middle of a storm - November/December is notorious in Rome for rainy, nasty weather.   It was very apropos though, being that St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta during his trip to Rome and stayed there for three months (c.f. Acts chapter 28). However, airplanes aren't as forgiving of wrecks, so I am glad we landed safely!

We were able to see several of the Pauline sites.  Remember that this is the year dedicate to St.Paul  (http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/index_en.html)  

The statue above is of St. Paul and is located in the grotto at Rabat (just outside of the ancient city of Mdina - and no, that is not a misspelling, the Maltese language is very strange - having phoenecian origins and a splattering of Arabic and latin).  This is the location that is known to be where Paul stayed while on the island.

Below is Fr. Matthew striking a match in the grotto - it was literally a bunch of holes in the ground that had been dug out as living spaces.  There was not light so we had to improvise:

It turns out we made our own version of  Chiaroscuro which was also apropos being that Caravaggio was once a Knight of Malta and lived on the island for a while (you will have to google or wiki that one because this blog entry is going to be long enough as it is) - on a related note the Cathedral in Valletta has a huge Caravaggio painting of the beheading of St. John the Baptist one of the patrons of the order and the namesake of the co-cathedral)

We were able to have mass in the Grotto.  The country is almost 95% Catholic and the churches seemed to be filled on Sunday (which is unfortunately a rare site in most of Europe).  It was a nice treat when our Taxi driver asked if he could join us for mass!  It was a beautiful testament to the faith that they had received some two thousand years ago from St. Paul himself.

One of the days we rented a boat to actually go to the little rock outcropping traditionally held to be the place where St. Paul's boat wrecked.

This is a picture of the huge statue erected on the rock:

As you can see there are blue skies behind - the weather was gorgeous with clear skies and warm temperatures (we were the envy of all the guys back in rainy and cold Rome:-)  We even jumped into the sea for a little swim - very nice!

Another one of the reasons we went to Malta was also to see the location of the Great Siege of 1565. What a great story that is!  As a matter of fact one of the reasons that Western Europe is still Christian and not Muslim (at least for the time being) is because the Christian Knights of Malta were successful in holding out in their fortifications against the Turkish invasion.  The battles of the 16th century were fought to preserve the European Heritage with the Christian Faith being at the forefront of this realty.  The Great Siege of Malta is right up there with the defense of Vienna by Sobieski, and the defeat of the Turkish Fleet at LePanto by Don Juan of Austria.  

The Valiant Knights of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of St. John for short, or the Knights of Malta after this great feat, held off over 40,000 turkish invaders with only 9,000 men women and children to defend their little island! The Knights of Malta are still in existence today.  

This is a picture of me taken in front of some of the forts on the island:

We took a nice Boat Tour of the Grand Harbour were much of the siege took place.

Then we had a nice lunch on a rooftop terrace restaurant overlooking the harbour:

The restaurant is located in the city of Valletta, named after the Grand Master of the Order during the Great Siege who very bravely led the band of knights to victory.  This city was built on the site of some of the most brutal fighting where the bravery of the Knights was very much proven.  They held out here till the last man perished - in effect saving all the rest of the population across the harbour by slowing down the advance of the Turkish forces.

It was a nice meal too;-)

We also went to the Palace Armory to see all the medieval warfare equipment:

Two suits of armour to go, please!

Finally, I will leave you with a very touching reminder of what our whole life is about.  On a little rock outcropping in the middle of the inland sea is a stark scene that reminds us of who we are and why we do what we do:

It couldn't be clearer than that.