Sunday, December 24, 2006
The Franciscans have been custodians of the Holy Land churches and sanctuaries, pastors of the Latin Rite parishes there and guardians and guides of Catholic pilgrims for eight centuries now.
In the photo you see the Casa Nova (Hospitium Franciscanum) in Jerusalem. It's located in the Chrisitan quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem and just a five minute walk from the Holy Sepulchre (and just 15 euro a night and they feed you and they all speak English and Italian!).
The Franciscans have a great place in Bethlehem, too, next to the Church of the Nativity (www.cnop-beth.org). This is the site of their place in Jerusalem (www.custodia.org/casanovaj).
When the camel stands you nearly get killed. Then, when the camel lays down, the same process is repeated.
In the background is Jerusalem. Of course Jerusalem has been leveled many times, but the genius of building it atop such a fine hill is visible.
With grande emotione do the faithful pray with earnest at the hallowed spot where the Christus was born. Joseph and Mary came from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the Romans because Joseph was of the lineage of King David, and Bethlehem was the "city of David" where David had been born...
Overcome with emotion, I kissed the silver and reached my hand down to the stone, and strangely, whispered this one prayer: "Grant me salvation, O Lord. Let me be a just man in Your sight."
It was so profoundly moving for me that there are no human words to describe it, except for these: "Go for yourself soon and see, too!"
The octogonal altar put in place in the first half of the fourth century by the Empress Helena is still there. Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means "house of bread," foretold the Holy Eucharist in which Christ instituted at the Last Supper!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
He was born in Nazareth in 1933. He is a Latin Rite priest. He has proven to be an international voice for peace and accord among all men. He is a saint. Please pray for him and his labors for the Faith.
This is a shot of the field where the shepherds were in Bethlehem. One can still enter the cave where they used to stay here (there is even an altar in it). To stand atop that soil and to look above at that sky: read the Gospel of Luke!
Today we ascended the hill where Elizabeth lived - the location of the Visitiation! It was really a spiritual moment. On the walk down in the dark, we all sang the Magnificat!
Altar cards, anyone? Try these nice ceramic ones! The Franciscans built the Church of the Visitation in about 1940. It's a lovely church, with this nice altar in it!
The sweetest kids I ever saw! They just wanted to shake my hand...about a thousand times! Next, they wanted me to take digital photos of them so they could see the image in the screen...about a thousand times!
I spend my evenings strolling through the Chrisitan quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem (where I met these Christian kids in the street). It's a blast to walk amongst these lovely Christians who have been so persecuted for so many centuries.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Like many Christians, my dream has always been to walk and pray atop the rich soil in which our Blessed Lord trod: to see Nazareth, nestled in the mountains of Galilee; to see where the Virgin of Galilee and men of Galilee followed the Anointed Christus, the Galilean. Then Bethlehem, now located in the empire of Mahomet. Today, the Holy Land remains a synonym for the land of the birth of Christ and it is there that our hearts turn during this season.
God willing, I will be in the silent grotto of Bethlehem for the Christmas celebration (cf. Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23) for the Mass at midnight to be celebrated by His Beatitude, the Patriach of the Latins, in the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord (yes, I promise to blog his cappa magna).
May God bless you all during this season. I carry your intentions in my heart to the poverty of Bethlehem and I pray your untiring zeal to be ever coupled and emblazoned by the power of the Holy Ghost!
Datum Romae, apud S. Petrum, die XXI decembris a.D. MMVI, Pontificatus Nostri anno secundo.
As I walk the cobbles and hum, "I'll be home for Christmas," I think to myself: "Isn't it great to see every boutique, window and store decorated in celebration of the Incarnation of the Babe from whose fingertips tumbled planets and worlds?"
If you're in Rome at this time, just take an evening stroll down the Via del Corso and the Via dei Condotti and enjoy all of the holiday cheer of Natale and Capodanno. The crowds, joy and lo shopping is just the best!
A Natale siamo tutti piu buoni! You will see the lights, flowers, un presepe here and there, Babbe Natale all around (Babbo Natale is the Italian name for Santa), gli zampognari (le zampogne are the best-vestiti con i costumi tradizionali) which you imagine surely must be from the south and then the le caldarroste all on the sampietrini! Then, of all this you can smile and say to yourself:
"It's beginnnnning to look a lot like Chrissssstmaaaaas...eeeevery where I go!"
Ok, friends, La Mag says buone feste a tutti and wants to share her special, secret Christmas cooking with everyone! It's called Polipo Alla Luciana (Luciana's Octopus).
-Six small octopus (small ones, though, as the large ones are used in salads) in a pan.
-Lots of cherry tomatoes in the pan.
-Olive oil, garlic, white wine, lots of parsley and (only a couple) red hot chilly peppers in the pan.
-Cook until the octopus has changed color and looks done (if the heads fall off, then you know you've cooked them too long, but it's still okay).
N.B. This can be eaten as a soup or in pasta and six octopi serves about three persons. Il Natale e tutto tuo when you eat this well!
For many Americans, when they think of opera, they might think of Dean Martin’s That’s Amore or of Luciano Pavarotti (who I once paid $100 to see in America!).
Everyone has their own traditions while in Rome. One of mine is to attend a Christmas opera every year. The best was when on my birthday I went to Tosca by Puccini and President Ciampi was there in the old royal box!
The drama is so Italian! To hear the arias, choruses, duets, etc. with orchestral accompaniment and costumes, scenery and action is just another operatic day in Rome!
I took this photo in the rain while standing in line for the Mass at Midnight on Demember 24, 2004. As it turned out, it proved to be the final Christmas under the reign of John Paul II, of blessed memory. To say the least, it was epic.
A lady friend of mine (a.k.a. der crazy French girl) sent me this photo. Some have asked me for more information on Otto von Habsburg, and so here he is with his brothers and sisters: Otto, Adelaide, Robert, Karl, Felix, Rudolf, Karlotte and Elizabeth.
Isn't it cool to see them all lined up like this? Makes me just want to have eight kids just to do the same!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Last night while sipping my hot spiced cider and enjoying my Christmas music (Carol of the Bells) and German pipe (Vauen) with some nice Virginia tobacco from the neighborhood tobacconist, I listened to my Christmas music and finished the last of my Christmas cards (still wishing I had a fireplace and eggnog).
I had spent the afternoon searching for some nice Christmas cards to buy. When I buy Christmas cards I look for ones that have the nice card stock, lithography, typography, gold embossing and engraving, watermarked papers, etc. But, I also only buy cards that have a Christian ethos. Why could I not find any (in Italy)?
From store to store did I search. Every cartoleria and tabacchi shop on my way did I search. Yes, many CHRISTmas cards, but no CHRISTian ones. Does this speak of a secular order?
At my last stop before heading home I paged through the cards and then asked the clerk in Italian, “Are there some with the Madonna and Child?” With a wry smile she replied, “No.”
Just then the elerly Italian granny next to me launched into a declamatory explosion of abuse complaining of the seculars having taken the Christus out of Christmas. Touched was I by this courage (grace) of the ancien regime and to acknowledge her successful point, I left with the word, “Touche!”
Friday, December 15, 2006
Her being from the north, I just love to hear her bash Rome: "Roma, is impossible to live in, just impossibile!" she explains.
It's always a joy to have a smoke with her while in the cortile of the Ang and to hear her speak of her home in the north "in the valley" or the current state of things in Italy. Ti voglio un mondo di bene, Clementina!
One of the guest speakers of the lecture sponsored by the Acton Institute (www.acton.org) in Rome was Prof. George Weigel (www.eppc.org). Prof. Weigel is a "public intellectual" who was chosen by Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, to pen the definitive "authoritative" biography of the Pope.
Longevity is a gift even spoken of in scripture. God save the Emperor and long may he reign/live.
We might speak this of his father, Emperor Karl I:
"I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.”
Pope St. Gregory VII (11th cent.)
“The fundamental principles of Western civilization, individual liberty, human rights, the rights of private property, the integrity of human personality, derive from the doctrine now almost alone affirmed universally in the Western world by the Catholic church, that man at the core of his being is of a spiritual nature.”
Resolution of the National Catholic Alumni Federation (1936)
To see such a relic of Christendom living and breathing atop the cobbled streets of Rome: urbs caput orbis!
“A new age of Christendom, if it is to come, will be an age of reconciliation of that which was disjoined, the age of a ‘secular’ Christian civilization, in which temporal things, philosophical and scientific reason, and civil society, will enjoy their autonomy and at the same time recognize the quickening and inspiring role that spiritual things, religious faith, and the Church play from their higher plane.”
J. Maritain: The Range of Reason (20th cent.)
It was nice to see the Archduke chat with a young Hungarian woman. His father was the Emperor of the very Catholic Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even today, for example, in Western Romania, you will have many Catholics, the result of this once and former Empire for Christ.
“Europe is not a political creation. It is a society of peoples who shared the same faith and the same moral values. The European nations are parts of a wider spiritual society.”
Christopher Dawson: Understanding Europe (20th cent.)
To commemorate the 15th Anniversary of John Paul II’s groundbreaking social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, the Acton Institute (www.acton.org) is sponsoring a range of events and programs to encourage a deeper understanding of the moral and economic foundations of a free and virtuous society, to further research and discussion of Catholic Social Teaching, and to promote an ethical analysis of the global market economy from different disciplines.
Thus the lecture hosted by the Acton Institute at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University on the evening of December 12. The title of the lecture was: Centesimus Annus e Deus Caritas Est: Carita Cristiana e Libero Mercato. Three seperate speakers each delivered a lecture and now we wait in anticipation for the next event in this series.
Indeed, he is a gentleman and a scholar. With an embrace I shook hands with him and in his lovely cordial manner he exclaimed: "It's a pleasure to meet, you!"
Humbled by his kindness, I was reminded of his father, who was Emperor, Blessed Karl I. Humbled more was I as I though of him as being the heir to that throne (viva l'imperatore!).
“What more honorable designation can there be than for the emperor to be called the son of the Church?”
St. Ambrose: Letters, 21 (4th cent.)
Everyone was delighted by the wisdom and charm of the Archduke. As soon as one heard him speak, the common sentiment was: "this man is a prodigy."
“There are indeed, most august emperor, two powers by which this world is chiefly ruled: the sacred authority of the popes and the royal power.”
Pope Gelasius I: Letter to the Emperor Anastasius I. (Ep. 12) (494)
Of the many guests was the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (http://vatican.usembassy.gov/english/). I found him to be a warm man with a lovely wife. Also, he's a Catholic.
The Ambassador lives across the street from the American Academy on Monte Verde and he works at the base of the Aventine hill overlooking the Circus Maximus.
- Here we see the French economist Prof. Naudet delivering his lecture in French. It was a delight to hear and later meet each of the speakers on the panel. To read a short biography of each, see: http://www.acton.org/centesimusannus/06.12.12.php .
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
As we chatted I took this photo of the Archduke. He has a splendid sense of humor. "I'm ninety-four years old!" he proudly said. "I was born before the First World War in nineteen-hundred and twelve. In Austria."
It was so special to speak to the Archduke about his father, Blessed Karl I. His father is on the road to the canonical process of canonization and was declared blessed in 2004.
The Archduke spoke of when his father died. He explained how much of it he remembers today even though he was just a boy at the time. He shared with myself and another the story of his father's death in exile and it was so touching for us to think of how his father will soon be likely canonized a saint.
The Archduke shared that sometimes he visits the United States, but that he hasen't lived there in many years. "I went back last year," he explained, "I go back to visit the Hungarian parishes." With pride I then shared with him that I grew up in an old Austro-Hungarian parish, the Church of Saint Agnes (www.stagnes.net). With a smile he replied: "Oh, I've been there!"
It was a delight to witness the joy and vigor of this leader among the Catholic youth. Many of the youth had already met or heard him speak at other venues (in Gaming or elsewhere). Some of us, too, had last seen him while in Rome to attend the Mass of Beatification of his own father, the Emperor, Blessed Karl I.
One of the youth exclaimed to the Archduke: "I have a special devotion to your father, soon to be raised to the honors of the altar as a saint!" Then another said: "I've seen a nice photo of you when you were a cute little kid in a long white gown!"
Meeting the Archduke was for me, very much like the two times I met Giulio Andreotti. Both are men in their nineties, both having been gigantic players of the twentieth century, and yet both have the most charm, youth, and humor of any persons that I've ever met (they have an almost teenage spirit).
My thoughts were of the gigantic historical weight of this man. It is now known that just after WWII, Pope Pius XII, of blessed memory, went to Generals Marshall and Eisenhower to look into the possibility of creating a Catholic State encompassing Bavaria, Austria and some smaller German states, with Otto von Hapsburg as ruler.
It was such a delight to speak to the Archduke! During this brief encounter in the hallway of Rome's Gregoriana I heard his voice as he chatted in several languages (each "perfectly" as I was told).
With my one friend from the Tyrol he chatted in German, while with my other friend from Hungary they chatted in Hungarian, while with my friend from France they spoke in French and then he even spoke Croatian with another friend of mine (the royal family used to vacation on a Croatian island). Needless to say, His Royal Highness knows the language and culture of his people.
My thoughts were deep in the the First World War. I thought of his throne which had been lost since 1918 and his giving up all claims to that already-lost throne in 1961.
With hope did I smile upon him while thiniking of how today, gloriously reigning, we have a German Pope from Catholic Bavaria!
It has been a turbulent history for Christendom in these years. Good news, though, as fides vincit!
His royal Highness Archduke Otto von Habsburg was a delight to speak to at the reception. He greeted everyone with a smile and a kind word. As he spoke I thought of the words of Dante (epistola VI to the Florentines):
"1. The gracious providence of the Eternal King, who in his goodness ever rules the affairs of the world above, yet ceases not to look down upon our concerns here below, committed to the Holy Roman Empire the governance of human affairs, to the end that mankind might repose in the peace of so powerful a protection, and everywhere, as nature demands, might live as citizens of an ordered world. And though the proof of this is to be found in holy writ, and though the ancients relying on reason alone bear witness thereto, yet is it no small confirmation of the truth, that when the throne of Augustus is vacant, the whole world goes out of course, the helmsman and rowers slumber in the ship of Peter, and unhappy Italy, forsaken and abandoned to private control, and bereft of all public guidance, is tossed with such buffeting of winds and waves as no words can describe, nay as even the Italians in their woe can scarce measure with their tears. Wherefore let all who in mad presumption have risen up against this most manifest will of God, now grow pale at the thought of the judgement of the stern Judge, which is nigh at hand, if so be the sword of Him who saith, 'Vengeance is mine', be not fallen out of heaven."
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
“The family may be regarded as the cradle of civil society, and it is in great measure within the circle of family life that the destiny of states is fostered.”
Sapientiae Christianae (Jan 10, 1890)
“No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: Increase and multiply. Hence we have the family, the society of a man’s house – a society very small, one must admit, but none the less a true society, and one older than any state. Consequently, it has rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the state.”
Rerum Novarum (May 15, 1891)
From Hungary, the land of the plains watered by the Theiss and the Danube, we have a rampart of the Church of Christ: a Catholic nation.
From Attila the Hun to St. Stephen! Baronius knew Church history better than anyone. When, in his history, he reaches A.D. 1000, he hails the arrival of the Hungarian deputies, who came to offer to the Roman Church the suzerainty of their land, and beseech the Pope to confer the title of king upon their duke Stephen. The Hungarian monarchy was founded upon Peter; for his sake it subsisted, and he alone, under God, was the safeguard of its future. With a wonderfully munificent spirit of religion, Stephen introduced into Hungary both the faith of Christ and the regal dignity. He obtained his royal crown from the Roman Pontiff, and having been, by his command, anointed king, offered his kingdom to the Apostolic See.
Every September 2 we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, Confessor.
St. Stephen, pray for us!
Wow, don't you just love the glory of the Roman Rite? Here we see the Archbishop Emeritus of Esztergom-Budapest and Primate of Hungary, László Cardinal Paskai. Isn't the cappa magna just glorious?! His Eminence was the celebrant of this Requiem Mass last November 4 in Siena for the repose of the souls of the Hungarian victims killed by the Soviets during the great uprising of 1956.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising. Please pray for the victims. See more photos of this lovely Mass here: http://templomosok.freeweb.hu/aktualis.html
Monday, December 11, 2006
Does everyone know what a zenith is? It’s that point of the heavens vertically above one. Is it just me or isn’t it just glorious to have your zenith be the Holy City (la Roma)!?
Infatti, wouldn’t it be just the best to die here in some glorious manner (like while professing the Nicene Creed at the words: …Et unam, sanctam, Catholicam et Apostolicam [et Roman!] Ecclesiam…) and then be interned in this rich soil soaked by the blood of the martyrs and trod over by the blessed apostes Peter and Paul?
At the internment I can just picture the cleric in his black cope and the altar boy holding the aspersorium stoup and the wondrous prayer from the Roman Ritual!
Isn’t she so sweeeet?! Of course everybody just loves her charm! We taught her to say to visitors who stop by at the door: “Cheers, I’m going to be a Juris Utriusque Doctor!” Of course nobody knows what that means and so they all laugh as she then describes what it is!
“I will graduate from an Ivy League Univeristy as a Doctor of Civil Law: J.C.D. (Juris Civilis Doctor). Then to Rome to graduate from a Pontifical Univeristy as a Doctor of Canon Law: J.C.D. (Juris Canonici Doctor). Then, and only then, will I be, the few, the proud, the brave: the Doctor of both Laws: J.U.D.!”
"My doctrine is not so much mine as that of Him who sent Me."
John 7: 16
Owing to the influence of clergy who have sojourned or studied in Rome, the wearing of the Roman cloak becomes more and more frequent (Signor Gammarelli can make you one). Clergyman know that the cloak is a nice complement of the ecclesiastical dress outside of church ceremonies (scholastic events in Catholic colleges, i.e. graduation), and has, besides, the advantage of being stately.
Until 1967, when a cleric was received in audience with the Pope, he was required by protocol to wear such a cloak (or at least greca). It was always one of those nice extra touches. Often, these practices have their roots in the old etiquette of the Roman court.
When I grew up as a kid my pastor, Msgr. Richard Schuler, had a few such cloaks. His cappa nigra was from Toomey and his mother made him his one ferraiolone and he even had another one, too, I think (and then a few monsignorial ones, too)!
One of his great loves was birds and another was German language. So he combined the two: a goldfinch named Gretel! A goldfinch is a small brightly colored European finch often kept as a cage bird. In the summer the male becomes bright yellow, with black wings, tail and crown.
When he died, during the interregnum, la Popessa brought his beloved cage birds to the North American College where Frank Cardinal Spellman invited her to live for some time before she founded Casa Pastor Angelicus.
Have you every had the delight to hear the Roman Rite sung by a true tenor (who wears the four-horned biretta)? We enjoy this gift, every Sunday, under the Roman sun!
Welcome to our parish, the Church of St. Gregory (http://www.fssp-roma.org/). Our usual celebrant, a son from Catholic Hungary, is a golden tenor.
Why a tenor? The tenor is the highest male voice (except the falsetto), having a compass between about the first c below middle c and the first c above middle c. Of course not every priest is a tenor, but those that are are particularly blessed.
And he wears the biretta with four horns/projections on top! The principal mark of a Doctor’s dignity is the four-horned biretta (versus the normal three-horned). The doctoral biretta given by the Roman universities is of plain black silk and it looks great!
For me one of the greatest perks of this world is to be in the Vatican Basilica, in the presence of the Roman Pontiff (the Patriarch of the West), with the Sistine Choir raising their voices to the heavens with the Tu Es Petrus or Cantate Domine of Don Lorenzo Perosi! I have to admit that I just love his music!
But just remember that Perosi wasen’t the best. The best still lives: Il Maestro Domenico Bartolucci (his Christus est Qui Natus is also my favorite!)
“Perosi was an authentic musician, a man utterly consumed by music. He had the good fortune of directing the Sistine at the time of the motu proprio on sacred music, which rightly wanted to purify if from the theatrics which which it was imbued. He could have given a new impulse to Church music, but unfortunately he didn’t have an adequate understanding of polyphony in the tradition of Palestrina and of the tradition of the Sistine…Today the fashion in the churches is for pop-inspired songs and the strumming of guitars, but the fault lies above all with the pseudo-intellectuals who have engineered this degeneration of the liturgy, and thus of music, overthrowing and despising the heritage of the past with the idea of obtaining who knows what advantage for the people. If the art of music does not return to its greatness, rather than representing an accommodation or a byproduct, there is no sense in asking about its function in the Church…”
-Interview with Msgr. Bartolucci ( www.chiesa.espressonline.it )
Once an Italian joked with me: "Didn't you know that America was discovered by an Italian...who was lost!" Then he went on: "Didn't you know that America was named after an Italian, too!"
This was his name in Latin: Americus Vespucius. He was an Italian navigator; the eponym of America!