Friday, September 29, 2006
Enjoy these photos from Rome's Pontifical Univeristy of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Many of the students, faculty and staff were able to attend this celebration and we even hosted an eminent Swiss Cardinal as our guest! The Eucharistic procession wound its way through the ancient Dominican Convent of Sts. Dominic and Sixtus and concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the main chapel. So nice to see all of us walking in the shadow of our Blessed Lord as He trod our school campus in His reigning glory!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
No, it's not woodsmoke you're smelling. I call her Angel. She's my radical-socialist teamster friend who is homeless, but sleeps somewhere near to St. Peter's Square. She has refereed the crowds around the Vatican for years. Some mistake her for a bloodthirsty rugby football player. She jumps headlong into any crowd while zig-zagging and scraping about for someone to shout at; like some Frenchman or the like. When you see her bristling, just don't laugh at her eyebrows...or the cigar!
I've always enjoyed telling armchair stories about how great (and Catholic!) Italy is. The finest flowers of delicacy, grace and wit and proportion and taste have been born here! Only Italy can so harmonize beauty and cooking and music and architecture and theology and literature and all arts together! Italy possesses these things from the start more perfectly, seperately and together, than any other nation. I took this photo of the façade of a police station: isn't it wickedly niiice!
Behind the colors is the motherhouse of the Society of Jesus. Pray for their well-being and for a renewed gusto. The face of the Jesuits is changing. When one meets a Jesuit here in Rome, he's often from India, Central or South America. May Saint Ignatius pray for us!
"How did it ever happen that, when the dregs of the world had collected in western Europe, when Goth and Frank and Norman and Lombard had mingled with the rot of the old Rome to form a patchwork of hybrid races, all of them notable for ferocity, hatred, stupidity, craftiness, lust and brutality - how did it happen that, from all this, there should come Gregorian chant, monasteries and cathedrals, the poems of Prudentius, the commentaries and histories of Bede, the Moralia of Gregory the Great, St. Augustine's City of God, and his Trinity, the writings of St. Anselm, St. Bernard's sermons on the Canticles, the poetry of Caedmon and Cynewulf and Langland and Dante, St. Thomas' Summa, and the Oxoniense of Duns Scotus?"
-Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain
Like the chasuble? Could have been designed by a landscape gardener! Hey, is that rhubarb in the design! Welcome to the water-color and oil-paints of the baroque (no spooky modern vestmetns here)!
With deliberateness beauty is sought in the liturgy. Of course beauty can bear witness for itself. We give our best to God in homage to Him. Even good-mannered and honest sceptics can see the beauty in the liturgy and feel: "This boomerang is the ultimate paradoxical fulfilment of my aspirations - it is the worship of the outspread King of Glory!"
Call me old-fashioned, but I just love a nice old Mass in Latin with all the smells, bells and whistles...in Rome! It's all a drawbridge to something so Catholic!
While on a sailing ship on the waters near Rome, I just love the smell of ropes and of pitch and salt and lacquer and seaweed, etc.! It's just the same at a glorious High Mass in Latin! One smells the starched linen and altar wine and beeswax candles and incense and flowers and the works! Such storms of sentiment I feel while worshipping the Lord of History in la Caput Mundi!
It has been said that to be a faithful Catholic today, one must be heroic. Thanks to our Blessed Lord that He has gifted us with His Holy Mass! For some Catholics, the liturgy or liturgical calendar is a matter of no or little account.
However, when one prays the Dominican Rite in Rome and follows their liturgical calendar with all of their many saints and blesseds, one lives a correspondence with the deep-rooted and fervent saints of old! To live and drink from the fountains of the Middle Ages is such a blessing as we then carry this spirituality with us into the world.
After Mass in Rome, while walking the streets and parks with the cedars and cypresses and umbrella pines and while resting under the awnings of the cafés, one finds the apparent unmeaning of every moment turned into an implicit prayer and a moment for spiritual bridge-building. When the Mass is ended, we carry it into the world!
So many Catholic youth of today have not been acclimatised to the Latin Rite as the Church would have them be. They have been left to arrive at truth by induction. Thus, the perplexity and gloom of our sometimes lost Christian youth.
The subconscious seeks God and knows to find Him in a church, in His temple. One can be in the church rostrum, belfry or graveyard and know that truly this is His house.
After hearing such a Mass as this sung in Rome, a High Mass in the Dominican Rite with schola, one comes out of the church after Mass with a kind of comfortable and satisfied feeling that something has just been done that needed to be done. Then, while still on the steps, one hears the clash and peal of the churchbells and reflects that truly this is the hic Domus Dei et Porta Coeli!
Cold scorn is often poured on things seen by some as being "too" Catholic. There is sometimes even an indignation seen among Catholics for things sometimes seen to have a Catholic "excess." Unsportsmanlike persons might be choking with diffidence at something so Catholic as a Mass in Latin where the cleric and faithful all face God in the tabernacle together.
However, with his broad-brimmed fedora or her Spanish mantilla, the mature Catholic can respond: the Church has given this to us. The Dominican Rite is a fortress of the thirteenth-century. It is wholesale Catholicism. Everything is in its proper place. It is a battery of order. In an epoch where so many liturgies are just a fantasia swirling in a brackish stream of rusticity, we hear the Latin schola rise up from the morning mists of Rome! Thank you, Blessed Lord, for our inheritance!
No cream-colored albs here, but just the old 100% linen or hemp of the ancient world! These laymen are my confrères and we all study in Rome together. They assist the Dominican friars at Mass. As they explain: "It is a singular honor to be Christ's page at the altar!"
I'm always a bit dazed by the momentousness of the ancient beauty of the Dominican Rite! The ritualistic formality is very businesslike and self-evident. It is ceremonious not because of an egoistic turn, but because this is God and we give our best to God! In the modern world we have been taught to favor the humanity of Jesus. However, we know better: Jesus is God!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The thirteenth century is fun, isn't it? Well, here it is and we were all there! All of the sights, all of the sounds and all of the grace! So beneficent it is and so we need to seek it, right?
After Mass as I wandered out into the sun I spotted a bunch of little Italian kids wearing those smocks they have to wear in school. My thought was this: change the uninstructed into the instructed (they depend upon our charitableness to give them the inheritance)!
Monday, September 04, 2006
At the Licence level there are six sections: Thomistic, Biblical, Dogmatic, Ecumenical, Moral and Spiritual Theology. In addition, there are two institutes: the interfaculty Institute of St. Thomas (designed to foster a specialized study of St. Thomas) as well as the Institute of Spirituality. The "Ang" has about 1,600 students from about 100 countries!
O Jesus, eternal High Priest, Who didst deign to raise Thy faithful servant, Pius XII, to the supreme dignity of
Thy Vicar on earth and to grant him the grace to be a fearless defender of the faith, a valiant champion of justice and peace, zealous in proclaiming the glory of Thy most holy Mother, a shining example of chairty and all virtues, deign now to grant us, in view of his merits, the graces we ask of Thee; so that, made certain of his efficacious intercession with Thee, we may one day see him raised to the honors of our altars. Amen.
Vic. Gen. Civit. Vatic.
die 8 Dicembris 1958
This stained glass window is about as wickedly cool as they were ever made! All of the vesting prayers for a priest are on it! Did you know that each of the vestments are blessed (see the Roman Ritual). Did you know that there are prayers to be prayed as each of the vestments is donned (see the Roman Missal)? The Church, in Her wisdom, has such sympathy for our human condition!
In this book, Chesterton wrote: "It would be futile to make a sketch of St. Thomas and conceal the fact that he fought with heretics..."
She's learning some Aramaic, too, the language that Christ spoke while on earth (thanks to our local Lebanese Maronite parish!). Old Slavonic and Hebrew are in the works along with some classical Greek, too!
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Here's an airport joke I just got from a friend:
"Would you be more likely to have an anxiety attack at 20,000 feet if the passenger seated next to you was: A) An Irish nun saying the Rosary? B) A Mormon missionary in regulation white shirt and narrow, black tie? C) A Hari Krishna in a standard-issue saffron robe? or D) A bearded bloke of Middle Eastern complexion holding a well-thumbed Koran?"
Without the Helvetians working the security gig at the Vatican, everyone knows what a circus it would be (just think if it was just the Italian Vigilanza)! Every tourist is a cheerer for the Swiss Guard. Since January 22, 1506, they have been at the service of the Popes! See their nice site here: www.guardiasvizzera.org.
Such an apparatus we had: from the Holy Writ. The Bible reads: "Therefore ought the woman to have a covering over her head because of the angels." -1 Cor. 11:10
Every night in Rome we get the BBC news on the radio (it sure is fun to hear some English!). Then, to hear Italian, we tune into Radio Maria. But, for the world, there is Vatican Radio! You can even tune in on the internet: http://www.vaticanradio.org/inglese/enindex.html
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I found myself in line to see the corpse of the Pope with some of my confreres in a sea of 4,000,000 other pilgrims! Every day I stood in line with the clergy in their soutanes and the nuns in their habits as the world watched. Each of us there mourned in our own way (my method turned out to be this: I wandered around with the famous '78 Felici photo of the Pope).
In a civilization of hyenas, there is the See of Peter. Moored out in the center of the stream is the Church; an island and a bridge. It is all refereed by God as the Pope stands at a rostrum to safeguard and pass on the Deposit of Faith.
Because the way was not wide-open, we had to zig-zag between the buoys of (millions of) people and through the labyrinthine of security. Careering through it all, by the divine assistance, we were the last humans that by seconds just made it into the closing piazza to see the corpse of Pope John Paul II. Then we looked, and our other roommate and his Italian friend had just done the same! Just behind us was the mayor of Rome with the political lackeys. There was the clamor and then the coffin was closed.
It was pouring rain. It was about two o'clock in the morning. It was the Vatican Basilica on Christmas before dawn. It was his last Christmas. I was trying to keep from weeping. My roommate was shouting in Italian for the Holy Father to look at us. He did. I took the photo as he blessed us (do you see the second pope on the right?).
Then, they neared us. I screamed in Latin: Ad multos annos! My roomate screamed Ti voglio bene! Next, the procession halted and he was directly in front of us. We all screamed and he stared at my roommate and I (I will never forget that stare). Lolek, prega per noi!
Do I believe this photo to be a bit of a miraculo? Yes, I do! I was wandering through the Vatican gardens on a guided tour just before Pope John Paul II passed on to his reward. I think I was the only person on the tour who saw this!
Mary's memory, we study, is a source of singular importance for knowing Christ, an incomparable source. She followed in her home the gradual self-revelation of her baby as He grew.