Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Overcome by our liturgical!

Only in this epoch, some persons have vilified the idea of a Mass being celebrated in this manner. With the liturgical heritage of the West which dates before circa A.D. 1970, they have a grudge. With negative energy they might say of this photo: "Oh, the priest has his back to the people!" But, the Church replies: "The priest (and people) all face together the Anointed One veiled in the holy tabernacle fixed to the altar of sacrifice." Why turn your back to God, right? They reply: "Well, you just have to be able see the priest." The Church can reply, "Well, we do see the priest, just without the hyper-emphasis that is put on his person when we have him watching us all the time." Personally, I like that the cleric reading the Mass in the photo is anonymous. That way, there isn't the hyper-emphasis on him, but just on all of us through baptism crawling to the altar of redemption in His temple.

A mythical our era!

Here we see a Dominican friar celebrating the Holy Mass for the students of Rome's Angelicum. Don't you just love the fresco on the left? Because "error has no rights," the books of heresy are destroyed. Hat's off to this wicked old posthumous voice from the Domincans of old!

What breadth this beauty has...!

In nome della Santissima Trinità (in the name of the Most Holy Trinity)! This is the Church of Saints Dominic and Sixtus, the main chapel of the Dominican University in Rome. Such prestige this chapel has and there's even a Bernini altar in the rear! Oremus (let us pray)!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Italian political poster for the family...

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church...

1664: "Unity, INDISSOLUBILITY, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce seperates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its 'supreme gift,' the child. "

A Papal Blessing...

For the Benedictio Papalis (Papal Blessing):
"A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously and devoutly receive, even by radio transmission, the Blessing of the Sovereign Pontiff, when imparted to Rome and the world (Urbi et Orbi)."
-Enchiridion Indulgentiarum
A.D. 1968

A little paint does wonders...

Through the centuries, Rome has been revered as the chosen city and the bearer of a sublime destiny. Rome's unique place in the Universal Church - and not just in human civilization - is due, of course, to the fact that Peter trod its soil and because the same soil was consecrated by his blood. The Church of Rome is the Church of Peter.

Imago Urbis Romae...Italian political posters!

Wow, politics in Italy! Did you know they still have today a "reformed" Fascist as well as "reformed" Communist parties here in Italy?

But, this poster gets a photo because it's got some niiiice Latin. Cheers to that, dudes!

They protect the popes...

Remember to always pray for those who daily protect the Holy Father as well as the Vatican City. The Swiss Guard are assisted by the Vigilanza as well as by the municipal Polizia. May God always grant freedom and exaltation to Our Holy Mother the Church!

The sometimes protocol in Rome, with some niiice spumante, is to propose a quick ad multos annos toast to the Holy Father. I've heard it merrily said: "Long live the Pope and death/shame to his enemies!"

See catacombs in Rome...

Ad catacumbas! Eeeek, someone's staring at me! Greetings from the land of the sepulchres. The catacombs are the precious monuments of primitive Christianity that have survived to today! Their enshrined testimony can speak to any Catholic: for the nourishment of our souls, for the comfort of believers as well as for the illumination of those astray. The catacombs speak of the integrity of Catholic doctrine and so prove to be a real magistra vitae.

In the immediate post-apostolic period, Christians started to build catacombs in Rome. The cult of the martyrs was associated from the very beginning with their tombs. The Christian populace wanted to be buried together and close to the martyrs. Today, the bones of all of these deceased martyrs lay in churches in Rome, but we still visit the catacombs to pay homage to the celebrated martyrs as well as to offer Holy Mass there in suffrage of the souls of the departed.

While many pilgrims often visit the catacombs southeast of Rome, few have aquaintance with the catacombs on the north of the city, those of Saint Agnes and Priscilla (my two personal favorites!). However, to the surprise of many, enormous catacombs lay under the entire city of Rome.

Our homes...offended or disturbed?

Pope Pius XII foresaw the dangers of this great gift of science:

"Television is directed to family groups so that at any hour in any place it is capable of moving the emotions, particularly those of youth. ...The family as the cell of society must be preserved, and public authorities have the duty of taking every precaution that the home be in no way offended or disturbed. Did not even the pagan Juvenal say that 'for the child one must have the utmost reverence'?"

Gigantic funeral for a Latin!

Late on Palm Sunday, April 9, word spread through Rome that the principessa Eliane Radziwill had died. La principessa, born in France, was 84. The principessa had married into the famed Polish noble family, the Radziwills, and had lived in Rome for many years (her sister-in-law was the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Radziwill). A quick VIP funeral had to be planned before the coming Triduum.

But, the principessa had made just one last demand before she had died. She stipulated that her funeral was to be in Latin in the splendor of the Tridentine Rite! So, on Wednesday, April 12, we had the mother of all Requiem Masses for the principessa...a Solemn High Mass in the Tridentine Rite with a Gregorian schola!

Even just to have an excuse for a Gregorian Requiem with all the toys (black vestments and black funeral pall) is kinda cool anyways! The celebrant was from Australia, the deacon was from America and the subdeacon was from France. And, I was an acolyte! Many minor nobility were present.

Where was this mother of all funerals? It was at her parish, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, off the Corso V.E. II. From the outside, it doesn't look like a church as it's just a big Renaissance palace! But, the church is located inside of the famed Palazzo della Cancelleria. Incorporated in the palace is the church as was well as the seat of three of the Tribunals of the Church (Holy Roman Rota, Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, etc.). It's all part of the Vatican City (extraterritoral property). The ambience of such a Requiem in this church, founded by Pope Damascus I in the 4th century, is something that I will always remember.

The principessa, with a wink, bequeathed this nice day to us...a Solemn Requiem Mass in the Vatican City State. Such a substantial inheritance we have in our liturgical patrimony. She knew this and reminded us of it, post factum. May la principessa rest in peace!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Only in Italy...what a sunset!

I took this photo from the balcony of my bedroom. Doesn't it speak of the Creator? God has so blessed every nation, but also Italy! Can a dog or any other animal enjoy a sunset like this? So nice that we humans have both an intellect and a will.

Fabled English Rome!

This photo is dedicated with affection to my Uncle Geno and my Aunt Red. It was they who taught me to love old cars (and my own dad who is a quiet fanatic about old autos, too)! Isn't it beautiful!? My Uncle Thomas had a Jag, too, so I guess the thrill maybe runs in the family! But just remember, the '40 Ford Deluxe Coupe is the best! Forties forever...

Can you see the "CD" on the license plate? CD means that the car belongs to a diplomatic mission, Corpo Diplomatico. Rome has double the allowance of embassies because nearly every nation has a representation to the Republic of Italy as well as to the Holy See. So, lots of embassy parties and legation events!

Pray for my ailing Godmother...

Please continue to pray for my beloved Godmother, my Aunt Red (Mildred). She's such a noble woman. Please remember her immediate family at this time, too. Eugene is her husband and Jess and Sarah are her daughters. I sent to my Aunt a relic of Pope Pius XII and I invoke his holy and efficacious intercession for her health! While I seek God's will, I pray for a cessation of ill health from her body. My sentiments of devotion are with her at this time and I pray that she will feel overwhelmed by God's love for her. Oremus (Let us pray)!

Is this a glimpse of heaven...!

Hey, cool! This is a nice Solemn Pontifical High Mass being celebrated in Rome with a Cardinal from the Vatican! Hic est Domus Dei et Porta Coeli (This is the House of God and the Gate of Heaven)! The celebrant is S. Emin. il Cardinale Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez.

This church is the Church of the Jesus and Mary on the Via del Corso. Every Sunday at 10 o'clock they have a nice Tridentine Rite Mass there. The Mass is hosted by the Institute of Christ the King. See:

This dude met the pope(s)'s Joseph!

See this little warrior Catholic hoping to make his first confession here in Rome? This little dude, much loved by everyone in Rome, met both Popes John Paul and Benedict! Pope John Paul II even kissed him a couple of times!

Someday this little guy might be our boss once he's the Cardinal Archbishop of the New York See! So watch out!

An ordinary the Sacristia?

In the sacristy at the Angelicum in Rome, or in any sacristy, there are usually two sinks. One sink is to wash hands, etc., while the other sink is reserved for washing the sacred vessels and linens, etc.

Post Missam (after Mass) . This is the sink that is reserved. It's called the sacrarium. The pipe of this sink goes into the soil below the church, versus into the sewer as with any other sink.

When I was a young altar boy as a kid, it said next to our sacrarium:

Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as though it were your first.

Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as though it were your last.

Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as though it were the only Mass of your life.

Nice toys, eh?

The former generations of Dominican priests from the Angelicum in Rome have imparted to posterity (us!) these often now vanquished vestments of old.

With a pitch of indignation, a pale-faced sacristan back home once exclaimed to me: "Oh, Jesus was simple and poor so we have to have simple and poor vestmetns, too." My reply was: "Well, Sherlock, Jesus was not only human as you go out of your way to explain...., but He was/is also divine (God!)."

This same sacristan told me that I dressed "too nice" for church. To him I replyed: "Well, Sherlock, if you have an audience with royalty, you wear your best, right? If you have an audience with the King, you wear your best, right?" His reply was, "Oh, we don't have a king in America!"

Lifeless modern vestments of functionality are for him...and the birds!

The chalice and its appurtenances...

This chalice, during the Holy Mass, holds the Body and Blood of Our Lord! With all of these lovely "toys" used during the Holy Mass, we can consider a few thoughts about the meanings of each object:

A. According to their present use.

B. According to their historical use.

C. According to their symbolism.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

True beauty is intelligible to all...even to babies!

With wonder we see this beauty, brocades and all. A baby might think this image to be a municipal flower-bed? Or, a teen might think it to be graffiti? But you and I know better: it's a profusely decorated chasuble! Such beauty can only be ascribed to Providence. The iconographic designs so encapsulate one image: the Master is here and He calleth thee! Let us pray!

The epitome of beauty...hey, niiiice chasuble!

Just before Holy Mass, the Dominican cleric marks the pages for the day in the altar missal with ribbons. His colorful outer vestment is called the "chasuble." This particular chasuble, an antique, has lovely embroidery which would have all been done by hand! The chasuble is an emblem of love. When the ordaining bishop gives it to a new priest, he declares: "Receive this priestly garment, for the Lord is powerful to increse in you love and perfection."

Nice chalice veil and burse, but...?

Notice that the chalice veil doesn't match the chasuble? For a full measure of impartialtiy in expressing his "liturgical diversity," the Dominican friar decided upon a veil from another set! Of course, he was almost trampled for it by us!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pray in Rome with the Dominicans...

Just before Holy Mass at the chapel of the Angelicum in Rome, both priest and server make a quick prayer in the silence of the sacristy.

Study in Rome with the Dominicans...

Such a silhouette at the Angelicum in Rome! To study at a Dominican Univeristy is to share in the nice monastic backdrop of our civilization! To be coveted, surely, is the witness of the habit that speaks, as a painting, a thousand words! The habit is to be loved. The cassock can be likened to the tuxedo. We wear our best with pride for Christ!

Study is prayer...

Wouldn't it be niiice to study in this environment every day? Wow, lucky me! Ciao tutti and welcome to my school, the Dominican University in Rome. It's the famed PONTIFICIA STVDIORVM VNIVERSITAS A SANTO THOMA AQVINATE IN VRBE (ANGELICVM).


Gee, sometimes, it is fun to be me! Actually, though, even though the school is a nursery for future Vatican high-flyers, I am "oh so humble as I know I ought to be" and have no such ambitions!

Pontifical Swiss Guard (Cohors Helvetica)...

The most colorful military unit in the modern world...and the most finely trained! This year marks the V Centennary of the Swiss Guards. 500 years is a long time to be at the service of the popes! A.D. 1506-A.D. 2006. Defensores Ecclesiae Libertatis!

An outdoor ambo anyone!?

Do you like this outdoor pulpit? I heard it sure can hold a lot of weight! St. Thomas Aquinas preached from this nice lecturn many hundreds of years ago! You can pray here, in this piazza, as I did! When you visit Rome, just take an approx. 1.5 hour train ride north to the town of Viterbo. There, you will find this site along with the tombs of 4 popes!

Don't you just love a good-looking altar missal...?

Is is just me, or is a good-looking altar missal just the coolest thing ever!? But remember: don't just pray at Mass, but pray the Holy Mass with the priest! Buy yourself a Missale Romanum (Roman Missal) when you visit Rome! Oremus (let us pray)!

Toy cars in Italy...?

My Latin American friends whom I study with call me "Little John." Truly, am I larger than life or what? The Fiat is a nice brand, made in Italy...and it's a Latin name!

No, Russia is not all snow...!

Non fecit taliter omni nationi (He has not acted this way with every nation)! God has so blessed Russia: it is the land of the martyrs!

A fidei donum priest is one sent by his diocese to another country where there is a shortage of clergy. Might you know a cleric who might be called to labor in the land or the martyrs?

And, for any missioner, Russian food is a perk! Anyways, when you do make your pilgrimage there, you must try the pelmeni (Siberian ravioli) or the real buckwheat with Baltimore ketchup or the kasha, sala, samsa, borsh soup or some nice kvas, too!

In Rome, I often buy at a Ukrainian food shop "Baltica Piva 9" and that fire-water is da bomb!

From Russia with love...ab Oriente et Occidente!

May of a. 2003: dawn in Red Square, Moscow. It was just me, Lenin and the guards. I was at a loss for words and so I just prayed in a language that I was darn shure the Devil would understand: Salvator Mundi, salva Russiam. Salvator Mundi, salva nos. Miserere nostri, Domine... Sint unum!

In the photo is the tomb of Lenin. Behind it is the Kremlin. I prayed for the intercession of S. Franciscus Xaverius, S.I. (Patronus Missionum)!

Underfed are many as they await the Gospel message. Christ precedes us...other preceded us...let's accomplish God's work and all get to heaven together by supporting the mission efforts of the Church!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Alaska (us)...the Bering Sea (0)...Russia (them)!

Just across the Bering Sea is our neighbor, Russia! I made my first pilgrimage to Holy Russia in a.D. 2001. I went to pay homage to the martyrs of the XXth century. Russia is the largest country in the world (a sixth of the world's land mass!). Their story is an affecting one. In a.D. 1916, on the eve of revolution, there were 146,000 clergy in Russia. By a.D. 1941, red commies had killed 130,000 of them. Mother Russia will rebuild...join the fun (it's an honour:!

I took this photo of the Catholic Cathedral in Moscow. It survived the wicked persecutions and speaks of the blaring voices of the dead. You know, they say around 140 million persons were killed by the Soviets from 1917 until 1991. They always killed their own and thus had no future.

Note to those who don't speak English...

If you are a Catholic visitor to this site and you don't speak English or Ebonics or Spanglish, then simply read this note of introduction which I penned in Latin for eveybody:

Pax omnibus qui legunt laborem hunc!
Legens, ora pro viro isto!
Deo volente!
Iesu Tibi confido!
Vade retro Satana!
Procedamus in pace...!

Post Scriptum: Lingua Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae est!
P.P.S. Mentionem facias, quaeso, huius numeri in tua responsione (XVI). Sextus Deciums!

From the quasi-mystical empire of old...

Rome is, in many ways, the common birthplace of every child of Western civilization. The daily life of everyone reared in our civilization is permeated with the life of Rome. When one studies the history of Rome, though, they read of it being sacked one time after another.

It has been said that the Church is strongest when she is on the cross. With every persecution, there is a flowering of Christianity. St. Thomas à Kempis remarked that many were glad to share with Christ in glory, but few were willing to share in His sufferings.

In this great contest of today, let's join the winning team and be team players for Jesus Christ and His Holy Church! Oremus (let us pray)!

P.S. Isn't this a niiiiice photo of myself and the Vatican Basilica on the Ager Vaticanum?

To paint Rome...

"Not only every Catholic pilgrim, but also every artist worthy of the name, every poet who aspires to understand and create, every intelligent and noble creature who feels himself capable of attaining a high degree of culture must desire to know Rome; for only in Rome can he rise above a strictly provincial impression of human life and become impregnated with the 'soul' of the universe."

Every action has a purpose...

Although I'm still living my studium days now in Rome, I'll always remember all of the lovely Solemn High Masses that we have celebrated every Sunday and Holy Day at our parish in Rome. But, whether residing in Rome or extra urbem, I hope to always continue to santify my Sundays with a Solemn High Mass (although in the urbs it's always the best!).

The Church has such sympathy for our human condition. In Her wisdom, the design of the outward movements of the Holy Mass so speak to our human element and so we learn from the study of the "whys" of the rites.

In the photo we see a flow:
A. Our God in the veiled tabernacle attached to the altar of sacrifice.
B. The Priest as celebrant...
C. The Deacon assisting...
D. The Subdeacon assisting...
E. The Acolyte/Altar Boy assisting...
F. The Choir assisting...
G. The Faithful assisting...
H. The Catechumens assisting...
I. The Baptized World Outside assiting...

Mark Twain refers to Rome...and to us?

"The Creator made Italy from designs by Micheal Angelo."
-Mark Twain

"20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines and sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
-Mark Twain

Overawed at the "triumphal chair!"

Formal grandeur for the Vicar of Christ on earth! We moderns have all lived the Orwellian mantra: "old is bad/new is good." But, is beautiful bad and ugly good, too? When at the service of the Gospel, shouldn't the magnificent and immortal be used, too?

The last time that a pope was borne aloft on the famed sedia gestatoria (triumphal chair) was in a. 1978. Why have we not seen it since then? At the time, some clamored that it looked too "triumphal" and that the popes should look more "poor" and "humble" to appeal to us moderns. Well, history is penned by the victors and the Italians in charge at that time simply put each of the triumphal chairs into storage for the museums.

Why? During that epoch, was everyone just finally so tired of the greatness, the prestige and the words? Were people just so weary of so much learing and so much beauty? Were they so ready for the change that took place: no to the pharaoh pope, but yes to the Marxist one (for the "poor")?

But, could there be more humility in actually sitting in such a throne? The humanity and humility of the Papacy will never be outstripped by any pomp. The sedia was always just used for one practical reason: so that everyone could then actually see the pope...and so that the elderly he, too, could actually see everyone, while resting! The instinctive humanity of the papacy will not be outshone by the formality of the office, never!

The sedia was borne by sediari, who were from the Roman nobility, who would carry the throne while dressed in their heavy crimson, scarlet, damask garments. Everyone understood at that time that the pomp and ceremony around the popes served one great purpose: it was and remains the visible manifestation of a majesty which proclaims its meaning by thus being outwardly expressed. The piety and pomp is not empty ceremony, but this grandeur transcends for the moment all practical immediacy and speaks of greatness. Only the Emperor of Japan could claim that his office pre-dated the popes. The Papacy is something special and we like to be reminded of that (even with the subliminal beauty of the surroundings)!

Regal pageantry...resplendent!

Here I am in my twenty-sixth year in my "tropical" cassock. By God's grace, I've donned the Roman cassock and surplice since I've been a kid. It is a becoming dress, a Roman dress. The altar boy, staring at Our Veiled Lord in the tabernacle, is Christ's "page" at the altar, where even angels falter. To touch the throne most holy, to serve at the word of a priest....this is vocation.

The altar boy is to be the Miles Christi Iesu (soldier of Jesus Christ). He is to be the indefatigable servant of the parish church. If I have any advice for an altar boy, it is to read Luke I "Et TU, PUER, propheta altissimi vocaberis: praebis enim ante faciem Domini ad parandas vias eius..." (...and YOU, BOY, shalt be called the prophet of the most high and you will go before the Lord to prepare His way...)

Ite ad Mariam!
Ite ad Joseph!
Labor pro Fide!

A well ordered battle-array...

The colossal cross atop each of the spires of the mighty Cathedral of Cologne shone down upon us over 1 mission pilgrims who had tiptoed into the cool waters of the fierce Rhein River! From his gigantic boat, the new German Pope expounded the principles of Christianity with untiring zeal coupled with God-given grace and all to dispel from their minds the darkness of ignorance! So emblazoned he was in the sun with his words from the Holy Writ that I exclaimed: "Lux lucet in tenebris (a light shines in the darkness)! Jesus Christ is mighty and holy is His name!

Winning souls! St. Michael was our standard bearer! Unsheathed in billowing clouds and borne by the winds, the banner of Christ had been unfurled to the German peoples by one of their own! Imbued with feelings of joy and grace, I nearly shed a teer of joy!

Many Europeans don't believe in God as we do. They moan: "But, we can't understand or see him so surely he can't exist?" In his first encyclical letter the new world, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict replyed with a line from Saint Augustine: Si comprehendis, non est Deus (If we did comprehend Him, then it wouldn't be God)!

Cooperatores Veritatis!

Borne by the winds...

To the tune of "Scotland the Brave!" One of the greatest events in the annals of modern European history was unwinding at this moment! Dorthy once exclaimed: "There's no place like home!" ...but as we over 1 million Catholic youth waded into the cool waters of the Rhein River in Colgone, the new German Pope was sailing up from the horizon riding atop a gigantic ship to greet us! History in the making every day of the year? It was the new German Pope's triumphal return to the Fatherland! With the sun glinting on his golden pectoral cross, we all cheered like angels in heaven!

Through the Sede Vacante/interregnum in April, we all knew that the XX World Youth Day was just around the corner in August. Many of us had a hunch that the Holy Ghost had his eye on der Panzer Kardinal, as he was known with affection! Does God deliver or what?!

Petre amas Me!
Pasce oves Meas!

Labor pro Fide (labor for the Faith)!

Iuventes Convenit Benedictus XVI Coloniae! Here I am in Cologne for the XXth Word Youth Day in a. 2005. It was a delight to be there on the Rhein River with over 1 million other Catholic youth from across the globe!

Do I look like a fanatic or more like a little puppy with a big bark for the Church of Christ!? My reply is what it says on my t-shirt: "It's better in Latin!"

God bless the...XX Mundialis Iuventutis Diei!
Die XV mensis augusti a. MMV!

Hail to the Chief...his motorcade in Rome?

With a cherubic smile G.W., Jr. waved to me from his limo! As the motor cortége was driving directly to the Vatican City for his audience with the Pope, I shouted to him: "God bless America!" The motorcycles in the motorcade were cool!

"Junior" was in the Caput Mundi for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome by the Allied Expeditionary Forces. It was General Mark Wayne Clark and the Vth Army that first arrived in the city on the morning of 4 of June, a.D. 1944.

So, LX years later, the two most powerful men in the world met in the Vatican. Both are believers in liberty. As everyone on the street stared fixedly at the Apostolic Palace during their private audience, I turned to a suntanned watermelon trader and said with pride: "It's great to be an American!"

Beacon of Civilization...Civitas Dei!

Born in Rome himself, Pope Pius XII once noted of the specific vocation of Rome: "No city anywhere in the world can surpass the destiny of Rome. Rome remains the city of God, the city of wisdom incarnate, the city that has the Magisterium of truth and holiness."

Years later, Pius again praised Rome's special character, a uniqueness it enjoys, "...because its supernatural mission places it outside time and above distinctions of nationality. Rome is the homeland (patria) of all Catholics wherever they are!"

The mighty cross atop the dome of the Vatican Basilica, which rests upon the brass ball above the lantern, rises to a height of 453 feet. From the outside gallery of the lantern, which is 427 feet high, any tourist or pilgrim can visit and enjoy the panorama of the Eternal City with its immortal monuments, its ancient palaces and its many churches of all centuries. On the roof of the Basilica is even a café and gift shop run by nuns!

Protege Urbem hanc et Pastorem!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Our lingua franca as Catholics: Latin!

Even though we all had lived through the twilight years of the reign of His Holiness John Paul II, of happy memory, it was still a shock for many of us the moment that he died. Of course, it's always in bad taste to speak of when a pope might die, and so I never speculated.

In April of a.D. 2005, parishes across the world held Funeral Masses for the soul of the beloved Pontiff. As millions of mourners descended upon Rome from the four corners of the air routes, it was evident in many of the Roman parishes that a Rome Funeral Mass for the Pope should be celebrated in the lingua franca of the Catholic populations: Latin!

We held our own Funeral Mass for the Pope at our parish of San Gregorio dei Muratori in Rome. With an overflow crowd from all over the world, we all prayed together in Latin. It was a delight! Visitors to our chapel were mesmerized by the beauty of the common tongue. To us, it was only natural as all of our Masses are celebrated throughout the year exclusively in Latin at our parish (see our great site:!

Requiem for a Pope...

Do you like the catafalque that we put together (with the homespun tiara as the counterpoint!)? The occasion was our parish Missa Pro Defunctis (with black vestments and no flowers!) staged for the soul of Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory. In a flurry of incense, the whole image was immortal! The haunting sound of the Gregorian Requiem is our inheritance as the Catholics of today!

With a change in style to match the hour, as we were bereft of a true tiara, a couple of parishioners stepped up to the plate and made the tiara themselves (Chris Wells Fecit Romae MMV & Familia Maurizio Donavit MMV)! The catafalque reclined on a bier and reposed under the black funeral pall was an empty coffin surmounted on a plinth (no pallbearers or sleek hearse as they and the undertaker were at the actual lying-in-state at the Vatican!).

Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Ioanne Paulo! Corona aurea super caput eius!

Tu Es Petrus by Palestrina can be sung by him...

The cleric in the fedora is a legend! He's a golden tenor who can sing any plainchant Proper or Common anytime and anywhere (he's a.k.a. der "one man schola")!

FYI: His jacket is U.S. Army issue. But, like I tell him, a "greca" is the only jacket for a cleric! Where does one get a greca? Go to the tailor of the popes, of course!

The Gamarelli family have been the personal tailors of the popes for six plus generatons, since a.D. 1798! Visit their shop while in Rome (near the Pantheon)!

Ditta Annibale Gammarelli
Via Santa Chiara, 34
00186 Roma

I miss beauty at the service of the Church...

Reviled by Satan is the beautiful, right? Why did everything get so ugly so quickly in the 1960s? Is the answer left to conjecture? In the murky sea of making everything modern, some lovely treasures were squashed in that epoch. In America, they just threw everything into dumsters while here in Italy, they simply condemned everything to the museums. Intelligible to all is the beautiful with its added flavour to life. With ingrained reserve many are slow to bring back the beautiful, but we laity call for it all!

This former papal throne, a gift to Pope Pius IX by the King of Savoia, is now stuck in the museum of the old Papal Court in the Palazzo Laterano in Rome (through fox manoeuvres the "liberals" wanted the papacy to look "poor" so as to appeal more to us moderns). This chair epitomised so much that was noble about the Papacy. It is so awe-inspiring and I so love it (my cigar-chomping connections in the mafia want to steal it back so it'll be used again by the popes)! Let's pray for a return to the mores of beauty! In hindsight, we pilgrims want to be overawed by the beautiful and we don't want the Papacy to just "look poor!"

Roast duck anyone?

In a Chinese restaurant they eat duck, so why can't we? This is a pic of my dad who with stealth had just caught this happy duck! With him are my two scared boyz! Notice: my dad is more excited than anyone! My sis and her hubby have created seven bambini for the Kingdom! Adveniat Regnum Tuum (Thy Kingdom come)!

And...more Catholic pilgrims from Poland!

Here we see Polish pilgrims in Castelgandolfo. They have arrived to see the Pope! When you visit, if you have a rental car, be sure to visit the other side of the rim overlooking the lake, the town of Rocca di Papa. From this overlook, one can see Castelgandolfo and much of the regional park that surrounds the area, the Colli Albani. When the sun descends into the Tyrrhenian Sea, the vista of the whole of the Roman plain unveils itself! The filigree sheen of the lake is awesome to behold at dusk! The old aqueducts and columns of antiquity recede into the folds of the country landscape. One can even walk all around the lake as I have, at dusk. There is a nature trail for much of the walk.

Have you ever swam in an extinct volcano?

In the photo below can you see the shadows of the clouds on the lake? Cast ajar is this now extinct volcano in the center of which is now Lake Albano! I swam in it twice; it was grrrreat! Welcome to Castelgandolfo. This is a town built on the brim of a volcanic lake hight in the Alban hills, just about 18 miles southeast of Rome. The air is cleaner here without the foggy miasma composed of dirt and carbon monoxide that plagues our wheezing lungs while in Rome!

Since a.D. 1629 the summer palace of the popes has been here. It was most fun to swim in the lake while looking up at the papal palace high above on the ridge. I thought of the Pope there and I wondered what he was doing at the moment. The palace complex is large with a lovely chapel, a model farm, rooms for the Swiss Guardsmen, as well as lovely gardens from the classic sylvan world of perfect landscaping. While in the waters I admired the holly oaks, cypresses, laurels and manicured shrubs all guarding the complex.

The sand on the beach is black. Is it volcanic tufa? I swam in front of the overgrown ruins of what appeared to be a small, blitzed industrial site...., but it was actually what's left of the stands from the 1960 Summer Olympic games that were held in Rome. Canoeing is still popular on the lake. The Pope goes there every July to escape from the hot Roman sun! Rent a boat and maybe the Pope will see you from his study!

Team spirit for our Church!

When you visit Rome, buy your family a papal flag! The flag of the Vatican City State was formally adopted as the papal banner under Pope Pius VII in a.D. 1809. Rome has been at work changing continously for twenty-six centuries. Meanwhile, the Vatican City gives evidence of the glory of a civilization (Christendom) whose influence has spanned the globe. Such titanic international prominence the Church has maintained! One of the Vatican's greatest resources is its permanence. Art may fade, economics grow and decline, etc., but the Vatican itself endures through one changing world after another! Can I get a horah for our team!