May 23, 2014
WEEK 1: THE HIGHLIGHTS
On May 21st we arrived in Ars, France. We had the bus driver drop us of about a 45 minute walk outside of Ars so that we could walk the same path that St. John Vianney did when on his way to become the parish pastor. As the group of men prayed the Rosary it was hard not to think that the Cure was probably doing the same thing as he traveled on his way.
Many of us after arriving to Ars went into the town and visited the Basilica where St. John Vianney’s incorruptible body is in repose. Praying before the saint was a very powerful experience for a lot of men. We all understand, that when our journey at seminary is over we will (God willing) be priests and eventually pastors, to be kneeling before the patron saint of parish priests was a great blessing that God gave us and it helps us to understand the duty we are going to be entrusted with, that of the salvation of souls.
On May 22nd Fr. Eric took all of the men to the Church were Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary his Sacred Heart and told her of his mercy. Seeing the place of the apparition that started one of the greatest devotions in the Church inspired a sense of awe that lead everybody to prayer. We had the opportunity to attend Mass in the small church and afterwards Fr. Eric brought out a relic of St. Margaret Mary, her finger, and we all had the chance to venerate it.
Later on in the day we went to the Monastery of Cluny where in the middle ages was started one of the largest religious orders of all time. We had the opportunity to go on a tour of the ruins of the monastery and to see how these monks lived hundreds of years ago. It was really beautiful to be in a place that produced popes, cardinals and many holy monks throughout the time that the monastery was up and running.
On May 23rd we all went to Lyon France and visited the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. This church was built in thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary for saving Lyon from a cholera epidemic. Then during the Franco –Prussian War the town was saved again by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin when the troops looking to invade Lyon retreated. This church is filled with mosaics and statues honoring Our Lady and many other saints. The architecture and art in this basilica are truly breathtaking and give appropriate glory to God.
Tomorrow we all go on silent retreat for a few days and we are all very excited to see how God is going to work through Fr. Chris our retreat director. Please keep us in prayer.
REFLECTION: One of the beautiful things about going to the church where Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary his Sacred Heart and celebrating Mass is that we are able to see that Jesus even now reveals himself to all of us in the Eucharist. No matter where we go to Mass Jesus is always revealing himself to us making known the mercy of his Sacred Heart.
Seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay
Rome Experience Class of 2014
November 27, 2010
Saturday, June 5
Today we split into two groups: one climbed a mountain with a cross on the top, the other stayed below. They also hiked up to the site to which the monks are supposed to be moving: an old Carmelite monastery on the side of a mountain overlooking Norcia. It is nowhere near the cross at the peak, but is a much quieter and more contemplative place for monastic life than in the city of Norcia proper. Those who skipped the hike had, instead, an in-depth tour of the monastery where we assisted at Mass. Climbing the mountain took about four hours, with a few breaks. Once we reached the top, we had lunch and then we made our way down the mountain to get back in time for dinner. It took about two hours to get down. The view at the top was amazing. You could see all of Norcia and some surrounding towns. In the distance all around us we could see snowcapped mountains.
Hikers tackle Mt. Pitino outside Norcia, Umbria, Italy
June 19, 2010
From Brendan Johnson’s Rome Experience Journal, June 5, 2010:
This was a day of outings for the seminarians. One group went up a mountain behind the city of Norcia – about a five-hour climb — and another group went with Fr. Baker around the city and then up to the site of an old Capuchin monastery (which will eventually be the site of the monks’ monastery) for lunch. I went with Fr. Baker because I didn’t have any of the right clothes with me for that type of hiking – I guess next time I’ll have to plan ahead a little better. At any rate, it was a nice little trip around the city.
Fr. Eric at the top of the mountain
We were able to see the outside of the church (San Lorenzo) where Sts. Benedict and Scholastica were born and got a wonderful explanation of the crypt church at the Basilica of St. Benedict from Fr. Benedict, OSB, a friend of Fr. Baker’s. He explained that the crypt church was originally a Roman basilica used for offices and the like. St. Benedict’s father was a Roman official, and was given the building for his own private use when he moved in to Norcia for his work. Tradition holds that the altar on the left of the tabernacle was where Sts. Benedict and Scholastica were born.
After a trip to the monks’ gift shop, we made our way up to the old Capuchin monastery, where we explored the ruins and had lunch on an overlook that has a beautiful view of the old city of Norcia and the more modern part. In all I found it a nice day – time to relax, but also some time to make our way around the countryside a little bit and enjoy the company.
June 10, 2010
More from Brendan Johnson’s journal:
June 2, 2010
After the trip to Assisi, we had our first day of classes and a more regularized schedule today. The first classes of the morning were on Church history with Fr. Heisler and were his typical classes — a lot of information!
In the afternoon, we had a class with Fr. Cassian, OSB, the prior of the monastery here in Norcia. He spoke on Liturgy and primarily focused on the Holy Father’s views on liturgy, which were quite enlightening. Fr. Cassian explained there was much reform to be done, but Pope Benedict isn’t seeking to change things overnight; rather, he has a deep desire to allow the Church to reform herself, and, over the next generation, allow the people to grow into a deeper reverence and a newness within the organic growth of the Liturgy. Tomorrow , he’ll speak on how exactly that is to look over the next few decades and what would be logical within the proper growth of the Church – this I am eagerly looking forward to!
Kevin Hurley and Thomas Haan in Assisi
June 17, 2009
I spent Pentecost Sunday with the monks of the monastery of St. Benedict. This is a photo of us praying the office of readings at 4:15 am in the crypt where St. Benedict and St. Scholastica were born. The monks chant the Psalms in Latin. It was hard to follow along at first, but by the middle of the day I could hold my own in Latin. Most of the brothers are from America, but there are a few from Asia. Being with the monks reminded me of the importance of the Liturgy of the Hours and the sanctification of time, and it consoled me to think that there are men who are brave enough to lay down their lives to help save the world by constant prayer.
Pentecost Mass with the monks in the main basilica. They celebrated Mass on a beautiful altar. The crucifix was large, the candlesticks heavy, with thick candles of graded height, sloping up toward the cross. The red liturgical color of the day; a sweeping chasuble; the chalice, rich, simple in its lines, with a broad cup. I found it difficult to leave the basilica. I felt at home there. I saw clearly how we are led to God, brought close to him, by the liturgy of the Catholic Church.
– Ryan O’Neill