July 31, 2014
END OF PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
For the final leg of the Rome Experience journey before traveling back to the United States, we flew to Spain and spent time in Torreciudad and Barbastro. A transition from a bustling city to a sparsely populated area of Spain.
On Monday we had a day of recollection at the Shrine to Our Lady of Torreciudad. While reflecting upon my experience in Rome; I thought of how many different languages I heard, the various joys, graces, difficulties and challenges that come with traveling and being in close proximity with the same people for 45 days. I thought of how my interaction with seminarians from around the United States has given me great hope for the Church in America. The size and scope of Rome and the universal Church added a new gravity to the priesthood that I was before not able to concretely grasp.
While in Barbastro we learned about the Claretian martyrs who were killed during the Spanish Civil War. I realized how much faith that must have required and I prayed to God that I might be gifted with that much faith, to able to lay down my life for my faith in Christ and His Church. The example of these men many who were seminarians revealed how much we as men studying for the priesthood need to give to God and also how much God wants to give us if only we are willing to receive.
Our last evening before flying home was spent in Tarragona, Spain. This city lays claim to have been where Paul landed in his travels to Spain. I found this fitting because like Paul who carried the Christian faith from Israel to the whole Roman world we too after spending time in Rome–the heart of the Church–were now preparing to travel back to the United States and share our experiences with the larger Church. Later in our lives, God willing, as priests we will share the Gospel in the many different dioceses we serve and because of our experience in Rome, Ars, and Spain will more effectively be able to share the Gospel message with the American Church.
Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Rome Experience Class of 2014
June 19, 2014
Week 4 Highlights
June 9, 2014:
Back to the Ordinary!
It was quite appropriate that on Monday, June 9, as the universal Church returned to Ordinary Time, we here at The Rome Experience began our regular schedule of prayer and classes. After our retreat in Ars, arriving in Rome and getting settled in, and a long week running around Rome visiting the beautiful holy sites, it was good to ease into a smooth rhythm. Being a person who likes falling into habits (hopefully good ones!), it has been good to be able to establish my own little habits, within the plan of life that the program provides for us. This development of good habits (i.e. virtues) is part of what we have been taught during these past weeks. A good “Plan of Life” will help us live balanced lives.
A Sheep with a Shepherd
Part of the steady rhythm and balance, which I spoke of above, includes spiritual direction. At seminary, each seminarian is assigned a spiritual director. A struggle for me during the summers has always been “going at it alone” for almost three months without spiritual direction. I am grateful that, while only for three short meetings, The Rome Experience provides spiritual directors for us during our time in Rome. Last Monday was my first “official” meeting with my spiritual director. It was a blessing to get to share with him the ways in which the Holy Spirit has been moving in my heart during these past few weeks; my joys, my struggles, my dryness, my encounters with The Lord, etc.
June 14-15, 2014:
Weekend Pilgrimage Adventure
Along with all the awesome things which are provided for us by The Rome Experience (classes in Rome, visits to holy sites, meetings with cardinals and priests serving in Rome, etc.), we are also given some free time to do things on our own. This past week-end, three of the men and I travelled three hours south of Rome to visit a few places.
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June 10, 2014
WEEK 3: THE HIGHLIGHTS
Monday, 2 June: This morning we attended Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, followed by a tour of the basilica and the Vatican necropolis. We also had time to pray individually in the basilica, and I chose to do so in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. As I knelt before the tabernacle to pray Lauds, the opening verse for the first psalm (Psalm 84) gave perfect expression to my thoughts: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of hosts. My soul is longing and yearning, is yearning for the courts of the Lord.” Visiting the great churches and basilicas of Rome, one can easily fall into the role of the tourist, forgetting the spiritual significance of a site of pilgrimage. Here, in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, surrounded by art and architecture by some of the greatest artists, such as Bernini, Borromini, and da Cortona, I was reminded before all else that this is the dwelling place of the Lord: Hic Domus Dei est et porta caeli (this is the House of God and gate of heaven). The magnificence and beauty of the art and architecture there serves this purpose: it is a noble space for the Sacred Liturgy and dwelling of the Lord, a fitting shrine for his saints (first and foremost in this great basilica, St. Peter the Apostle), and a testimony to our faith. This experience in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel shaped my travels to the numerous other basilicas and churches this week, reminding me of the primary spiritual purpose of these visits.
Tuesday, 3 June: Our schedule today included trips to the Catacombs of St. Callistus and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The highlight for me was a short visit that I made to the Basilica of St. Sebastian, about a ten minute walk from the Catacombs of St. Callistus. Since we were given some time to walk around, I decided to take an old road surrounded by the Roman countryside that lead to the Basilica of St. Sebastian. I thought to myself that the view from that road of the quiet country was a view shared by the early Christians as well as countless pilgrims to Rome throughout the centuries before the great urban sprawl of the twentieth century swallowed up the majority of the open land surrounding the old city walls. The peaceful silence of that walk served as a prayerful preparation for my pilgrimage to the Basilica and shrine of St. Sebastian. As the bodies of the martyrs had been removed from the catacombs and placed in the churches of Rome, it was good to be able to pray before the tomb of one of those great martyrs that had once rested in ancient catacombs.
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June 9, 2014
WEEK 3: THE HIGHLIGHTS
I refer to the following three highlights as “The Triduum”:
Sunday, June 1, 2014
After going to Mass at a beautiful Franciscan church just to the side of St. Peter’s Basilica, I along with a few others went to the Regina Caeli led by the Holy Father at St. Peter’s Piazza. I have never been to Rome nor seen the Holy Father in person so I was excited to see the Pope – though not as much as I had anticipated. About five minutes before the Pope was scheduled to appear, I distanced myself from the group and began to pray on what is the significance of seeing the Pope in person is. (The fruit of this prayer is posted below.) Then, as he made his appearance from the window of the Papal Apartments, I found myself having to hold back the cheers I wanted to express for the Holy Father. I found myself with arms up welcoming the Holy Father as he looked at us from his window.
It was the solemnity of the Ascension and he spoke that day of God’s continual presence with us – in particular, he mentioned those persecuted Christians who suffer so much quietly. He asked us all gathered in the piazza if we believe that God is with us. He asked us this same question twice and then had us say out loud: “The Lord is with us!” The Pope also said that Christ offers his wounds to the Father and so we must do the same.
Monday, June 2, 2014
On Monday, Fr. Roger Landry from the diocese of Fall River, led us on tour in St. Peter’s Basilica. We had Mass in the crypt of the Basilica. While the whole morning was full of blessings, I particularly would like to share the experience of participating in the Scavi Tour. This tour is of the excavations that have been done under the structure of St. Peter’s. We walk through what was once the necropolis next to Nero’s Circus. The highlight of the whole tour is the sight of the bones of St. Peter. We stood about 10 feet from where they were returned (where they were originally located) after being examined after they were discovered. They are kept in a see-through container.
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June 4, 2014
WEEK 2: THE HIGHLIGHTS
May 28th: Today, after having a retreat that was filled with graces from the Holy Spirit, we left Ars, France for Rome. When we arrived in Rome and saw St. Peter’s Basilica we were all taken back by the beauty that the heart of the Church has to offer. It is truly a blessing that we are all able to study here in Rome and learn about our future bride in the heart of the eternal city.
May 29th: We had our first day of class today in Human Virtues for Priestly Fatherhood taught by Fr. Robert Gahl. In this class Fr. Gahl does a beautiful job of explaining the necessity for our priests to be holy fathers in order to serve our broken culture and help bring the faithful to holiness to which we are all called.
In the evening we went to the North American College and celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension with all of the men who are studding to be priests there. It was a great celebration and we all had the opportunity to see some old friends and share in fraternity.
May 30th: We finished our class on Human Virtues for Priestly Fatherhood and then in the afternoon most of us met with our spiritual directors. It is great to be able to go to spiritual direction on The Rome Experience to help us integrate everything from what we are leaning in classes, our prayer lives and all of the different experiences that we are having here in the eternal city. Spiritual direction helps us to see how God wants us to be formed through these experiences, and allows us to stay close to Him.
May 31st: Today we had the opportunity to have an audience with His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke who is the head of the Apostolic Signatura. He took time out of his schedule to explain to us what happens at the Signatura, how annulments and other marriage cases are handled as well as how the tribunals go about addressing cases. Cardinal Burke stressed how important it is to uphold the justice that everybody is entitled to especially when these very difficult cases are being reviewed.
After our audience with the Cardinal we all had the opportunity to explore Rome a bit more. Most of us were able to visit different churches and basilicas. So far our time in Rome has been eye opening to all of the blessings that God has and is continuing to give us.
June 1st: Today most of us had the opportunity to go and attend one of the Masses in St. Peters Basilica. It was awesome to be in the very heart of the Church while the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was being offered. It was a reminder as to why we are here in Rome. We are here to be formed to be the best priests that God is calling us to be. To be in the same place where so many saints and popes have been before was awe-inspiring.
At noon we all had the opportunity to see the pope at his Angelus address. For most of us it was the first time seeing him in person. It was great to be able to pray with our father in the faith in the heart of the Church with thousands of others. God has truly blessed us men on the Rome Experience for this I am truly grateful.
REFLECTION: God has given us many different blessings and some crosses in our lives. Both of these are opportunities to be grateful because both lead us closer to Him. I think we need to take more time out of our day to thank God for all that He has so generously given to us.
Seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay
Rome Experience Class of 2014
May 22, 2014
The Rome Experience Class of 2014 departed for Europe on May 19th! We wish them safe travels and a blessed and fruitful time on the program.
Rome Experience Class of 2014 – Orientation at Mundelein Seminary
May 22, 2014
On May 19th, the Rome Experience Class of 2014 welcomed a special guest, Fr Robert Barron, during their orientation on the campus of Mundelein Seminary. Fr Barron gave the seminarians some tips on Rome and a special blessing for the trip. Thank you, Fr Barron!
Fr Robert Barron with seminarians from the Rome Experience Class of 2014
Fr Robert Barron visiting with the Rome Experience Class of 2014 during orientation at Mundelein Seminary.
Fr Robert Barron blesses the Rome Experience Class of 2014 before they departed for Europe!