Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The End of Classes, the Beginning of Summer

Summer greetings! As you may have noticed, there haven't been any posts recently, but the reason (or perhaps my excuse) is because I have been in a three week exam period since the beginning of June. Eight exams later, I can say happily and gratefully to have completed my first year of theological studies! Phew!
The classes and exams were difficult at times (especially when I spent days on end in the library) but I came through unharmed...and I learned a lot too. Most of the examinations in the European model are oral and count for one hundred percent of the grade. So instead of having one's grades decided by several tests, papers, etc., there is usually only one exam that other words, you'd better know the material! But this model helps you internalize the information, which has its benefits. To be honest, I do prefer papers and midterms, but eventually I will be familiarized with the system here. The examinations consisted of creation theology, patrology (the study of the Church Fathers), fundamental theology, latin, hebrew, study of the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible), and moral theology. Our patrology professor decided to give us two final examinations, one written and one oral, so that is why we had eight instead of seven.
That's all finished, though, and I have begun to study italian once again and also prepare for the new seminarians coming in mid-July. It is refreshing to have some more time to get out of the library and the classroom (though I will miss the air conditioning), and I promise to post more pictures too!

To mark the "beginning" of the summer in Rome, yesterday was the Solemnity of Peter and Paul, a great feast day for Rome, since the holy day comemorates both of the apostles who were martyred here. It is also the day when newly installed Archbishops receive a special item called a "pallium." (Two years ago Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, the Archbishop of Baltimore, received his from the Pope). The pallium is worn over the vestments of the bishop in order to signify his primary role as shepherd of the people of God. The pallium is made of 100% lamb's wool, and all of them are placed on the tomb of St. Peter the night before the feast day, to represent the bond of unity between the bishops, St. Peter, and the Pope. All in all, this holy day is an incredible experience in Rome. There are thousands of people, bells, and hundreds of priests and bishops as well, comemorating the importance of sacrifice for the people of God by the bishops, who are called to be faithful, loving shepherds as the apostles of Christ (just like Peter and Paul). So I ask you to offer a prayer today for all bishops, that they may be faithful to Christ and His mission in all things. We need holy bishops and holy priests always, and be sure that your prayers help (and they help seminarians too!) Have a blessed summer and know of my prayers for all of you as I continue my journey here in Italy and Europe. Buon'estate a tutti!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Preparations for Examinations, Maryland Night, Southern Night

The examinations of semester two are fast approaching, and it seems that time is moving faster and faster (thus the less frequent posts here). I know I have in the past posted many times about traveling and other activities, but in between all of that, most of my time is spent at prayer and study. I like to share the great experiences I have had, and I forget sometimes to share what I do from day to day!

This semester I have seven courses, which are Latin II, Scriptural Hebrew, Fundamental Theology II, Patrology, Pentateuch, Theology of Creation, and Fundamental Moral Theology. As you can imagine, there's a lot of study to be done! Nonetheless, God has provided and will continue to provide even when there is so much to do from day to day. The work to be done, when I take time to pray and commit myself to trust in God's Providence, is not as difficult, because I know that God is guiding me.

My last examination is on June 18th, ending my first year of theological studies. Wow, it went by fast! I am looking forward to my different apostolates this summer, which will be in Northern Italy and France. It will be a time of rest and renewal, preparing for another year of studies in Rome. And perhaps, since I will have a little more time on my hands, I can post a bit more frequently! (And take some more pictures, too!)

The last two weekends were two College events: Maryland Night and Southern Night.
I promise to finish this blog asap, but I have to get some errands done at present. God bless you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter and London

This year the Holy Week liturgies were in the seminary with the whole community, and it was incredible. Archbishop DiNoia celebrated the Easter Vigil with all of the faculty and other priests who are sutdying here. I will attach a link to his homily when it is available. I was in the choir for all the events, so though the view was not too great, I was able to sing out the joy of the Lord in this holy season!

After spending Holy Week in Rome, I traveled to London for Easter week. We (I went with a seminarian friend from Washington D.C.) were able to stay in a small parish in the heart of the city, and so were able to see most of the historic sights and also help the pastor with a few Easter activities.

Here is a picture of the front of Buckingham palace...can you pick me out of the crowd?

Here is an video clip of the Choir during the Easter Vigil.

This was the first time I was able to sing in a choir for Easter and Holy Week, and though it was a lot of hard work, it was a great experience. Many people said that we sang very well, and so that our practicing paid off; not only because people could hear us sing beautifully, but also because we sang for the glory of God. There are many things to sing about, but to be able to sing for the glory of God during Mass, especially the Easter Vigil, that was an extraordinary blessing of this first year at the College. God bless and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In the Vatican Gardens...while Snowing?

Lenten greetings and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Just a brief update on some things: Since it is the Year for Priests, free tours are being offered of the Vatican Gardens for all priests and seminarians, and so a group of us quickly too advantage of that and signed up for a tour.

On the same day of the snowed in Rome! (It has not happened in twenty-five years!)
In case you do not believe me, here is a picture to prove it!

After having a great tour (though it was very cold), we returned to the College to admire the city covered in snow (inlcuding our soccer field). It was a memorable day. The ecstatic Italians were going about the city like it was Christmas!

Tomorrow, on St. Patrick's Day, we will be having a small celebration at dinner with singing and entertainment here at the College. It will be a nice break from the studies. I'll be sure to post some of the fun; maybe I will be playing trombone for the band.

Friday happens to be a holy day as well: St. Joseph's Day. I have not decided yet what I will do with all the extra time since we do not have classes! There is a tradition in Italy (in some places) of making a particular kind of cookie (it is supposedly very delicious) just for this holy day. (aka, the St. Joseph's Day Cookie). Perhaps I will go on a search through the city for this precious and one-day-a-year treat, which I have heard is made in some small, family-operated pasticcherias. I will take a camera so that I can at least share the image of the cookie with you (I promise, with all my strength, to take a picture before I eat it...)

More soon! Ciao

The Vatican