Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Italian and St. Monica's Day

Greetings from Rome! I am sorry it has been awhile since my last posting, but it has been very busy here at the North American College. Since returning from Assisi, we have had to attend four hours of Italian class from Monday to Friday (plus homework in the evenings), and also juggle many other activities in the afternoons. We have just finished all of the Italian studies for the year, and next week we will be on a silent retreat. During a silent retreat, in case you did not know, we do not speak except for community prayers and to our spiritual directors. We are to keep a spirit of silence, in order to allow God and the individual to communicate without distraction. Every seminarian and priest is to make a weeklong retreat once a year, so as to continue to cultivate the intimate relationship which exists between God and the priest.
Personally, I have been on silent retreats before, so I am used to the silence, which at first sounds very difficult (at least I thought so years ago). One of the aspects which I really enjoy about silent retreats is the extra time to pray for you and all the people God has placed in my life! The silence is really a means to more (and different forms of) prayer, and more prayer is always good.
Now, I am sure you are wondering what else has been happening since early September. Well, to name some major things: we went on a tour of the Swiss Guard barracks in the Vatican, we visited our different universities, we went to St. Peter’s at night, we went to the tomb on St. Monica’s Day and prayed for our mothers, we went to the beach again, and we played a softball game on Labor Day (which my class won). I must also note that I got my first “Italian” haircut—and he was even singing along to old Italian songs (on a casette!), just like in the movies! So, I have clearly been kept busy with all these adventures.

Here are some pictures from some of these adventures:

The attire of the Swiss Guard today. The main uniform is to the right, where the one to the left is for the Colonel. (The commandant of the Swiss Guard)

The armor which the Swiss Guard wear. Nick, this picture is for you...

The pantheon, where the Romans used to worship. It was destroyed several times, and then rebuilt in the 2nd Century A.D. The original structure was built in 27 B.C.

In front of St. Augustine's Church in Rome (the tomb of St. Monica is inside).

This is a painting of St. Augustine being baptized. His mother, St. Monica, is to the left kneeling in joy for seeing her son converted to the Faith. The bishop baptizing him I believe is St. Ambrose.

After we return from retreat, we start studies at the university which I am attending (Santa Croce University). That same week is the NAC diaconate ordination, at which the choir is singing (that’s another thing I have been doing). Also that week is the NAC welcoming Mass for Archbishop Di Noia, who was recently appointed to Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship. I do not know his exact connection with NAC, except that he has given conferences here for many years to the seminarians. The choir is singing at that Mass also. So there are a lot of upcoming events, and I promise to somehow take pictures in the midst of all of it. That way I can try and share some of the experiences with you.
In case you were wondering what exactly a first-year theologian studies, here is a list of my classes (all taught in Italian):
Introduction to Sacred Scripture
Introduction to Theology
Fundamental Theology
Dogmatic Theology I
History of the Church: Ancient to Medieval
Ecclesiastical Latin
Regretfully, I am out of time for now. I will post once returning from retreat on what Santa Croce University is like, and what preparations are being made here for the diaconate ordination. (And I promise to try and post more frequently in the future, as time permits.)
God bless you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Seeing the Pope, First Time

On Sunday, we took a trip to Pope Benedict's summer residence in the
area known as Castel Gandolfo (it is in the mountains outside of Rome). This villa has been used by the popes for centuries, and this Sunday we were able to join him for the Angelus prayer at noon. If you check the Vatican Youtube channel (which is at the bottom of the blog),
you might be able to catch a glimpse of me in the group of men in black to the left.

It was an amazing trip, and I promise to elaborate on it and post pictures
when things slow down a bit here...

Here are some picts!

A Swiss Guard (they have guarded the Pope for centuries).

PopeBenedict XVI, above us at the general audience.

At the papal gardens, Castel Gandolfo.

More later! Ciao!

The Vatican