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 counts...in 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!

The Vatican