Monthly Archives: June 2012

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

Today is the great Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles. The readings today inspire humility and to a life of constant conversion toward Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel, we receive confirmation from Jesus Christ that Peter is the head of His Church here on earth.

And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Today’s Gospel from Matthew 16

The statue of St. Peter was decorated this morning in Rome’s Basilica of St. Peter for the Papal Mass. He can be seen wearing the Papal Tiara and, stole, and red cope.

But this story would not be as great as it is without first recalling Peter’s denial of Jesus during the Passion. Recalling Peter back to His true mission, He asked Peter to reaffirm three times, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. For even great sinners, as we all are, can be fully reconciled with God and be given the keys to the kingdom.

In 64 A.D., Peter was jailed in Rome. (His jailers, Sts. Processus and Martinian later converted). To Saint Peter’s own disbelief, angels led him out of prison on the eve of his trial. Peter then began to flee the city to avoid further persecution but saw Jesus along the way. Jesus told Peter that He would return to Rome to be crucified again essentially saying ‘if you won’t, I must do it again’ – thus giving Peter the strength to go back and continue converting people to Christianity even at the risk of crucifixion, which happened later that year.

The tomb of St Paul can be seen between the base of the two candles just above the railing.

Saint Paul who was once a great persecutor of Christians, converted and became an unashamed promoter of Jesus Christ.  We are called to be the light of the world, but it is not without consequence. In today’s second reading, Paul tells us of his impending martyrdom

“I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:6

The faith in Jesus Christ is a sustaining one. And even in the hardest of times, these men found their courage in Christ and remind us to do the same. Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.



We must be out in the world

For the past month I have been complimenting my studies as an International Conflict Analysis student with supplemental studies here in Rome. This time has also served as a pilgrimage for me. Every day I am surrounded by the great saints, the basilicas, the Vatican, and other pilgrims who share my journey.

Vatican City at nightfall

A few minutes before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve this past year, I spoke with a family friend and visiting Archbishop from Europe. “Your Excellency, I could not help but notice the conspicuous absence of one particular archbishop at the Vatican Midnight Mass a few hours ago,” I said in a lighthearted voice! He responded with a smile and said, “Sometimes we spend too much time in Rome. We must be out in the world and spreading the Good News”. It is time for me to return home and take this renewed spirit of charity and share the faith with those around me.

Alas, it is time to return home.


26 Year Old Roman Woman Postpones Treatments to Save Unborn Child

This is a short post as I am winding down my final days here in Rome. 

As St. Giovanni Bosco always reminded his youth, we are all called to be Saints. Please read this Catholic News Agency article when you have a moment. 


Mass on feast of San Aloysius Gonzaga celebrated in Rome

This evening, Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Arezzo, Italy celebrated Mass at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola along with another Archbishop and a dozen priests from all over the world.

At the beginning of the Mass, five young boys dressed in medieval clothes were escorted by members of the Italian military and presented flowers at the tomb of St. Aloysius “Luigi” Gonzaga.

The tomb of St. Aloysius Gonzaga at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Rome

St. Aloysius Gonzaga is an excellent example of a faithful Jesuit lifestyle. I’d like to point out that all articles on this blog end with “A.M.D.G.”, which is “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.” This is the Jesuit motto in Latin that means “all for the greater honor and glory of God.”

Sts. Ignatius of Loyola  and Aloysius Gonzaga pray for us!


St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the feast of Aloysius Gonzaga. Our college chaplain once told us, “Saints have saints for friends.” And in this case, a mentor. Both St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Charles Borromeo took interest in young Aloysius.

La Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso. A side altar marble relief of St. Charles Borommeo giving St. Gonzaga his first communion.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga can best be described as a selfless young man centered on Christ who died an early death at age 23 while comforting others suffering from the plague. He was born in what is now Northern Italy in 1568 to a wealthy family. When his family learned that he was interested in becoming a priest, they did their best to convince him to be a diocesan priest so that he would not give up his inheritance. In fact, they tempted him further by looking to arrange a future for him as a bishop. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was not interested; rather, he took a perpetual vow of virginity and spent time teaching young boys about Christ and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

He was a Jesuit seminarian when he died. He contracted the plague while volunteering at a hospital. Aloysius told his confessor, St. Robert Bellarmine, about a vision he had in which he would die during the fest of Corpus Christi which in fact he did on June 21, 1591. St. Gonzaga is an example of true Christian charity and a reminder to all of us of the power of evangelizing in the name of Christ. Saints have saints for friends.


Indulgences: Five Centuries After Martin Luther

In 1511, Martin Luther ascended the Scala Sancta in Rome. These are the most holy marble steps on which Pontius Pilate presented the scourged Jesus Christ at the praetorium, washed his hands, and sentenced him to die. They were moved to Rome in the 4th Century and have since been made available for the faithful to climb on his or her knees. An indulgence is granted to those who make this journey.

In 1511, Martin Luther paid for his right to this indulgence, a word which has become a center of great controversy over the centuries.

What is an indulgence? Take this definition step by step. An indulgence is a great act of charity and mercy administered by the Church to faithful Christians. It grants partial or full remission of his or her due time in purgatory upon completing a prayerful action as prescribed by the Church. Purgatory(which is not hell, and not limbo) is the place in which someone who has passed away will go to heaven but is not yet entirely free of his or her venial faults. These souls must be purified of his or her past sins before fully obtaining the beatific vision of heaven(living in the presence of God, seeing God’s face).

An indulgence is not a sacrament or a substitute for confession, nor is it permission to sin in the future. An indulgence is only given to the faithful who have already been reconciled with Christ for his or her sins but look to further unite themselves with Christ and be granted the most charitable gift of remission of time in purgatory.

An indulgence is intentional, in which the faithful prayerfully conducts the act in order to more fully unite him or herself with Christ. According to canon law:

Can. 996 §1 To be capable of gaining indulgences a person must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least on the completion of the prescribed work.

§2 To gain them, however, the person who is capable must have at least the intention of gaining them, and must fulfil the prescribed works at the time and in the manner determined by the terms of the grant.

This goes back to the ministry of reconciliation that St. Paul tells us about. Christ gave the Church the authority to forgive sins immediately after giving Peter the keys to the Church. In Matthew 18:18, we read, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Martin Luther’s Protest Martin Luther rightfully protested the selling of invalid indulgences many centuries ago. The men of the Church, who in these actions made themselves distinct from the Divine faith of the Church, were greedy and took advantage of those wishing to buy a spot in heaven. Of course by those very merits the “indulgences” were not done prayerfully and were not acts of uniting one’s self with Christ.  They defeated their own purpose.

A Charity Which Belongs to All An indulgence, when done prayerfully by one who is free of mortal sin, is valid. A gift of such great charity administered by the authority of the Church, whom derives its authority from Jesus Christ, is by nature something that belongs to anyone who rightfully asks for it. Therefore, it is impossible for it to be sold or given in advance. No parchment or certificate is needed. The Sacraments and ministry of redemption belong to all of the faithful.

Thankfully, the leaders of the Church today are those who more fully unite themselves with the charity of Christ. Remember that our very first Pope, the great St. Peter, was one who first denied knowing Christ three times. The men of the Church, as all Christians, are not perfect. Luckily, the faith is perfect as it was given to us by the Divine Jesus Christ.


Tour of Christian Rome (Part 3)

Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt(And I say to you: you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it -Matt 16:18).

  1. Mass with Pope Benedict XVI
  2. Angelus with Pope Benedict outdoors in Piazza San Pietro noon local time

Unfortunately it has been many days since I have had the time to sit down and write here in Rome, but I am doing my best. Thank you for your patience. 

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the 2011 Pentecost Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

1) Imagine three days ago, you waited in line to receive your free tickets from the Swiss Guard to have the privilege of attending a Mass celebrated by the Vicar of Christ. Now it is time to go to Mass. You wait in line with 10,000 other pilgrims and make your way through the security line guarded by the Italian police. Upon entering St. Peter’s Basilica you notice that the Italian police no longer have any jurisdiction and the Swiss Guard take over security.

At 9AM, the bell tolls and a long procession of altar servers, priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals walk past you. Since our Holy Father is getting older, he now uses a moving platform to walk up and down the aisles of the world’s largest church.

The Vatican Choir is singing, composed of boys ages 9-12 and adult males. The most beautiful chants usually take place during the Gospel antiphon and during Communion. Listen to this recording of the Pentecost Sunday Gospel Acclamation which is sung every year(recorded in 1985).

Veni Sancte Spiritus reple tuorum corda fidelium et tui amoris in eis ignem accende

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and kindle them in the fire of your love.

2) Angelus with Pope Benedict

After Mass, everyone rushes outside to get a good view of the Apostolic Palace. At 12 Noon, the Pope appears at the window and greets the people as they erupt in a loud applause. Yes, that tiny man is very high up, although only on the 4th floor. The Pope addresses the crowd of about 10,000 in five to seven languages and then says the traditional Angelus prayer before giving a final blessing and then retreating from the window.

Pope Benedict XVI on June 10, 2012 from his bedroom window.