A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Basilica of St. Mary Major

Today's Station Church...
for the second time in the season of Lent... and it is appropriate that the Station Church circuit comes here on the day before Holy Thursday, so that we can begin our celebration of the Lord's passion, death, and resurrection with the same mind and heart as that of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother of our Lord, so that we may share in the joy of the resurrection.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Santa Prisca

Monday, March 29, 2010

No matter what

Sometimes life is good.

Sometimes life is not.

Sometimes life can be a struggle.

Sometimes we deserve it, collectively or as individuals, and sometimes we do not.

Insofar as we deserve the ills we suffer, we need to seek from God the grace of repentance and forgiveness as well as the wherewithal to set right the wrong we have done.

And insofar as we do indeed suffer, whatever the cause may be, may we find comfort and strength in what we celebrate this week – this Holy Week – and in the words of today’s Psalm (27:1, 2 3, 13-14).

No matter what.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

The Church of Saint Praxedes

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saint John Lateran - THE Cathedral

Today's Station Church... for the second time in the season of Lent... so we've seen it already... from its triumphant exterior...

...to its magnificent nave...

But at the far end of the church, tucked in the very center of the very back, stands a stone chair... not as ornate as one might imagine.

This is the Cathedra - the Chair of the Bishop - in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

This is the Cathedra of the Pope.

For most of us, chairs are what we use to relieve our burdens, if only for a little while.

Not this chair.

This chair is itself a burden: the most fearful burden in the world, for the man who sits in it has the burden of acting and teaching and speaking as the Vicar of Christ.

At the end of all things, when Christ takes his Judgement Seat, no one will be judged more sternly than the man who sits in this chair.

May we always pray for Benedict XVI, the Bishop of Rome: that his ministry may be faithful and full of the grace, truth, and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so that at the end of all things our Lord may say to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

And may you and I, by the grace of Christ, carry well the burdens God has given us to bear, so that we too may hear our Lord speak to us words of joyful greeting on the Day of Judgment.

(from an earlier post)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Basilica of Saint John at the Latin Gate

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Terror on every side"

For some people, Christianity is all happy happy joy joy.

Their favorite Scripture passages are all happy and comforting, they only listen to upbeat Christian music, and open their ears only where never is heard a discouraging word.

For others, life is nasty, brutish, and short.

And sometimes, life seems to be a never-ending disaster.

Yet no matter how bad things may be, as we hear in today's first reading (Jeremiah 20:10-13) and today's Responsorial (Psalm 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7), the word of God is there with us and the power of His grace can pull us forward.

The breakers of death surged round about me,
the destroying floods overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me,
the snares of death overtook me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

The Church of St. Stephen on the Caelian Hill

Also known as Santo Stefano Rotondo

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"For nothing will be impossible for God"

The last thing the Archangel Gabriel says in today's Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) is this:

"...for nothing will be impossible for God."

No matter what may be going on in our lives, no matter what problems we face, may we always draw closer to God in true repentance and faithfulness, so that He may bring us – according to the mystery of His loving will – to the happiness and peace we need.

"...for nothing will be impossible for God."

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae

The Annunciation by Luca GiordanoEt concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ecce ancilla Domini,
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria...

Et Verbum caro factum est.
Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria...

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut, qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

* * *

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary...

V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary...

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Your Son,
was made known by the message of an angel,
may by His passion and cross
be brought to the glory of His resurrection,
through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Today the Church celebrates
the Solemnity of the Annunciation

(from an earlier post)

Saint Apollinaris

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saint Marcellus

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Delayed vocation

He wasn't ordained a priest until he was forty, but he would accomplish much in the years of ministry that followed: including establishing the first seminary in the Western hemisphere, fighting for the rights of native Americans, and becoming an Archbishop.

Saint Toribio de Mogrovejo - Archbishop of Lima, Peru - died 402 years ago today.

(from an earlier post)

Saint Mary in Via Lata

Monday, March 22, 2010

"The elders... suppressed their consciences"

In the long form (very long) of today’s first reading (Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62), we hear of “two elders of the people” who go terribly, criminally astray.

They suppressed their consciences;
they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven,
and did not keep in mind just judgments.

They proceed to attempt forcing themselves on a young person.

There is horrifying resonance for this in today’s news, for the Greek word used for “elder” is the same word which the Church uses as the technical term for ministerial priests.

Just this past weekend, the Holy Father released a Pastoral Letter regarding the terrible crimes of sexual abuse committed by priests.

That letter and today’s first reading remind us of how even the learned and respected among us – even religious ones – can have dangerous faults. We must protect society and most especially protect children and the helpless against such faults and against predators of all kinds.

But we cannot take this reading only as a warning against wickedness in high places.

Any of us can give in to temptation, as did the elders, or be swept along to error, as did the crowd.

May God give us the grace that He gave to Daniel: the grace to see and think clearly and to act bravely and well.

Saint Chrysogonus

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saint Peter's Basilica

Today's Station Church (for the second time in the season of Lent).

Inside this grandest of Basilicas, tucked in a corner just inside the door all the way to the right, is one of the most famous of statues, depicting a mystery we shall celebrate in a very special way, beginning seven days from now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pope Benedict's letter to Ireland

Pope Benedict's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland may be read directly from the Holy See's web site here.

The Holy See has also published a synopsis here.


My apologies to Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and foster father of Christ, and to you for my failure in posting yesterday.

"Let me witness the vengeance"

These words from today’s first reading (Jeremiah 11:18-20) may be disturbing to some of us, especially when we look to Scripture for comfort and for guidance in the ways of God’s love.

But, you, O LORD of hosts, O just Judge,
searcher of mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause!

The first and most critical thing to remember in hearing these words is that the vengeance of God is not the vengeance of men.

Did Jeremiah, threatened and afflicted as he was, have thoughts of human-style vengeance as he prayed to God?

Quite possibly, but again, the vengeance of God is not the vengeance of men.

The vengeance of men is often clouded and driven by emotion and even selfishness.

The vengeance of God is pure justice.

Moreover, on the one hand, the justice of God is inescapable, for God is the “searcher of mind and heart” and no amount of rationalization or trickery can deflect His justice.

Nor can the justice of God be evaded by any power or privilege. We are all tiny and vulnerable before the justice of God.

God will set all things right. His justice will prevail.

But God will set all things right not only by the power of His justice, but also by the power of His love and mercy through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Things may not be good in some ways for many of us. For some of us, things are very bad.

God will set all things right: His justice will prevail and His mercy is infinite.

Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.

Saint Nicholas "in prison"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Saint Eusebius

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Challenges for the bishop

He was a native of the city, a priest of the Diocese, and well thought of by the bishop and others, so it was no surprise that he was picked to be the new bishop upon his mentor’s death.

But he had enemies, who accused him of many things – not the least of which was heresy. He was forced to leave town more than once.

In the end, he ended up on the right side of the many theological and political controversies that were buffeting the Church. Indeed, his writings on theological and liturgical matters would become widely read and treasured.

One of the interesting pastoral problems he faced was an influx of pilgrims that would come into his diocese, more and more every year, especially during the week before Easter.

The reasons for this were twofold:

First of all, his diocese (and hometown) was Jerusalem.

Second, the open practice of Christianity had just been legalized a few decades before by the Emperor Constantine.

Some say that it was Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem during the middle decades of the fourth century, who shaped the celebrations for Holy Week at Jerusalem’s holy sites (e.g., the procession with palms) and that returning pilgrims spread these practices throughout Christendom.

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop of the Holy City, great writer of Catecheses, and Doctor of the Church, is said to have died on this very day in the year 386.

(from an earlier post)

Basilica of Sts. Silvester and Martin

Also known as Saint Martin in the Hills

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Civilization itself was coming apart

That is how a middle-class kid with good parents ended up being kidnapped by a roving band of criminals who took him out of the country and sold him into slavery.

The young boy, named Succat, found himself watching animals for a local chieftain. He learned his captors’ language as well as their religion, although he held on to his own Christian faith and kept his prayers private.

After six years, he escaped and after many adventures found himself back home.

The experience of captivity, however, had awakened something deep within Succat. He resolved to devote his life to God.

He went to different monasteries to pray and study for some years. A charismatic bishop took Succat under his wing, ordained him a priest and gave him important assignments in teaching people the truth of Christ and his grace.

Yet Succat could not forget the people who had held him captive. He felt called to bring the Gospel of Christ to them. After many consultations, he was consecrated as a bishop and sent as a missionary.

Returning to the land of his captivity, Succat met fierce opposition and endured many trials, but he held firm and many miracles took place at his hands. He baptized thousands, built churches, and established dioceses throughout the land.

Succat, better known by his religious name of Patrick, the great Apostle of Ireland, died in the latter half of the fifth century. The feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated today around the world.

(from an earlier post)

Saint Paul's Outside the Walls

Today's Station Church. Traditional burial place of Saint Paul the Apostle. Mosaics of all the Popes are displayed inside.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"That nothing worse may happen to you"

On the news, we see people in terrible pain, suffering, and/or trouble.

Sometimes we ourselves may be in terrible pain, suffering, and/or trouble.

Today’s Gospel (John 5:1-16) shows us a man who has been terribly ill for nearly four decades.

Our Lord warns him that something worse may happen to him.

What can be worse than long-term illness, pain, suffering, and trouble?

Cutting oneself off from God is worse – much, much worse.

The pain and the screaming emptiness of eternal oblivion without God is beyond human imagination.

That is worse.

And so our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ warns us,

Do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.

Saint Lawrence in Damaso

Today's Station Church.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The challenge of cynicism

In today’s Gospel (John 4:43-54), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rebukes those who seek miracles while helping a man demonstrate faith.

He does this by what seems to be a cynical response to a man looking for a miracle.

The man meets the challenge and gives the example of faith for which our Lord was looking.

In our own lives, as individuals and even as a Church, we may often encounter cynicism, which can discourage us from speaking and acting as boldly as we might.

We need to pray that God may grant the grace of conversion to the cynical and meanwhile enable us to be faithful and strong in Him in all the things we do and say.

The Four Holy Crowned Ones on the Caelian Hill

Santi Quattro Coronati al Celio -dedicated to the memory of four brothers, Severus, Severinus, Carpophorus, and Victorius, all Roman officials who were scourged to death under thei ancient Roman emperor Diocletian - today's Station Church.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem

Today's Station Church.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

False penitence

Today’s readings may be very challenging for many of us who consider ourselves good people and faithful Christians.

In the Gospel (Luke 19:9-14), a very religious man who is exemplary in a number of ways is described by Christ as not justified after praying.

In the first reading (Hosea 6:1-6), people talk of repentance and express confidence in God’s forgiveness, only to be rebuffed brutally by the Lord.

In both cases, these seemingly devout people lacked true and complete penitence. They did not understand how completely and deeply they needed to reform their lives.

Ultimately, of course, penitence itself is a gift from God.

May God give you and me an ever greater share of the grace of true and complete penitence, of the grace to live ever more faithfully, and of the grace of forgiveness through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me - a sinner.

La Chiesa di Santa Susanna

L'odierna Chiesa Stazionale (e la parrocchia statunitense 'in urbe')

Friday, March 12, 2010

Collapse and restoration

Thus says the Lord in today’s first reading (Hosea 14:2-10):

You have collapsed through your guilt.

Sometimes we feel that way with particular intensity: collapsed, guilty.

But in today’s first reading the Lord also promises restoration and healing for the truly penitent: not simple restoration of what we may have had, but perfect fulfillment of what we ought to be.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.

Saint Lawrence in Lucina