Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Roman Style...

Lenten blessings to you all. This day has involved everything from doing laundry to seeing the pope in procession. Last night the Casa hosted a Carnevale party with ice cream, brownies, and an assortment of various beverages. But the late party made for a very very early morning as many of us processed from the Casa to Santa Sabina Church on the Aventine Hill for the first Stational Liturgy of the Lenten Season.

Each day in Lent, the priests of the Casa and the priests and seminarians of the NAC gather at a different Roman church or "station" for Mass, usually beginning around 7AM each morning. This rich tradition is enjoyed by many English speaking residents of Rome. As we left the Casa at 6:05 this morning, we processed while praying the rosary and arrived at Santa Sabina in time to vest and prepare for Mass. I was glad to sit next to Fr. Carl Ebey, CSC, General Steward of the Congregation. After Mass I was able to say hello to Bro. John Paige, CSC, the Vicar General. I may very well see them every morning during this Lent.

Luckily, Santa Sabina is just up the street from my school where classes began an hour after Mass concluded. So, it was another long morning of Latin and italiano.
Every Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father comes to the monastery of Sant'Anselmo, and is joined by the Benedictines there, the Dominicans of Santa Sabina, and various bishops and cardinals. After an opening prayer, a litany is begun and the Holy Father processes from Sant'Anselmo to Santa Sabina where he says Mass.

I suppose I was the most "touristy" than I've ever been to date here in Rome this year. I stood along with other pilgrims, families, sightseers, etc., eagerly awaiting the Holy Father to walk by.

First is a shot of the papal car with His Holiness in the back passenger-side seat. Unfortunately, that was the only papal blessing received today. During the procession, the Holy Father kept his hands folded. While we were "tourists" he was in a liturgical procession that was kept to a somber lenten color/mood.

Then follows photos of various hierarchs in the procession. They were preceded by various monks of both monasteries and three chaps who were friends of a young Dominican. They were on my bus wearing blue jeans. Later I saw them throw on albs while walking in the middle of the street. Two of them had on way too short albs and looked completely out of it. Mmmmm, I think some young Dominican was doing his buddies a favor.

Then, we have three photos of the Holy Father and those immediately with him. The server behind Msgr. Guido Marini is a friend of mine and fellow student of Sant'Anselmo. He and I are currently meeting together with a tutor to make this whole Greek project work. He's a great fellow and seminarians from the Brisbane, Australia diocese.

And so, a blessed day. I suppose I took the time to hike back to the Aventine Hill for a 45 second glance of the Holy Father because it was Ash Wednesday 2008 when I sat in my Zahm Hall room and was making very real preparations for studies in Rome. The whole enterprise became very real for me - all of it. The challenges, the joys, the expectations of what these Roman years will entail. And so, it was important that I be there today - a sort of interior confirmation that this assignment of obedience is where God wants me right now and so it is only right and fitting that I pour myself into it all more and more. Perhaps that is my lenten prayer - that my conversion to the Gospel of Christ be a turning away from any reluctance and a turning toward a more zealous outlook on the work that is before me.

God bless.


Anonymous said...

The pictures seem to suggest that the weather is good in Rome. Can't wait to experience it myself (it's currently raining and set to snow tomorrow). We are more than excited for our pilgrimage. See you soon!


Fr. Michael Wurtz, CSC said...

We've had 5 days of great weather, but alas, it will rain again Sunday - Tuesday. Hopefully things will change for the better in 2 weeks time.

The pilgrimage is on my mind these days and I'm keeping all of you pellegrini in my prayers.