The month of November, like last year, brought a swarm of guests into the eternal city. I was pleased to host Frs. Peter Rocca, CSC, Virgil Elizondo, and Dan Groody, CSC for a week here at the Casa.
Frs. Elizondo and Groody were participants in the Vatican's Sixth World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. Both priests are faculty of the Notre Dame Theology Department. As an "expert" at the conference, Fr. Groody was invited to help craft the congress's concluding summary document.
Congregational business brought Fr. Rocca to Rome and offered him a chance to reconnect with his Italian roots. I think the four of us were up till 11 or midnight each night having night caps and talking about the day's activities. It was great to see my brothers in community. Toward the end of their visit and work here we went to a restaurant nearby where the staff is always very friendly and patient. We were joined by Fr. Terry Ehrman, CSC who is working on his dissertation in systematic theology from Catholic University but is spending this year in Austria studying and researching in German. We were also joined by Fr. J.P. Kimes, a Notre Dame graduate who now works in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was a great evening.
The first Sunday Fr. Rocca was here, we and a group of my priest friends traveled to the Catacombs of St. Callistus outside the ancient Roman wall on the Via Appia Antica. We arrived around 10:00 in the morning of a November day with bright sun mixed with occasional light and misty rain. We then joined the English speaking tour at 10:30. Once we arrived at a chapel, we stayed for Mass while the rest of the tour continued on their way. We prayed the Mass in the chapel entitled "Orante", meaning "praying". It was in these catacombs that we find some of the earliest depictions of the Orans position, or praying position - the arms extended position the priest assumes when praying the Mass.
The following Sunday we celebrated Mass with the community here at the Casa Santa Maria, donning the Holy Cross habit as is customary for Sunday Mass and pranzo.
Thanks to my guests for bringing a bit of home to me here in Rome!