June 1, 2012
Speaking at a meeting of Austrian Catholic newsmen, Cardinal Koenig said:
“Do not wait for the bishop or for a report from Rome, if you have something to say about the Council. Sound a warning whenever you feel that you ought to. Urge, when you feel urging is necessary… Report everything that the people and the Catholics expect concerning the Council.”
Taken from Conciliaria: Fifty Years Ago Today at the Second Vatican Council. If you have not discovered this gem of a blog yet, you ought to.
Can you imagine many people still having that same fearless confidence in the Holy Spirit speaking through the people of God, today? “Don’t wait for us, speak up!” Not exactly the dominant ecclesiastical paradigm half a century later!
October 10, 2010
I have mentioned it before, but the Caravita Community is a quasi-parish that meets at the Oratory of Saint Francis Xavier “del Caravita”. It is comprised of an international assortment of Anglophones, with members from about 20 different countries, and is staffed by priests from four different religious orders. Most of its membership travel frequently, and it is a particularly welcoming place for English-speaking pilgrims to Rome. Several people I have meet are in Rome regularly as general officers for their religious community, students or faculty at the pontifical universities, on diplomatic assignment, or staff in the Roman curia. While i try to worship at a variety of churches on Sunday to get a truly catholic experience of the Church, the Caravita Community is always and already familiar.
This weekend they celebrated their 10th anniversary, though even this recent endeavour reflects the longer tradition of the place. Prior to October 2000, however, it had not been used as a place of regular worship since 1925.
Named after the Jesuit Pietro Gravita who was responsible for its construction, the oratory was built between 1618 and 1633 on the site of an existing church, San Nicola de Forbitoribus, and then completely rebuilt between 1670 and 1677 (Baroque, anyone?) The Oratory was constructed to house the nine different lay “congregations” (which would later become to Sodality movement) linked with the work of the Jesuits and served as a centre for lay formation and social outreach in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first women’s lay “congregation” was housed here.
The importance of lay ministry and formation, the dedication to the social mission of the church, and active ecumenical participation remain a part of the community’s identity. Similarly, a rich artistic heritage rests in the place, from 17th century frescoes to the 18th century performance of the teenage Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his debut in the Roman court. In honor of a new organ installed into the oratory, part of the weekend’s events included a concert dedicated “Mostly Mozart”.
A symposium entitled “How Firma Foundation: The Role of the laity and the Church’s Mission in the Third Millennium” included presentations from John Padberg, SJ on the history of Lay Confraternities, a report from Kerry Robinson of the National Leadership Roundtable, and an analysis of last year’s African Synod by Cardinal Peter Turkson of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
(The symposium and concert occurred while I was at the day of Reflection at Tre Fontane, and no one seems to have recorded the talks. I am trying to track down the speakers’ papers or notes, if they are available…)
The conclusion of the weekend was Ecumenical Evensong, with participation from the membership of Churches Together in Rome, the ecumenical organization for English-language churches in the City. Canon David Richardson, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, presiding and Donald LaSalle, SMM of the Caravita Community staff preaching.
June 11, 2010
The Lay Centre has three major aspects to its ministry of hospitality and formation. The first is the one most familiar to anyone reading my blog or following my studies, which is the community of students and scholars who live in the house of formation throughout the academic year (Oct-June) and who eat, pray and learn together in an ongoing dialogue of life. The second is the ongoing adult formation offered (mostly) to the English-speaking population of Rome. Theology, spirituality, church history, liturgy, art, and architecture offered by faculty of the pontifical universities and visiting scholars every Thursday morning as part of the Vincent Pallotti Institute.
The third piece of the mission is the summer seminars and retreats offered by the lay centre. During June, July, and September groups come in from around the world to spend a week in Rome. Some have their own agenda and primarily enjoy the hospitality of the Lay Centre, while others are sponsored by the Centre directly and open to anyone from around the world.
A few years ago I remember hearing about Rome’s first-ever symposium on Lay Ecclesial Ministry, and recall thinking to myself, “First? This has been going on 50 years and they are only now talking about it???” Little did I know. (One can hear about how slowly time moves in the Eternal City, but you really have to be there to appreciate it, soak it in, and start wondering what all the fuss was about back when you cared about things like deadlines, traffic laws, and absolute concepts of any kind…)
One of the programs offered this summer was the latest in the series touching on lay ecclesial ministry, but with a timely twist. In honor of the Year of the Priest, and timed to coincide with the closing festivities of the year, the theme was taken from Pope Benedict’s address to the annual convention of the diocese of Rome (given at St. John Lateran on May 26, 2009) and again later to the presbytery of Rome at the beginning of the year: “Corresponsibility of Priests and Laity”.
The unique opportunities for a program like this in Rome include access to so much of the Church’s history within walking distance, access to curia officials, access to representatives of the Church from all over the world, and of course the hospitality of the Lay Centre.
The program progressed through the centuries day by day, with an examination of key saints and their experience of “corresponsibility”. We studied St. Paul and his collaborators with Abbot Edmund Power of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Paul Outside the Walls – guardians of the tomb of the great missionary and co-patron of Rome. St. Justin Martyr, a layman, buried at St. Lawrence Outside the Walls. Pope St. Gregory the Great, with his oratory of St. Andrew is literally just over the wall from my Roman home. St. Vincent Pallotti was an early modern pioneer of lay formation.
Contemporary organizations and developments we looked at included the Emmanuel Community, Sant’Egidio, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Union of the Catholic Apostolate. Presenters included Dr. Marian Diaz, Fr. William Henn of the Gregorian, Ms. Ana Crisitina Villa-Betancourt of the PCL, Fr. Jean Baptiste Edart of the Emmanuel Community, and John Breen of the Beda College in Rome. The participants were mostly students and (both lay and ordained) ministers from the U.S., but included one Dutch pastoral life director.
[Further Reflection to Follow]
April 29, 2010
Today is the feast of one of the most popular saints around here, St. Catherine of Siena. Lay woman, Dominican tertiary, ecclesial reformer and gifted with a charism that allowed her to put popes and antipopes in their proper place and get away with it, she serves as the patron saint of the caribinieri, Italy, Europe, and was the first woman named a Doctor of the Church.
It was only at the end of my class day, just before 6pm, that I was able to run over to the church where she died, and where most of her remains remain, Chiesa Santa Maria Sopra Minerve, near the Pantheon. On her feast day every year they open the small doors under the high altar to allow devotees to access her marble tomb directly. After the liturgy, we were also able to get into the chapel built from the rooms in which St. Catherine lived her last years. (I ran into a couple friends at the church, one of whom, John Paul, took the photos I used for this blog. More can be found at his, Orbis Catholicvs Secvndvs)
Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the Brazilian Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy presided at a solemn vespers and Eucharist to commemorate the saint, with about forty Dominican friars, an equal number of sisters, and a handful of tertiaries, in attendance. It was an interesting liturgical experience in the fact that we started with the procession, went into the first half of vespers, after the psalms came the Gloria and the penitential rite followed by the rest of the Eucharist, only to return to the vespers canticle and the rest of that liturgy following the final blessing of the mass.
Cardinal Hummes presents a good example of the way lines are drawn differently in Rome than it often seems in the States, and a reminder not to judge a book by its cover, or too quickly, if at all. Vested in scarlet, lace and a heavily embroidered Baroque “fiddleback” chasuble he was the very image of the popular style of the Tridentine era and the “extraordinary form” movement of today. Dual deacons with matching Baroque dalmatics and vimpere donned in vimp veils embroidered with the cardinalatial coat of arms reinforced the image of a very Roman prince of the church.
Cardinal Hummes is not his predecessor, however. Ordained a presbyter before the Council, he finished a doctorate in philosophy, in Rome, just as Vatican II was getting interesting. A Franciscan, he continued studies at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey and has been known for his support of social justice, liberation theology, and being open about the theoretical possibility of doing away with mandatory clerical celibacy.
This is not the combination that comes easily to mind for most of my fellow North American Catholics, I think it is safe to say: “traditional” liturgical garb and “progressive” theological/ecclesiological tendencies!
The homily, I am sure, would be interesting… but I have not found a translation yet. In the mean time, blessed feast of Catherine to you!
October 26, 2009
When i mentioned in an earlier post that virtually everyone in Rome has a uniform and/or title, including most of the laity, i was not kidding. (Though, about the “Almost Reverend” i was kidding. Mostly.)
The Heralds of the Gospel are one of the many new lay movements in the church, not a religious order but an “international association of pontifical right” (like Cursillo, or the Militia Immaculata). They have a very distinctive “habit”, which i first encountered on the steps of the Angelicum. I undertand, too, that “habit” is reserved for members of religious orders -and by some accounts, really even more restricted to members of monastic orders only- but the distinctive “uniform” for other forms of religious, consecrated, ecclesiastical or lay life are generally refered to only as “unusual garb”.
We also found some official clerical sandals by Birkenstock at one of the ecclesiastical shopping centers. Fairly reasonably priced, too. Just in case you’re in the market…
Last, but not least, i am told that the Caribinieri (ubiquitus military police) uniforms are designed by Armani. I have seen the officers driving department-issue BMW’s too. Carl: forget the US Border Patrol, come to Italy!