Honesty with God, Key to Friendship with God
9/24/12 12:16 PM
The Readings for this mass can be found at:
9/24/12 12:16 PM
The Readings for this mass can be found at:
8/28/12 9:06 PM
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8/27/12 12:21 PM
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“Behold the body of the most holy virgin Cecilia, whom I myself saw lying incorrupt in the tomb. I have in this marble expressed for you the same saint in the very same posture”
Today’s station church was the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. St. Cecilia is a virgin and martyr that has long been venerated in the Church. But, if you don’t know much about her, here is a bit of information about the church, her life and her martyrdom:
The church and convent of Santa Cecilia in Trastavere in Rome was built over the home of St. Cecilia, an upper-class woman who owned a house on this site and was martyred in the 3rd century. Her body was found incorrupt in 1599, complete with deep axe cuts in her neck; a statue under the altar depicts the way it was found. Excavations of Cecilia’s Roman house can be toured underneath the church.
Cecilia is one of the most popular of Roman saints. She lived in the 3rd century and the first legend of her life was written in the 6th century. A noblewoman from a senatorial family, Cecilia took a personal vow of virginity and pledged her life to God. Unfortunately for her, Cecilia’s parents still married her off.
On her wedding night, Cecilia told her new husband (Valerian of Trastevere) about her pledge of virginity and persuaded him to be baptized. Valerian’s brother Tibertius and another man named Maximus were converted and baptized as well, and the three men began a Christian ministry of giving alms to the poor and arranging for proper burial of martyrs. Eventually they became martyrs themselves for refusing to worship Roman gods.
After burying her husband and his brother, Cecilia was persecuted as well. According to her legend, she was first locked in the caldarium of her own bathhouse for several days. This failed to suffocate her as planned; in fact, she sang throughout the ordeal (Cecilia is the patron saint of music). Next a soldier was sent to behead her, but after three hacks with an axe she was still alive. However, she died of her wounds three days later. (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-santa-cecilia)
This first Monday of March we headed down the hill and across to the other side of town to the Basilica of San Clemente (St. Clement) which is located near the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
This location has been a site of worship for the Church in Rome for a long time, going back to the 1st century. It is named after St. Clement who is believed to be the fourth Pope. He was either a freed slave or the son of a free slave who had been a member of the Imperial household. Tradition holds that he was banished to Crimea by Emperor Trajan where he continued to preach the Gospel. Therefore he was sentenced to death by being tied to an anchor and thrown in the sea.
This was one of the original house churches in Rome where Christians gathered before the legalization of Christianity. Eventually it would be replaced by a larger basilica around 390. In 867, St. Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles to the Slavs, brought St. Clement’s relics back to Rome and Pope Adrian II placed them here. When two years later St. Cyril died in Rome, he would likewise by buried here. Relics of St. Ignatius of Antioch also rest here under the altar.
The Norman attack in 1084 reduced the church to ruins and when rebuilding finally took place, the rubble was spread out and the level of the ground was raised several feet. It was only in 1857 that the remains of the older basilica and even older remains from the classical period were found.
One of the best pieces of art in San Clemente is the mosaic in the apse. In the center is a crucifixion scene with the cross of Christ represented as a tree that branches out in all directions. There are twelve doves on the tree representing the 12 apostles. In each curl of the branches are different scenes and figures. Below this there is a line of 12 lambs that are coming out of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, representing the Jews and the Gentiles. On the arch there are two major prophets, Jeremiah and Isaiah, reading their prophecies concerning the Messiah. I actually had my liturgy exam based off this mosaic. That’s how much theology is tied into this mosaic.
Today’s readings call to mind God’s mercy that has bestowed on us despite our sinful ways. As we look upon this mosaic, where Christ’s cross shows forth God’s never-ending love and mercy, may we be reminded that God reaches out to us no matter how far away we have run and calls us today, as he does everyday, to return to him with our whole hearts.
My name is Fr. Rust. I am a priest from the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee. I grew up in Mobile, AL and moved to Memphis when I was in middle school. It was there that my vocation was fostered and after three wonderful years at Mississippi State University (Go Bulldogs!!) I discerned that I should enter seminary. Archbishop Libscomb would often remark to me that I should have studied for the Archdiocese of Mobile. I always appreciated receiving his cordial invitation, but my home is now Memphis.
According to the PNAC website, “Sitting quietly by the side of the busy Via della Navicella, the Basilica of St. Mary in Domnica holds the distinction of being the station church for the Second Sunday in Lent. A tradition holds that on this location once stood the house of the Roman matron Cyriaca, from which St. Lawrence would distribute alms to the poor. At some later time, it is believed that this was the location of military barracks, or of a civil defense post. A diaconia with an attached chapel is known to have existed here from the time of the late eighth century, this possibly being established in some buildings from the military post. The name domnica might signify that this was built on land donated by the Emperor, which would make sense if its previous use was for military purposes. While the other Sundays of Lent are celebrated at the largest basilicas in the city, the station is held here today because there was originally no station for this day, the ordination liturgy at St. Peter’s on the previous day being considered the Mass for Sunday. When the liturgy was created for this day, this venerable diaconia was fixed as the station. Pope St. Paschal I replaced the diaconia with a larger basilica around the year 820. While little decoration from these times remains, one notable feature are the mosaics of the triumphal arch and apse, these being one example of the many mosaics he commissioned in churches built or repaired by him. In the mid-fifteenth century the church was near ruin, and later in that century the cardinal titular of the church, Giovanni de Medici, undertook a restoration and additions, including the fine porch. These works largely ended in 1513 when he was elected as Pope Leo X, in which office he would see the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The basilica was again restored in the mid-sixteenth century. From then until the present day the church has seen some minor additions and restorations, but is still today essentially a structure whose appearance reminds us of those last days before Europe descended into the wars of religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.”
Not much more I can add! I hope you all have a wonderful Lent and enjoy your chocolate or whatever it is you gave up today, because Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection!
Saturday’s Station Church was the one…the only…ST. PETER’S!
Today’s station church was Santi XII Apostoli. The earliest known record of a Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome goes back to one built by Pope Julius I in the mid fourth century. That basilica was built near Trajan’s column. A successor to that church was begun by Pope Pelagius I in the mid sixth century. It was built on the present site of the basilica and was dedicated by Pope John III in 570. It was at this time that the relics of the apostles Saints Philip and James the Lesser were placed under the high altar. Saint Philip preached in Greece and Syria and was martyred by crucifixition. Saint James the Lesser was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and was martyred by being beaten to death by clubs.
The first basilica was Byzantine in its architectural structure, which makes sense since at the time Rome was under the control of Emperor Justinian in Constantinople. The basilica got along just fine until an earthquake in 1348 which heavily damaged it. Pope Martin V started a restoration in 1421 and this was followed up by more extensive restorations during the pontificate of Sixtus IV from 1471 to 1484. The basilica is currently staffed by Franciscans and they arrived here in 1463.
The high altar depicts the martyrdoms of Saints Philip and James the Lesser. It is the largest altar piece in all of Rome. Above the fresco is a depiction of the expulsion of the rebellious angels from heaven. The ceiling is painted with scenes depicting the glory of the Franciscan Order. The basilica also hosts the remains of the martyrs Saints Sabinus, Clement, Eugenia and Claudia. In the crypt opposite the remains of the two apostles is the remains of the martyrs Saints Diodorus, Marcian, Chrysanthius, and Daria. This basilica is the titular church of His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Scola who is the current Cardinal Patriarch of Venice and if an election were being held tomorrow for the next Pope he would certainly be on everyone’s top ten “most likely” list.
In today’s readings we hear the Prophet Ezekiel comments on what the Lord will do with the wicked man who turns away from sin and does what is right and just, “None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him.” As we go through Lent and the exercise of returning to God in our actions and in the deepest recesses of our heart we can most certainly take advantage of the Sacrament of Confession and reap the rewards of what the prophet Ezekiel pronounces. Reflecting on today’s reading from Ezekiel reminded me of the story of Saint Mary Alocoque who made famous the devotion of the Sacred Heart. On telling her spiritual director that she was receiving visions from Jesus he told her to ask Jesus the next time what some of her sins were so he could see if this was a true vision. She returned to her spiritual director with Jesus’ answer which was, “I do not remember them.” Such is the most glorious mercy of Our Savior who died for us in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Perhaps it would be good on this Friday in Lent to meditate on God’s mercy displayed most perfectly in Christ’s Passion. God the Father sent his only son to die for us so that our debt would be paid and that we may have eternal life with him. Glory be to God.
Greetings, friends and countrymen. It’s Andrew again, humble author of TPT and guest blogger for today. It’s funny how this station church practice has taught me more about the city of Rome, which I thought I knew pretty well already. Yesterday, on my early morning walk to the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the station Mass there, I passed a church with an interesting facade and wondered if it might be a station church somewhere down the road. Lo and behold, it happens to be today’s station church, San Lorenzo in Panisperna.
The church is named for St. Lawrence, one of Rome’s most famous martyrs and one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic Church. A deacon of the Roman Church in the mid-3rd century, St. Lawrence was put in charge of the administration of Church property and keeping its records. When the emperor Valerian, hoping to quash the young Christian religion, asked Lawrence to give him the treasures of the Church, Lawrence is said to have returned a day later with all of the sick, lame, and orphaned in Rome that he could find and declared, “These are the treasures of the church!” Valerian, of course, did not take kindly to this bit of spiritual wisdom and threw him to prison. Lawrence further enraged the emperor and his court when he successfully converted his jailer and the jailer’s family. Valerian ordered the deacon to be roasted alive. Lawrence nonetheless kept his sense of humor about him since tradition says that he advised his executioner, “You may turn me over, I’m done on this side.” No joke, he’s still the patron saint of chefs!
The church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna is reputedly the oldest church in Rome related to the saint’s life. Though it has now been passed in importance by the place where St. Lawrence is buried, the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori Le Mura (also a Lenten station church, coming up in a few Sundays), the church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna was erected on the site of the saint’s martyrdom some time in the mid-4th century. Not much is written about the church until the Middle Ages, when it was attached to an abbey, run first by the Benedictines and then by the Poor Clares. The word Panisperna, roughly translated “ham sandwich”, likely comes from this time, when the sisters at San Lorenzo would distribute food to the city’s poor along the road that runs in front of the church. (Others say it’s because the church known to hand out really great ham sandwiches to the medieval pilgrims who were visiting Rome and walking from the Basilica of St. Mary Major to St. Peter’s Basilica.) San Lorenzo is still run by the Franciscan order and continues to have an active ministry to the poor.
Beneath one of the side altars on the right hand side of the church rests the relics of St. Crispin and St. Crispinian. The two brothers, born into a noble Roman family in the third century, converted to Christianity and had to flee to Gaul because of their faith. There, they preached the Gospel and made shoes by night in order to get by. They were successful in spreading the Christian faith, enough in fact to make the emperor and the local governor take notice. Crispin and Crispinian were tortured and beheaded ca. 286 AD and their bodies were brought back to Rome some time in the Middle Ages. According to some accounts, the local governor, inspired by their faith, converted to Christianity himself and was later martyred.
The Feast of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian occurs on October 25 and has long been commemorated in England. Historically, it is most famous for being the day on which the famous Battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415, when an English force led by Henry V defeated a much vaster French army. In Shakespeare’s Henry V, one of the most famous passages from the Bard is given by Henry to his men in the moments preceding the battle — the famous “St. Crispin’s Day speech.” Below, Kenneth Branagh delivers the speech in his film version from 1989:
The Mass readings for today speak to us of the importance of asking God in prayer for all that we need and, even more, of the assurance of God answering those prayers. Jesus tells us, just as he told his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). God is infinitely near to us, waiting to grant us what we need, whatever is best for us, if only we turn to him to ask. The saints surely knew this, especially perhaps the martyrs who must have turned to God in their hour of need, not so much to be rescued from their fate but to have the strength of perseverance in enduring it. What kind of amazing courage Lawrence must have had to face the grill of martyrdom! Surely such courage is only the fruit of intense prayer, prayer that relies confidently and solely on God. In this season of Lent, when we are called especially to rededicate ourselves to prayer, may the lives of the saints remind us of prayer’s daily and indispensable role in our lives as Christians, remembering as Jesus tells us “how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him” (Mt. 7:11).
The station church practice is in full force, now more than a week into it. Pray that we may continue to persevere in this worthy Lenten practice!