Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Preaching, churches, prayer time

The day started (after breakfast and an adequate amount of coffee) with mass at one of the four major basilicas of Rome, St. Mary Major. The name basically refers to it being the biggest church in Rome dedicated to Mary. The highlight of this mass was that I gotta preach the homily today. The gospel was about Jesus calming the storm, so I talked to the pilgrims about how Jesus can calm the storms of our life, whether they are storms of this pilgrimage or much bigger problems. In the gospel, Jesus sets faith as the opposite of fear when he says “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”. So we need to allow faith to overcome our fear. Whatever we fear in this life, our faith in Christ can overcome it.

The Blessed Sacrament chapel in Mary Major.


St. Mary Major's has a relic of Christ's manger-crib below the altar


It's that piece of wood hanging in the middle:


The main interior of St. Mary Major's


And the exterior


I was privileged to preach this message in a side altar of Mary Major, where we had before us the icon of Mary entitled Salus Populi Romani, or The Help of the People of Rome. This is the most beloved image of Mary for the people of Rome. It is around a 1000 years old, and the people of Rome have turned to it in times of war, famine and plague to help their faith to overcome their fear. 

After Mary Major, we visited the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, another icon with numerous miracles attributed to it. We also visited a church that claims to have the pillar that Jesus was scourged on. It was very special to pray in front of that. Then, after another delicious lunch in a street side restaurant, half the group left for a tour of the coliseum, while my half went with the Bishop Etienne and Rome Seminarian Bob Rodgers for some prayer time and tour of significant churches on the way back to the hotel. My half of the group will tour the coliseum on Thursday. We visited the church where St. Helen is buried. She was Constantine's mother and the one who discovered the True Cross, we visited the church where St. Ignatius of Loyola did his work in Rome, and we visited a church dedicated co St. Philip Neri, the "second apostle to Rome."

Trajan's Column. It commemorates the military victories of the early second century Emperor Trajan.


I don't honestly remember what church this was, but I liked all the chandeliers.


The dome of St. Ignatius's church


And above the nave


The dome of St. Alphonsus's church


And the apse


We then had dinner at the hotel with the whole group, and I enjoyed a nice drink and wonderful conversation on the patio with fellow seminarian Bob Rodgers before retiring for the evening. 

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