February 14, 2018
Tre Fontane is the Church of the martyrdom of St. Paul.
February 16, 2018
Thoughts from Rome
Well, dear parishioners, it has been overwhelmingly a learning experience, relaxing, meditating, praying, traveling and walking the streets of Rome by day, by night in cool to cold and sometime drizzling days. Doing it by myself or in company of my fellow priests it has been pleasant, the spiritual journey as we continue to advance and walk along our journeys together. As we continue to share this beautiful vocation that sometimes helps us compare notes on the lives we lead as priests to work with our own communities back home, keeping in perspective all our functions and day to day tasks to keep the parishes focused on the main course of the Gospel message.
In the classroom we continue to explore our own individual priesthood by being reminded where we have been in our last years of ministry as well as a whole life of journey as part of the bigger picture which is the church. We continue to be reminded of our duties and responsibilities and discuss the various approaches to our ministries and tactics to become better ministers. Looking at the past history of our Catholic Church helps us to look forward to be inspired as we look back on the components that add wisdom to the we the church operates as we all journey together for the salvation of our souls and of the future of our children's faith. So far we have also touched the social aspect, canon law that has to do with various cases of legalistic nature in church legislation and our own input to discuss and argue the need of honoring the wisdom of canon law keeping in mind that there should always be pastoral sensitivity to difficult cases where people need to be brought to the reality of the true conversion of the human heart to the will of God. Everything included in our program here at the North American College, from the beginning Fr. James Sullivan said is optional if we want to engage, or we can just sleep all the time and it has been so amazing that we all have been very committed to the classes offered to us by various wise people, mostly priests with doctorate degrees in theology and higher education for the formation of Religious and diocesan priests and clergy.
This past week we had begun Lent on Ash Wednesday with early Mass at St. Sabina which is a long tradition for hundreds of years, and where the pope has celebrated Ash Wednesday as well for the last centuries of our church history. There we were possibly 200 English speaking priests concelebrating in this cold church with lights shining on our faces as we sat in three rows across before the sanctuary, facing each other and other priests behind the altar and along sideways - An unforgettable and beautiful experience. We had later that day a retreat at a Trappist monastery at Tre-Fontane outside the walls of Rome where St. Paul was decapitated and buried. We had a good time of personal reflection on the priesthood and scripture. Most of us spent time in the Church of Tre-Fontane reflecting and in silent prayer and meditation, I particularly read the personal letters of St.Paul to Philemon and to Titus and experienced a good touching reflective instant of Paul's life in a very special way. This is what we do when we, as Catholics take time to sit down or stand in the presence of God in prayer, and experience that personal touch of God, as we reach out to God and raise our minds and hearts to find a better and deeper sense of who we are and what we are about as church.
Like I have said before, I always carry St. Bart's with me in my heart, regardless of the minor negative experiences I have sometimes gone through, I am reminded of so much goodness in God's mercy for me and for all who seek God's wisdom, even though we do not deserve so much goodness from God. God is God and does always, ALWAYS does a good job by loving us and forgiving all our trespasses. this coming weekend I will be visiting St. Mark's tomb in Venice and spend a night on Friday. I hope the good weather cooperates, because it can become more flooded than what it is over there. All is in store for the best anyway. The following weekend I am going to Barcelona in Spain to visit the work in progress of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral (Holy Family). This beautiful, strange and gigantic masterpiece in Church historical architecture being built and a work in progress, continues to raise its towers to the skies to give glory to God and inspire human minds to elevate their souls to our Creator inspired in the model of the Most Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph, the most perfect example of Christian life to follow in holiness. Following that trip, I will be entering on the 11th of March for seven days, a retreat with the whole group and we will travel to Assisi and Orvieto, not far from Rome. Our Retreat director will be Fr. John Harris from the Prior Dominican Community in Newbridge Ireland and he is a professor at the Dublin Theologate.
With all this I will continue to carry you all and keep my journey focused in the way to lead myself in prayer and let God to take over as we all pray for each other. Thank you again for your prayers. Love you all. Children in school and families groups, I have to admit that I have been a little homesick. All is beared with patience and hope in God that all is well after all that snow you got.
Peace. Fr. Ric
February 17, 2018
MORE SIGHTS IN ROME
I am with Fr. Angel Quitalig from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, CA, a Filipino priest, at the ruins behind the Wedding Cake Building by ruins of Ancient Roman Ruins near Foro Romano, next to Palatine Hill and Circo Massimo and near Colosseum. Then also along the Tiber River Walk and down there walking back home.
February 23, 2018
March 2, 2018
Thoughts from Venice and Barcelona
My trip to Barcelona Spain was from Friday March 2 through Monday the 5th. I was very lucky to stay at a nice hotel 6 blocks behind Sagrada Familia Basilica. Upon the recommendation of some of my fellow priests friends I was able to secure a ticket online for the tour, because according to what they claimed was that it is very difficult that you are able to get one there on the spot because they sell out fast. So my plane landed in Barcelona airport around 10am and I took the Aerobus to the city. I wasn’t that nervous about being late for the time of the tour, because I thought (and prayed) that there was enough time to get there on time. Well, good enough with God’s grace the bus dropped me in the city Catalonya Plaza and I managed to ask around for best way to get to the Sagrada Familia by public transportation (to which I am a cripple). So I took the metro underground and, as I was told, the stop is right there, at the Sagrada Familia. Just as you get out of the Metro (SubWay), you see this majestic structure rising up to the skies and you can hear the chipping of the stones up high from the inside and the outside of basilica. God willing this Basilica will be finished in 2026 at 170 meters high with its great center tower dedicated to Christ and peaked at the top with a two-sided Cross. It is a beautiful majestic weird building that continues to be studied its structure and plans, and blueprints. Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926), the architect who designed it meant it to be a monumental building for the glory of God. I learned so much about this great architect and his technique about using elements in nature to design such complex beauty. From formation of crystals, to trees, leaves, insects and very much the movement of nature carved on stone and futuristic vision of the sacred space and place, Gaudi really meant to create the time as well for the faithful to gather in such a holy place to enact in the holy rites the faith that has been cultivated in the hearts manifested in millions of lives for centuries. What a beauty. So much that goes into the Magnificent Gothic Structure which is almost 70% completed. The last phase of the project is the Easter Façade to be edified. Inside is another world. I was very much honored to concelebrate on the 4th of March the Holy Mass (International, which means many languages, but mainly in Latin) with three other priests, and a deacon. It was so beautiful to be able to do that as I held in my prayers St. Bart’s and all my friends and family in Chicago. On Friday when I first arrived there and did the tour, straight from the airport I ended up before the blessed sacrament very emotional about being there as one more pilgrim. Bringing with me everything good that I have treasured and dragged with me as well all the bad that has caused me some uncomfortable moments. It was a similar experience being at the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican and looking in the “scavy” (private tour) directly at the bones of St. Peter last week on Wednesday. One other special experience that I’ll never forget is being at the Vatican’s (St. Peter’s Basilica) main altar two Sundays ago for the International Mass. It helped me recollect and appreciate how fortunate I am being there with other priests and a couple of Cardinals. Not forgetting Venice and the museum of Music where Antonio Vivaldi celebrated Mass as a priest, and the story goes on that he lived in opulence and died poor, alone, and miserable, but leaving behind a treasure of music to invade the mind and relaxing the senses of the listener. Venice was so much for me that I spent time enough time in the Churches which are mostly museums. Praying at the tomb of St. Mark the Evangelist made me realize the privilege of being a priest for the people and of God. All these experiences along with the appreciation of the artful craftsmanship on every Church inside and out throughout Rome really have made this sabbatical worthwhile as I continue to journey it with my brothers priests. The only thing I can say for now, is thank you everyone for your prayers and thank you for your patience, love and care. I am almost through the half of my time away. This next couple of weeks we will have a retreat beginning on Sunday in Assisi, and finishing it on on the Friday 16th of March. We will have a mass celebrated at St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi. On the 26th of March (Monday) we will have a trip to Holy Land (just half of the group, which is 16 of us). Please keep us in your prayers and hold us dear to your hearts that we may continue to renew our spirits and edify our hope in God’s help. Fr. Ric
March 2-5, 2018
Sagrada Familia Barcelona