The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Friday, April 21

Inside the Holy House - now you can see its ancient aspects. The bricks in the lower sides of the house (the right, left, and back sides) are the bricks from what is thought to be the home of Mary in Nazareth - and is thought to not only be where she was conceived, born and lived before being consecrated to the Lord at the temple, but also where she was living when the Annunciation took place and brought the Redeemer into our midst (prior to Joseph taking her into his home, remember?).

The upper walls and the front of the chapel were added later, for the faithful to have a place to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy. There has also been a lovely statue of our Lady in the niche behind the altar for hundreds of years, since the chapel itself was crafted. The upper walls are covered with fragments But the bricks are still there, still fulfilling their humble role of being the walls of a home for the Lord!

It is funny, when we first got to the basilica, in the main nave they were just beginning Mass (11am) and so we joined it. Right after Mass, we knew we only had until 12:30pm before they closed the Holy House, so we agreed we'd split up and then meet out front then - I wandered around the House, to see all the sides of the marble casing, before I went in. As it happens, I walked inside only to discover a bunch of Missionaries of Charity with one of their priests just starting to celebrate a Mass inside the Holy House itself. Of course, there wasn't any question what I was going to do, no matter that I was just at a Mass on the other side of the back wall - I stayed! It was beautiful, the House was packed with Sisters and with many of us pilgrims, filling pretty much every square inch (standing, no chairs), yet everyone (mostly, except for the tour group of school kids passing by) was reverent and eager to worship the Lord in this special place, where He came to us in the flesh given to Him by Mary.

I found myself, due to the natural shuffling that happens in a standing group like this, up against the back wall at one point after Communion and without thinking I just leaned there against the cool rock and gave thanks to the Lord - suddenly I realized what I was doing, and where! It all hit home to me right then, that these bricks had perhaps been leaned against by Mary, or Joseph, or maybe even Jesus Himself at some time 2000 years ago, these bricks had survived the Crusades and had crossed the sea twice, first to Turkey (I think?) and then shipped separately to Italy to be reconstructed by the worn hands of Italian stonemasons back in the late 13th century. And, that these stones were worn smooth to the touch by the countless hands of my brothers and sisters in Christ who had come here before me. And now I was resting against them too, and the Lord was still in this place of His Incarnation, even still present in an incarnate way under the appearances of bread and wine in the Eucharist. This is truly the Holy House - not just the Holy House of Mary as it is known, but it is the Holy House of the Eucharist in the most sublime way I can think of, outside of the Annunciation Grotto in Nazareth itself (where the House used to face into the Grotto, which is why it only has three walls).

Faith isn't about good feelings - but I have to say that both the physical feeling of being in that House, and the emotional feeling I had about being there, emphazised to me all the more the very deep spiritual feeling I had of being intimately close to our Lord, and through Him to our Lady His Mother. I will treasure my brief time here in this Holy House, this chapel of Life, forever.

Yes, the House of Life - I thought of the meaning of life, and of the horror of abortion and the culture of death in our world. I offer this prayer for you - please feel free to pray it, and meditate on the Holy House, and what the message of this holy relic is for the world.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of us all, we turn to you today as the one who said "Yes" to Life. "You will conceive and bear a Son," the angel told you. Despite the surprise and the uncertainty about how this could be, you said yes. "Be it done unto me according to your word."

Mary, we pray today for all mothers who are afraid to be mothers. We pray for those who feel threatened and overwhelmed by their pregnancy. Intercede for them, that God may give them the grace to say yes and the courage to go on. May they have the grace to reject the false solution of abortion. May they say with you, "Be it done unto me according to your word." May they experience the help of Christian people, and know the peace that comes from doing God's will. Amen.
(from Priests for Life)


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