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!

Tuesday, October 23

Fr. Carola - Homily for a First Mass

The following homily was sent to me by our favorite Jesuit, Fr. Carola. It is from October 11th, on the occasion of a newly ordained German priest's first Mass of Thanksgiving.


A. M. D. G.

Father Joseph Carola, S.J.
Sermon for the Father Christian Städter’s First Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving
The Church of Saint Bartholomew
Tiber Island, Rome
11 October 2007

Readings: Malachi 3:13-20b; Psalm 31; Luke 11:5-13

The prophet Malachi describes three types of men: (1) evil doers who apparently flourish, (2) the begrudgingly obedient who envy evil doers, and (3) the Lord’s servants who trust in His Name. The prophet reduces these three types to two basic categories: the just and the wicked—those who serve God and those who do not serve Him. For, while the begrudgingly obedient may perform their duty, they do so without love. Their hearts long for something else. They long for the evil doers’ apparent prosperity. Since the service of God is fundamentally a service of love, the begrudgingly obedient fail to serve Him in truth. A judgement in fire awaits them along with the evil doers whom they envy, whereas for those who fear the Lord’s Name, that is, for those who serve Him faithfully in love, “there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

Yesterday Christian Städter was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. He was ordained for priestly service. The prophet Malachi’s discourse, therefore, should challenge him as well as all of us here present who serve the Lord—most especially us priests. In his well-known sermon on the Church’s Pastors, Saint Augustine of Hippo in a manner similar to the prophet Malachi distinguishes between those pastors who seek their own good and those who seek Christ’s, those shepherds who shepherd themselves and those who shepherd Christ’s flock, or, as the prophet Ezekiel puts it, those shepherds who feed themselves and those who feed the sheep (cf. Ezekiel 34:2, 8). Preaching on the Gospels, Pope Saint Gregory the Great laments in a similar vein: “Look about you and see how full the world is of priests, yet in God’s harvest a labourer is rarely to be found; for although we have accepted the priestly office, we do not fulfil its demands” (Hom. 17.3). Father Städter, may I ask you: what kind of priest will you be?

Yesterday morning in promising obedience and respect to your bishop as well as solemnly promising to discharge faithfully the office of priesthood, to celebrate the sacred mysteries of Christ, to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, and to consecrate your life to God in union with Christ the High Priest, you publicly proclaimed that your one desire is to be a priest who serves and not one who seeks to be served. You have solemnly promised to feed God’s people with His Word and Sacrament. You are Christ’s priest, and today you offer to God the Father the first fruits of your priesthood as you offer to Him His Son’s own Sacrifice.

Christian, you are Christ’s ordained servant—by God’s grace, a servant who trusts in His Name. O priest-servant, recall now Christ’s words: “If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also” (John 12:26). Hear Christ speak to you these words. Hear the Christ who ministers among the poor, the Christ who heals the sick, the Christ who welcomes children, the Christ who preaches the Kingdom of God, the Christ who spends the night in prayerful solitude on the mountain. Hear the Crucified Christ on the Cross say to you: “Wherever I am, there should my servant be.” In our patristic seminar you wrote your final essay on the priesthood and Jesus Christ’s self-emptying unto death on the Cross. “Christ Jesus…,though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). The Son of God came among us as a man who served obediently unto death. In Christ’s self-emptying act, you rightly beheld the priesthood. At the end of your paper, I wrote to you: “Now you must live this.” As of yesterday, you are Christ’s priest. You have been ordained to serve Him selflessly among the poor, the sick and the lowly; to serve Him in your preaching and your private prayer; indeed, to serve with Christ from the Cross.

Christ’s Sacrifice upon the Cross is the greatest expression of love known to man. For, as Jesus himself taught us, “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In the man Jesus Christ, it is God himself who in His humanity offers Himself in sacrifice for our salvation. From the Cross God loves us with a human Heart. Christian, in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, your own heart and indeed your very being have been made one with Jesus the High Priest. Now, in persona Christi capitis, that is, in the person of Christ the Head, you will utter the ‘I’ of Jesus and not your own, when you, Christ’s priest, forgive men their sins, declaring: “Ego te absolvo—I absolve you from your sins.” As you stand at the Altar and offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice, you will speak with the very ‘I’ of Jesus when you say: “This is My Body; this is the Chalice of My Blood.” In this Eucharistic Sacrifice, you, the alter Christus, will mysteriously offer yourself as well. As you live the Eucharist, your priestly service will become a service of self-sacrificing love. To this end you have made the Psalmist’s prayer your own: “Into your hands I commend my spirit” (Ps. 31:6). May you forever remain a servant who trusts in His Name.

The begrudgingly obedient servants argue that “it is vain to serve God.” “What do we profit,” they ask, “by keeping his command, and going about in penitential dress in awe of the Lord of hosts?” Obedience is a terrible burden for such servants. Yet, I can assure you that priestly obedience faithfully lived will free you to respond with joy to God’s will. It will free you to serve as He would have you serve. When lived in trust, your obedience will open your heart to receive the abundant blessings of God’s Providence. Even your ‘penitential dress’, that is, your clerical garb faithfully worn, will free you always and everywhere to respond to God’s call of service. For, it will declare to all that you are Christ’s priest, that you are here to serve others selflessly in love at all times and in every place. It will declare that the time and place of your priestly service is not something that you wish to limit as if the priesthood were merely a secular job. Your garb will boldly contradict the man in today’s Gospel who, having already locked his door and gone to bed, did not want to be disturbed. On the contrary, as an incarnate sign of your priesthood, your garb says to all: “I am willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of souls.” When faithfully worn, it becomes an invitation for all to ask, to seek and to knock. In you they will behold Christ’s priest who lovingly lays down his life for others. By presenting yourself always as the priest, who you now are, you will say to those in need: “I am here to serve.” Christian, pray for the grace always to be prompt in your response to the Father’s call whenever, wherever and however He should ask you to lay down your life in imitation of His Son.

I exhort you: be found among those servants upon whom the sun of justice arises with its healing rays. For, Christ Jesus is the Sun of Justice whose rays heal us. Despite our awesome sacerdotal vocation to speak the very ‘I’ of Jesus at the Altar and in the confessional, we priests remain sinners ever in need of Christ’s mercy. We bear the precious treasure of our vocation in earthen vessels. Only because we ourselves have first experienced Christ’s healing balm in our own lives are we able to proclaim His mercy in a credible manner to others. The confession of our own sins keeps us humble in our priestly service. Indeed, such humility is essential if our service is to remain faithful. For without it we run the risk of becoming proud, wicked and evil men who refuse to serve God. Christian, humbly acknowledge your need before the Lord who will have compassion on you “as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.” Live each day in His mercy. Make Christ’s Sacred Heart wounded for love of us your priestly home so that when those in need come at any hour of the day or night and knock at your door they will promptly receive through your ministry the divine mercy which they seek. May all who meet you meet in you the merciful Christ Jesus whose priest you now are.


Tuesday, September 4

Why Pray to Mary?

Another gem from Fr. Joseph Carola, SJ. This piece is to be published soon - in German! - as part of the German Jesuit Province journal, but Fr. thought I might post it up here (in English) too.

He also relates that Jim & Tony, two of the seminarians from UST that I studied with in Rome, have returned to the Eternal City to begin studies at the North American College and the Gregorian! And, Sierra, another fellow classmate, is also returning to Rome this week to live in Rome for a few years. Ooooooooo, those lucky people, God bless them all and pray God that I might get to rejoin them myself in the not-to-distant future!

A. M. D. G.


Why pray to Mary? The question strikes the Catholic as strange simply because the answer seems so obvious. Praying to Mary is just what Catholics do. We invoke our Mother’s intercession with her Son Jesus. But when asked directly, we find that words often fail us in our attempts to express the reasons so well known in our heart.

Our Lady’s intercession has characterized Christian prayer since the Church began. On the day of Pentecost, the Mother of Jesus and his disciples were all gathered together in prayer in the upper room. The prayer of the Immaculate Virgin Mother accompanied the Spirit’s outpouring upon the nascent Church (cf. Acts 1:14, 2:1.4). The Church’s foundational experience at Pentecost remains perennially valid in the mystery of the Spirit’s continual outpouring upon the Christian faithful. The prayer of Mary, the Mother of the Church, continues to accompany the outpouring of the Spirit in all who believe in Jesus her Son. On this account, all Christian prayer has an inherent Marian dimension whether it be explicitly acknowledged or not. Perhaps, then, instead of asking why pray to Mary, we should inquire why does Mary play an essential role in Christian prayer.

We will find an answer in the Johannine account of the wedding feast at Cana. The second chapter of Saint John’s Gospel provides the primary scriptural witness to Mary’s maternal intercession. The Mother of Jesus, Jesus and his disciples were invited to a marriage at Cana in Galilee. Ever attentive to the needs of others, Mary notices that the wine supply has unexpectedly run short. Without hesitation, she notifies her Son: “They have no wine.” In other words, our friends are in need. The Mother, confident of her Son’s unfailing love for others, intercedes with him on their behalf. Jesus’ immediate response strikes us at first as unduly harsh. “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Undeterred by Jesus’ apparent refusal, Mary instructs the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Jesus immediately acquiesces, commanding the servants to fill the six stone water jars standing nearby. He changes ordinary water into the finest wine. Only the servants are aware of how Mary’s intercession and Jesus’ miraculous intervention not only averted a potential crisis but actually increased the wedding party’s joy.

Jesus’ actions suggest that his verbal exchange with his Mother is not the harsh rebuke that it initially seems to be. Let us consider his words in greater detail. The manner in which he addresses his Mother is highly significant. He calls her ‘woman’. Within the context of Scripture, the term has a depth of meaning not immediately obvious in contemporary discourse. The original Woman of Scripture is Eve. She is formed from the side of Adam in order to be “a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:20). This verse in the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Old Testament which the ancient Christian community read—reads in English translation: “an assistant like unto him.” God perfects the created order by fashioning Eve as an assistant who resembles Adam. She is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and on this account she is called Woman because she was taken from Man (Genesis 2:23). In addressing his Mother as ‘woman’, Jesus identifies her with the Woman of Scripture.

Mary is the New Eve. Her virginal obedience to God’s word delivered through the message of an angel rectifies Eve’s virginal disobedience provoked by the seductive deceptions of the serpentine devil. Already in the second century, Saint Justin Martyr and Saint Irenaeus of Lyons attributed to Mary the title and role of New Eve in conjunction with the Pauline designation of Christ as the New Adam. This early patristic vision of Mary sheds a particularly helpful light on Jesus’ question to his Mother at Cana. The Greek of Saint John’s text reads literally in English: what is there to me and (at the same time) to you, i.e., what have we in common? In posing this rhetorical question to the New Eve, the New Adam by no means intends to dismiss his Mother. On the contrary, he rhetorically highlights their common cause in the mission of salvation. As we read in Genesis, God created Eve to be a helper resembling Adam. Theirs is a relationship of intimate collaboration. Likewise, the New Eve immaculately conceived uniquely resembles her Son who has, in fact, taken his sinless flesh from hers. Mary has been created, preserved from Original Sin and thus redeemed in anticipation by her Son’s death and Resurrection in order to be a fitting helper for him. She uniquely shares in his mission while any mission of her own has no meaning distinct from his. At the Annunciation, Mary’s acceptance of her divine vocation to be the Mother of God inaugurates the Word’s salvific mission in the world. At Mary’s yes, the Word became flesh. According to Saint Irenaeus, the New Eve is, on this account, causa salutis—the cause of salvation for the entire human race (Adversus Haereses 3.22.4). For, she brings forth our Savior. In this manner, Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace inasmuch as she maternally mediates to us the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

In the dramatic exchange at Cana, Jesus follows his rhetorical question so rich in meaning with a declarative statement. He indicates that his hour has not yet come. At first glance, it seems again as if Jesus still intends to rebuke his Mother. Apparently, she has a poor sense of timing. Mary’s intercession is embarrassingly premature. She inappropriately anticipates her Son’s hour. Yet despite his words, Jesus’ actions do not suggest that he begrudgingly concedes to his Mother’s request. Rather, once his Mother has instructed the servants to follow his commands, he responds immediately. Mary rightly anticipates Our Lord’s hour, for it is she who inaugurated it at Nazareth. According to an ancient tradition originating in the third century, Jesus died on 25 March—that is, he died on the anniversary of his conception. The hour of the Incarnation providentially coincides some thirty years later with Christ’s hour on Calvary—the hour of Divine Mercy. In terms of the Redemption, the hour at Nazareth and the hour on Calvary are effectively one and the same. Here it will be helpful to recall the Greek patristic tradition. By no means negating the Cross’ redemptive value, the Greek Fathers, nonetheless, place particular emphasis upon the redemptive nature of the Incarnation itself. Humanity is redeemed in the sinless human nature which the Divine Word assumes at the moment of his conception in Mary’s virginal womb. Mary’s yes—her fiat—marks the hour of our Redemption. From the beginning of the Christian dispensation, then, Mary’s divinely ordained mission is to ‘anticipate’ her Son’s hour. She does nothing less at Cana when she addresses her Son. Hardly forcing his hand, the Woman of Scripture graciously fulfils her mission as “a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:20).

Let us turn now to the hour of Divine Mercy itself, the hour of Redemption on Calvary hill, Jesus’ hour when he again addresses his Mother as ‘woman’. The Cross marks the absolute center of the fullness of time when “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). During this sacred hour, Jesus reveals the fullness of Mary’s mission—simultaneously confirming the exercise of her maternal intercession at Cana. From the Cross Jesus exhorts his Mother Mary beside whom the Beloved Disciple stands: “Woman, behold, your son!” (John 19:26). His commission reveals Mary’s universal motherhood. The New Eve fulfils what the first Eve had only prefigured. She is truly “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). To confirm this fact, the Crucified Christ says to the Beloved Disciple: “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:27). In remaining anonymous throughout the Fourth Gospel, the Beloved Disciple, traditionally understood to be the Apostle John, legitimately stands as a figure for Christian discipleship. Christ exhorts all the Christian faithful in him to behold their Mother. We welcome our Mother at the moment of our divine adoption wrought by Christ upon the Cross. Not only, then, does Mary’s maternal mission rightly anticipate Jesus’ hour, it also finds its fulfilment within it.

After Jesus has miraculously changed water into wine, the Evangelist concludes the Cana account: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). Note the Evangelist’s words: Jesus manifested his glory. The same Greek term for glory appears in 1 Timothy 3:16 in reference to Christ having been “taken up into glory”. Such glory refers to the revealed presence of God. It is not insignificant, then, that Mary calls forth the sign which reveals Christ’s glory. For, her auxiliary mission is forever to make Christ known. An episode in the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola illustrates well Mary’s intercessory role in this regard. When God the Father placed Saint Ignatius with Christ at the small chapel of La Storta outside of Rome, our Father Ignatius understood the extraordinary grace to have been the answer to his prayer beseeching Our Lady to place him with her Son. Mary was God’s hidden agent in this divine revelation. Even Mary’s title ‘Mother of God’ defined at the Council of Ephesus points the way to Christ. It ultimately says more about Jesus than about Mary. It assures the unity of God and man in his one Person. As John Henry Newman astutely observed, those Christians who faithfully venerate the Mother of God are those who have never ceased to profess the divinity of her Son. Sound Mariology undergirds orthodox Christology. In its own way, Cana reveals as much.

As we conclude these scriptural reflections, one final observation is most definitely in order. We noted above that only the servants recognized both Mary’s intercession and Jesus’ miracle. Indeed, this is only fitting. For, God chooses to reveal to the humble, the poor and the lowly what he otherwise keeps hidden from the learned, the cleaver and the worldly wise. As Jesus prays in the Synoptic Gospels: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26; see also Luke 10:21). The humble faithful understand best of all Mary’s essential role in Christian prayer. If, therefore, one truly wants to know why we pray to Mary, he would do well to ask the elderly widow who kneeling in the back of church quietly prays her rosary. It is to such as these that God fully reveals the divinely ordained, intercessory mission of the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).

P. Joseph Carola, S.J.

Friday, July 13

Ireland in living color!


I guess I've kind of lost my "Roamin' Roman" journaling touch. Sorry folks!

After letting the number of photos build up and build up... I finally just threw the best of them all up at once on my Picasa Web Albums. Click the link above to see them, at the moment there are no captions or explanations, but at least you can see all the sites I've been to lately. They are in chronological order at least, and include shots from the local area of Co. Kerry; the town of Tralee; Connor's Pass; the village of Dingle; Killarney and that end of the Ring of Kerry; city of Cork; Co. Clare; Cliffs of Moher; and a brief stop on the edges of the Burren (weird!).

This weekend we are heading to Dublin, and then back here to Co. Kerry through Wednesday. I will be returning to the States on Thursday... hopefully I will be updating with more photos before then!

Monday, July 9

Still alive!


Greetings all, yes, I am still alive. The internet connection here is spotty at best, due to the fact that the router is down the ways at the family home (we're up at the brother's newly built house, just next door) and the signal has to pass through thick concrete walls to get to us!

I haven't much time right now, I hope to find some time tomorrow to bring the laptop down to the family home and work a bit on here. Tonight, in just an hour or so, is Fr. Bernard Healy's First Mass of Thanksgiving!! I must go and get ready, but needless to say I will keep you all in my prayers.

More soon!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 7



The photo says it all


I'm Roamin' again, but no longer Roman! The photo above gives four clues (at least) as to where in the world is Mary - can you find them?? :)

More later, now that I have Internet access again. I already have so many photos I'm not sure what to do with them all - big surprise, right?

Go mbeannaí Dia is Muire duit!