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Fourth Sunday of Advent

 

St. Francis Xavier del Caravita

So much for a day of rest! After a couple of those, it was time to spend Sunday on passagata – walking around the major piazzas and sites at the heart of Rome. We started with the celebration of the Eucharist at the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier, on the Via del Caravita. The road is fairly short, but if you asked most Romans about the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier, they would have no idea what you were talking about. Tell them it’s the church “del Caravita” and then, everyone knows where it is.

[An oratory, by the way, is the name for a church which is semi-private in nature, similar to a chapel. It is the place of worship of a specific community, like a religious order, but can be opened for public worship at the discretion of the order.]

The oratory is staffed by priests from four different religious orders (Jesuits, Montfort Missionaries, Crosiers, Viatorians) and offered as “An International Catholic Community in Rome”. It is not a parish church, but serves as a community especially targeting sojourners, many o its members have spent their lives travelling internationally, and the typical Sunday Eucharist includes people from as many as 20 countries. The liturgy is in English, with a Spanish mass offered monthly.

Pantheon

I was introduced to del Caravita during the vespers service with Cardinal Kasper and Archbishop Rowan Williams in late November. (In fact, if you go to the Caravita website http://caravita.org/ and look at the pictures, you can see Stian and I sitting behind Archbishop Williams while he is preaching). After mass, we met the academic director of Notre Dame’s Rome program for the Architecture school, Steven Semes.

Then time for the touring! The Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, and Piazza Navona are not far, and it was a pleasure to introduce Nancy to these sites at the heart of Rome. There’s often a street performer of some kind at the Pantheon busking for tips, but this was the first time i had seen a whole flock of art students with their pads out sketching the place.

Christmas Bazaar at Piazza Navona

The Christmas bazaar at the Piazza Navona gives the place a different feel – its packed! We stopped in a the famous Tre Scalini on Piazza Navona for cappuccino and their Tartufo gelato – at €5, a treat I had been saving for a special occasion! After picnicking at the foot of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, we decided to head back to the Lay Centre briefly, then were off again to All Saints for Lessons and Carols. From there we walked through the Spanish Steps and to Piazza del Popolo looking for the display of Nativity scenes, but to no avail (I found out later they were located above the Piazza, not in it).

A long day, and there’s still so much to see!

Dr. Rick Gaillardetz and Archdeacon Johnathan Boardman

Author of seven pastoral booklets, eight books, and over 100 journal articles, Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz is one of the most accomplished U.S. ecclesiologists of the current generation. He has been a member of the U.S. Catholic-Methodist dialogue, and his doctoral director was Dominican Father Thomas O’Meara at Notre Dame (who was also my systematics and ecclesiology professor as an undergrad). Rick is married, with four children, and currently serving as the Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo (Ohio, not Spain).

The Venerable Jonathan Boardman is an Anglican presbyter, rector (pastor) of All Saints parish in Rome, and Archdeacon of Italy and Malta for the Anglican diocese of Gibraltar, which covers all of continental Europe.

[An archdeacon in the Anglican Communion, as it once was in the Catholic Church, is basically the vicar general, and in this case one of several where each is assigned a geographic portion of a diocese. Though traditionally this was a role for a deacon, the eventual usurping of all diaconal ministries into the presbyterate included this high office.]

Having either one of these men as guests for dinner and conversation over tea would have been a treat, especially now in the wake of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. To have both on the same night was a true privilege, especially for an ecumenist/ecclesiologist like me. I would have been happy just to sit back sipping my tea, and listen to them discuss the personal Ordinariates, the history of Anglicans in Rome, and the ecclesiologies of our communions today. Both men are as engaging as they are erudite, though, and welcomed questions and comments from those of us who decided to stay and converse rather than head across town for a party with the other lay students of Rome. (Still working on that bilocation thing)

Bordman and Gaillardetz

Anglican Father Jonathan Boardman and Professor Richard Gaillardetz

Professor Gaillardetz has written a great deal in exactly the areas of ecclesiology that interest me, including ecumenism, the diaconate, lay ecclesial ministry and a wide range of other topics. I have no doubt that his work will make a significant contribution to my thesis and dissertation, and it is always a blessing to make a real-life connection with someone whose work informs your own.

Father Jonathan I have met on my two forays to All Saints, first for their dedication feast – the Sunday after the press announcement of the Personal Ordinariates – and for Stian’s debut as Evensong Acolyte Extraordinaire. His comments on the Personal Ordinariates, and his personal openness about his reactions since the first announcement and the subsequent publication of the constitution, were welcome, enlightening, and honest.

[In fact, as i write this, i suddenly realize who it is that Fr. Boardman reminds me of: Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC! Some similar physical characteristics, spoken style and personality. Good preacher. hmmm….]

“I am not angry about all this… and yet, I’m surprised how angry I was!” probably best describes one of the most common reactions, echoed by Father Boardman while relating an incident where an innocent joke about “competition” [between Catholics and Anglicans] by a Vatican colleague touched a raw nerve.

While both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Holy See’s own Council for Promoting Christian Unity had little notice before the public announcement, and many Anglicans and Catholics alike have seen this as either “arrogant” or at least “unilateral and insensitive”, some Anglicans have also noted that it is not as if the Anglican Communion or its constituent national churches have always consulted Rome or Constantinople before making a decision that had ecumenical ramifications (such as the ordination of women to the episcopate).

Further, as my friends remind me, there are probably more Catholics – including priests – who have “swam the Tiber” in the other direction than Anglicans who have come into communion with Rome over the last three or four decades.

We also spent some time discussing the theology of the episcopate – or lack thereof – in the apostolic constitution, and wondered why at least a “conditional” ordination wasn’t proposed given the development of Catholic theology on orders in general and Anglican orders specifically since Leo XIII issued Apostolicae Curae.

I have an upcoming post updating my thoughts on the constitution, and I am incorporating some of my gleanings from this conversation there, so I do not want to duplicate it here!

Hallowe’en in Rome, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and All Saints

I nearly forgot it was Halloween yesterday without all the candy and pumpkins in the stores; barely any orange or brown to be found in the city.

Apparently, it has not been a big holiday for Romans, or Italians in general. The big costume holidays are Epiphany, where they tend to dress up as La Befana, a gift-delivering witch who visits on January 6, and Carneval.

A small group of us went out for an evening passagata around the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, stopping for gelato en route, and finishing with a nice bottle of wine at a little wine bar/café. We saw a few Befana hats out early, but really it was only as we were heading home for the night, about midnight, that we saw more people in costume.

For the morning of All Saints, I opted for the Basilica San Paolo fuori la mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls). Rezart, one of my Muslim housemates, is working on a paper about the Eucharist, and he decided to join me so he could compare his first mass experience from Wednesday night here in the Lay Centre to a more formal experience at the Basilica. An added bonus is that Abbot Edmund was presiding at both liturgies, so the difference in personal presider styles could be taken out of the equation. Matthew joined us on location, in exchange for a visit to his parish next week, to which I am looking forward.

St. Paul’s is the huge basilica built over the tomb of St. Paul, outside the old city walls (hence the name), one of the four major basilicas. Until the new St. Peter’s was built (1506-1625), St. Paul’s was the largest church in the world. Along the walls are the images of the bishops of Rome going back to Peter – the source for those posters one finds all over the place.

St. Paul’s has also become significant in Rome’s ecumenical efforts, including being the location of the culminating liturgy for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity each year. In fact, it was from the steps of St. Paul’s that John XIII announced Vatican II at the end of the celebration for Christian Unity 50 years ago.

Afterwards, Abbot Edmund was generous enough to meet with Rezart and me to answer questions and show us around a little. It is a gift to share the liturgy with someone experiencing it for the first time, especially someone so interested in learning about our worship. The questions remind us of the theology and symbolism we take for granted, and push for better understanding of what we might do out of habit. His first question was like this, he wanted to know why, if the Eucharist itself was a sacrifice made for the forgiveness of sins, why we had a penitential rite just a little while before celebrating the once-and-for-all penitential act! From there we ventured into the symbolism of serving only one species or both, the meaning of incense, and expansion from the homily and so on. It was a blessing for me to just listen!

After returning to the Lay Centre for lunch and a little homework, we ventured out again to All Saints Anglican, to celebrate their patronal feast, and to cheer on Stian who had his acolyting debut. Nine of us in total joined the small English community fro Evensong, then ventured to a pizzeria founded in 1753 (according to the waitress’ t-shirt anyway) and located just down the road, near San Clemente. Donna assured us in advance it was the best pizza in Rome, and we were not disappointed!

Dutch Katholieke Kerk and All Saints Anglican

I had two great experiences of church today. This morning, i had the priveledge to join my friend Eveline at the Dutch church in Rome for the Sunday Eucharist, and this evening we joined our friend Stian at an Anglican celebration of Evensong (Vespers) at All Saints.

michele dei frisoni

Saint Michele dei Frisoni, National Church of the Netherlands in Rome

The Dutch church, San Michele dei Frisoni, is located just over the international border at Piazza San Pietro, on the Italy side – litteraly right out from the piazza, hang right and up the stairs. Voila! You are I the Kerk van de Friezen. The Friezen, apparently, are one of the regional cultural groups in the Netherlands, like Holland. (If that link does not work, or, more likely, if you cannot read Dutch, try this one.)

It is a beautiful language, especially when sung. I have the sense always of being just on the edge of comprehension. The common Germanic root of English and Dutch makes it as if listening to a conversation in another room, so that you feel like you can almost make out what is being said, but not quite.

After the liturgy, I was asked about differences with my experience of the mass in America and in Rome. Obviously, the language, and some small details (for example, almost no one made the small sign of the cross at the gospel). But, the mass is the mass, and coffee hour, apparently, is coffee hour.

More noticeably, though, was a real quality of the congregational singing; there was only a small choir yet every song was richly done. That and the assembly filled the church, but was on average noticeably older than what I am familiar with. They did announce a pilgrimage from the diocese of Tilburg coming next week, though, so it will be interesting to see if it is young people or older.

Speaking of pilgrimages, one of the members present was called forth for a special blessing and recognition. He had walked from the Netherlands to Rome, a journey that took him a little over three months, and about 2000 km/1400mi. I wish I knew more about his experience to share, but it was all in Dutch. Though Eveline was kind enough to translate the highlights of the homily, we decided the announcements were fine left in the original!

All Saints Rome

All Saints Anglican Church, the Church of England parish in Rome

In the evening Stian, Eveline and I trekked to All Saints for Festal Evensong (Vespers), one of two Anglican churches in Rome. All Saints is the Church of England parish, while St. Pauls-within-the-Walls is the (American) Episcopalian parish. The church was celebrating the feast of their dedication, so there was a choir from Hexam Abbey  and the guest preacher was British Monsignor Mark Langham who is the person responsible for relations with Anglicans in Rome, from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Father Mark opened his homily by admitting that, as he sat to begin writing his remarks this week, he found himself wishing that he had been invited to preach last week – before the press conference that has made such an impression on Anglican-Catholic relations. Without ignoring the challenges posed by the announcement, the reflections genuinely focused on the community of All Saints and on the community as one of the many expressions of the unity to which we are all called.

Whether this is an aspect of British culture I am not familiar with, I do not know, but several times he employed some very good humor, and it seemed as though the three of us were the only ones appreciating it. (At the beginning he said something about the news of the week causing ripples in the “normally tranquil waters of ecumenical dialogue.” Tranquil waters indeed!)

It was enough that we were wondering how much was perhaps some latent tension surrounding the presence of a guest preacher form the Holy See in such proximity to the announcement of the Personal Ordinariates. To his great credit, Father Langham neither sidestepped the question, nor did he dwell on it, focusing on the cause for celebration, the dedication feast of All Saints parish in Rome.

The prayers of the faithful were also interesting, “Let ecumenical dialogue be honest… and charitable,” being the most memorable among a list of prayers for unity.

As beautiful as the service was, it was difficult to fully participate. The songs were choral, rather than congregational, and often in unfamiliar settings. Though my internal liturgist recoils at the thought, I suppose there can be times to sit back and appreciate the beauty of liturgy without engaging more than the receptive senses!

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