Saturday, February 23, 2013

Being a Theology major in Rome

This has been an incredible week in terms of opportunities I've had as a Theology major here in Rome. I'm taking both TRS courses that are offered here and taught by Msgr Irwin, and because of his connections here in Rome, he's been able to take us to some pretty cool site visits for class.

Last Wednesday, we went to the Holy Offices of the Vatican for class. Just a quick nod to the Swiss Guards at the gates and we were in.  A representative from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith talked with us, and it was so interesting. It was really cool to see that Msgr Stephen Lopes, who has been with that office for 8 years, is really young, only in his 30s.  I asked Msgr Irwin if you could plan on doing this kind of work or request to work directly in the Vatican, but apparently you just have to get noticed by some higher-up early on. None of these guys ever thought they'd be living and working in the Vatican. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith deals with matters of discipline in the Church, so matters of making sure that priests are following correct Church doctrine and dealing with any crimes against the sacraments. These are the guys that deal with the sex abuse scandals (which would be crimes against the vows of Holy Orders). Despite the heavy work they do, it was a really great visit.

I've also been going to Station Churches this week. Station churches hold Mass celebrated in English every day of Lent at 7am. The Masses are often in historic churches all throughout Rome, some of which are only open once a year precisely for these Masses. On Thursday, I set my alarm for 5:40am and was out the door by 6am on my way to the station mass at 7am. It was really beautiful, plus I got to see some seminarian guys from the NAC I've made friends with, Chris and Taylor.

Taylor (on the right) is a goofball
Thursday was also a crazy day. I got back from mass around 8:30am. I then had Theology class from 9-12, Philosophy class from 1-2:30, and then my Italian final at 3:30! It was a nonstop day for sure. Thankfully, I think my Italian final went well, plus I now have all my afternoons free! I'm psyched to no longer have Italian class for 9 hours a week. However, midterms are this coming week and I have about 18 pages of papers to write, so those 9 hours will be sorely needed. The crazy day was capped off by a great night at Abbey Theatre, an Irish pub here in Rome near Piazza Navona, with some good friends.

This morning, I went to another Station mass at 7am. Today it was at St. Peter's! I feel so blessed to have been able to go to Mass there for a second time, plus, I can never emphasize enough how much I now appreciate being able to celebrate Mass in English!! Mass in Italian has been a spiritual hurdle I really hadn't anticipated. One of the best things I feel that our Catholic Mass has to offer is how we, as lay people, get to participate throughout the Mass. It's incredibly hard to feel in tune with the Mass when it's being said in Italian, even if you can follow the order of the Mass.

We had Mass right in front of the Holy Spirit window, which is easily my favorite part of St. Peter's.
I also saw Taylor again and met Stephanie, someone my really good friend Lauren became close with when she was studying here last spring.

Though I have a ton of work to do next week, it will have one huge highlight before setting off for spring break. On Wednesday, I'll be at Pope Benedict XVI's last Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square. Can't wait!

If you don’t get that He loves you, if you don’t understand that He has an affectionate love for you, then on those days where you struggle, on those days when the Accuser or your own voice calls you worthless, calls you a screw up, calls you a failure, calls you unlovely, when you don’t understand that He loves you and that love is built upon Christ and not you, then I don’t know that you’ll ever really run towards Him.” —Matt Chandler

Love, Chris

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