I had a wonderful time in Rome at the Consistory when Archbishop O’Brien was given the red hat and became a Cardinal. While there was still some snow on the ground and the temperature was a bit chilly, we had sunshine most of the days. We had Mass with Cardinal O’Brien the first day at St. Mary of the Angels, the Titular Church of Cardinal Keeler, and visited St. Mary of Victory which housed Bernini’s magnificent sculpture of St. Theresa in Agony, and then St. Mary Major, the oldest church dedicated to Mary in the west and also the repository of some pieces of the manger of Jesus.
The next day, we concelebrated Mass with the Cardinal at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. Although the basilica is not in Jerusalem, the layer of ground on which the church was built was brought back from Jerusalem along with a part of the True Cross. You can see that part along with a nail, a thorn, and part of the INRI in the three languages Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew.
The next day after Mass at the church of Santa Maria della Vallicella, we attended a lovely dinner at a palace built for Napoleon III’s niece. The furnishings and decorations on the walls and ceilings were magnificent, the food was excellent, short talks by Cardinals O’Brien and Dolan were entertaining, and most of our American Cardinals were in attendance. Saturday we arose bright and early and entered the line to get into St. Peter’s by 7:30 a.m. By the time it was 9:30, I was 20 yards away from the entrance when the gates were closed. Fortunately, there were two banks of chairs set up outside on either side of the main stairs, and I was able to see the ceremony on the jumbo-tron in the warm sunshine and in comfort. Those who managed to get inside were crammed in like sardines into a very cold church with limited visibility. I was fortunate. The last major event was the Papal Audience inside the comfortable Paul VI Audience Hall where the Pope gave a brief address and welcomed the new Cardinals and members of their immediate families. Afterwards, we walked a short distance to the headquarters of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre to offer our congratulations to our new Cardinal and partake of a lovely reception with superb food.
The last evening, we attended a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Pontificial North American College where our American seminarians study and live. Then we went out to a restaurant and had another wonderful meal before heading home and preparing for this holy season of Lent.
This week we just finished a wonderful mission conducted by Fr. Nicholas Amato. Hopefully the spiritual energy he imparted will continue to grow as we journey toward Easter. As a reminder, we will have Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and confessions will be heard on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. as well as Saturdays from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. May this Lent be fruitful in your walk with Jesus.
- Fr. Carl