Friday, January 13, 2017

Investiture into the Order


I know - it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  I must try to be more faithful to this - as I hear from many how much they enjoy the posts.  A quick update on the past month:

December was certainly a busy month in Rome.  So many celebrations and preparations for the great Feast of the Nativity.  We had a wonderful celebration of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 at the North American College.  Mass with Cardinal Harvey and a great meal with the seminary community.  The Vatican erected the Nativity Scene and Christmas Tree and illuminated it on December 9.  

School continues to go well - we had classes all the way up until December 20 (our semester does not end until mid-January with final exams the end of January and early February).

December 21 I returned to the States for Christmas at home.  It was strange not having a parish assignment - so for Christmas I didn't have lots of Masses to celebrate.  I had the opportunity to concelebrate Midnight Mass at the Cathedral with Bishop Gainer - I think it was actually the first time I concelebrated Mass with him.  I spent one week in Harrisburg and was able to visit many of my priest friends and brother priests - as well as many others.  Then I flew to Florida to visit my parents (they are "snow birds" and live there in the winter).  Then back to Harrisburg in early January - where I was able to "drill" at my home unit with the Air Force.  It was good to see everyone - and it was their first opportunity to see me since my promotion in July.

January 8 I returned to Rome and got right back to work and school.  Normal stuff.

But on Wednesday, January 11 had a wonderful experience.  Cardinal O'Brien decided to invest me and 3 members of the NAC faculty into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - a great honor and privilege.  I'm happy to share some photos that were taken during the event.

This very first photo is of me and Blase Cardinal Cupich - the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago - who was my rector during my time at the Josephinum.  I was very honored that he came all the way from Chicago for my investiture.  Ok, well, he didn't really - he just happened to be in Rome for a meeting - none-the-less, I was happy that he was here for this very important moment.

Blase Cardial Cupich and Fr. Bateman

I was also very honored that our Governor General (the highest ranking lay-member of the Order) Agostino Borromeo and Chancellor Alfredo Bastianelli (2nd highest) also took part in the investiture rites.  

Edwin Cardinal OBrien vests Fr. Bateman with the assistance of Agostino Borromeo

It was also a pleasant surprise that Donald Cardinal Weurl - the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington - just happened to be in Rome and also attended the ceremony.  These photos show all 4 of the newly invested priests, the three cardinals and the officials of the Order.

It was a great day - and I am very honored to have been chosen by Cardinal O'Brien to be invested into the Order.

Currently, Fr. Brian Wayne (the vocation director for the Diocese of Harrisburg) is here visiting the NAC and he came a few days early so that we could spend some time together.  So we are currently sitting on a train headed to Venice for the weekend.  Fr. Wayne wanted to visit somewhere he hasn't been and chose Venice.  So, early next week I'll blog about our weekend adventure (I promise!)  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Feast of St. Francis Xavier

Prayer asking the intercession of St. Francis Xavier

Lord Jesus,
You have sent us to proclaim the Gospel to all nations,
and have promised to always remain with us.
Look upon us gathered here at the relic of St. Francis Xavier.
Pour out the abundance of your Spirit upon each one of our brothers and sisters especially on those who are called to ponder
upon the journey made and to plan what has still to be done,
so that we may offer a more authentic service to mission.
Grant that we may ever be faithful to the Gospel and to give an answer to the hopes which the world places before your church today.  Stay with us, Lord, when we gather around the table of your Bread and your Word, and when we walk the paths of the world side by side with our brothers and sisters.
Grant that we all find ourselves in heaven, our homeland,
after having been members of the same family on earth.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving (s)

First, Happy Thanksgiving to all!  It's just a "normal" day here in Rome - although we do have a break from classes - they know that the Americans simply don't show up today.  I went to be with the American priests living here in Rome for Mass and Thanksgiving dinner.

Boy - it was the best bird I've ever seen!

But there have been a lot of thanksgivings these past few days.  Thanksgivings to God for all His goodness to us - and in particular for the example and witness of the Saints.

One of the things that a good friend of mine said was, "The day that living in Rome becomes nothing special is the day you need to come home."  And there is a saying here that goes something like, "Don't let your education get in the way of your life in Rome."

I've been trying to make sure that I take advantage of every blessed opportunity while being here in Rome - and this Blog is a means of sharing those opportunities with you.  I sometimes am concerned that it's more pride or "look what I got to do" - and I do NOT want it to be that.  Rather, I desire to share with you my experiences and blessings - hoping that you can experience them along with me.

One of the ways I'm trying to be mindful of living in Rome is to make a little pilgrimage to the relics of saints on their feast day.  This week, I did that twice: Tuesday the Church remembered Saint Cecilia - and Wednesday Saint Clement.  So I visited both their churches this week.

Tuesday, St. Cecilia, was my long day at school (till 4:30pm).  I had discovered that the Basilica of St. Cecilia is in Trastevere - which is a neighborhood not too far from where I live - and that the remains of St. Cecilia are buried there.

Here is a video telling the story of St. Cecilia:

I also learned that they were having Vespers at the Church - so after school I jumped on the tram and went to the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastevere.
This is the Basilica in Trastevere
This is the very famous image of her beneath the main altar
Just to prove I was here...
The Sanctuary
The actual tomb of St. Cecilia in the crypt beneath the high altar.
Then on Wednesday the Church remember St. Clement I, Pope.  His remains are also here in Rome in one of the oldest sections of the old city.  In fact, many traditions say that the basilica that houses his relics is built upon his house.  Regardless of that fact (or fiction), the basilica is incredibly old - built on top of an oder basilica which itself was built on top of Roman ruins.  Here's a LINK to a fascinating video about the Basilica of San Clemente.  The video is on the basilica's official website - so there's not way to actually embed it here.
And you are not allowed to take pictures inside the Basilica - so here are a few I found online - and a selfie - again to prove I was actually there.

This morning there was a 5-K run up at the NAC (North American College).  Had a good time - 27:50 (but we didn't have chips in our numbers, so I'm sure I ran faster than that).  It was a good morning.  I like what they put on their shirts:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

End of the Jubilee Year of Mercy

It has certainly been a busy weekend here Rome - as Pope Francis brings to a conclusion the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.  And I tried to take advantage of these last days of the Jubilee.

The Basilica of St. Peter was all prepared for Sunday's big Mass - including the Year of Mercy banner and also tapestries of St. Michael and St. Joseph.  We contemplated why these two tapestries - my thought is that both of them protect the Church - Michael as the leader of the Heavenly Host - and St. Joseph - as the patron of the Universal Church.

Friday I made my last trip through the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica - as I knew that Pope Francis would close the door on Sunday morning at the Mass.  So I forged my way over to the Basilica - with many other people - to go through the Door and celebrate the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) in order to be able to receive the Plenary Indulgence.

The Holy Door from the inside
And it appeared that I was not the only one with that idea - as LOTS of people were in line for Confession.  I waited with everyone else and, eventually, had my opportunity to go to Confession, say my penance, and offer prayers for our Holy Father in order to fulfill the conditions for receiving a Plenary Indulgence.  (Those conditions are, to be free of all attachment to sin, even venial sin; to make the pilgrimage through the Holy Door, receive Holy Communion, celebrate Confession, and offer prayers for the Holy Father.)

It also happened to be the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul Outside the Walls.  I took note that the dedication candles were lit in the basilica.  I also noted the mural of the Gospel for the day - Jesus calling Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water.  When he senses how strong the wind is, he doubts and falters.  This leads the Lord to ask, "Oh, ye of little faith.  Why did you falter?"  So many things to ponder in those few words...

Saturday was also a big day - with the Consistory which bestowed the "red hat" on a group of new Cardinals: including the Archbishop of Chicago - who was my rector when I was in seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus.  

There was also an awesome story about another of the new Cardinals - a priest from Albania who had been jailed by the Communists, sentenced to death, but survived the Communist era.  The Holy Father met him on a recent pastoral trip and decided to bestow the "red hat" on him in acknowledgement of his tremendous sacrifice and witness to Jesus Christ.  Here's a story that Rome Reports did on this new Cardinal.

After the Consistory, which I did not attend since Cardinal O'Brien is away in the States for various Investitures - including in New York where Bishop Gainer was invested as a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre (I hope they didn't talk about me too much), I was fortunate to attend a reception in honor of the 3 new U.S. Cardinals.  I had the opportunity to greet each of them, offer them my congratulations, and extend to them the best wishes of Cardinal O'Brien.

Today, Sunday, was the big Mass closing the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.  I was surprised to see the LONG LINE of people waiting to get into St. Peter's Square.  Fortunately I had obtained my ticket to concelebrate the Mass seated in the Sacrato - up on the same level as the Papal altar in front of St. Peter's Basilica.  When I arrived in the Braccio di Constantino, where the priests vest for Mass, I ran into some other priests I know from Rome - one who works at the Vatican, another who attends school at the Angelicum with me.

We headed out toward the Mass - and it just seemed a great photo...

On arrival in our seats, I had the opportunity to snap some photos of the Basilica facade and the tremendous crows gathering for the Mass.  

 I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to walk up those central "stairs" that lead up to St. Peter's.


As always, we prayed the Rosary as immediate preparation for the Mass.  And here are the vessels prepared for Mass.

As the Bishops and Cardinals entered the Square, I reflected a bit on the universality of the Church - as we can see it displayed in the various vestments warn by bishops of the Eastern Churches.

Just at the beginning of Mass, Pope Francis closed the Holy Door.  No, this is not my video...

Of course, this closing of the Holy Year occurs on the great Solemnity of Christ the King.  My prayer today has been on making Christ the King of our lives - and that only happens when we allow Him to reign in our lives: not our own desires or our own bodies.  That means that penance and self-sacrifice is an important way in which we allow Christ to be the King of our lives.

During Mass, I did snap some photos.

In his homily, the Holy Father said:
“Even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open for us,” Pope Francis said Sunday in a Mass marking the formal close of his jubilee Year of Mercy. “God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children.”

Just before the final blessing, Pope Francis did several things:  First he blessed any religious items people had brought for that purpose.  A friend from home asked if I could purchase some rosaries for him to give to members of his family as Christmas gifts - so I brought them along with me for the Pope's blessing.

Then, Pope Francis signed his newest Apostolic Letter marking the closing of the Holy Year of Mercy,

As Mass ended, we had the opportunity to take some photos - including a photo of the Holy Father greeting some of the Cardinals.

I also took the chance to snap one last photo of the tremendous crowd gathered for the Mass closing the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.

As we walked to where we unvested, we walked past the now closed Holy Door...

It has been an incredible Year of Mercy - one that has brought me somewhere I NEVER thought I'd be - but God's plans are so often surprises to us.  We have only to follow His Will - another way He reigns as King of our hearts.

Happy Feast of Christ the King!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran

I know it has been a while - it's been incredibly busy.  My classes started at the Angelicum University on October 3 - and holding a full-time job and being a full-time student has proven to be VERY time consuming.

None-the-less, today is an important day here in Rome and throughout the Church: the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica - the Pope's Cathedral.

The Lateran Basilica is called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” In fact, this basilica was the first to be built after Emperor Constantine’s edict, in 313, granted Christians freedom to practice their religion.  The emperor himself gave Pope Miltiades the ancient palace of the Laterani family, and the basilica, the baptistery, and the patriarchate, that is, the Bishop of Rome’s residence — where the Popes lived until the Avignon period — were all built there. The basilica’s dedication was celebrated by Pope Sylvester around 324 and was named Most Holy Savior; only after the 6th century were the names of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist added, and now is typically denominated by these latter.

Initially the observance of the feast of the dedication of the church was confined to the city of Rome; then, beginning in 1565, it was extended to all the Churches of the Roman rite. The honoring of this sacred edifice was a way of expressing love and veneration for the Roman Church, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch says, “presides in charity” over the whole Catholic communion (Letter to the Romans, 1:1).  As we gather in this church, we are reminded of an essential truth: the temple of stones is a symbol of the living Church, the Christian community, which in their letters the Apostles Peter and Paul already understood as a “spiritual edifice,” built by God with “living stones,” namely, Christians themselves, upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ, who is called the “cornerstone” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20-22). “Brothers, you are God’s building,” St. Paul wrote, and added: “holy is God’s temple, which you are” (1 Corinthians 3:9c, 17).

The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human beings, limited and sinful, to convert to form a “cosmos,” a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints. This happens in a culminating way in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia,” that is, the community of the baptized, come together in a unified way to listen to the Word of God and nourish themselves with the Body and Blood of Christ. From these two tables the Church of living stones is built up in truth and charity and is internally formed by the Holy Spirit transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself more and more to the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, in this way becomes the spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.  Our visit celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become,
like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love.

— Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, November 9, 2008Church of Saint John Lateran

Prayer: O God, who from living and chosen stones prepare an eternal dwelling for your majesty, increase in your Church the spirit of grace you have bestowed, so that by new growth your faithful people may build up the heavenly Jerusalem. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.