Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Canonization and First Day of Classes

So we all survived our first day of classes! Yesterday began "ordinary time" at the college, so to speak. We have finally begun our school year schedule, which comes as almost a sort of relief after the craziness of the last six or so weeks. We begin each day with 6:15 Morning Prayer, followed by Mass and breakfast, then the half-hour walk to make it to class on time. Classes generally run from 8:30 to 12:30, after which we walk back to the college for optional class rosary and then lunch at 1:15. The afternoons differ from day to day- we have a seminar Tuesday afternoons and a house formation night Thursday evenings, I believe, but other than that we generally don't have anything regularly scheduled until 6:45 Evening Prayer, so the afternoons are our time to really get in some studying, praying, working out, and maybe a little napping, too. Today our two morning classes were cancelled, which is why I am able to write this post at this moment.

Sunday was the big canonization Mass of five new saints of the Church. The best known of them for Americans was most certainly Saint Damian of Molokai, the apostle to the leper colony in Hawaii. I arrived with a couple classmates about 90 minutes before the event began, and it took us every bit of an hour to get to our seats. The place was jam-packed. It really was very moving seeing so many turn out in honor of these holy souls and the God Whom they served. I heard that we even had some lepers turn out for the ceremony!

Yep, that's how far back we were a solid twenty minutes into our wait in line.

Not a great seat- we certainly weren't inside- but not a bad seat, either.
At least we got seats.

Here's a closer up at the portraits they had of each saint. The close-ups follow.

After the Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus with the pilgrims. Here he is.

Here are some of us, having just arrived back at the college.

A handful of our men from the college got the chance to serve for the Pope at this Mass, which must have been an amazing experience. One of Kalamazoo's own, Francis Marotti, even got to be candle-bearer and got to wash the Pope's hands during the Mass. He said he was shaking like a little girl (well, maybe he didn't put it exactly that way, but I know I probably would have been shaking like a little girl, so...). It really was a moving experience getting to be there on this momentous occasion. At the end of the canonization proper, the prefect of the congregation for the cause of the saints came up, along with other representatives, and personally thanked the Pope on behalf of the Church for this great gift. The program stated that he was going to give the Pope a hug, though I think he simply kissed the Pope's hands. What a remarkable statement, what a touching show on behalf of all of us!

It really made me think about the significance of this pronouncement. How beautiful it is that we have five new, officially declared, older brothers and sisters in Christ as role models and intercessors! I would encourage everyone, if you have a bit of time, to look up their stories- they are a varied group, an appropriate selection of new patrons. They are a reminder that, young or old, no matter what our call, God meets us where we are and holiness is found in living out our lives for Him whatever our vocation happens to be. All five were religious or ordained of some sort, I think, but they ended up in very different circumstances through their calls, ones which they probably would not have chosen if they had known when they first started. Holiness is not simply for those who live out their days in a cell in some obscure cloister. One of the newly canonized, Raphael Arnaiz Baron, was only 27 when he died, and, if I recall correctly, he didn't even succeed in becoming a full Trappist friar because he was sick so often and had to constantly leave to receive medical care. How difficult that must have been and what a good example to us all when everything seems to be falling apart around us. He did not achieve his will, even his desires in God's service, but he united his will to God's and was greatly exalted by God for his child-like trust. He was known for his mystical spiritual writings and his joy and friendship offered to all. Saint Damian definitely wound up in unusual circumstances, exiling himself to the leper colony of Molokai to be their pastor, administering the sacraments and offering hope to those otherwise abandoned by most of the world. He contracted the disease himself and died a brother leper for all those whom he served in life.

Other than that, things are finally starting to slow down around here, just as school is picking up. I'll try to get another post up later today or tomorrow, maybe, to tell you about my trip to Montecassino Saturday. I don't remember putting pictures up after the diaconate ordination Mass, either, so I'll try to get those up, as well. For future reference, I'll try to get a post up once a week to keep you updated on things around here. May God richly bless you all.

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