Saturday, April 11, 2015

Retreat and Pellegrinaggio

Sisters and Friends: 
Our Pellegrinaggio (pilgrimage) in Italia: A Journey in Search for Augustinian Community "Walk the Way of the Heart" (Sermon 4,9) has come to an end. Following a Holy Week Retreat in Cascia and a pilgrimage that included Pavia, Milan, Tolentino, Lecceto, Montefalco and San Gimigiano, we are now sent joyfully to bring the love of God and the Augustinian story to all we serve. We are deeply grateful to our SSND community for the opportunity to spend the past three months getting deeply in touch with our Augustinian roots, forming friendships with Augustinian friars and sisters, and enjoying wonderful

connections here at the Generalate in Rome. May Easter joy live on! 
Sisters Mary Juan Camacho, SSND and Bridget Waldorf, SSND
San Gimigiano piazza at night - visited for a stop to Sergio's gelateria - world-champion gelatieria
"Monk on the lookout" - painting within church at Certosa di Pavia

Chapel fresco in the Monastery at Montefalco,
home of some contemplative Augustinian sisters. 
Augustinian Contemplative Sisters in Montefalco

School Sister of Notre Dame mailbox in San Gimigiano
Remains of Saint Rita of Cascia
Ceiling of Saint Rita Basilica in Cascia
Crucifix image where
Saint Rita prayed to take on suffering of Christ.
Facade of Saint Nicolas of Tolentino Basilica; Nicolas was the first from the Order of Saint Augustine to be canonized.

Fresco within Nicolas of Tolentino Monastery - expresses Nicolas learning at the feet of Augustine

Crypt with remains of Nicolas of Tolentino

Sanctuary of Nicolas of Tolentino Basilica; icons written
by current Augustinian friar in residence.

Fresco within Nicolas of Tolentino Monastery -
express scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary

Easter flowers and Candle in the sanctuary of
San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro; the site of Augustine's tomb

Standing in front of Augustine's tomb

The remains of Saint Ambrose and martyrs,
Gervasius and Protasius, at the Basilica of St. Ambrose in Milan

Sanctuary dome of Basilica of St. Ambrose in Milan

Certosa di Pavia - a large monastery and complex, cared for by its residents, the Cistercians. The building of the structure was commissioned by the Visconti family in 1396 and the church within was to be the family's mausoleum. It is one of the largest monasteries in all of Italy. 

Stained glass windows in the Milan Cathedral

Font below the Milan Cathedral - believed to be the site where Bishop Ambrose baptized Augustine in  387.

San Gimigiano as seen from the Augustinian Monastery

Ruins of Augustinian Hermitage in Rosia - just outside of San Gimigiano; current structure dates to the 12th century, but there is evidence of other structures below this one that date to earlier times. 

Sign noting entrance to the Augustinian Monastery in Lecceto, Italy.  The monastery has a rich history, including decades of abandonment - its story includes the renovation and current care by a group of Augustinian contemplative sisters, which took over the site in the 1970's. 

Dinner at the Augustinian Monastery in San Gimigiano

Fresco on the wall of the Lecceto monastery depicting the early life of hermits.

Participants enjoying dinner at the Augustinian Monastery in San Gimigiano

Peeking out of one of the windows of the ruins in Rosia.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Rare Tour

Five hours on our feet was a small price to pay as we ventured Saturday through a rare private tour of the Vatican Gardens, Apostolic Palace, and Sistine Chapel. The Redemptoris Mater Chapel was a new experience for many of us. The chapel was completed in 1999 and for Pope John Paul II, it was [is] an ecumenical symbol for the various Eastern and Western churches to unite themselves to the papacy.  S. Bridget Waldorf, SSND
Friars waiting for group members to catch up -
the Royal Stairs following the tour.

Posing for a photo in the Sistine Chapel

Our Lady of Guadalupe sculpture
in the Vatican Gardens

Redemptoris Mater Chapel - all the images are mosaic
Redemptoris Mater Chapel - Noah's Ark

The sign in the "Crying Room" - a small room off the Sistine Chapel
where the newly selected Pope moves to have
a moment of quiet before greeting the crowds in St. Peter's.
In general, the sign reports that Gregory XIV experienced
tears of emotion in this space
after being named Pope in 1590.
Thus it became known as the "weeping" room.

Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel 

Helicopter launch pad atop the Vatican Gardens

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our Lady of Good Counsel - Genazzano, Italy

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel
Saturday’s Augustinian pilgrimage took us to Genazzano - a lovely town an hour southeast of Rome. We visited Santuario Madre del Buon Consiglio where the original miraculous fresco of Our Lady of Good Counsel has had its home since 1467.  According to tradition, in that year a mysterious cloud crossed the sea and left on the unfinished wall of the parish church a fresco of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child, later given the name of “Our Lady of Good Counsel”.  Since then hundreds of pilgrims, including a number of popes, have come to entreat our Lady’s intercession at the shrine.  The Augustinian Order has maintained care of the church since 1356. As we celebrated mass in this holy place, we lifted all of you, our family, friends and community members into the loving hands of Our Lady of Good Counsel.  S. Mary Juan Camacho, SSND

Gateway to ambo
within the church

Facade of the church

Genazzano street

Genazzano flower shop

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Papa Francesco!

Waiting for Pope Francis' arrival
Since arriving in late January, we have spent seven Wednesday's here in Rome. Today, we finally made it across the street to St. Peter's for the "Udienza Generale di Sua Santita Francesco" - the Papal Audience. Pope Francis has been using these weekly audience opportunities to say something about the different roles within the family. Here's a summary of what he shared about grandparents:
Taking a look at the children

Real photo from today - just added frame and date
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis n the family, we now reflect on the role of grandparents. The Gospel offers us the image of Simeon and Anna as two older persons who hope in the Lord's promises and then, when perhaps least expected, see them at last fulfilled. Simeon and Anna are models of spirituality for the elderly. They point to the centrality of prayer; indeed, the prayer of grandparents is a great grace for families and the Church. In prayer, they thank the Lord for his blessings, otherwise so often unacknowledged; intercede for the hopes and needs of the young; and lift up to God the memory and sacrifice of past generations. The purifying power of faith and prayer also helps us to find the wisest way to teach the young that the true meaning of life is found in self-sacrificing love and concern for others. Young people listen to their grandparents! I still treasure the words my grandmother wrote to me on the day of my ordination. In a society which overlooks and even discards the elderly, may the Church acknowledge their contribution and gifts, and help them to foster a fruitful dialogue between the generations!
Swiss Guard
Classmates being playful on a sunny morning

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Augustine as Teacher

"My attitude, as I teach you,
is to remember and keep in mind my duties as a servant.
As a result, I speak not as a master, but a minister;
not to pupils, but to fellow pupils;
not to servants, but fellow servants."
Augustine - Sermon 242, 1

"Do not grow complacent with what you are.
Where you have become pleased with yourself, there you get stuck.
If you say "that's enough," you are finished. 
Always add something more.
Keep on walking.
Always forge ahead."
Augustine - Sermon 169

This past week in class - more wisdom from Augustine and his 21st century scholars:

Fr. Gary McCloskey's offering on Catechesis and Pedagogy was most interesting and practical. For Augustine, the relationship between teacher and students was of great importance, as was the humility of the teacher. One could argue that Augustine was advocating for "student-centered learning" long before it became official educational parlance. Knowing his audience and their ability to understand prompted Augustine to write with appropriate, differing styles. 

Fr. Anthony Banks guided us in the development of documents, constitutions, and other juridical structures of the Augustinian order. We got into a lot of discussions on the constitutional changes that were made in our respective congregations after Vatican II and learned about the various members of the Augustinian family.

S. Mary Juan Camacho, SSND

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Friends, San Giovanni, Scala Santa & Scavi...

"Friendship should not be bounded by narrow limits...
There is no one in the human race to whom we do not owe love, 
even if not out of mutual love, 
at least on account of sharing in a common nature." 
Augustine, Letter 130.13

We're studying all sorts of good material about Augustine this week - including his take on friendship (above). In addition to classes, we've also continued to visit sites around Rome. This past week's highlights included a journey through the Basilica of St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterno), some moments at the Sacred Steps (Scala Santa) and, today, a Scavi tour - a visit to the Tomb of Saint Peter and the Necropolis under the Vatican Basilica. 

Saint Bartholomew
Saint John Lateran is home to beautiful sculptures of each of the 12 apostles as well as a fragment of the table believed to be the one on which Jesus consumed the last supper.  Prior to Saint Peter's becoming home to the popes, St. John Lateran was the official papal residence for the first millennium of Christian history. 

At St. John Lateran - S. Bridget and Fred, 
an Augustinian friar from Kenya 
Scala Santa

The Sacred Steps aren't far from John Lateran; according to tradition they are the very steps that Jesus climbed to meet Pontius Pilate for his sentencing. St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, had the stairs transported from Jerusalem to Rome in the 4th century. As is the practice, a number of us from class scaled the 28 steps on our knees. The marble steps are encased in a protective framework of wooden steps.
The Scavi tour brought us back into the first three centuries following the death of Jesus Christ. We descended beneath St. Peter's Basilica and walked through narrow "streets" to view mausoleums, touched walls built by Constantine and got three different glimpses of the Tomb of Saint Peter. Cameras weren't allowed, but one could check this website out for more info: Scavi

S. Bridget Waldorf, SSND

Admission ticket for the Scavi Tour