Tuesday, October 28, 2014


A few weekends ago, it was time to party....Italian style! Over the past few years, I have gotten to know an Italian family who, in their own words, tell me that their house is always open! And I believe it! Last spring when my family was visiting, they had all of us over for dinner one evening. With other guests, we totaled 17...and we all fit around the table.

This year, Fabrizio and Emanuela are celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary. So I joined them and their family and about 200 other guests to celebrate! I was full after the antipasti (appetizers) but gathered all my strength to make it through the pasta course and onto the dolci (desserts - there were 5!) Of course, there was plenty of wine and prosecco to go around as well. The Italians might not be all that good at bureaucracy, but they sure know how to throw a good party!

With my Italian Mom and Dad

Fr. Antonio and Fr. Loris joined us as well  

The happy couple

From last year

The whole family

ALL the family

Friday, October 3, 2014

Community Gita

Well, it's that time of year again.  Classes start (finally) on Monday (yes, that would be October 6.)  Rome is on its own schedule!  So, as one last hurrah, the Seminary Community took a "gita" (like a field trip) to Monte Cassino and Casamari.  Now, some of you might be thinking, "Didn't Bob go to Monte Cassino already?"  The answer is "yes."  But it's always good for a refresher after a few years.  So, here goes...

Montecassino is the sight where St. Benedict founded a monastery around the year 529.  He is considered the Father of Western Monasticism, and his Rule of Life has been guiding religious orders for nearly 1500 years.  (Fr. Chaminade based the Marianist Rule of Life on Benedict's!)  Unfortunately, the site has had some problems...sacked by the Lombards, then the Saracens, destroyed by an earthquake, attacked by Napoleon, and bombed by the Allies during World War II (using bad information, they thought the German army had sought refuge there.  However, it was really the monks and townspeople.)  But after each catastrophe, the monks have rebuilt the abbey.  Today, it is a replication of what was there before WWII.  So, here's some pictures from the day.

The Basilica at the Monastery

The inside of the Basilica - very Baroque.  The tombs of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica are in the main altar.

We had mass in a crypt chapel under the main altar, where the tombs of St. Benedict St. Scholastica were originally placed.

Inside of the Basilica

What is thought to be St. Benedict's room.  He probably finished writing his Rule of Life here.  I really like this room.

"Monte" means "mount."  As we were driving up, we got above the fog.

The view of the modern city of Cassino.

At the monastery garden.

Part of the cloister.

Heading up to the monastery and basilica.

Monastery in the background.

The Polish Cemetery from World War II.  Over 1000 Polish soldiers are buried here.

A statue commemorating the death of St. Benedict, probably in this spot.

St. Scholastica

The box that originally contained the bones of the two saints.

The present day tomb of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica

Then we headed off to Casamari to a Cistercian Abbey.  They are the same group that is found in Kentucky at Gethsemane Abbey.  Also, the don't talk much, and they pray at all hours of the day (including 3 in the morning!)  The foundation of this Abbey dates from the 11th century.  We listened to the monks chant "Nones" (prayer in the afternoon) and then had a tour from the Abbot.  Hope you enjoy these pictures.

The inside of the church - very different from Monte Cassino

The outside of the church.

You can find ruins everywhere.

The parish festival is this weekend, so the piazza was decorated.

Inside the cloister.

The monks' refectory (dining hall)

Doorway leading into the cloister.

The monastery library.

Bro. Armando trying out the monks' technology.
Window of St. Robert of Molesme, one of the Cistercian founders.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Discipleship and Basketball

A reflection on the readings for Wednesday of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time
October 1, 2014, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Job 9: 1-12, 14-16; Ps 88; Lk 9:57-62

As many of you know, last year the University of Dayton Mens Basketball Team played very well in the NCAA Tournament, making it to the Elite Eight. For two weeks, it's all Sean and I talked about. Some placed signs (I 'heart' UD) by their doors. 

UD made national headlines. Fans traveled all over the country to watch them play. But, their tournament success didn't reflect the whole season. In the middle of the season, the team was losing. They were disorganized and not playing well. Fans were losing confidence and getting discouraged. But, then, something happened. The team had a change of attitude which was described in UD Magazine as a “'True Team' dedication, when starting pride took a backseat to an all-in enthusiasm and unwavering faith in one another.” In the end, this “all-in” attitude was important for their success. This all-in attitude helped to turn things around.

So, what does UD basketball have to do with the path of discipleship? In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus (our coach) invite us (the team) to this same dedication and “all-in” attitude. He says that disciples will have no place to rest, “Let the dead bury the dead,” and there is no time to say farewell to your family. Jesus isn't being mean or unrealistic. No. He is telling us what it means to be a disciple. It requires giving your whole self to the Reign of God. It means to make the Reign of God the sole focus of your life. It needs dedication and an “all-in” determination. There is no place for a half-disciple. (Fr. Chaminade liked to use this phrase when speaking about the religious of his foundation – there was was no place for a “half-religious.”) Jesus calls us to follow him with our whole hearts and minds and bodies – our whole self. We must be “all-in.” This is the path of discipleship.

We see this “all-in” attitude in the person of Job. All is taken away from him. His life is totally destroyed, but he doesn't give up. He remains totally dedicated to God. He acknowledges God as all-wise, all-powerful, always present. God is in control of Job's life because God is God. Job continues to trust in God against insurmountable odds. The journalist might describe Job as having “true dedication, when self interests took a backseat to an all-in enthusiasm and unwavering faith in God.” Job gave literally everything he had to God. Job was “all-in.”

We also see this in St. Theresa of Lisieux whom the church remembers today. At a young age, all she wanted to do was to dedicate her life to God as a Carmelite nun, going so far as to petition the Pope to let her join when she was only 15. Through her “little way” and with great simplicity, she trusted in God. Even in the midst of several dark nights, she remained faithful to God. At the end of her life, she offered her terrible sufferings from tuberculosis to God for the salvation of the world. She, like Job, was totally dedicated to her mission. She was “all-in.”

Dear friends, discipleship requires that we give our all, that we give all of our selves to the path and mission of Jesus, that we are “all-in”. It is not easy. It can be quite difficult. But it is what Jesus asks of us, and it is the path that will lead us to new life and freedom. And so today, you are left to answer for yourself: Will you follow Jesus with your whole heart and being? Will you be “all-in?”