Celina and I slept in a little today and didn’t get up until 8:00 which was fantastic, we have been going at it pretty hard these past few days so it was nice to be able to sleep in just a bit. Then we went downstairs for breakfast. Since today is Good Friday we knew we would not be eating a whole lot, but that if we were going to be walking all day we needed our energy as well.
After breakfast we finished getting ready and we walked over to St. Peter’s Basilicia. They are currently getting the Basilica ready for the Good Friday Service, so there was a large portion of it that was closed off that we were not able to see, but we still got to enjoy a large portion of it as well!
Just to the right when you walk in is The Pieta. This has always been a piece of art that I admire and I am always amazed at how detailed this work is – it is made out of marble, that’s talent! Looking at a picture of it, you don’t really get a grasp for how much larger Mary is than Jesus. It was done this way to show the immense amount of love that Mary has for her son, Jesus.
Just next to The Pieta is the tomb of St. John Paul II. I love JPII and everything that he accomplished in his life. He is truly an inspiration to what it means to life a life full of joy, all for Christ! By the time he was 23 every person that he loved had died (his mother, brother and father), but that did not stop him. He felt called to the priesthood right at the height of WWII and began his studies underground and in hiding from the Nazis. He eventually became Pope and was shot in the middle of St. Peter’s square. As he was laying in the car dying all he could see was an image of Mary in his mind, yet there was not an image of Our Lady for him to gaze upon in the square. After recovering from this near death wound (it missed his heart and main artery by mere milimeters) he commissioned a mosaic of the Blessed Mother to be placed in St. Peter’s Square with the inscription “Totus Tuus Maria” – Totaly Yours Mary. He then went to Lourdes, France and placed the bullet that had been removed from his chest in the crown on Mary’s head(he was shot on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes). Finally, as an act of mercy he visited the man who shot him in prison and forgave the man. That same man ended up converting to the Catholic faith because of St. John Paul II. Below is a picture of his tomb inside of St. Peter’s and the image of Mary from the square (I wasn’t thinking when we walked in so I forgot to get a picture, but there is also a stone in St. Peter’s Square at the location that he was shot – I’ll get a picture tomorrow.)
There are so many pictures of St. Peter’s that I could share, but I will post a few and their descriptions below:
Pope Francis’s chair for the Triduum:
This mosaic depicts the story of Ananias and his wife Saphira. (Read Acts 5:1-11 for the full story). In the image you can see that Saphira is lying dead at the feet of St. Peter and if you look in the upper right hand side you will see two men carrying away another body on a stretcher, that is Ananias (sorry it is kind of hard to see it from this angle). The story goes that they sold a piece of land with the intention of giving all they earned to the Church, but instead they lied and kept a portion for themselves and so they were struck down by the Holy Spirit for lying to Peter and more importantly to God. This mosaic is positioned directly across from the entrance to the Sacristy where priests go into to prepare for Mass and come out of before celebrating Mass. It was placed in this location specifically to remind priests that when they go to perform the Sacrifice of the Mass they are to give all they have to God, to leave it all at the altar and to offer themselves wholly and completely up to God!
You cannot really see it in this picture but the floor of the Basilicia has markings to where other churches would fit if they were inside St. Peter’s. It is cool to see just how big the Basilica really is compared toothed churches around the world!
Here are some more pictures from the outside.
Then we went upstairs to the terrace (we asked for directions so that we wouldn’t get lost this time)! The view from St. Peter’s on the terrace was spectacular! I couldn’t choose just 1-2 pictures so here are a BUNCH!
This one shows just how close we really are, on the right is the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, then you can see the street and then on the left you will see a wall curving around, that is the ramp that leads to the front door of the Institute!
Then we went back to the Pontifical North America College for Good Friday Service. Note that is is not a Mass, for on the day that Jesus died, the day we call Good there can be no good that is the Mass. This is the one day of the entire year where there are ZERO Masses celebrated around the world. On any other day you can be assured that no matter the time of day someone, somewhere is celebrating Mass, but not on Good Friday. Today is a day that we fast and abstain from meat, it is a day of penance and a day to remember that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. During the Good Friday service there is no entrance processional or hymn, the three days (the Triduum) are just one continual celebration, so we flow from Holy Thursday into Good Friday into Holy Saturday. After a short opening prayer we hear the readings and the Gospel, which for today is the Passion of Christ. There deacons chanted the entire Gospel reading (which is quite lengthy already just when it is read normally)! And the choir chanted the portion of the crowd. It was the most beautiful version of the reading of the Passion that I have ever heard. When the choir chanted the portion of the crowd yelling “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” I got chills all over my body. This is where we see the great paradox of the cross – this horrible act of brutality, torture and murder brings about more good than we could even imagine! It brings about the redemption of mankind and the salvation of our souls. This is why I love being Catholic, because each and every time we go to Mass we are re-presenting the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. So we celebrate a mini-Triduum in the midst of every Mass, this is why Sunday’s are a feast day in the Church!
After the reading/chanting of the Gospel Fr. Peter gave a fantastic homily! He talked about how we can look at the people in the Gospel reading and we can see ourselves as being like them at times in our lives. At times we are like Peter, eager to please our Lord and yet still human so we fail and sin. Other times we are like Simon of Cyrene, pulled out of a crowd to help someone that you may not know and whose circumstances you may not understand. But while we may be like Peter and Simon, there is one person in the reading who we are. We are Barabas, a revolutionary, freed from certain death by Jesus Christ. Barabas was a murderer and thief, and while many of us may not have ever killed someone or stolen property from another, we are all still sinner, we all still need the graces poured out for us on the Cross by our Savior, Jesus Christ! I had never thought about Barabas in this reading so the homily really stuck me today, it gave a whole new insight for me and the significance of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for me, for my sins, so that I could have life!
But God proves His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
After the homily is the veneration of the Cross, a time for us to come forward and kiss the hands or feet of Jesus on the Cross. To pray at the foot of the Cross and thank our Lord for the sacrifice He made.
Next we offer up the prayers of petition. What is really neat about these petitions is that every church will offer these same exact prayers all over the world!
Then we pray the Our Father and receive the Eucharist. Remember that I said there would be no Mass on Good Friday so there was no point at which the Eucharist was consecrated today, rather the Eucharist received tonight was consecrated yesterday during the Holy Thursday Mass. I remember Fr. Simon from St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison telling us once during a Holy Week retreat I attended that when we pray at the Altar of Repose on Thursday night and during the consecration on Thursday that we should keep in mind that there is one Host that is being consecrated specifically for ME! That is something that has stuck with me over the years and I reflect back on each year at this time.
After communion there is a short prayer and again we leave the church in silence with no exit procession or hymn.
Then we went on a journey to find some food, since are fasting today we did not have lunch. On our way to find food we stopped through St. Peter’s Square and they were having their Good Friday service inside with Pope Francis and they were playing it on the screens in the square for people to watch from outside. So we sat and watched that for a bit.
After dinner we went back to our room at the Institute to get our bags packed since we leave tomorrow. We went back up to the terrace so we could see St. Peter’s lit up at night from up top! It was pretty chilly so we grabbed the blankets from our rooms. Everything was fine until one of the sisters came outside and saw us and told us that we weren’t supposed to take the blankets out of the rooms and that we should not do that again…oops!! But the view was amazing, and I was warm!
After dropping the blakents back into the room, we went back up to the NAC, we though they were having stations of the cross at 9:00, but that never happened so we prayed them on our own and then just came back to the room. Below is a picture of the chapel at the NAC, it is mosaic at the back and when the sun hits it, it really shines!
We are both still pretty exhausted from yesterday so we soaked our feet again and now we are both in bed. It is 11:00 and I am going to hit the hay! Early morning tomorrow!
Today I only walked 14,972 steps, which is 6.25 miles.
I am falling asleep as I write this so I will update the Saint Counter tomorrow!