Up Front and Personal

When in Rome, Lesson Is in the Cobblestones

by Father John Cush

Last April, I was asked by Bishop DiMarzio to begin studies for the doctorate in Sacred Theology in Rome, beginning this September. This came as a big surprise! I had been a student at the North American College as a seminarian and as a newly ordained priest and I had earned my baccalaureate and licentiate at the Gregorian University in Rome. After many years on the other side of the desk as a teacher at Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst, the Pastoral Institute, the Diaconate Formation Program and other places, this was quite daunting! To move behind the desk at the Angelicum and pick up notebook and pen again was terrifying!

One of the many pleasurable aspects of life in Rome is the opportunity to take advantage of the papal events. In addition to the great theological studies in fine universities like the Angelicum and the Gregorian, the prime teacher while in Rome, is Rome itself. To walk the streets where apostles, martyrs, saints and popes tread is, in itself, an invaluable education. While our professors may be the finest among Dominican friars, Jesuit priests and Benedictine monks, among others, the main teacher is the history, the story, the very faith that cries out from every cobblestone in the Eternal City.

To be a student-priest in Rome during the Year of Faith is a blessing in itself. I had the good fortune of distributing Holy Communion at the Mass of the opening of the World Synod of Bishops and at the Mass beginning the Year of Faith, in which was commemorated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

The World Synod of Bishops, called by the Holy Father, is a tremendous undertaking. It is one step, among many, for the Church to further dialogue with the world. We, as Christians, are in the world, and yet not of the world. However, each of us must use the best possible ways to communicate the faith to the world today.

The Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI could not come at a better time. The world is longing for truth that will set us free from the secularism, the narcissism, the violence to self and others which can, unfortunately, at times, distinguish our contemporary world. As Pilate asked the Lord (John 18:38), “What is Truth?” We, as the Bride of Christ in the world today can proclaim the only truth is He who is Christ Jesus.

As we witnessed at the Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 11, as was done 50 years prior, after the proclamation of the Gospel, the Gospel Book was enshrined by the altar, reminding us that we are led and fed by Sacred Scripture and bask in the living stream that is Sacred Tradition.

The emphasis on knowing the authentic teaching of our Church, as expressed in those two fonts of Revelation, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and clearly taught in the Magisterium, most especially the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is key for this Year of Faith.[hr] Father Cush, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, is a doctoral student at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and in residence at the Casa Santa Maria of the North American College.