Sunday, March 4, 2012

Second Sunday of Lent: Santa Maria in Dominica

Saturday of the First Week of Lent was traditionally celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica due to ordinations to the deaconate.  So I decided to skip this Stational Church because St. Peter's will be visited later.

The Station Church for the Second Sunday in Lent is the Basilica of Santa Maria in Dominica.  A beatiful but small anicent Church where the early Christians gathered on Sundays to celebrate Mass.  It was on this spot in the house of the Lord Dominicum, where they took refuge to pray together.  It is said to have been here that St. Lawrence distributed the goods of the Church to the poor, before he was arrested, put in prison and died on the gridiron.

This Second Sunday of Lent was a beautiful crisp day in Rome.  So we packed a picnic lunch and headed up the Via della Navicella. There is a small sculpture of a boat which stands near the church because it was once named Santa Maria in Navicella.  In the apse of the Church is an image of the Blessed Virgin enthroned holding the Christ Child in the center, surrounded by saints, with Pope St. Paschal I at her feet.  This is the first instance in the West of an image such as this with the Blessed Virgin in the center. We attended Mass with the local Italian people who are regular parishioners of this ancient parish, because the North American Pontifical College only sponsors the Stational Masses during the week.  After Mass, we walked to a small but beautiful park to have our picnic. In the city of Rome, you cannot find grass, but since we were past the Colosseum, there were some lovely places to stop.  Sunday is a family day for the Italians and there were many that day playing with their children.  We were also able to visit a few other churches in the area.  In Rome, you never know what you will find upon entering one of these sacred places.

Today, March 4th, is also the Feast of St. Casimir although the Sunday supercedes this feast, it is appropriate to mention him.

Let us take St. Casimir as our companion along our journey of Lent. Although he was born into Polish nobility, he lived a holy life from his earliest years. He not only avoided sin, he shunned anything that seemed to be self-indulgent. Spending most of the night in prayer, he often slept on the ground. But what was most noticeable was his serenity and cheerfulness, especially to the sick and the poor. In honor of Our Lady, he frequently recited the hymn which we know today as “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.”

Like St. Casimir, we are born, though Baptism into a noble family – Jesus Christ the King of Kings is our Brother. His normal life appears to be an ideal Lenten observance – praying, practicing virtue, caring for our brothers and sisters in need.
St. Casimir, pray for us that we may resemble Christ more closely.

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