Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reflections on Empires

As the pictures below demonstrate, we spent a whole day touring "Ancient Rome" last week. It was an extremely good tour led by an American who is married and living here, and who works as a professional guide. As a Catholic, her tour really helped us to focus on Rome in the days when Peter and Paul arrived here. Though I can do her tour no justice, I will try to provide some sense of the enormity of what the first Apostles accomplished here.

From very early in her history, Rome wanted to be an Empire. We have all seen the History Channel specials describing the training of her army and the feats of so many of her generals and emperors. Nevertheless, in many ways her capital was a backwater place. Thus, it became the goal of many emperors to create "Immortal Rome." The capital city needed to express all the grandeur of an empire. Thus, temples were erected, palaces built, and places of commerce transformed. The Pantheon was an architectural masterpiece - no larger dome had ever been placed on a building. Even the Dome across the top of St. Peter's is smaller. The Colosseum, named after the enormous statue that stood outside of it (the statue was the same height as the building), was built in only ten years. The palaces and temples were decorated in gold and marble. With each step a person took, one was given a subtle message about the power of Rome. The gold and marble were not from Italy alone. They were also taken from the lands conquered by Rome. Imagine the slaves arriving in Rome and seeing the building materials looted from their countries adorning the emperors palace.

It was into the city, at the height of her glory, that Peter and Paul arrived. As our tour guide noted, the scaffolding was just coming down from the temples and buildings in the forum when they first entered the city. And they were going to preach the Gospel of Christ.

It is spine tingling to realize that Christ, through the preaching of a tent maker and a fisherman, conquered such an empire. Rome was invincible and immortal. She would never fall. Nevertheless, the blood of Christian martyrs watered her soil and the message first spoken by Peter and Paul took root. These roots grew, and as a tree planted too near a sidewalk, they were soon crumbling the great statues and the ancient religion until today, those who visit Rome wander five stories above the streets upon which the Caesars trod. Those ancient temples and palaces that symbolized Rome's immortality are now buried deep in rubble. Her majestic columns are now nothing bu support beams for Christian churches. Immortal Rome, Powerful Rome, Victorious Rome, was rightly worried by the Christians. The immortal city, the great empire that could never be destroyed did, in fact, fall. They were defeated by by a tent maker and a fisherman.