Deacon Scott Brentwood, O. de M. is an American Mercedarian Friar studying Canon Law in Rome. Over the past 3 years, he has been giving our readers updates on his experiences as a religious preparing to become a Canon Lawyer. Here’s his latest ponderings from his second semester at the Gregorian:
Just a quick update to let everyone know how things are going here in the Eternal City.
I trust all is well back in the United States; here things are rather quiet.
We began our second semester at the Gregorian in mid February, and I must admit that this semester is rather challenging – Temporal Goods of the Church, Processes (inner workings of the various tribunals, but specifically tribunals for nullity cases), the Relationship between Religious Professions and the State, Penal Law, a Praxis in Penal Law, a Praxis in Rotal Matrimonial Jurisprudence, and Canonical Latin. I also have a seminar on the Apostolate of Institutes of Consecrated Life in the Local Church that requires a 20 min presentation based on a text I have to write. Most of these are interesting, but it is a rather heavy load,especially given that everything is done in Latin (primarily) and Italian. Fiat voluntas tua.
Aside from school, there is very little going on – I have 4-6 hours of class every day, and with 1.5 hrs total spent on the METRO (subway) going to and from class, there is little time to do much else. I still find myself in various places throughout the city…churches mostly… or an obscure museum… but the majority of my time (lately) is spent with books, or with translating etc. in preparation for the Chapter.
I have been spending more time with our friars in the Generalate, and last week I was invited by the General for lunch. After a nice meal we spent the next few hours chatting about various things, and as he too had studied Canon Law, we discussed briefly what was going on with the revisions for the New Constitutions. From a juridical point of view, this really is an exciting time for the community… as we prepare for the eighth version of the Constitutions of the Order.
Aside from that, as I said before, all is quiet. I hope everyone is well, and I will be in touch soon.
Deacon Scott Brentwood, O. de M. has been studying in Rome for the past two and a half years. Recently, he was ordained a deacon. As he has in the past, Deacon Scott shares some of his reflections about his experiences in Italy:
Happy Epiphany! (In Italy it is celebrated on the proper day…but this is in anticipation to Sunday for you in the USA)
Just a little update to let you know how things are going, and to wish you well in this Christmas Season. The academic year has gone well so far – my classes are rather interesting, and all is well. In Italy, the first semester runs from October until January, so I am currently on a break…but must finish the semester when we start back next week.
Aside from that there really is not much to say – I normally have 6 hrs of class every day…and that alone occupies the majority of my time. I still do manage to find some time for some reading, reflecting, and time to just relax (though not too much). I did, however, want to write a little of what I have been up to since my last update.
My Deaconate Ordination was December 10 at our Sanctuary of Bonaria in Cagliari, Sardinia – one of the oldest houses in the Order (since 1334). I had spent time before preparing, but nothing truly prepares you for the experience until you go through it yourself. Reading the rite, witnessing others perform it…does not really scratch the surface of the encounter one has during their own Ordination.
I arrived in Bonaria a couple days before the Ordination, but as everything had been prepared well in advance, there was nothing that needed to be done for the Ordination itself. The Formators Meeting was to begin the day before, so there were many friars there that I did not know – mostly from Spain – so I took the opportunity to get to know them.
The Ordination itself was at 7:30 pm, presided over by the Archbishop of Cagliari, Archbishop Giuseppe Mani. The entrance hymn was “O God Beyond All Praising,” sung in English (the rest of the Mass was in Italian), and there were many people in the Basilica. I remember it all felt overwhelming. The points that stick out though, are when I placed my hands in those of the Archbishop for the promises, the prostration during the litany, being vested, receiving the Book of the Gospels, and the offertory which had a Sardinian twist. A musician playing a traditional Sardinian instrument led the offertory procession…which included several youth dressed in traditional Sardinian attire.
The whole experience was phenomenal, but to me the most rewarding part was being in one of our oldest Sanctuaries, surrounded by numerous priests/brothers of the community, knowing that those in the USA were ableto participate via internet; those who would have been there but could not had the ability to witness it…including my family, of which none were here in Italy for.
The next day – Sunday – I proclaimed the Gospel for the first time as a Deacon.
We returned to Rome where there was a week of classes left before the winter break. I was one of the Deacons for the Canon Law Faculty Mass for the end of the year, and the next day I left for Carpignano to celebrate Christmas with our community there. When I arrived, I was surprised to see that the Sanctuary itself was closed…for a renovation project to restore it to what it was before the earthquake of the 1980’s. The smaller side chapel had became the church for daily Masses, and the social hall across the street was now the church for Sundays and other celebrations. The work here should be done by May though.
While here I have done many things…such as going on a day retreat with the youth/choir, which ended with us seeing the Christmas lights at Salerno. The Christmas celebrations were beautiful (including Midnight Mass at Midnight), and the next day – Feast of St. Stephen – there was a baptism by yours truly. The choir performed a couple of concerts – all very well done – which included a couple Christmas carols in English. The pronunciation was a little off on a few words, but it was heart-warming to hear. I preached at all the Masses today (Epiphany), and the people gave many compliments. To top it off, it snowed today; I miss winters with snow, so today was a real treat.
I return to Rome on Monday, and will have a couple weeks of class before the second semester starts. I will say that being in Carpignano has been a very rewarding experience, and there is a part of me that is not too excited about heading back to the lectures and note-taking. Then again, the other part of me is looking forward to getting back to my normal routine!
Well, that is all I have for now. I wish you a Happy Epiphany, and I will be in touch!