Monday, March 10, 2014


St Anastasia is a 5th century church I have never actually been inside of.  But for myself, this church's memories are more with the area around it--the back of the Palatine Hill (where the imperial palaces were) and the Circus Maximus, which in its day could seat over 100,000 to watch chariot races. 
But in the year 2000, alongside this church and in front of the Circus Maximus, a far more special series of events was taking place as part of World Youth Day (aka, Giornata Mondiale del Gioventu`).  Here were set up hundreds of stations for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and over the course of 5 days probably multiple thousands of priests took their turns for shifts of 1-2 hours each, offering forgiveness and mercy.  I took 3 turns, and during one of them I heard the confession of every single member (I think!) of the youth group from the African country of Gambia...

Most awesome, though, and utterly humbling, was when 2 of the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's order) came to me for the Sacrament.  Their international mother-house is just off the far end of the Circus Maximus, at San Gregorio Magno, where I'd done a year's worth of apostolic work while in seminary.  I remember thinking (and perhaps actually saying), "Sister, you should be sitting in this chair and I should be on the kneeler asking you to grant me absolution!" 

It was incredibly hot during those days--all of them over 100 degrees.  But it seemed peaceful enough while at those makeshift confession stations that had been constructed.

St Anastasia's name comes from the Greek for "Resurrection," and in the shadow of that church many young people were truly lifted up in mercy and peace.

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