The Waiter

12-29-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Rome is expensive but it's tourist friendly. There were a few unfamiliar local faces who took the time to pose and enjoy our business. Piazza Navona is a sight to behold in the evening. There are no end of street musicians and artists who weave through the hoards entertaining visitors at the outdoor restaurants.

I forget this gentleman's name. I didn't ask. He offered to pose. So, I sent this photo to Tre Scalini (Three Little Steps). Never heard back from the Restaurant. Just thought it'd be a nice detail. One thing about Italians, in general, they've got an impressive culture to share, and a smile and a wink that goes along with it. The human charm they possess is much more than a tourist trap to someone's wallet. There's also the door to a delightful conversation as I had with this waiter.


Merry Christmas!

12-25-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

In the Church of Saint Mary ‘in Montesanto’, Rome, there’s a lovely marble statue of the Madonna resting Baby Jesus on her lap. As the gaze fixed on true to scale sculptures, these works of art quietly fill the senses with admiration for the real event that shaped the world forever and, more importantly, led God to open heaven’s doors to us once again. May your gaze fix itself on a selection of your Christmas Greeting cards in these days of Octave to recall silently, meditatively, the mystery of God’s love for you.

To my faithful of Holy Cross, Merry Christmas!

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry


Pines of the Villa Borghese

12-22-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

In the evenings before getting ready for bed there’s a need to detox from the world. Getting away from desktop and news stories in the evening is a must in order to sleep well. I know that for myself. At the end of a really hectic day, I sometimes go to my personal library of tunes. I prefer the classical music from the Romantic era of the later half of the 19th century and very early 20th century. One of the soothing selections is Ottorino Respighi’s The Pines of Rome. The first of four movements goes by the name Pines of the Villa Borghese, which is where this photo was taken.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

Del Escritorio Del Pastor:
El Mundo que se ve desde la perspectiva de un creyente

En las noches, antes de prepararse uno para irse a la cama, hay una necesidad de desintoxicarse del mundo. En las noches es necesario alejarse de la computadora y de las noticias para poder dormir bien. Yo lo sé muy bien. Al final de un día saturado, a veces entro a mi colección personal de piezas musicales. Prefiero la música clásica de la era romántica de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX y de principios del siglo XX. Una de las piezas más tranquilizantes es Los Pinos de Roma, de Ottorino Respighi. El primero de cuatro movimientos se llama Pinos de la Villa Borguese.

Su Pastor,
Padre Lorenzo

Tips for Caregivers during the Holidays

12-15-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

The busy-ness of the holidays can create stress for everyone including caregivers and care receivers. Caregivers often find themselves taking on additional tasks which can be overwhelming and physically exhausting. The stress of too much to do can also be spiritually exhausting. In addition to being concerned about getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising and taking short breaks from caregiving, caregivers need nourish their spiritual well-being.

Spiritual self-care can take several forms - reading scriptures and devotional material, listening to inspirational music, journaling, praying favorite prayers, reciting the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet, attending Mass or viewing televised Mass. All of these nourish the soul. Taking a few moments to do one or more of these will occasionally help restore emotional/spiritual strength. If caregivers are extremely strapped for time, just talking to the Lord while working on tasks can be very beneficial.


12-15-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Throughout the year the streets of Assisi are packed with people of every continent. It’s a gentle little town, set up to house pilgrims and tourists alike. It is also the epicenter for Franciscans of every type to visit. I captured a moment when three pilgrim religious from some branch of the Franciscans, found a semi private place in the Plaza to pray the hours of their breviary. Now that’s the way it’s done! Notice they have no ear buds, bulky cameras, backpacks, hats, bags, souvenir paraphernalia, maps, fancy gadgets, gold rings, gold time pieces, gold teeth, Segways, skateboards, food stains, tattoos, mobile phone selfie sticks, tripods, ice-cream cones, popcorn or anxiety for not having any of the above. That’s the Franciscan way! So what’s left to do with a life like that? Put out the breviary and pray for the Church and her children. They were offering the Church’s prayer for us at that moment. God bless the Franciscans everywhere.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry


San Brizio Chapel

12-08-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

On the 3rd day of our Italian pilgrimage we traveled to the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy. Perhaps the most famous fresco ever rendered of Antichrist belongs to the 12th Century artist, Luca Signorelli. This famous work covers a chapel ceiling of the San Brizio Chapel in the Cathedral. St. John's first two letters are the only biblical books that make use of the word 'Antichrist'. Who is the Antichrist according to St. John? In his first letter, the answer is 'the one who denies the Father and the Son'. Jesus simply isn't to be taken on par by nature with God the Father. John's second letter again defines him as the one who 'will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh'. Thus, God would not dare mingle with the affairs of us humans in such an intimate way. The first attack is against the divinity of Christ, the second against his humanity. That is: Jesus is just a regular guy who had some interesting things to say. As is going to happen, this man of sin ( See 2Th 2:3-4, Da 7:7-8,24-25; 8:9-12,23-25; 11:36-45; Rev 13:1-10,11-18, Catechism of the Catholic Church 675-676), whoever he turns out to be, won't stand to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.


Downtown Rome

12-01-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

There's no room for a Lowe's® or a Target® in downtown Rome. Business and commerce go on as they have for centuries. Small shops specializing in a few things line the streets. I couldn't help pass this fruit and vegetable store without a long sit. I'd sit still awaiting one of Rome's inhabitants to move into the frame. I actually took this shot sitting from a dining room table in a restaurant on the other side of the cobble stone street. The simplicity of the store made me think of my bedroom.

Could I settle for less? Yes.


Tips for Caregivers during the Holidays

12-01-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

December is probably the busiest month of the year with many family gatherings and holiday celebrations. The holiday season can become very stressful for everyone, including caregivers and care receivers. The question is how to handle the holidays without increasing stress levels. AARP has published a set of tips for caregivers which include:

  1. Focus on finding meaning and joy, not perfection in holiday activities.
  2. Make your holiday activities as simple as possible - smaller gatherings, shorter visits, fewer decorations, fewer out-of-home activities.
  3. Create new traditions that accommodate the care receiver's limitations. This may mean finding simpler things to do in the home to celebrate the holidays.
  4. Simplify holiday meals with fewer side dishes or more prepared dishes or ask family and friends to do the grocery shopping, cook the food and/or help with clean up.

For more information and holiday stress-reducing tips, check AARP's website here.

Historical Rome

11-24-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

One needs a good pair of hiking legs to venture into historical Rome. The endless negotiation between pedestrians and scooter s plays out every minute of every day on its cobblestone alleyways. But, of course, Rome has historically been Catholic since t he days of Constantine. Although 15%, maybe 20% actually attend a Sunday Mass regularly. There are different studies on the topic. Frescos of saints, cherubs, and religious landmarks overlook street corners at every turn. While on pilgrimage, I want ed to take things slower, look up, see if I could guess whose portrait it was this time. It seemed only visitors, tourists and pilgrims cared to look at them. You had a sense that the locals knew it was there too, somewhere, and that 's all.


Cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica

11-17-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

I set the tripod on the Ponte Sant'Angelo around 6pm and captured the Cupola of St. Peter's Basilica bathed in Golden Light. The Tiber River runs through the heart of Rome connecting Old City to New City. Several important converts have used the image to convey their eventual conversion to Roman Catholicism. If you've never read Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church by Steve Ray, and Professor Scott Hahn's, Rome Sweet Rome, you're missing out on highly motivational reading that may enhance your dialogue with those live outside Holy Mother Church, and yet, look at us with some curiosity. Rome is the seat of Catholic Wisdom. It is a listening post for men and women of influence throughout the world. It is the city of many saints and martyrs, in ages past but even now today. What I mean by that is a matter for coffee and donuts after Sunday mass. Hope to find you there and elaborate on the reality of Rome's contemporary saints and martyrs.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry


The Eldercare Handbook

11-17-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

There may come a time when caregiversrealize that their loved ones can no longercare for themselves safely in their own homesor the caregivers can no longer provide theneeded care. Caregivers are then faced withthe issue of trying to convince their lovedones of the necessity to live elsewhere. If notapproached appropriately, a power strugglewill ensue between caregivers and care receivers with thelatter insisting on remaining in their homes. How can this topicbe discussed without becoming a bitter divisive issue? According to Stella Henry, R.N., author of The Eldercare Handbook, the conversation needs to start early before a crisis situation has developed. In addition, caregivers should makethe conversation about their own feelings such as: “I’m reallyconcerned about your safety; it worries me to see you livingthis way” OR “I’m worried that I can no longer give you all thecare you need.” This approach has greater potential forencouraging a dialogue than just demanding and insisting on achange. Once the dialogue begins, caregivers can explorevarious options with their care receivers.

Borghese Chapel

11-10-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Here's the first photo gem from the Ordination Pilgrimage to Italy last month. The Borghese Chapel at Rome's Saint Mary Major Basilica offers a stupendous visual feast to help the adorer enter more captivatingly the beauty of the Catholic liturgy. Around the image of our Lady (Madonna Salus Populi Romani) is the largest slab of blue marble ever put into art called Lapis Lazuli, brought in from Afghanistan several centuries ago. It's the only privately owned property on the Vatican State. Even though St. Mary Major is located several miles from Vatican City, you enter Vatican State when entering it. But this Chapel, till this day still belongs to the Borghese Family. We are getting close to beginning the remodel of the Sanctuary. It will be done to enhance our own worship of God, in good taste, using finer art, and looking to put front and center the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Please pray, in earnest, that this project will soon begin.

God Bless,
Fr. Larry


10 symptoms of Alzheimer’s

11-03-2019On the Caregiving Journey…

Are you caring for someone with memory loss? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 million people worldwide are suffering from some form of dementia which involves the loss of memory. The most common form of dementia (a term used to describe a set of symptoms) is Alzheimer’s. Over 5.8 million people in the USA are living with Alzheimer’s which is the 6th leading cause of death in this country. Every 65 seconds, someone is diagnosed with this brain degenerative disease.


Pastoral Council

11-03-2019The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

These parishioners sport blue badges. They are members of the Pastoral Council. When I am not available to take suggestions, the next best thing is to see one of them with your idea. Michelle, Luis, Patricia, Edna, Tomás, Darlene and Armindo were hand-picked to help me identify needs and strategies to better welcome, form and launch the lay membership of our parish. They are among some of the most dedicated people in the parish who serve generously in other ministerial capacities. Again, if you´re not able to always see me, they will listen to you and get back to me.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry