Written by Fr Rogi Thomas, CST
February 25, 2023
The splendid and spectacular beauty of Rome is always inviting. She has ancient and fascinating architectural excellences, hundreds of adorable churches with finest marble sculptures both Gothic and Baroque and firmly grounded triumphal columns standing head on high for centuries. Surrounded by all this splendour, I find myself pondering the genius of God’s creature, created in His own image and likeness who never fails to impress.
Whenever I get the chance to explore the city of Rome, I thank God for the abundance He has invested in man; a plethora of immense possibilities. Perhaps God’s most significant investment in mankind is the instilling of a desire to be perfect like Him; to be a saint.
On the subject of sainthood, I remember the day Monsignor Charlie Burns preached his powerful homily at the Pontifical Scots College on the feast day of St. Andrew 2021. Monsignor Burns, a much-loved stalwart and ambassador of the Scottish Catholic Church, posed a pertinent question to the seminarians of the college regarding their seven year preparation for priesthood, “Why are we all here in the Eternal City if not to be saints?”
Man, who God created in His own image and likeness, is gifted with architectural talents to carve the finest marbles statues from the most formless rock. He has the versatile genius to build the most impressive Roman basilicas; grounds where the Lord Himself pitches His Tent and places His tabernacle. Man has the ability to erect triumphal columns standing head-on-high as beacons for centuries.
I often reflect upon the striking similarity between the inviting excellence of Rome and the goal of priestly formation. Each and every man in formation at the Pontifical Scots College is invited to allow himself to be carved into the finest saintly priests, the finest statues from the roughest of marble and fully configured to Jesus Christ, the priest and servant. Through seven years of formation, men are expected to gradually transform themselves into ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ able to tabernacle Christ and thus become alter Christus. They should grow ‘in wisdom and knowledge’ and in ‘stature and status’ becoming phenomenal columns; beacons of light in the darkness.
The integral and contextual formation offered by the Scots College aims at forming men to be the finest, holy Christ-like priests. The pride and glory of the Pontifical Scots College and the Catholic community in Scotland is the crowning moment when these men lie prostrate on the cathedral floor; converted, richly educated, virtuous and transformed into alteri Christi.