Category Archives: Christianity

Requiem Aeternam

The following is from the homily delivered by Monsignor Mark Lane, Vicar General of the Diocese of Richmond, at Father Kauffmann’s Funeral Mass, Friday, June 23, 2017 at Saint Benedict parish. Monsignor Lane choose the scripture readings, which were 1 Kings 19:11-13a, Philippians 4:4-9, and Luke 12:35-40.

In the face of Father Kauffmann’s sudden death we may feel that God has visited us as heavy wind, crashing rocks, and earthquake. We need to listen for that small whisper.

If anybody was meant to be a priest, it was Father Kauffmann. He was a man of the Eucharist who brought solemnity to that moment of mystery. And as the prayer says, we were to be as holy as the actions we perform.

This last trip of his was to follow some of the roads travelled by Saint Francis. He little knew where his journey would end.

Baptized James, known in the family as Jimmy, called Father Jim Kauffmann and for those who experienced him, called the Energizer Bunny. The man never stopped. And was able to do it all with a sense of enthusiasm and joy. All you had to do was hear the laugh.

He was a man who did not just do the functions of the parish like staff meetings and budgets but who was explicit in the love he had for the people, whether in Saint Augustine’s, Saint John’s in Waynesboro, Saint Mary’s in Ladysmith, Saint Benedict, Sacred Heart in Norfolk, and recently at Saint Bede’s.

He touched your lives and mine in seven different ways… he did what a priest is meant to do. He ministered most effectively with the sick and the senior members of the Church.

Father Jim had many facets but there was one area in which he excelled: it was to capture words. For Father Jim Kauffmann, it was about words. Words were not just the printed page but words that had a history and that history had power. Words were not just sounds. He told us, as the Church does, a Word is spoken and the world is brought into being, and it’s a word that makes us into the image of God.

And it was in the Scriptures he really shined. He saw the Word of God as our source of truth. If we imitate his scholarship, his word is something we are called to know, to meditate on and to speak to ourselves. He did it in Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Greek, and Syriac! We are to plumb its depths and not leave it on a page, and he did it with humility and without pretense.

But it wasn’t just the Scriptures; he could talk about Augustine, Virgil, and Dante, and would try to make us understand… and if we didn’t the enthusiasm kept us going.

Can we in the midst of pain with Paul know that the Lord is near to us here, and if the pain remains and the anxiety advances, that we are to pray?

“I have so much more to do. I want to go to India and study Syriac” was the way he ended our last conversation, Sunday night.

He didn’t know the “more” would be eternal life, but that was the “more” Christ had for him.

But this is the theme of all believers in Christ: we have more to do. The more in this context are the prayers and comforts we can bring to each other. The more may be turning to Christ and learning how to rely only on Him.

We have so much more to do. To make Christ real to people. To share the forgiveness we have received. To reconcile with neighbor; to bring hope where needed. This is our “more” and we would do well to honor Christ and his servant Father Jim in this way.

We are here today to do service to his life and death and with the Scripture and the Eucharist to offer his soul to God, and try to make sense in our own lives of sudden death.

The answer is fulfilled in the Gospel just read: we know not the day or hour when the Master will return. We need to be prepared, and Father Kauffmann was. He received the Last Rites and the Eucharist which saw him from this life to eternity. Are we prepared?

Have we become any better because death visited us? Do we live the Gospel at a deeper depth? Do we take time to love and cherish people in a different way than we did before we got the news? Death is a fine teacher and reminder for Christians if only we listen.

At the funeral. Concelebrating priests from L-R: Rev. Anthony Marques, Pastor of Saint Benedict; Most Rev. Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services, USA; Rev. Tom Mattingly, Pastor, Saint Olaf in Norge, Virginia; Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond (celebrant); Rev. Msgr. Mark Lane; and Rev. Msgr. Timothy Keeney, Pastor of Saint Bede in Williamsburg.

The Recessional begins, led by seminarians of the Diocese of Richmond, many of whom were much influenced by Father Kauffmann.

Update June 19 Early Evening

The following events are known. Funeral plans, however, are NOT finalized as of early evening June 19, 2017.

RICHMOND: At Saint Benedict Parish, “Mass on Tuesday, June 20 at 5:30 pm, will be offered for the Repose of the Soul of Rev. Fr. James F. Kauffmann and the Rosary will be prayed after. Please Note that this is NOT the Funeral Mass.”

WILLIAMSBURG: Saint Bede says: “Please join us for evening prayer as we pray the Office of the Dead for Father Kauffmann, Monday, June 19 through Wednesday, June 21 at 4:45 p.m. in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Saint Bede parish.” Also, there will be a Mass will be at Saint Bede Thursday, June 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Spoleto Cathedral

The cathedral of the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, is full of art treasures. These sites have more details.

The cathedral at Spoleto.

Facade of cathedral.

This chapel houses art by Pinturicchio.

The Pinturicchio altar of the entombed Christ.

This and the next are from the 16th century Assumption Chapel.

Chapel of John Paul.

Entrance to chapel that houses an ancient icon of Mary.

Icon chapel.

Beautiful cosmatesque pavement.

Admiring the cathedral.


Eucharistic chapel.

Remnant of medieval frescoes.

Looking back at cathedral.

Enchanting Spoleto

We began to enquire where we could find information on the Camino. We discovered that we could get a map from Gubbio to Assisi but no-one had a map from Reiti to Assisi. We were discouraged but decided we would go to Spoleto and see what we could find there. We were confident that we would get a map so we could continue. The side trip to Gubbio was a delight so all was not lost. On the bus ride to Spoleto we saw the beautiful countryside that made us even more eager to get back on the camino.

We had a beautiful evening in Spoleto.

The next day when we got up we headed for the tourist information office. There we hoped to find a map so it would put us back on our way. We had missed a good day of this Camino. We did obtain a good map. She was very knowledgeable about what we were trying to accomplish. Today we spent the entire day walking every inch of the city. These photos attempt to share the beauty of Spoleto. The city is charming and beautiful.

Saint Gregory the martyr church

When I walk into a Romanesque church like Saint Gregory I feel I am on a Catholic planet.

13th to 14th century mosaics that have been uncovered.

The chapel under the altar.

A little flavor of the urbanscape.

The portal is beautiful architecturally.

The tall medieval tower.

The remains from the Roman Arch of Drusus and Germanicus.

Fountain of the Mask.

These photos give you a good idea of the enchantment of Spoleto.

The urbanscape is lush with plants and the white jasmine is everywhere which gives the city a wonderful fragrance.

A city of fountains.

Beautiful portals.

Saint Francis in Gubbio

Because of our experience yesterday of getting lost both of us were apprehensive about proceeding into the mountains and into the forest without any assurance that we would stay on the right path so we made a decision that we would hop the bus to Gubbio and hope we could find someone with whom we could speak so we could get back on course.

As we were leaving the Reiti Valley for Gubbio I remembered that Francis was very fond of these people because they lead simple and humble lives. He would often go to rest and spend time in the valley where he would like to pray because it was very isolated and plain.

We arrived in Gubbio in the early afternoon and began our walk. Gubbio is a beautiful medieval city which is perched on the side of a mountain so the walk even in the city can be somewhat demanding.

Medieval city hall of Gubbio.

Interior of Gubbio cathedral.

There is a beautiful story of how Francis tamed the wolf that was terrorizing the people of Gubbio.

Facade of Saint John the Baptist in Gubbio.

The baptistery of Saint John.


The simple altar.

Remnant of medieval frescoes of Saint John.

About the church.

We were determined to accept the challenge of walking to the very top of the mountain where Saint Ubaldo had his hermitage. To give you an idea of the climb I have posted two pictures, one from the city looking up to the top of the mountain and the tower that looks like a speck from there, and a picture of the tower.

It took some time for the climb so we finished at about 8. After dinner we felt sure we would get the information we needed in the morning to continue our camino. We spent the next morning in Gubbio and explored St Francis Church. This is the first church built after the saint’s death.

The Spadalongo offered him asylum and refuge in the beginning of his ministry.

From Rieti to Poggio Bustone

We had spent a very good night in Reiti since we had not slept for almost 24 hours. We woke up with lots of energy ready to go and begin our Camino of Saint Francis. We got directions on how to get out of the city and walked on a busy highway for three or four miles until we began our ascent into the mountains. We finally arrived at our destination, La Foresta, a small Franciscan monastery.

Beautiful landscape on our walk.

Stunningly beautiful landscape. We were confident at this point only later we got discouraged as we lost the path.

A station approaching the monastery.

With signs we still got lost.

The cloister was closed but the church was opened so we stay for prayer.

Lovely image of Mary.

The chapel where we prayed.

The door to the cloister at Foresta.

With confidence we begin our ascent into the woods convinced we were on the Camino.

Fresh water to revive our spirits now that we thought we had found our way.

Now we knew this was the path.

The path became narrow and and very precarious. John fell and broke his walking stick so we decided we took the wrong turn and went back to another path and walked for a long time ending up on an asphalt road and we realized we weren’t on the Camino at all. So we returned to the monastery where we encountered two Italians who put us on the right path and we began to see signs but soon the path became more rugged and ended in a farm. We were losing confidence because we thought we made another mistake so we went back to the monastery. It was now about 3 o’clock and we had been working since 8 in the morning. We had walked in the woods for a long time and basically walked big circles. We had lost our Italian guidebook. We meet an American who started in Gubbio and said the stretch we were walking to Assisi was poorly marked and people were prone to getting lost. The good news was that the monastery was now open we had the opportunity to see another cave where Saint Francis slept.

It was past 3 o’clock and there was no way we could make it to Poggio Bustone before nightfall so we had to hitch a ride and got there in time for dinner. The hotel we were scheduled to stay in had been closed because of earthquake damage but the manager found us a B and B. We had a great dinner and conversations with Italians with lively interchange.

Our room had a balcony which overlooked the valley below. The balcony door was opened and a little kitten wandered in who wanted a lot of attention. I found out the next morning his name was Meno.

This is a town that played a part in the life of Saint Francis, who visited the town one day, knocked on the door at the arched portal, declaring “Buon Giorno Buona Gente,” “Good morning, good people” and proceeded to proclaim to them the Gospel.

He took refuge in another cave up the side of the mountain at the church of Saint James. We intended to visit it the next day.

We hoped that we could find someone who could give us a map. The pilgrims we encountered said this stretch is almost impossible because of poor signage. The stretch from Gubbio to Assisi is about 4 to 5 days well marked with lots of pilgrims. We had chosen the road less travelled.

Early Morning in Poggio.

Saint James.

Door to church.

Gives an idea of the structure hugging the mountain.

The tau cross of Saint Francis.

The cave where Francis slept and instructed his disciples.

Saint Francis.

The church of Saint James.

The cloister.

The church.

The Camino of Saint Francis: Poggio Bustone

Update: for the whole story of today’s trip, please see the next post.

The medieval streets of Poggio Bustone.

The gate to the medieval city where Saint Francis entered and greeted the residents with the words, “Buon giorno, buona gente.”

Frescoes inside the gate.

Looking from the city through the gate.

Sunset in Poggio Bustone.

My new friend Meno helping me.

A view of Poggio Bustone from Saint James.

The sign of the cammino as we entered the sanctuary of Poggio Bustone dedicated to Saint James.

The sanctuary of Poggio Bustone dedicated to Saint James.

The Camino of Saint Francis: Day One

We arrived at the airport early in the morning and took the Leonardo Express airport train to the train station in central Rome. That was the last express transit of our day because we waited for three hours for a local train to Reiti.

Waiting for hours in Rome for our train connection.

We had difficulty finding the platform because it took us took us about 15 minutes to get the platform and they only posted 20 minutes before. The local train got us as far as Terni and then we had difficulty finding the platform. It was to the west of the station. Was it the express to Marrakesh? It had that hippie look with urban graffiti even covering the windows. The train looked like it was destined for the junkyard however much to our surprise there were four Filipino sisters getting on board with big boxes and yes they assured us this was the train to Rieti.

We finally arrived around 4pm and we were exhausted. We found our hotel the Miramonti and took off for our city walk.

Our hotel.

View from the hotel room.

Our first stop was the Basilica of Saint Augustine which dates from the 12th century.

There were remnants of 12th century frescoes.

We then took a walk outside the old city walls.

Entering the city again and began searching for the of umbilicus or navel which Italians consider the center of Italy.

We then discovered the Central Square with many folks enjoying the afternoon.

We then proceeded to cathedral which is a Romanesque structure with baroque overlay.

To the left of the cathedral was a monument to Saint Francis.

At the end of that square was a 12th century that was a papal residence.

The main altar.

The pulpit.

(Closeup of this altarpiece).

Saint Barbara. This was possibly designed by Bernini. If you enlarge the photo and look closely, you can see a cannon beneath her feet, as she is the patron saint of artillerymen, and of Rieti.

The crypt.

Of course, afternoon gelato.

For dinner we found a great restaurant, the Bacchus, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with a lively conversation with the chef setting and the owner chef.

In the Footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi

Today, June 5, Father John Peck and I will fly to Rome and then take the train to Rieti. From that little town in Umbria we will begin our walk to Assisi. We will cover about 15 miles a day on foot from little town to little town associated with Saint Francis of Assisi. We will be heading north from Rieti to Assisi and enjoying the countryside and various sites that Saint Francis visited during his lifetime.

The towns we plan to visit are marked on this Google map.