Rome Experience – Day IV (a real Rome experience)

Today was a really Roman experience to be sure.

After a beautiful morning of prayer and breakfast looking at St. Peter’s we said good-bye to Fr. Eric Nielsen and Fr. Jerome Kish. Then I took the men down to the Basilica where we met the great Dony MacManus who gave the men a fantastic art tour of the great shrine of Christendom.

Seemed like a perfect time for me to undertake a needful task, get bus tickets for the men. So, across the square and a walk to the metro station Ottaviano.

Now on the way there one passes one of the Roman shopping districts and I had the opportunity to notice something, the Romans have a fanatics selection of clothes for women. Stylish cuts, many different colors and patterns, variety of design, modest tops, nice length on the bottom. True there is plenty of immodesty to go around, but so much selection that is modest, stylish and attractive. Ladies of America, take heart, there is much sartorial hope.

But then I got to they metro (subway) stop and what to I learn. Metro strike, no service. Awesome. So, a length walk back to the right bus stop and on to a packed bus. My favorite was the smell of sweat and cigarette smoke. Arrive at the central station, Termini and learn: Atac (public transit) offices closed. Why? Who knows. So, down to a local shop for the special monthly tickets (which they miraculous have) but, they only take cash. Ok – off to the bancomat (ATM) but, uh oh, all the bancomats in Termini are not working. All of them? O yes. So, trek to the nearest bancomat which, as you might imagine is a lengthy ways away. By the time I get money I am a great distance from Termini and starting to run late, no time to get to Termini and back. So, into every store, with the ‘do you have the monthly tickets?’ Answer, ‘no.’ Finally place has them, 20 of them, and I need 34. So, particular success and a truly Roman morning. What was a pleasant morning when I might have covered 3 tasks but ended up rushed and hurried and covering about 2/3 of a task. O felix Roma!

As reward I sat at the Borgo Pio for lunch and met some of the men and Dony for pleasant chat. I also found a great picture of Pope Francis that is sitting on my desk now.

The afternoon was free for the men. Two great priest, Fr. David Kime and Fr. Christopher Mahar arrived to serve as Spiritual Directors – great news for us and the men. We prayed, had dinner, a get-together, Rosary, Night Prayer, figuring out how to get to the American Embassy and off to blog.

Love you all, pray for the Rome Experience!

Rome Experience – Day III

Sweet Sacrament, Thee we adore, o let us love You more and more!

What a day in Christian Rome.

We woke up, prayed, ate breakfast and walked down to St. Peter’s for Mass. Every Sunday there is a celebration of Mass at the Altar of the Chair. The Mass is entirely sung, celebrated in Latin with an excellent choir. The old monsignor was all fired up at the homily, “the faith, the true faith will lead you to heaven, the faith, the true faith will bring peace to the world, the faith, the true faith, shared with your friends and families and you will walk into the glory of God.”

There are few other things like an organ fugue as you process out of the the basilica to infuse the spirit with the shades of glory to go and live for God and in service to the world.

Walking out of the basilica was a bit on the nuts as some tens of thousands were packed into the square for the Angelus and talk by the Pope. How beautiful it was to see so many in the Piazza San Pietro. True, many there to see a celebrity, but that celebrity also preaches Christian truth.

Lunch was pleasant, with a short time of rest afterwards. At 4:00 I trekked off with some of the seminarians to San Andrea della Valle, the church dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle about 15 minutes from the Vatican. It is the second largest dome in Rome and a beautiful church. The Pope was having Adoration from 5 – 6 pm and asked all the parishes of the world to do the same. Since I didn’t think entry into St. Peter’s would be possible without a ticket I thought the church dedicated to Peter’s brother would be a nice choice, what do you think.


So, a lovely Holy Hour was had. Our group certainly made the Adoro Te Devote a bit more vigorous and the pastor was very good to us. During the Holy Hour I was very moved while reading a letter from a Spiritual Directee of mine – thanks to all those who are so good to me.

After the Benediction we walked back to CIAM. The Chiesa Nuova was right on the way and visiting the tomb of St. Philip Neri is always a good idea. When we entered, a surprise!

Adoration was still going on, in fact we walked in just at the start of Vespers. True, we could not visit St. Philip Neri but to see the Lord’s clergy and many young faithful and to hear the singing of the psalms is a greater treat!

How I love Christian Rome! True, my heart aches for all the people I love and miss back home, but I do love this city and the spiritual joys it has to offer. Here there were no popes, no cardinals, no bishops, no rows of nuns in habits nor the ecclesiastically famous. But here was Jesus, His priests, His faithful, in a beautiful house dedicated to His Name, through the work and legacy of one of His saints. Such things are easily found in this great city and it has always filled my heart. I I do love the Pope and the cardinals and all the ecclesiastically famous, but I love the other as well. To breathe this air and see these colors is a leaven for the heart and mind and soul.

We had many important guests at dinner and so much fun. It was good to see Gabi Lopez and Joe Baker, two seminarians from Madison and great fun to have Fr. Jim Socias with us. After dinner a Skype chat with someone very dear to my heart and then to type.

I love you all like Jesus and miss all those back home – Jesus, ADORO TE DEVOTE.

Rome Experience – Day II

So it begins.

The seminarians of the Rome Experience arrived today but not before a bit of adventure.

The morning was greeted with a gray sky and a chill in the air. So I prayed, drank some strong coffee and was ready for the day. You know, coffee has and will always taste better in Rome. Perhaps it’s the roast, perhaps the beans, perhaps the water, perhaps the brew but most likely the place. Everything, the good and the bad, can be found in Rome, the city where the living God chose to plant the heart of His bride the Church to beat until the end of time. Thus, for centuries, all the best of the divine has intersected with the best and worst of humanity. So, it makes sense that all things human would taste better in Rome (except beer and hamburgers.)

So out the door. The mission, buy month-long bus tickets. In short, there were closed stores, kiosks that did not sell the monthly ticket, stores that didn’t sell the tickets even though the sign said they did and finally the places that did sell, but only to find out that they only accepted cash payment. Of course, my happy debit card has a €500 limit for withdrawals per day and so the €1225 was not going to be covered.

Then it started to rain, I mean really rain. So, with a little defeat in my heart I walked back to CIAM soaking wet. The house greeted me warmly and I hung clothes out to dry and changed before Fr. Socias arrived and we chatted all things Church and apostolate. In short it was very enjoyable

Which as good since the seminarians arrived about three hours earlier than I thought! Thanks to the good sisters we put some food in them and got them oriented. After that a short walk down to St. Peter’s I let the seminarians run off to gelato and whatever little ecclesiastical adventure they might have in in hours. All were back for dinner, a short get-together and off to a Roman sleep.

Here’s my view as I do my night prayers before bed. As I said, O felix Roma!