Friday, November 14, 2014

Poste Italiane

It is the small things that sneak up on you and remind you that you are 'not in Kansas anymore'.
One regular reminder that I am no longer in the States is the Italian Post Office. In the States, if you need stamps, want to mail a package, need to find out how much postage you need for something,  etc. you go to the Post Office. Not in Italy!

None of these tasks can be easily taken care of in the Post Office. To buy stamps,  for example, you are much, much better off going to the tobacco store.
This afternoon I received a notice that I had a package waiting for me at the Post Office. For some unknown reason they could not deliver it to where I live...

I headed down after classes (5 pm) and took a numbered ticket as at the deli counter in the States. And then I waited...

For. Ever. And. Ever.

Really, it was only about an hour, but it was still a bit of time. You see, here in Italy the Post Office is where you (I kid you not) pick up mail, send mail, pay your bills, buy dental insurance, order catalog furniture, shop for paperback books, buy wrapping paper and gift bags, buy a coffee-maker, pick up a cake-decorating kit, deliver and retrieve immigration paperwork, etc etc etc.
As one might guess, there is always a long line at the Post Office.

In the end, I managed to claim my mail and escape with my sanity intact. Until the next visit...

The sign on the right explains the many things you can do here! On the left is the machine where you take your ticket. There are 5 types of tickets; God help you if you choose the wrong one! You will have to start all over again, in that case.

Waiting for my number to come up on the boards.

A selections of things for sale at the Post Office: Christmas ornaments, food graters, coffee pots, children's toys, cake decorating kits, etc.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Populus Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage

The Altar of the Chair at St. Peter's
Yesterday was a lovely day in Rome. The weather has turned quite brisk this week. Someone commented here that it seems like autumn lasted about one day and that we are now heading quite quickly into winter. After a summer of blisteringly hot and humid days, I can't day that I am upset about this development.

In the midst of this beautiful weather, the Cœtus Internationalis Summorum Pontificum, who advocate for devotion to the older forms of the liturgy of the Roman Church, held their annual pilgrimage to the Eternal City. I was able to join a few priests from the house and attend a few of their events over the weekend.

The week culminated in a Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica by the great Cardinal Burke. Pope Francis sent a letter expressing his prayers and offering his Apostolic Blessing to all present and Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter saying that, while he could not be present, he was pleased to hear of the event and offered his prayers esteem. The liturgy was stunningly beautiful with music supplied by the choir of the North American College's Seminary. Making the day even more enjoyable was the procession across the city of Rome which preceded the liturgy. We had the great joy of processing up the middle of the street which leads to St. Peter's all whilst singing hymns, prayers, and even the Creed (every Catholic should know how to sing the Creed in Latin, really. Hearing a hundred priests, seminarians, and religious, followed by hundreds more faithful all singing the Creed together was indescribably beautiful and quintessentially Catholic.)

Fr. Zulsdorf has some pictures of the day on his blog - the back of my head (manifestly, my 'good-side') features on the left side of many of his pictures as I was a few places ahead of him in procession.

Waiting for Mass to begin
What really finished the day off was a series of experiences on the way home from the Mass. I was walking home with a priest from the western US and we were enjoying conversation, but were stopped several times and asked for directions by various people. There is something about wearing a cassock in Rome that sends out a vibe that says 'I know where I am and am willing to assist you in getting where you would like to go.' I rather enjoy it as it brings about some great interactions. Yesterday, we were stopped by:

1) A man who had just walked 74 days from Switzerland along the Pilgrim's route to Rome who was looking for the pilgrimage office of the Holy See.
2) An Italian group looking for the Church of the Holy Spirit where there is a great shrine to the Divine Mercy devotion.,
3) Two French women looking for the French national church in Rome which houses some magnificent painting by Carravaggio.
4) An Italian woman who is the daughter of a diplomat from Venice, but who grew up all over Europe and now lives in London (who spoke impeccable English but insisted that I give directions in my abysmal Italian...) and is looking forward to leaving with her husband to do missionary work in South America soon.

And that was just a 20 minute walk home!

I'm taking today off to recover... :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Back to School!

Today was my first day back in class in a few years. The day began with the Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law addressing the new students for an hour (which was quite informative) and then continued with an hour of 'Methodologies I' which promises to be a rather tedious, but possibly helpful class introducing us to the library, research methods here, formatting of papers (there's the tedious part!) etc. I even managed to get some homework assigned which is due later in the week; this is getting real!

The facade of the Gregorian University
The past week has been a wonderful experience. The new men at the Casa Santa Maria were fortunate to be able to get tickets to distribute communion at the Pope's Mass on Sunday. We were able to see and cheer for Pope Benedict XVI who was present at an event that took place before the Mass. Here is a picture from the internet that shows us in the background. It is too blurry to make out where I was sitting, but we had a great view!

I took some time this past week, also, to attend the Diaconate Ordination of the seminarians from the Pontifical North American College here in Rome. It took place at the Altar of the Chair at St. Peter's Basilica. Two of the men from the Diocese of Paterson, NJ were kind enough to invite me to their reception where I was able to catch up with some New Jersey priests including the priest who vested me at my own ordination to the Diaconate. Keep these men, and all deacons in your prayers.

I think I will go work on my homework now so that I don't have that hanging over my head all week. Latin classes begin this evening!

In other back-to-school news, I saw that it was just announced that St. Gregory the Great Academy was named a National Blue Ribbon School; Congratulations!