It was the regular Wednesday Hamburger Night here at the Casa, food that gives me strength to blog. The burgers and fries were quite good, but I have yet to dare try the "baked beans" Italian style.
This past Saturday around 7AM I grabbed the bus with four fellow priest residents to the Vatican. Making our way past the Swiss Guard to St. Peter's sacristy, we donned our albs, cinctures, and stoles. We prayed the Mass at the Tomb of Pope St. Gregory the Great, which is next to the chapel that houses the tomb of St. John Chrysostom, whose feast day it was. After the Mass, we went downstairs to the Grotto and prayed at the tomb of St. Peter, and then at the tomb of John Paul II. There were only a few other people present and it was a quiet time for prayer. A tradition is to pray the Creed at the tomb of St. Peter.
Afterwards, we each went our own way upstairs for private prayer. But, by 8:30 we were hungry for caffe (espresso) and a cornetto (pastry). We then headed to the Vatican bookstore (yes, yes, I bought some things, I couldn't resist!) and the Vatican post office. We all noticed the marble inscription placed at the very spot of the piazza where an assassination attempt against John Paul II took place.
More bookstores followed but by around Noon I was tired and the habit a bit hot so we went back in time for lunch. I had to get some rest to prepare myself for the 9:30PM to 1:30AM ND/MI football game fortunately aired live on the house t.v.
Sunday morning, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, my religious community's titular feast day, I traveled by metro to our Generalate for Mass and lunch. Fr. Russ McDougall, CSC celebrated his 17th anniversary to the priesthood that morning and he presided. Fr. Russ is working on his PhD in scripture and knows the city well.
After lunch he invited me for a walk. We took the metro to the Villa Borghese Gardens which I have never been too. It is a quiet and cool respite from a normally loud and dirty Rome. We walked through the park along with a good number of Roman citizens. We headed out toward the Spanish Steps, down Via Corso, stopped at Giolitti's, which is one of the more famous gelato shops in town. But, by then it was late and I had Italian homework to finish and vocab to memorize. I'm grateful for Fr. Russ's hospitality.
Last night I was invited to dinner with my friends, Max and Nancy Johnson. Max is a professor of liturgy at Notre Dame and was the 2nd reader of my MA Thesis two years ago. Among other things, Nancy is a loyal and generous lector at my former parish, Holy Cross and St. Stanislaus. They are in town for a liturgy conference. We were joined by Frs. Michael Naughton, OSB and Fr. Patrick Regan, OSB, both of whom live at San'Anselmo, my school. Naughton is the prior of the monastery and Regan is a professor of liturgy. Also, Fr. Daniel Findikyan, a professor of liturgy at the Armenian Seminary in New York, joined us. It was a good time.
Lest you think this is all I do, please know that the four hours of Italian each morning are quite helpful and thorough. It is certainly reinforcing the good grammar and vocab I learned this summer. Having Blsd. Pope Pius IX staring at me keeps me honest in doing my homework! It was he who established this house as an American Seminary and to him our classroom is dedicated.