I spent most of my time yesterday completing Latin homework and writing a report to the Province Studies Committee. I then joined a few priests friends for an early supper at a Chinese restaurant just around the corner. This was my first "non Italian" restaurant to go to since arriving two months ago. Fortunately the menu was written in both Italian and English.
Today I awoke early and walked to St. Peter's Basilica for the Mass which formally closed the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. I walked with a priest friend along back streets away from the cars and crossed the Ponto Sant'Angeli - statue of St. Michael on the top.
I had the honor of being one of the priests who did not concelebrate but who held a ciborium of hosts during the consecration and then distributed communion. It was a beautiful liturgy and one I will not forget anytime soon.
We vested in the Blessed Sacrament chapel with surplice and stole. One of the young sacristans approached me and told me that my cape goes under the surplice. I responded that I am a religious priest and this is my habit. He wasn't satisfied. He came a moment later and asked which community. After telling him he seemed more satisfied. It was odd being the only priest with a black cape over a white surplice, and it was an odd interaction. But Mass began.
Our seats were just behind and to the left of the Main Altar. Precisely when the Holy Father processed in the organ ceased and the choir sang "Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam. You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." It was quite impressive. The Holy Father processed around the alter coming right up to where we priests were seated and gave his blessing.
It was a "whose-who" of cardinals. Processing just in front of me were bishops and cardinals from around the world including Cardinals DiNardo of Houston, George of Chicago, the former Secretary of State Sodano, the current Secretary of State Bertone, the former personal secretary to John Paul II Dziwisz, and Pell from Australia.
During the consecration the Holy Father stood at the altar, of course, and I stood to his left, at the base of the steps. He prayed Eucharistic Prayer II today. And he prayed Eucharistic Prayer III at the Synod's Opening Mass. While it might not have been his intention, the statement I take from this is that these two Eucaristic Prayers are valid, good, and to be used.
We returned to the Casa for our midday reception and pronzo and now it is time to hit the Greek studies. So, a blessed day.