Well last weekend was quite full. Friday afternoon a few of us priests went to the Vatican to run errands - namely, to pick up a couple of papal blessing prints and to turn in rebate receipts for church goods purchased. But once we were inside the Vatican property we decided to take a stroll, enjoying the beautiful grounds and gardens and avoiding guards walking around. Behind me, in the photo, is the large seal of His Holiness outlined in flowers.
We then made our way to the Borgo Pio street just outside the Vatican gates to pick up our Permesso di Soggiorno - the offical card or visa that allows students to live in Italy beyond three months. You might be thinking, but wait you arrived in September and it is now already May - that's eight months! Yes, well, this is Italy. And now that I have my Permesso I can look forward to the redtape of renewing it when it expires in March of 2010. Such is life here in post-World War II Italy. As you can see, the flowers are in full bloom in what is an already hot summer.
Last Saturday night the Casa held its year-end Mass and dinner as an occasion to say goodbye to 17 student priests who have completed their licentiate or doctorate requirements. His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, celebrated the Mass on the vigil of the Feast of the Ascension. After Mass a large and formal dinner was served outside in the inner courtyard.
In truth, though it's not widely recognized or admitted, the cardinal's presence and the festive dinner were both in honor of my birthday. Needless to say, I was honored by this kind showing!A number of the newly minted Doctors and Masters priests have already departed to return to their home dioceses in the states to begin new assignments, most of them in chancery or seminary positions. The completion of their studies gives all of us who remain, hope that we too shall one day see the light at the end of the tunnel.