Or was it 15,000? Let’s just say the place was packed!

June 23, 2010

From Brendan Johnson’s journal:

June 11, 2010
Today we had the Mass for the end of the Year of the Priest and it was an amazing sight!  There were about 15,000 priests concelebrating with the pope,  and thousands of other people besides – when the priests walked out after vesting, it took about an hour and a half for them to completely get out and fill up all of the seats and they arrived in very steady streams down the paths in St. Peter’s Square.

Again, the homily was in Italian, so we couldn’t understand everything that was said, but there were some good responses from those who could, so I’m excited about reading the homily when I get a chance. The only thing that was a little disappointing about the Mass was the number of people who randomly walked in and out of the section we were in. I think that more than a few of them thought that it was just a tourist attraction to watch the Catholics perform their rituals. I’m glad that they were able to stumble in and at least in a small way participate in the Mass – but it was surely heartbreaking to watch them in their ignorance.

After the Mass the pope drove right by where we were standing again and we were able to see him up close again, which was pretty neat. After the Mass we went for lunch at Santa Croce and then I went for an afternoon siesta (sometimes the Italians have great ideas!). After dinner we had a bit of a party for Fr. Heisler who was, unfortunately, leaving us to go back to the States to attend a conference for seminarian formators. It was a good time though – and a lot of good conversation.


A close look at the Holy Father

June 21, 2010

From Brendan Johnson’s journal:  June 10, 2010

Today was the vigil for the end of the Year of the Priest, so we went over to St. Peter’s at about 5 pm to try to get in as close as we could to see the Pope. We were able to get in the very front of the seminarian section and to see pretty well the stand where the presentations were and, eventually, where the pope was to be. He didn’t come in until about 9:30 but there were talks starting at about 8:30 pm.

The talks, I’m sure, were very good, but only a few of them were in English so I didn’t catch much of what was said.   At 9:30 pm when the pope came in, he drove right by where we were standing, so I was about ten feet away from him as he drove around before approaching the altar.  There, he answered questions from priests from all over the world. He answered in Italian, so again, I didn’t understand anything, but it was still really neat to have him answering these questions — and without his notes, too. 

 After the Q & A,  the Blessed Sacrament was brought in, and the pope presided over Adoration and Benediction, which was incredible! Everyone went down on their knees in St. Peter’s Square and went completely silent to receive Benediction.   After Benediction ended, we got back to Fraterna Domus (late), but the sisters let us in so that we could go to bed for a few hours to get back up for the Mass the next morning.

Art everywhere you look in Rome

June 15, 2010

 More from seminarian Jeffrey Gardner, this from JUNE 8th 2010:

Yesterday and today we had class with Bishop Morlino.  He has been discussing the hermeneutic of continuity that the Holy Father has been discussing.  The point of this hermeneutic is that the Church has a continuous teaching and belief that goes from the Old Testament, through all of the New Testament and to every council — including Vatican II – through today.  The Church is alive and growing with consistent outpourings of the Holy Spirit who guides us in our growth.  We are not alone — we have the Lord as our Shepherd.

 Yesterday I walked around a section of Rome to get a taste of what she has to offer.  There is so much that you must be careful or you’ll miss something.  I was in Santa Maria sopra  Minerva to see the tomb of St Catherine of Siena and inadvertently walked by a piece by Michaelangelo  — have to go back and get another look .  Also, I saw four Caravaggios yesterday; they were in two churches within a half a mile of each other.  I have been a fan of Caravaggio for several years now, and I had only seen one of his paintings in real life.  Suddenly in just one day – actually, just two hours — I see four more! The most amazing  picture I saw was the “Calling of St Mathew”.  It pulls you into the drama, the humanity, of the painting. 

Finally, the food.  Yesterday we had rolls, coffee, jam, honey (not the Norcian honey, though) for breakfast.  Lunch was shell pasta; salad with mozzarella, ham and hard-boiled egg; bread and fruit.  Dinner consisted of a bean soup or pasta with cream sauce, pork loin and sausage with cooked spinach and cooked carrots.  The cooked carrots were of special note; they were cooked with both olive oil and butter.  Fresh and very good!  Be assured, I am no connoisseur of fine foods, but those carrots were awesome!  We had fruit for dessert.    

Also, some of the guys went to St Peter’s to see it at night, while some of us walked the Tiber and prayed the Rosary.  Then, this morning we had Mass in the crypt below St. Peter’s and saw the tombs of both St.  Peter and John Paul II.

The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio

From June 10th:

Amy, Yesterday was fruitful in so many ways.  We started with Christology class by Fr Kelly. It was very informative.  In the afternoon Kevin Drew and I headed over to the museum called the Scuderie del Quirinale* that holds different art exhibits throughout the year; this particular exhibit was of Caravaggio paintings.  It contains 17 works from around the world that are considered to be unquestionably authentic.  We had to wait in line for three hours but it was worth it!  FYI, Caravaggio is considered to be the premier painter of the Baroque period (circa 1600 AD).
Later today we will go to the prayer vigil for the international Year of the Priest; should get to see the Pope!



Year of the Priest ends

June 12, 2010

From seminarian Jeffrey Gardner:

Yesterday (June 11, 2010) was another big day. Not only was it the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but we attended the closing Mass for the Year of the Priest. I believe there were 10,000 priests in attendance, plus thousands of seminarians. Once again, what a powerful experience! I was also about ten feet from the Holy Father when he rode around in the “popemobile” after Mass!

Fr. Eric’s 2009 Rome Experience journal — Day 26

May 21, 2010

Friday, Day 26:  Rome

We took the 118 to the Catacombs of San Sebastian and got there a little before 10:00.  After the tour, we had Mass in the catacombs, a very moving experience.  The altar was well-prepared, but they had a clay chalice and paten for our use.  In the future, we might want to bring our own, of a little nobler quality.  We took the 218 back; as it turns out, it is a lot closer to San Sebastian.  That evening, everyone left for the vesper service opening the Year of the Priest.  Those wearing cassocks received better seating than those dressed in a clerical suit.  We returned to Fraterna Domus for dinner at 8, as the sisters agreed to serve dinner a little later than usual.

Year of the Priest begins with a service at St. Peter's Basilica

Rome Experience seminarians Ryan O'Neill and Samuel Morehead at St. Peter's

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