Friday, May 28, 2010

Over and Under Rome


Yesterday and today were two very different but amazing experiences.

Thursday we traversed above ground to Sant' Ambrogio with Father Ambrose. He was a wonderful tour guide through the Curia for the Subiaco order...the rest of the monastery building used to be a college for Benedictine monks, then a convent, and now apartment buildings and a disco! My favorite item in the whole tour of ancient excavation, chapel, and artwork was a fresco in their little chapel that used to be in the sisters chapter room long ago. It is a depiction of Jesus being taken down from the cross and placed in Mary's arms. There are some faithful men on one side and faithful women on the other...not what touched me. Mary Magdalene knelt at Jesus feet with her red hair loose and flowing as she embraced and kissed his wounded feet. Just to the right of her on the edge of the painting, there were two Benedictine nuns kneeling and watching her adoration. I wished they had a print of this image, but I took a picture to share when I get home.

After touring us about his house, Father Ambrose took us on a short cut through Trastevere and the side alleyways of the Jewish Ghetto to Santa Cecilia's Basilica. Sister Margaret took us on an amazing tour through their chapel and the lower ruins of the family home. All I have to say is WOW! Erin remembered to light a candle at elegant statue commemorating St. Cecilia to beg her prayers not only for Sr. Jane, but to also ask Jane to pray for musical vocations.

Today we delved below ground into Saint Peter's Scavi. As we twisted and turned through the narrow gaps, I kept being amazed at how well the frescoes and plaster survived being buried beneath tons of earth and the marble filled basilica. The marble sarcophaguses were also preserved with amazing details intact! Our tour guide was a sharp woman who has studied religious and cultural icons/symbols. She made a few jokes about being better than Professor Langdon and Dan Brown...she promises that she shared all her 'secret' knowledge. Actually, she had some very interesting bits about the use of images and wonderful stories. I must admit that I was very happy to breath the fresh air when we returned to the surface.

By the has been marvelously cool and a bit rainy for us. So I'm keep my fingers crossed that the weather will continue to be graced!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Amazing Sites To See


I am excited for a day of indoor class with Sr. Kym Monastic Life Before the Rule of Benedict. The Roman city scape, religious and secular tour sites, and last two days of travel have been amazing for this small town girl.

I am proud to say I did not get lost on the train, tram, or metro! In fact, I was able to navigate all fairly well and pretended an attitude of boredom on the metro especially to avoid looking too much like hick in the big city. I did have one moment of confusion...the train and tram tickets are validated with a slot at the top of this small box; however, the metro validates the ticket using a similar shaped box, but you enter the ticket on the opposite side. It took me a few moments to refigure this in my head, but long enough to get an impatient Italian comment or two from behind me. So far, the train is my favorite way to travel, the metro is too hot, crowded, and a bit smelly for my taste...still, it is reasonably priced and quick to get from place to place.

Monday we saw San Crisogono and the remains of the Basillica below the church and San Benedetto Chapel with Benedict's cell. I have one word...WOW! The remains of the old Basillica were amazing to me; the old bapistry is now cleared and new frescos are able to be seen. The little chapel of San Benedetto had hosted a celebration for St. Rita a few days before we came to see the cell, but she was still at the front of the chapel enshrined with roses with offerings of little breads at her feet. I was sure to take a few pictures and a prayer card plus light a candle for my niece Rita Ann (Lisa's oldest). We were lucky to see two newly returned images of a young Benedict while touring there.

Yesterday, we walked about the Roman Forum and the English teacher in me had to take pictures of Caesar's pavement and the grand steps where Anthony's speech might have been! Unfortunately, the Mamertine Prison was closed for repair or work or some-such thing. We hiked on to the Basillica of Sts. Cosmos and Damian; there we were affored the special trip to the crypt of the old church. There the bones from other catacombs are kept as well as all the relics from not only Cosmos and Damian, but all of their family as well. There was a particularly lovely fresco of the two saints with Our Lady so I snapped a pictures to take home with us. Finally, we wandered around the colusseum before taking the metro home. Maribeth read (pontificated) from her Rick Steves book while Erin and I looked about at all the sights and watched out for pick pockets.

All in all it has been very amazing!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost


I have just returned from our celebration of Pentecost at Saint Peter's Basillica! It was awesome! No really, I sat in awe as the Basillica began to fill with men, women, and children of all cultures and languages...habits, saris, dresses, and suits of all colors swirled around us as we found our places in the body of the church. We were about 40 to 50 yards back from the altar and had a wonderful view of the Pope.

I was very grateful for the booklet for the Mass. The main part of the service was in Latin, and I am very glad that Srs. Patty Ann and Madonna worked me so hard during the postualncy and noviciate to learn how to pronounce the basics and follow Gregorian notation. I could at least follow along and muddle through the responses with some energy and effort! The readings, responses, and prayers were also proclaimed in English, German, Spanish, Chinese, Portugese, Italian, French, and a few others. It impressed upon me the universal outreach of the Church and how each of the cultures as also influenced us.

After Mass we trooped on up to the road side dessert stand, many of the others got gelattos, but I was ready for a smooth shot of cafe (espresso) with a bit of sugar stirred in...only 60 Euro and it helped me hop the train.

The previous day we did a whirlwind tour of Saint Peter's and the surrounding shops. I was so overwhelmed and overrun with sounds and sights that I sought out quiet. There is a side chapel blocked off by a gray velvet curtain and watched by a official looking man. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament was the quiet haven I needed. Inside this space there is no talking, touristing, or photos allowed; it is a place of prayer. As the curtain fell shut behind me, I spotted some kneeler space and I slid into the pew for 10 or 15 minutes of quiet thoughts of all of you back home.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Unpacking & Repacking


I happy to say that I've made it home to the Monastery. Sr. Julie helped me unpack the car and tote my bits and pieces up to my bedroom; where it sat for the night. I was just too tired to open the boxes and suitcases. Today, I tackled the process of unpacking and reorganizing. I brought back many of my textbooks from university and a few trinkets from my time in the big city, and all needed to find a place.

This morning, I began to wish I had thought ahead a bit farther last night. I was up with my 5:45 alarm, and quickly realized that I had left the items I needed to prepare for the new day and my clothes for the day in the suitcases and boxes out in the hall. Thankfully, the other sisters on my 'wing' were still in their rooms as I rummaged around to find the necessities of life : )

It was more than nice to be home for Vespers last was comforting, welcoming...the return to our Benedictine prayer is hard to explain (and I never thought I would be as passionate about it as I am). I knew I was home when I heard our voices together again. I must admit, I was a little less poetic feeling this morning at 6:30; there are night owl genes in my family and only a rare few are morning people. However, I was present and happy to be there; even if I wasn't fully awake!

Today, I completed my unpacking. Now, I can begin the list to repack for Rome! I leave in just 6 days for a month of Benedictine study with approximately 25 other sisters! There will be three of us from my house and the others (all English speaking) are traveling from all over the world. First, I must plan for a total of 5 weeks of travel out of one 21 inch suitcase and one carry on. This can be done and I've received all sorts of helpful advice from other sisters who have participated in the program in the past. The 'homework' I have assigned myself this weekend is to practice packing and then carrying the suitcase about for a while to see if I can pull it on and off the train once we're on the go!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There's No Place Like Home


I finished my final Theology final this morning! Now I to complete my packing and preparations to drive home tomorrow! I wish I had Dorothy's ruby slippers and could simply click my heels while wishing myself home to the monastery. However, no such luck.

Dorothy was right, there is no place like home! I am excited to be returning home to the monastery and sisters. Being away and living with Franciscans has helped me appreciate our Benedictine home. This night owl is even ready to return to our horarium of 6:30AM prayer and Mass.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Benedictine Horoscope


Oh my dear sisters, you'll love my horoscope from this past Wednesday. I kid you was written this way!

Cancer: Show stability by sticking to your plans and following through on your promises. Older and younger people in your life will be counting on you and you mustn't let them down, no matter what.

I laughed all during supper...the Fransicans thought it was a bit funny too.

If you're wondering about the scribe on the right, she reminds me that I should be staying dedicated to my schoolwork and studying until finals week is over. It will take stability and following through to finish out my school year ; )


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunshine & Snow


The sun has been full and bright these last few days. They have been wonderful days to wander about University Campus and celebrate my the end of my Master's program. I've gotten to study out under blooming trees and sitting next to beds of tulips...a wonderful way to study. All about the grounds students have been enjoying the sun as well: tossing baseballs and Frisbees, tanning, and pretending to study while sunning with their significant others.


I've caught up on my South Dakota news and they are expecting snow this week! This late visit from old man winter is going to strike not only Western South Dakota's Black Hills and Rapid City area, but also drift far into Eastern and Northern South Dakota! This means my sister and her family should find those snow boots and coats that she already buried in the basement for the summer.