In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1327)
Last weekend I went on a short pilgrimage led by Fr. Cozzens, who was here teaching a course to some of the St. Paul seminarians. It was a last minute excursion, seeking miracles and saints. Such are the adventures in the life of a Roman.
January has begun, and starting this past Wednesday our classes did too. It is wonderful to have everyone back from their travels and now the house is full again. Everything is buzzing as we prep for the last three weeks of the semester. Unfortunately, it’s hard to start up with classes since this means it is the final push of papers and tests as well. Everyone is really trying to soak up what they can from Rome these next few weeks. Visit what sites that they have foregone until this final stretch.
Rome is buzzing as well with a new swarm of St. Thomas students studying here for J-Term. The Theology 101 students were over on Tuesday for lunch, the Theology 300 students have been visiting Bernardi, and at different restaurants and on the street we have managed to see the emerging purple and grey sweatshirts from two business groups, an engineering group, and also supposedly there is an Art History group here as well. This is another great way to study abroad, to even just get a taste of what being abroad might be like.
I am so grateful to be here for the year and for me I cannot imagine going home right now, although others are quite ready to take on St. Paul again. All my time here has helped me to really get to know Rome as my home, which I’m really just beginning to discover. Living in the community of Bernardi, we have especially grown as a family. This Bernardi family is something great that past students had expressed to me, but was not really sure what to expect. I cannot believe that we only have three weeks left. The semester really flew by. I’m really trying to soak up as much as possible from the group before they have to leave!
The eve of Christmas found me outside of St. Peter’s Basilica waiting with thousands of pilgrims. Who can describe such an event? We were celebrating our Lord’s Incarnation with Peter’s successor. The Vicar of Christ. With this many people, it was quite a celebration.
We stood in line for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours praying the rosary, the liturgy of the Hours, and singing Christmas carols. All of this was done surrounded by huddles of other people from all over the world just waiting for the doors to open to “charge” St. Peter’s. My family was there, so I was feeling extra blessed.
I don’t know how one can accurately describe time spent in the presence of the Holy Father. There is such excitement that builds, and it becomes somewhat of a spectacle. With thousands of people packed into St. Peter’s, you start to feel a bit like a sardine and also so easily distracted by everyone shuffling around and pressing against the barriers when the Holy Father processes in down the main aisle. But then looking around, you realize, why shouldn’t it be such a spectacle? What a beautiful sight that people are oohing and gawking at the Vicar of Christ! Who else should they be so excited for, except for Christ Himself? This man was commissioned by Him, and is someone to be admired.