Being the week after Thanksgiving, I think it’s a fitting time to talk about food. So what do we eat here in Rome?
Well, every morning we have breakfast provided at Bernardi: cereal, yogurt, pastries, and most importantly—coffee. Then during the week we have two typical 3-course Italian dinners provided at Bernardi, on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. For all other meals we are on our own!
Most of us do a lot of our own cooking in the kitchen at Bernardi. If you open the cupboards you will quickly figure out the staple foods of broke college kids living in Italy: pasta, pasta sauce, Nutella, and bread. Opening the fridge you’ll see jars of pesto, stacks of cheese, cartons of eggs, and a variety of vegetables.
But we still make sure to experience authentic Italian cuisine. Eating out at local cafes
You know, sometimes it feels like I’m living a selfish semester. I feel like I’m constantly receiving, receiving, receiving. Taking in new sights, traveling to wonderful places, eating pasta, getting spiritual formation, taking fascinating classes, having fun with my fellow Bernardians, etc. And so the challenge is to find ways to give.
Luckily we have a built-in opportunity to give of ourselves in service. Bernardians are able to serve at either the Missionaries of Charity or the Little Sisters of the Lamb once a week. So on Thursday mornings myself and 4 other Bernardians walk toward the center of Rome, past the Forum, past the Colosseum, to the Missionaries of Charity house in Rome. Once there, we say hello to the Sisters and they tell us what they’d like us to do. Then we drop our bags and get to work!
The last two weeks we’ve been cleaning the common room on the floor of dormitories where homeless men can stay. Donning long aprons, we lug pails of water down the immaculately clean corridor to the common room where we start work sweeping, dusting, mopping, and tidying. Other weeks we’ve swept and mopped dormitories, done dishes, and hung laundry on the terrace.
It’s very simple work that we do; it’s not glamorous. But as Blessed Mother Teresa said, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary.” And just as the Gospel said this past Sunday, “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Because He thirsts for our love in action; He thirsts for us to give. The photo above was taken in the chapel at the Missionaries of Charity. “Ho sete” is Italian for “I thirst.” So it’s a beautiful thing, to mop floors for Jesus, no?
You know, this was probably one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. And by “coolest” I mean fascinating, profound, splendid, grand, and enthralling.
We had the opportunity to have a private tour of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums. This is a big deal. I visited the Sistine Chapel earlier in the semester, and it was packed, wall to wall, with people. There were security guards yelling, “No photo,” and “Shhh.” It was chaotic, crowded, rushed, and when I looked up at that big ceiling I had only a vague idea of what I was looking at.
So this visit at night was quiet. We were the only people
If you were looking forward to this week’s blog as delving deeper into the beauties of Rome—art, churches, history, etc. I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to wait till next week. I’m going to discuss the glory of…ultimate frisbee.
Last Tuesday we didn’t have classes due to the celebration of All Saint’s Day, and so some of the seminarians at the North American College Seminary (NAC) invited us to play ultimate Frisbee on the NAC’s field. Compared to when some of us Bernardians went to play ultimate frisbee a few weeks earlier in Villa Borghese (a park near Bernardi) on a dusty patch of ground, dotted with bushes, holes and sticks, the artificial turf of the NAC field was heavenly. It’s incredible how much better
Bernardi is situated right next to the Tiber River, “Il Tevere.” It’s like a little slice of St. Paul—living next to the river. However, the Tevere is definitely greener in color, and after it rains it turns into a “lovely” shade of murky brown, making the Mississippi look drinkable by comparison. The trees that line it aren’t maples and oaks, the bridges that span it are hundreds of years older than the city of St. Paul itself, but, nonetheless, it’s still a river.
So let me tell you why I love “Il Tevere.”
In a city of stone, it’s nice to see soft water. In a city of crowded buildings that shade the streets, it’s so wonderful to gaze upon the river and see so much space for light.
Another great thing about living along the Tevere is that, no matter where you are in Rome, you can always find your way home if you find the river. You can also find your way to your home parish, since St. Peter’s is also located along the river.
Living in a foreign country can be a dislocate experience. You are taken away from everything you know, and plopped in a place that is unfamiliar on virtually every level. And so the challenge is to find things in this new place that help connect your life in the United States with your life here, or else it’s too easy to view living in Rome as illusory, as a dream, instead of a concrete and real experience. And I have chosen Il Tevere, because I know if I can find the Tevere, I can find my way home, whether that be St. Peter’s, Bernardi, or a little reminder of St. Paul.