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Kristin

Kristin

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” John 15:16

The semester has ended and I’m back in the good ol’ US of A where milk is cold, the sky is enormous, and signs are in English (several things that immediately struck me upon my return). As I sit in my basement writing this, I can’t help but ask myself, “Was it all a dream?” Already my life in St. Paul, Minnesota has regained a sense of normalcy, and in a lot of ways it seems as if nothing has changed. But this is when I must always stop myself. Because it wasn’t a dream, and my entire being screams this truth. My experience in Rome is not merely something that I will look back on as a fond memory and think, “That was a great trip.” No; it’s an experience that will remain a part of me and my fellow Spring ’11 Bernardians.

If you’re planning on going on this program, you have probably already heard – or if you haven’t, you will hear – that this semester abroad through the Catholic Studies Rome program will change you and change your life. When I first heard this, I didn’t believe it. Or I suppose a better way of explaining myself is to say that I was very skeptical of such a bold statement. But I can’t doubt it any longer; the statement is true. This semester really does change you, transform you. At the core of it all, my experience in Rome has taught me what it means to be Catholic; what it means to be human; what it means to love; what it means to live deeply and profoundly.

 So much has happened in these past four months, and I’m still in disbelief that I had such a remarkable and life-changing opportunity. I received so many blessings and graces during my time in the Eternal City and I’m excited to unpack them – although, as a fellow Spring ’11 Bernardian has told me, it’ll probably take years or even a lifetime to see how God worked in our lives in these past four months. I am so grateful to have been a part of the Catholic Studies in Rome semester, Spring 2011. Thank you to all those who made it possible; but most of all, I’m grateful to God our Father and His plan to direct my life’s journey through Rome and Europe for a short time.

In the next several months I know I will be asked the inevitable question: “How was Rome?” So know that if it takes me a while to produce an answer or if I can’t seem to stop stuttering, it’s because I’m thinking about all of this and more. Was it life changing? Yes. Was it amazing? Yes. But how can you possibly put this into words?

God bless you all!
Kristin

Kristin

Rome: It Has Changed Me

Within two weeks, I will be back in the good old US of A; I will back in Minnesota and life will go on. How time flies! As my time in the Eternal City comes to its end, I can’t help but reflect back on the experiences and blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me in these past 4 months.

If you’re planning on going on this program, you have probably already heard – or if you haven’t, you will hear – that this semester abroad through the Catholic Studies Rome program will change you and change your life. When I first heard this, I didn’t believe it. Or I suppose a better way of explaining myself is to say that I was skeptical of such a bold statement. But I can’t doubt it any longer; the statement is true. This semester really does change you, transform you. In some ways I’m still the same – I’m still as blunt as ever, I still think basketball is the greatest sport ever to be invented, I can’t resist dessert (a new addiction has also been added to the plate: gelato), my Minnesotan vowels are still as long as ever, and the list goes on. But there are some things about me that have changed.

For one thing, my mindset of the world and of the faith has greatly expanded. There’s really nothing like living in a foreign land for 4 months to give you a fuller view of the world. You mean the world doesn’t revolve around St. Paul, Minnesota?! That’s exactly what I mean; and to be honest, it’s been awesome to let that really sink in, as simple of a concept it may be. I’ve also realized this semester that while going to Mass on Sundays and praying Rosaries are good, it’s not enough to call yourself Catholic, to be Catholic. It’s so much more that that – it’s a distinct lifestyle, there’s a mindset that goes along with it. The way we live needs to follow what the Church teaches and in our secular world this may seem radical at times. But, it’s worth it; it’s completely and truly worth it because it invites you into a deeper and fuller way of living. As silly as it may sound, I’ve never felt so human. Read encyclicals by Pope Benedict XVI and now Blessed John Paul II and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

While living in the Eternal City, the heart of the Catholic Church, I have also experienced the universality of the Church in such a profound and unique way. It’s still amazing to think that the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI himself, lives no more than a mile away from my current residence. The saints, too, have come alive for me like never before. I can’t put into words how cool it is to be able to pray in front of this relic of this saint or in front of that tomb of that saint. It really is incredible.

And these are only a couple of the blessings the Lord has given me. So when I go back and hear the question that I know I will be asked – “How was Rome?” – if it takes me a while to produce an answer or if I can’t seem to stop stuttering, it’s because I’m thinking about all of this and more. Was it life changing? Yes. Was it amazing? Yes. But these statements can’t even do the experience justice.

Pace e bene,

Kristin

Kristin

Trip to the Amalfi Coast

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For the second part of Spring Break I went to the Amalfi Coast with five other Bernardians – later known as “the unit: 10, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.” We stayed in a beautiful town called Sorrento and took daytrips to other nearby cities – Pompeii, Positano, Amalfi Town – and the island of Capri. Here are a couple of snapshots from the trip: Continue Reading

Kristin

Easter in the Eternal City

Celebrating the Triduum in the Eternal City was amazing.  It was an experience of a lifetime! How many times does one get the opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection in the Heart of the Catholic Church? If you’re like me, not very often, so let me tell you about it!

 On Holy Thursday, many of us went to a church that celebrated Mass in English. It was a beautiful Mass—two of our seminarians got to participate in the washing of the feet. On Good Friday, a group of us woke up and went to the church that holds the pillar Jesus was scourged at. While praying in front of the pillar, the reality of all that Jesus suffered for His children hit me harder than it ever has before. After this, all of Bernardi went to St. Peter’s.  As if that wasn’t enough, our seminarians were able to serve for the Pope! How crazy is that?! They did a fantastic job and I felt like a “proud mother” after Mass when they rejoined us with beaming smiles. Continue Reading

Kristin

They Eat Well and They Pray Hard

To be quite honest with you, I have no idea where to even begin in describing my trip to Poland this past week. I mean, how does one relay what it felt like to tour Auschwitz – a concentration camp where millions upon millions of human persons were killed? Or a 3-hour visit of the Schindler Factory Museum where I learned more about the persecution of the Jews during the WWII time period? How does one explain what it was like to walk through the hometown of soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II…to see the Church where he was baptized and received First Communion… to eat his favorite pastry? How does one describe what it felt like to pray in the original Chapel where St. Faustina received what is today known as the Divine Mercy chaplet?  And these experiences don’t even capture the little, but precious moments from the trip: celebrating Palm Sunday Mass, eating traditional Polish sausage and pierogies, visiting the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, eating morning Polish pastries, exploring the Easter market in Krakow, enjoying a girls’ night in with delicious Polish cake, taking an evening carriage ride around the Old Town square. My time in Poland was amazing. Although I am getting excited to celebrate Easter in the Eternal City, there’s part of me that wants to go back to Poland NOW!

In Christ,

Kristin

Kristin

A City Like No Other

This past weekend I traveled to Padua and Venice. Before I talk about Venice, I want to give a little shout-out to Padua. If you are ever in Italy and visit Padua, you MUST see the Basilica of St. Anthony! Wow. Not only is the Basilica’s architecture and art beautiful, but it holds the tomb of St. Anthony–including relics of his tongue, jaw bone, and vocal cords… again, wow.

Venice

Now to Venice.  Venice is really what everyone says it is: “A city that is like no other.” Ferries, boats, and gondolas are the only means of transportation. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool. While in Venice we went to the Basilica of St. Mark. It is magnificent from the outside, and the entire interior is decorated in gold mosaic. I must admit that the experience felt more like a museum visit than a prayerful one because everything was roped off, except for one side chapel and it cost money to do things like go behind the main altar or go up on the terrace of the Basilica. But it was still a worthwhile visit and I spent nearly an hour inside being dazzled by the beauty. Continue Reading

Kristin

Sometimes Silence is the Loudest Voice

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Ladies overlook Lago Albano and Castel Gandalfo (the summer home of the Pope)

Silent retreat in the beautiful outskirts of the Eternal City? Check that off the bucket-list! This past weekend all of the Bernardians went with Fr. Carola and the rest of the chaplaincy to make a silent retreat—yet another great blessing and opportunity that the Catholic Studies Rome program offers. I had never been on a silent retreat before, so was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I had come down with a bad cold the day before… my immune system seems to fail me at all the wrong times. But, have no fear, my spirits weren’t dampened. What better place or time to rest than a silent retreat tucked away in the beautiful lakeside of Rome, right?! Continue Reading

Kristin

To the Moon and Back

St pauls

Although I took a break from traveling this weekend, I was still very busy! On Thursday we celebrated a fellow Bernardian’s birthday. There was a delicious lemon pasta dinner, an awesome DP (dance party), and beautiful Praise and Worship in the Chapel. On Friday I witnessed the final vows of a religious Sister who the female Bernardians have gotten to know through Tuesday formation nights. Following this, there was a viewing of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – another beautiful event in the eyes of a particular Bernardian who believes that those who haven’t seen this trilogy must be cured. My third treatment is coming soon 🙂 Continue Reading

Kristin

The Swiss know what’s up!

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This past weekend I traveled to Switzerland with ten other Bernardians.  Our trip was from Thursday morning to Monday morning – don’t worry, we got back just in time for Dr. Coulter’s class! We stayed in a town called Montreux. Apparently it’s a very touristy city, which became obvious by prices at the restaurants (26 francs for a pasta dish!), but it was also small and very charming. Actually, it had a similar feel as Assisi, Italy. Our hostel was right on Lake Geneva with a breath-taking view of the Swiss Alps. The entire trip was fantastic: a clean and safe hostel, beautiful views, friendly locals, beautiful views, Swiss chocolate, and did I mention beautiful views?! Continue Reading

Kristin

Up before 6AM again? OK!

ASSISI

This past Sunday a group of Bernardians went to Assisi for the day with Fr. Carola. It was roughly a two hour train ride there, which was very exciting for me because I had never been on a train before! A valuable tip I learned: Try to avoid using the train’s bathrooms, if possible… I have never smelled such a horrible stench in my life! Continue Reading