Lisa

STUDY Abroad

As I should be working on a rather sizable research paper for Dr. Lev, I suddenly feel much more motivated to write a blog.  Go figure.

I’ve been reflecting lately (maybe because of said paper) on how much there is to learn in Rome.  Every time I walk down a street in Rome, there is a grand amount of history surrounding me, which is unfortunately very easy to forget about.  Many times, I’ve been guilty of just sauntering past it all in search of gelato.  There are a great deal of things to be learned: the things I’m taught in my various classes, new ways to do things outside the classroom, new ways to get home (especially if lost), ways to gesture with every word, ways to get the last word in and, of course, the Italian language.

Of all my academic pursuits, math and languages tend to be the hardest for me: math because I’ve never really been interested and languages because they are tricky!

 

For example, I managed to mix up two verbs in Italian class the other day.  We were supposed to write sentences with verbs conjugated in the past participle form.  I approached the verb “comprare” (“to buy”) mistaking it for “conoscere” (“to get to know someone/something”).  So my sentence went a little like this:

“Hanno comprato la mia mamma.”

TRANSLATE!

“They bought my mother.”

Whoops!  Sorry Mom…  Clearly, I have a lot of progress to make.

 

I'm basically Peter, Paul and Mary all in one.

I’m basically Peter, Paul and Mary all in one.  (Photo Credit: Emma Voelker)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other things I’ve been working on learning, mostly from the instruction of my Bernardi brothers and sisters:

  • Juggling 3+ objects
  • Making bird call noises and other sounds by blowing air into a space between my cupped hands
  • Playing guitar (“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty and “I Would Be Sad” by the Avett Brothers are all I can really piece together, but it’s a start!)
  • Making a popping sound by hooking my finger in the side of my mouth and pulling it out
  • Cooking and baking new things (risotto and sausage stuffed peppers, Chicago deep dish pizza, Mexican food in Italy {look for a Cinco de Mayo/Quattro a Maggio blog coming up!}, bread bowls, chili dogs, etc.)
  • Playing hacky sack!

 

Artsy shot (photo credit: Emma Voelker).

Artsy shot of the G chord (Photo Credit: Emma Voelker).

 

In all seriousness, I’m learning many things here.  I can’t help but wonder how studying abroad will change my views of home when I get back.  With a wee bit over a month left and time ticking away, I think it’s a valid question…

Lisa

A Little More Poland, A Lot More Bernardi

On our flight descent into Poland, it was fun to drop through the clouds and still see white.  We spent the last part of our spring break there, in the snow.  It was kind of ironic that we sought a cold place for spring break and that it was very reminiscent of Minnesota (Every time I mention something on Facebook about how sunny and warm it is in Rome now, I get the guff of a bunch of frozen Midwesterners).

Our boy band, Polish style.

Our boy band, Polish style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To let you know how we rounded off the rest of our Polish experience, we went to Mass, ate plenty of pierogies and a delicious, salty meat soup called “zurich,” headed underground to the Polish salt mines (if you go to Krakow, do not leave without seeing them; it’s what I imagine the Polish Disneyland as, but better), shopped and spent only a little comparatively with the U.S.-favorable exchange rate.  It was an incredible experience to be there for many reasons.

Dinner out in Poland.  Lots of good stuff going on in this picture.

Dinner out in Poland. Lots of good stuff going on in this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was very refreshing to come back to Bernardi after spring break.  I think it’s very easy to take the unique experience that we have here—to live and study like a big, Catholic, diverse and crazy family—for granted.  To have men and women, seminarians and lay people, living life for the same goal and under the same roof is a big deal.  When we came back from break, all the privileges of living here were again more obvious: warm beds, provided meals, an in-house chapel, familiar English-speaking faces, Thanos and Remo to take care of us, etc.  I honestly cannot explain Bernardi adequately and definitely can’t do it by myself.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to some of the blogs written by other Bernardians.

Enjoy them. 🙂

From Roselle to Rome

Victoriuss

Robeck in Rome

Roses in Roma

Life in the Eternal City

Roamin’ Like a Roman

A Rome Escape

Paul Inside the Walls

Dei Caritas

Lisa

The Witness of Poland

I entered the gate of Auschwitz with the firm assurance that I would walk back through it and resume my normal life.  It was very obvious to me that a great majority of people didn’t have that assurance, and that most did not cross under the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Makes You Free”) twice.

I had the same feeling by the train tracks in the midst of the dauntingly huge Birkanau; people didn’t get to take the train, or more accurately a cattle car, back home.  Barrack after barrack paved the entire grounds, a women’s sector, a men’s sector and a few crematorium.

Both camps, especially Birkenau’s wooden constructions, are deteriorating with time and the elements, but their story is still very strong.  The Nazis were interested in eradicating people they considered to be “uncomfortable:” Soviet enemies, homosexuals, Catholics, gypsies, the Polish people who protested or got in their way, and most extensively Jews.  Their motives were disgusting, to kill slowly and get basically free labor in the meantime, working thousands of people to death, starving them, gassing them, burning them, shooting them, using them as lab rats, keeping them in some of the worst conceivable conditions.

A group of Jewish visitors were at Birkenau when we were.  I can't imagine what they were thinking.

A group of Jewish visitors were at Birkenau when we were. I can’t imagine what they were thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In those camps, every day met with more sorrow and additional crimes against the dignity of the human being.  If the Nazis had understood the true dignity and worth of each person, they could not have done what they did, not even to one.  If so many people had not stepped aside or joined their cause out of fear, it would not have happened.  If the image of a screaming silence makes any sense, it’s how the buildings and barb-wired fences seem to testify to these truths: “Don’t forget.  Love all people well and deeply.  Stand up for what is right.  Then we’ll stay empty.”

As much as my heart sinks reading over these last few paragraphs, the most beautiful parts of the camps are what have really stuck with me: the visiting people, the flowers and gifts left in memory of loved ones and the starvation cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish, Catholic priest who sacrificed his life joyfully for another.  His cell, number 18 in the basement of one of the Auschwitz barracks, was the only place where visitors lingered, hoping to pray or take photos.  Courage stands out, especially when there isn’t much to be had, and it’s an intrinsically hopeful thing.  If one is courageous, they must have a reason, something to fight for.

Cell # 18.

Cell # 18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kolbe’s reason was the mercy and salvation of Christ.  St. Maria Faustina Kowalska received visions of Christ explaining why He died for us and how He longs to cover us in mercy and to heal us.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she received these visions up until her death in 1938, less than a year before Poland was invaded by Germany.  Poland then undertook a long and severe beating from both the Nazi and Soviet sides of the war they were caught in; Poland needed extra knowledge of Christ’s mercy at that time.

“Indeed the message [St. Faustina] brought is the appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies.” 

-Pope John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday Homily, Sunday, 22 April 2001

A wise priest once told me, “Mercy is love poured out on sorrow.”  If anyone understands that love, it’s the Polish people who filled the entire grounds of the Divine Mercy Shrine for Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday.  These people are still hurting, but they’re courageously clinging to Christ, trusting Him to cover sin and pain.  It’s a fight that Christians share, and one that is beautiful to witness.

"Jesus, I trust in You."  The original Divine Mercy image that Sr. Faustina received from Christ.  I never noticed before kneeling in front of it how He looks like He's been up all night, waiting for us.

“Jesus, I trust in You.” The original Divine Mercy image that Sr. Faustina received inspiration for from Christ (she described it to a painter who captured it). I never noticed before kneeling in front of it how He looks like He’s been up all night, waiting for us.

Lisa

Ireland: Still, Green Life

 

I would like to especially send this blog out to me Mum (who pines for me to write more than a blog a week) and my brother-in-law, Justin, and sister, Lori, who gave me a camera for Christmas.  For them, I am finally putting my typing fingers and my camera to work.  Keep in mind, though, it was 1,ooo,ooo,ooo times more beautiful experiencing it all in person.  

*There were also some unavoidable formatting issues with this blog, so I apologize for the odd spacing.

Do you have any places you dream of going, but don’t think that dream will ever quite materialize?  That’s how Ireland was for me.  I didn’t think it would happen, maybe not ever, but definitely not this semester.  However, Providence had other ideas for me.  So, here are some of the pictures from the first half of my Easter week.  I was in Ireland, with a group of my Bernardi sisters, from late Easter Sunday night to early Thursday morning.  It was hard to leave and connected with me in a way Italy fails to: small cozy, houses; fireplaces; tons of green grass; quiet; clear water (not the Tiber); evergreens; meat and potatoes; stone fences; the English language; regular-sized vehicles; and, it’s in my blood.  Let me know if you want to go back with me one day…

We had an open fireplace with a lovely fire almost every night, and sometimes when we were home during the day.

A pro stoking the fire. The ladies and I who went had an open fireplace with a lovely fire almost every night, and sometimes when we were home during the day. Ahhhh. A very generous sister, who was on vacation, entrusted to us her home for a few days- a tiny taste of Irish hospitality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cathedral of Tuam (pronounced "Chume") in the morning.  We stayed in Tuam which is on the west side of Ireland, close to the coast.

The Cathedral of Tuam (pronounced “Chume”) in the morning. We stayed in Tuam which is on the west side of Ireland, close to the coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These folk are serious about being a green country!

The Aran Island, Inis Mór, on a beautiful, sunny day. It’s where “Leap Year” with Amy Adams was filmed. These are two of the remaining 12 thatched-roof cottages left there.

Looking off of Inis Mór, out at the Atlantic.  Funnily enough, I've seen the very different other side of it in Puerto Rico.  Both are beautiful, but I'm partial to Ireland's actually.

Looking off of Inis Mór, out at the Atlantic. Funnily enough, I’ve seen the very different other side of it in Puerto Rico. Both are beautiful, but I’m partial to Ireland’s actually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Gaelic/Irish is very different from English to the point that you can’t make any guesses based on similar spelling, etc. Gemma interpreted this as, “No using the Force to gather objects.” Here’s to all the Star Wars nerds. 🙂

Inis Mór: Our album cover.  We were blessed to spend some time with seminarians from the North American College in Rome.  The man highest up is Fergus, our Polish bus driver.

Inis Mór: Our album cover. We were blessed to spend some time with seminarians from the North American College in Rome. The man highest up is Fergus, our Polish bus driver.

 

Inis Mór: One of my favorite pictures.  We managed to get stuck on the other side of the fence from our gracious (in every sense of the word- there's nothing he didn't go out of his way to provide for our comfort) host, Fr. Shane, "the Yank priest."

Inis Mór: One of my favorite pictures. We managed to get stuck on the other side of the fence from our gracious (in every sense of the word- there’s nothing he overlooked to provide for our comfort) host, Fr. Shane, “the Yank priest” from Brainerd, Minnesota.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Fr. Shane, he explained the history of Inis Mór as one of Catholicism- founded around monasteries of St. Patrick and St. Patrick's followers.  This altar that sits in ruins now, then was a place where people invited God to come...and He came.

Speaking of Fr. Shane, he explained the history of Inis Mór as one of Catholicism- founded around monasteries of St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s followers. This altar that sits in ruins now, then was a place where people invited God to come…and He came.

In Galway City- the Claddagh Church across the Galway Bay.

In Galway City- the Claddagh Church across the Galway Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galway City: Some good giggles at the Bridge Mills Restaurant, an adorable place with a running water wheel inside and delicious food.

Galway City: Some good giggles at the Bridge Mills Restaurant, an adorable place with a running water wheel inside and delicious food.
We ran into a friend of a friend for the second time on this trip, "busking" in the shopping district of Galway City.  One of my favorite things about Europe are all the talented musicians playing in the streets.

We ran into this friend-of-a-friend for the second time on our trip, “busking” in the shopping district of Galway City. One of my favorite things about Europe are all the talented musicians playing in the streets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galway City: Shopping District.  Home of the Claddagh ring and home of a lot of fluffy, woolly sheep that lend to sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens.

Galway City: Shopping District. Home of the Claddagh ring and home of a lot of fluffy, woolly sheep that lend to sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens

Galway City: Ah, Papa Johns. <3

Galway City: Ah, Papa Johns. <“3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the road.  On the LEFT SIDE of the road.  In the passenger's seat.  In the passenger's seat on the LEFT SIDE of the car.  Weird...

On the road. On the LEFT SIDE of the road. In the passenger’s seat. In the passenger’s seat on the LEFT SIDE of the car. Weird…

Our last night in Ireland, we went to the small town of Cong for dinner at a pub.  It's  where a lot of "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed.  On the way home, we stargazed for a bit- the most beautiful night sky I've ever seen (and I'm from not-very-lit Nebraska).  We also  watched "The Quiet Man," by the fireplace, with tea as we waited up to catch our early morning bus to Dublin to fly to Poland.

Our last night in Ireland, we went to the small town of Cong for dinner at a pub. It’s where a lot of “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara was filmed. On the way home, we stargazed for a bit- the most beautiful night sky I’ve ever seen (and I’m from not-very-lit Nebraska). We also watched “The Quiet Man,” by the fireplace, with tea as we waited up to catch our early morning bus to Dublin to fly to Poland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa

Washing Feet, Easter…Meat!

I always feel uncomfortable walking around Bernardi in bare feet.  There are a few reasons: 1) my feet tend to get cold, 2) Rome is not a particularly clean city and that fact is reflected on our stone, tile and hardwood floors, and 3) it is not culturally acceptable to go barefoot in Italy (or much of Europe); the people just do not like seeing feet.  So, the cleaning ladies here aren’t so fond of seeing my feet at breakfast.  Go figure.

I was very curious, then, to see how Roman Catholics, in Rome, handle the Holy Thursday washing of the feet.  Would all sandals be kept firmly on?  Would the whole deal be nonchalantly skipped?  Would the priest suck it up and grimace the whole time?  Oh, the drama!  I went to one of the most beautiful Churches I’ve seen in Rome, the Gesu, with high expectations.

The painting "Triumph of the Name of Jesus" by Baciccio, on the barrel-vaulted ceiling of Chiesa del Gesu.  Imagine sitting under this during Mass- it looks like the figures will fall out of the painting onto you.

The painting “Triumph of the Name of Jesus” by Baciccio, on the barrel-vaulted ceiling of Chiesa del Gesu. Imagine sitting under this during Mass- it looks like the figures will fall onto you.

(As an aside, I dearly love this Gospel in Jn 13, especially verses 8 and 9.  Peter is so…well, Peter-like, a bull in a china shop.  Here’s the jist:  Peter:  “No Lord.  You’re too good for me.  I won’t let you wash me.”  Jesus: “Well, if I don’t wash your feet, no Heaven for you.”  Peter: “Dang. Wash all of me!”)

Well, longer story short, a priest washed some men’s feet.  There were no shoes left on and I didn’t see any grimacing.  It was pretty much the way I’ve always seen it done, but, yet it help me gain some new perspective.  Having grown up in a culture that is largely accepting of bare feet, the washing of the feet has never seemed to be that big of a deal.  And think how nicely kept our feet are- regularly washed, pampered and sometimes even pedicured.  Now think of the Apostles’ nasty man-feet—hairy, probably caked in dirt and sand, maybe blistered, smelly.

Jesus really humbled Himself.  It’s more obvious, I think, to see how He did so in big ways: becoming human as God, dying to make up for faults that He didn’t have and sins that He didn’t commit.  But in smaller less noticeable way that are important to remember: listening to His human parents, being hungry and thirsty on a daily basis, reaching out to lepers and cripples…washing and caring for others’ unpleasant feet to eventually let His own be nailed through the next day.  What a beautiful Servant, and what a high standard He calls us to, little by little.

And guess what else?  Because of that humility, He is exalted.  In fact, He is risen.  Alleluia.  Now go eat some meat on this Easter Friday!

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  

We are an Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.”- Blessed JPII

P.S.- I forgot to tell you about my Nutella experience a few weeks back.

 

Lisa

When God Closes One Door, You Hope Your Roommate Comes Back With the Key Soon…

There’s nothing like a firm kick in the pants to get things done.  Or a firmly closed door.  There I sat on spring break.  There my list of things to do and much of the means to achieve them sat, behind the locked door of my room.

This is why (take note, future Bernardians):

1)    When you have laundry drying by your open window and it’s windy outside, you make sure to PROP OPEN THE AUTOMATICALLY LOCKING DOOR when you go to take a shower across the hall.

  • or

2)    If you are too lazy to prop it, you make sure your roommate is home and has her/his key card.

  • or

3)    You make sure at least one of your building supervisors (Thanos! Remo!) are home to let you in.

If you haven’t followed any of the above advice, you are probably me.

 

So, on Good Friday, I found myself in the computer lab downstairs, planning my course load for next fall, sending an email here, checking a website there, hoping a pigeon wouldn’t come in our window and poo on things (a legitimate fear), and blogging at long last.  Since I’m all about listing lately, let me tell you a few awesome things about spring/Easter break:

  • It’s a little over two weeks long here at Bernardi.
  • I spent the first week of it relaxing in Rome.  Many of my classmates traveled to other awesome like Greece or places within Italy (the Amalfi coast, Assisi, etc.).
  • You can do incredible things in Rome to prepare yourself for Easter.  For instance, I climbed the Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs)  on my knees earlier in the day on Good Friday.  The Holy Stairs, by tradition, were brought back by Constantine’s mother from the Holy Land; they are the marble steps Jesus climbed to meet Pilate for His sentence.  They have since been encased in wood, I’m guessing to keep them intact, by there are cutouts through which you can touch the steps or see the places where Jesus’ blood may have dropped post-scourging.  They were kind of small and it was crowded, but it was pretty amazing.
  • The Pope is in Rome.  We have a new pope to celebrate with.  Ain’t no party like a Catholic party (cause a Catholic party never stops)!
  • I spent the second week of break (starting Easter Sunday night) in Ireland for a few days and Poland for the rest, heading back the night of Divine Mercy Sunday (which totally had its start in Krakow, where I conveniently was on that day).  Others traveled to other great destinations: Germany, Austria, Medjugore, Spain, a secret location (Michael…), the Czech Republic, England, France, Romania (Tim?).  It’s tricky to set up travel here with all the international loop holes, but it so worthwhile to do.

And there’s what you get to know for now.  Within the next couple days, you’ll get some snapsnots of Ireland and Poland.

In the meantime:

Our latest invention: Cribbage + Quidditch = "Quibbage," anyone? (Photo credit: Emily Brom)

Our latest invention: Cribbage + Quidditch = “Quibbage,” anyone? (Photo credit: Emily Brom)

Lisa

Looking Back on the Conclave, and Looking Forward From It

Here’s an article I wrote for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis’ publication, The Catholic Spirit, last month.  There wasn’t room to actually publish it once the flood of different pieces to choose from came in, so you get to see it here. 🙂  Lucky…

Habemus Papam!  Perhaps my favorite photo from the semester, thus far.  (Photo credit: Vince Fernandez)

Habemus Papam! Perhaps my favorite photo from the semester, thus far. (Photo credit: Vince Fernandez)

 

It’s hard to know what a college student studying apparel design, one focusing on political science and two learning philosophy all are doing in Rome, other than possibly interacting in a joke (where they may or may not walk into a bar).  It gets even more confusing since each hails, respectively, from Dixon, California; Coon Rapids, Minnesota; Lansing, Michigan and Cincinnati, Ohio.  However, in addition to their particular areas of study, each of them is majoring in Catholic Studies, a major that draws a universal crowd and sometimes even brings them to the Eternal City.

Catherine Huss, Brandon Miranda, and Brian Goulet are all juniors at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Brian is discerning the priesthood at the Saint John Vianney Seminary.  Michael Mazzei is also a junior, studying and discerning the priesthood at the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.  All four have been at the University of St. Thomas Bernardi Campus in Rome since the beginning of February, with thirty other Catholic Studies students.

Less than two weeks after their arrival, with two pope-sightings under their belts, and merely a day after viewing the bones of St. Peter on the Scavi tour, Pope Benedict XVI announced his intent to step down from the papacy.  The self-named “Bernardians” knew they were in Rome for a particularly unique semester.

Miranda saw the news as an unexpected answer to his prayers: “I remember hinting to God a couple years ago, ‘It would be so cool if I were in Rome for a Conclave.’ I immediately thought again, ‘I can’t say that.  Benedict would have to die and he’s a great pope.’  Well, God answers prayers.  Pope Benedict didn’t die and I found out I would be here for a Conclave!”

Over the course of the next few weeks, the Bernardi students were able to attend the last of Benedict’s public papal events: his Ash Wednesday Mass, two Sunday afternoon Angelus gatherings and a final audience.  Huss remembers the great lengths she and others took to be prayerful participants in history, “We waited in line from 3 in the morning, so we could see Pope Benedict at his last public audience.  We were constantly praying for him, as well as for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Conclave to follow.”

The students returned to the Vatican for the Conclave Opening Mass and the subsequent ballot burnings, hoping for white smoke.  It finally billowed from the top of the Sistine Chapel on the evening of March 13.  They were there to rush forward with the crowd, getting as close as possible to the balcony where the proclamation of “Habemus Papam” and the introduction of “Papa Francesco” soon followed.

Goulet was encouraged by the new Pope’s humility: “There was a moment where he asked us to enter into silence to pray for him, that was just so incredibly powerful—I could hear a car alarm going off three or four blocks away. That moment made me excited for Pope Francis to build off the papacies of JPII and Benedict, taking their momentum and continuing with it in spiritual renewal and the New Evangelization.  By the very virtue of him taking the name ‘Francis,’ he proclaims a mission of rebuilding the Lord’s Church.”

Mazzei expressed similar expectations saying, “I hope he will demonstrate a good balance of how to be simple, yet show the richness of our tradition as Catholics, what she has been teaching for over 2,000 years and what she continues to maintain and defend.”

Miranda, gained a newfound sense of the Church’s universality, “I turned one way and people were speaking Spanish.  I turned the other way and they were speaking French.  Behind me, there were Polish people.  I thought, ‘Every single person here is all part of the same Church.’  Pope Francis, when he came out on the balcony, was not Italy’s Pope.  He wasn’t Argentina’s pope.  He was and is our pope—the worldwide Church’s pope.”

The Catholic Studies students look forward with great anticipation for the rest of their semester, one that will continue to be full of diverse people and experiences, and also a great deal of hope for the Church.

Lisa

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Deep Pizza Pie (That’s an owie.)!

Yesterday, I found myself in the spring break predicament of trying to make a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in Rome, Italy.  Why was this difficult?  Well, Italy is more known for it’s thin crust, more sparsely topped pizza.  Why was I trying then?  1) It has been a lifelong dream of mine to master* the deep-dish, and 2) we have three seminarians here from the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, all from the Chicago area, and 3) seminarians tend to be hungry….really hungry.  In all seriousness, it was part of my initiative to get to know people in our community here better and to have some fun.

Food Coma = Success.

Food Coma = Success.

Community is a large part of being in Bernardi because we eat together, pray together, play together and study together.  It’s somewhat similar to living in a family: talents and faults of others become apparent very quickly.  Talents and faults that you possess become apparent perhaps even more quickly.  You get to know yourself and a whole crowd of interesting, diverse and wonderful people if you take the time and put in the effort, but to do so, you struggle through your own selfish tendencies, annoyances and flaws.  Community life is a true joy and a true cross, rolled into one.

So, the slight struggles to find “cornmeal” (I used polenta) in Italy: worth it.  Trying to convert a recipe written in ounces and cups to grams: worth it.  Inhaling large amounts of cheese and meat: completely worth it.  And watching part of Blues Brothers afterward, well, that’s just the sauce on top.

 

* I didn’t “master” it, per say, but it was a good and tasty first attempt.  The mozzarella in Italy carries a lot of water, so it was more soggy than it should have been.  D’oh!  Well, try try again? 🙂

And, yes, if you recognize a couple of these guys, they were in the famous Joliet vocations story video .  It’s a fan favorite at Bernardi.

Lisa

Balancing Time

Yep.  This has happened...

Yep. This happened to me in the computer lab the other day.

 

So, looking back on my blog this semester, I’m not particularly happy.  You may not be either.  It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve gotten much less than my goal of a post-a-week done between technological delays, busyness and attempts to invest time elsewhere.  It’s true.  I think that fact helps illustrate my Roman life here a little better though, a life that hasn’t been either scheduled or lived out the same in any particular week.  As a creature of simple habits and scheduling, this kind of go-with-the-flow atmosphere been a huge shake-up for me.  German Lisa, meet Italian country.

 

I used to think Italians were always late for things merely based off the fact that they are slow-moving.  This is partly true (I once tried sauntering down Rome’s main street, the Via del Corso, going the same pace as the crowd of locals and tourists around me, and felt like I was making almost no progress forward.  So, I started walking fast again…), but I think that they mainly take more time to enjoy the things they do and that time often seems to move faster here because of it.

 

After all, time flies when you’re having fun, right?  That may sound silly or trite, but I find myself somewhat surprisingly halfway through my Rome experience with many memories: cancelled classes spent waiting in line for Papal or Conclave events, random wanderings through the streets of Rome, adventurous trips to Italian towns and cities (more about those later), beautiful Church after beautiful Church, time well-spent with other students living in Bernardi, curling up with a good book, traversing cobblestones with a cone of gelato in hand and learning to enjoy being here despite its challenges.

 

So, unhappy with the blog, but happy with much of my experience, I am going to make an attempt to correct my poor balancing act to be satisfied with my reality and my reflection.  This week is make-up week, and then I’ll do my darndest to get out a blog a week.  Thanks for all your patience!

 

In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, my Conclave white smoke experience.

Lisa

Leaping, Rock to Rock

I’ve been thinking about Minnesota a lot lately.  That’s probably not a huge surprise considering the land of Vikings and snow is where I normally live.  Mostly, I’ve been making comparisons and connections between Rome and home, a completely different perspective than I’ve ever been offered.  For instance, people here are often kind when you speak with them, but not “Minnesota nice.”  Lines are a fluid principle: “You first” often is “Whoever gets there first,” maybe even involving some jostling and elbowing. And it’s quite common to pass someone, especially a salesman, without saying a word.

However, there are still some things that remind me of home.  People here still love their coffee, there’s an occasional American-made mini-car navigating the streets and, now and again, I even get a glimpse of something that gives me the odd sensation of déjà vu.  This happened a few weeks ago, as I was trekking a horribly designed “sidewalk” rounding the Colosseum.  It consisted of many large stones, spaced apart from each other far enough that everyone, including myself, needed to stretch from one stone to another to cross any kind of distance.  Doing so took me back to a lovely place in Duluth, Minnesota: Gooseberry Falls.

 

Where the sidewalk ends...and begins.  And ends and begins.  Photo Credit: Emily Pohl

Where the sidewalk ends…and begins. And ends and begins. (Photo credit: Emily Pohl)

At Gooseberry, rocks are randomly spaced within a river.  If one were to miscalculate a jump, they would get at best, a wet foot, at worst, a soaked self.  I remember being very careful and a little worried about falling in.  The experience was slightly intimidating and a bit thrilling, all at the same time.

A friend jumps rock to rock at Gooseberry Falls- October 2011.

A friend jumps rock to rock at Gooseberry Falls- October 2011.

 

A couple weeks ago, I went to one of Pope Benedict XVI’s last Sunday afternoon Angelus gatherings, and the last time I saw him as Pope.  Again, he impressed me with his humility and goodwill.  He presented simple thanks, expressed in several languages to the diverse and crowded people below his window, for their prayers and support since announcing his choice to step down from the papacy.

"Papa" Benedict XVI at one of his last Sunday Angelus gatherings. (Photo credit: Michael Mazzei)

“Papa” Benedict XVI at one of his last Sunday Angelus gatherings. (Photo credit: Michael Mazzei)

 

I couldn’t help but make the connection—to think that the Church, throughout her history, has made leaps down a long line of consecutive rocks since the first, Peter.  Well, she’s made the leap.  She’s, right now in mid-air, waiting for some sign of white smoke, a foothold.  It’s bittersweet to be a part of it, so close to the heart of the Church.  It’s incredible to see her heart beating faster in anticipation, and probably a little bit of nervousness too.  Change is coming and Rome is charged with extra energy.  And to be here to see it, well, that’s a definite shift in perspective.

 

My first time seeing Pope Benedict at a Wednesday Papal Audience.  (Photo credit: Tim Moosbrugger)

My first time seeing Pope Benedict at a Wednesday Papal Audience. (Photo credit: Tim Moosbrugger)

Saying "Arrivederci" at his last public Mass on Ash Wednesday. (Photo credit: Brandon Miranda)

Saying “Arrivederci” at his last public Mass on Ash Wednesday. (Photo credit: Brandon Miranda)