Monthly Archives

April 2009


It’s Rome-Home!

My curser is blinking on the screen in front of my face, and it is certainly not because I have nothing to say. I have too much to say! Words cannot capture Holy Week in Rome, in the heart of the church, and in our home away from home. But I owe it to you to try.
For three days we were focused completely on the preparation and celebration of Easter. The final preparation in Rome (after a full season of Lent), consisted of the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday papal masses. As Bernardi and company, with visiting friends and families, we made our way to St. Peter’s to beat the crowds and celebrate the Triduum with the Holy Father at the center of the Church. That’s no small thing! Three hours of anticipation to the moment of gate opening, a chaotic gate-jumping rush to get in, and an hour of seat-grabbing, waiting in the St. Peter’s Basilica, and there we were. Though I am painting a picture of total chaos, Good Friday mass was anything but chaotic. In this solemn feast, I had a direct view of Pope Benedict and the altar. It would be impossible to be distracted by the people when you are within the most incredible structure on earth in the face of the pope. I wouldn’t exactly boast about my ability to sit still in an instance, but in those few hours, I was almost frozen! Well, I do admit to a slight distraction from the celebration when I held my long arms above the crowd to catch a video of our very own Luke reading the English Prayer of the Faithful. We were so proud to have a member of our little community represent the English speaking peoples of the world in front of the pope- what a blessing! And it’s only Friday. We had a similar experience for the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday, but it was in no way the same. The Mass began in darkness. As the procession began, light slowly spread from candle to candle until the magnificent basilica above our heads was illuminated with an under glow of candle light. Beautiful! There is really no way to describe it. To make it better, Stephanie read the final reading before the gospel. Yet again, the people in St. Peter’s, the Cardinals and the Pope, and everyone tuned in on EWTN heard the Word from the voice of a Bernardian! Walking out of the doors that night, I felt a true feeling of celebration in the air, and especially in our group. We met at the obelisk and congratulated Stephanie with cheers and singing… have you ever been hurried out of the Vatican by security guards?!? We were. We made our way, speedily, to the nearest gelato shop to indulge in our first ever Easter treat. The night ended at different times for everyone, but it is safe to say that a good number was up to welcome the sun with morning prayer at 6:00 on the terrace. It was a full basement celebration with singing, dancing, laughing, and pure Easter joy!!!
Easter Sunday was probably one of the most memorable moments of the semester. Head-up by lead chefs, Victoria and birthday girl Marissa, we put together our very own Easter feast. It was community at it’s finest, in attendance were all of the Bernardians in town for the weekend, a few extra families, and Fr. Carola! While the ladies cooked inside and set the tables with Easter chocolates and a pot-luck of our favorite desserts, some of the boys managed the grill outside (which included a sampling of summer tunes and tossing around of the football). Lunch was delicious and truly joyful! grill I cannot count how many “this is wonderful”, “isn’t it great to be together”, and “good job, chefs!” I heard over the course of the meal! It was nothing other than a celebration. We followed up our meal with a quiet in-house Mass much unlike the three before. I personally benefited from the chance to really reflect on how incredible it was to have spent Easter week in Rome with Pope Benedict. As if the day wasn’t perfect enough, we sent out the sun with a large group game of football and world cup soccer. It was a great day, only to be followed by another adventurous week of travels.

I will have to send out a full update on the second week of spring break in a later blog. For now, we are all busy in the midst of multiple papers and quizzes. Here’s to the fourth quarter of our semester!
Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Be assured that we are offering ours to you at home also!
Ciao Ciao,
Things to note:
-Bring thick-soled shoes, a limited amount of baggage, a rosary, a snack, and patience to all papal events. You would be surprised how quickly a 2-3 hour wait and a good seat can turn a papal Mass crowd into a reverent MOB.
-It is possible to grill a delicious meal with limited Italian meat options.
-Gelato tastes significantly more delectable after 40 days of Lent.


Spring and European Travels!

Speaking of slowing down the hands of time, I am now reporting from April 9th, a full 20 days since my last update. The Bernardi community is reuniting from a week of travels for the excitement of a blessed Holy Week in Rome. I cannot yet imagine the magnificence of spending this week in the eternal city, but hopefully in a few days the experience will earn some words to help describe it! Look for an update to come!
These past few weeks have been nothing like the weeks before. In short, it has been a family-meeting and Europe-traveling good time. After a few weeks traveling by plane, train, and automobile in foreign lands, I have a new appreciation for the phrase, “the one thing you can plan, is that things will not go as planned.” True. My most recent traveling experience in Prague, Czech Republic, could not be a better testament to that statement. But in all truth (just like in Subiaco), everything turned out for the better! Every day, actually every hour, Laura and I wondered how it could get better… and sure enough… it did!
There seems to be a pattern of adjusting to a new culture. First, you stumble around town in awe of the beauty of the city and the richness of the culture. Then, you pick up your map and read up on Rick Steve’s guide to prioritize the major sites of the city. Plan on finding them, but realize that you probably won’t. Or at least when you planned to find them! Instead, you will probably encounter a new hidden gem that you didn’t expect finding, and that is what makes it exciting! Soon, through time and repetition, you begin to identify personally with these popular destinations. In Prague, the singing and dancing of the Easter festival and the hourly chime of the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square transformed from an incredible photo-op to a meeting place for our new fellow traveling friends. In our first visit to the square, 3 hours was not enough time to sit, observe the gothic architecture, people watch, and take in the festival with all our senses. By the end, the clock was the first step to a fun social evening on the town with friends. Though certainly tourists of the city, we were yet a part of a smaller community of English-speaking student travelers searching for a cultural and social experience! In stead of recycling the “where did you go to high school” and “what are you studying” questions, you ask the “where have you been in the world” and “where are you going next”! It’s a different world! I am still deciding if it is the check list of world famous monuments and places, the letting go of control/ comfort zones and surrendering to uncertainty, or the social experience that makes me love traveling so much. I do know, however, that I have a serious case of the travel bug!
Good news, world! Though I’d love to see all of you, I’m going to have to return home to lovely Minnesota at some point. Hopefully someday I can make my way across the border again. For now, I am thankful for my time here, and I look forward to the chance to share my experience abroad with my family and friends back home! Luckily, I have been blessed with the chance to share a week of the Bernardi experience with my family (or 4/8ths of them) already. And I am not alone. Time with visiting families has been a special treat for the Bernardi community- although Wednesday night community night has undergone some transformation with the over-capacity of guests! As we say, “we’re all family here” 🙂
On my week with the family, I played the role of tour guide, spoiled daughter, and lucky big sister. We visited major cites and enjoyed full Italian meals (and of course the youngest member of the Lahti family requested more than enough gelato outings… thanks Anna!). We celebrated the successful completion of the Rome Marathon by Bernardians and extended Bernardians: Nicole and her Mom, Ryan, Fr. Beaudet, and Gwen, a former Bernardian! That deserved not only a few cheering sections along the 42 kilometer route, but also a celebratory dinner and outing with the a gathering of 15-20. Congrats! As a family, we also took advantage of the coastal beauty of Italy at Sorrento and the Island of Capri. I could not have imagined a better relaxing escape than the moments on the terrace overlooking the gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvias. Gorgeous!
archI trust that all the Bernardians are having similar experiences abroad. From what it sounds, Poland, Austria, Germany, Medjugorie, England, Ireland, France, and the rest of Italy are just as exciting. Even within the city limits, spring break has been adventurous! Just ask Nicole and Holly – they ran into plenty of new experiences in this seemingly familiar city… like surviving an earthquake! (We’re thankful that all of our group is perfectly safe, but please keep the victims from the Italian earthquake in your prayers!)
Following the pattern of life abroad, I’d say that the Spring-09ers of the Catholic Studies semester are successfully in the social stage. We enjoy sharing personal experiences with one another- after a long day of traveling, my first move walking through the campus doors was to see who was home! We enjoy sharing our families with one another- you learn a lot about a person when you get to meet their families! Finally, we enjoy sharing our unique gifts and talents with one another- guitar and singing on the terrace, jokes and insights… where to begin!?!? Even late night paper writing has found a nice place in the community!
A special thank you to all the families that have made the trip to Rome! We really appreciated your visit!
Things to note:
-Rick Steve’s should be a celebrity and a traveler’s best friend. Commonly asked question while abroad= “Did you bring Rick?”
-Expect the unexpected! Did I mention that we happened to see Obama in Prague? Good thing we were watching CNN the night before he decided to follow us to the Czech Republic, or we wouldn’t have even known that Mr. President was paying a visit!
-McDonald’s has tainted the world with greasy fries and McFlurries. Or as the Aussies say, “Mackers”. They are everywhere.
-Multiple flavor-infused variations of the same cola pop is strictly an American fad… I have yet to see anything more than Coke, Coke Light, Sprite, and Fanta in Europe.
It is quite possible to fit 52 people in the basement dining room. 52 of us have lived to tell the tale of the tight and cozy community night on March 25th!