Monthly Archives

March 2013


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.


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.


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)