My father (J. Bruce Sr.) and his wife (Bernadetta) arrived in Rome last Saturday - and some friends from St. Andrew the Apostle Parish (well, formerly from that parish) arrived on Monday - so it has been a busy time here in Rome - but I'm getting to go do some things that you don't do unless company is here! Let me recap the week.
First, the photos from the May 1 Jubilee for Military finally arrived! Only one of them is really good - but the others show that I actually did shake hands with the Pope!
Now - back to this past week. As I said, I picked up my dad and his wife at Fiumicino Airport on Saturday. Now, the first extraordinary thing about this is that it was my first driving adventure in Rome and in Italy. No worries - when I was in the military stationed at Landstuhl, Germany, I had to take the German driving test - which meant learning all the European signs - and with the creation of the European Union, all traffic signs in Euro countries are standardized - so what I learned in German applies here in Italy (with a few exceptions). I also decided that I had better buy a GPS - because with the streets here in Rome, I better know how to get where I'm trying to go. It worked GREAT! Without any problem at all I was able not drive from (basically) St. Peter's to the airport - I even had to make some adjustments because of a special Saturday Jubilee Audience - but it was no problem!
I got to the airport a bit early (as I had planned) and went in to the arrival hall and had a coffee and cornetto. Then waited for them to emerge from the Customs area.
|The one I had was chocolate - of course!|
I got them to their hotel (which is about 4 miles outside town on the Via Arelia) - then came back to the apartment - gave them some time to take a little rest after the long overnight flight - and then took the Metro & bus out to their hotel to bring them into town again for a visit to the apartment and dinner. I wanted them to learn how & where to catch the bus and Metro so that they would be free to get around town as they desired - and not feel "trapped" at the hotel.
Sunday we went to Mass at the NAC - because I wanted very much for dad to hear the choir - which is EXCELLENT! Here's a little reflection on Mass there... they do such a wonderful job with the liturgy. They actually USE the antiphons which the Church gives us (rather than hymns - or I should say they use them in addition to hymns). We sang "Come Holy Ghost" as the entrance chant - having entered the time between the Ascension and Pentecost... oh wait - that's another topic... aside...
I thought that coming to Rome I would FINALLY leave behind the Ascension Thursday/Sunday confusion that exists in the southern part of our Diocese (Franklin & Adams Counties - at least these are the counties in which I have served). You see, in Harrisburg Jesus Ascends into heaven 50 days after Easter - which, if you count - is a Thursday. Now, south of the boarder - in Maryland - Jesus is for some reason delayed by a few days - and doesn't make it off earth until Sunday (as the Holy Day has been transferred to Sunday). It was always VERY confusing for people - it is a Day of Obligation or not? I never answered the question directly - because many people live in PA but work in MD - might not be able to get to Mass... So I would leave it to people to figure out on their own... I don't think that's avoiding the question, but allowing them to decide, in their conscience, if they really could not attend Mass because of their life's situations.
Anyway... I thought I was leaving that confusion behind - NO WAY. It's even WORSE here! Inside the Vatican City State it IS a Holy Day of Obligation - but in the city of Rome (which by the way is the same diocese - albeit a different country), it has been transferred to Sunday. So it really is possible to totally miss the liturgical celebration... depending upon where you are on a particular day. In fact the same thing is going to happen soon with Corpus Christi - in the U.S. we've transferred it to Sunday - but the Vatican still celebrates it on Thursday. Well, I'm going to be away on that Thursday (in Latvia) - I'll get back on Saturday - depending upon where I have Mass on Sunday - I may not have Corpus Christi this year... Odd...
Back to what I was saying... The WONDERFUL liturgies at the NAC. Following the entrance chant (Come Holy Ghost), we then sang the entrance antiphon as the altar was being incensed. A wonderful way to unite the two options - employing both. What struck me in particular was at Holy Communion - the antiphon said, "Father, I pray that they may be one as we also are one. Alleluia." As we sang that - we were receiving Holy Communion - and Jesus' prayer was becoming fact! In our reception of Holy Communion we were being united, not only with God, but also with one another in the Body of Christ. It was (and has been all week) a profound prayer for me.
So, after Mass we went to the roof of the NAC for that great view of the City of Rome...
|My father and Bernaetta from the roof of the NAC|
The men at the NAC were having a little sports competition with the Legionaries...
On Monday 4 members of the Hartung family arrived (Sarah & Andrew - and their grandparents). We met up and had drinks at the apartment then went out for a pleasant dinner. And, of course, some Gelato. On our way to dinner I made sure we passed in front of St. Peter's Basilica - as it was Sarah and Andrew's first trip to Rome.
|me with Dad and Bernadetta|
|me and Andrew Hartung|
Tuesday Dad and Bernadetta and I did a great walking food tour of Trastevere - we started at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew (where his body is entombed in the altar) and walked to several different restaurants and shops - eating and drinking our way around town. It was wonderful! Wine, food, wine, pork, wine, pizza, wine, pasta, wine, and gelato. It was a very fun evening.
Wednesday I gave dad and Bernadetta the day off to get some rest.
Today we all met again (dad, Bernadetta, and the Hartungs) for Mass at 7:15am in St. Peter's Basilica. In fact, we went to the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Bocciata. It is the oldest chapel in the crypt area of the Basilica - down on the level close to St. Peter's tomb.
Following Mass we walked through St. Peter's a bit - where we had the chance to stop at the statue of St Peter.
I then went to work (while dad and Bernadetta went to rest at the house and the Hartung family headed off to the train station for a few days in Assisi). Then I was able to take dad and Bernadetta on a Scavi Tour underneath St. Peter's Basilica to the very place where St. Peter's remains are located - directly under the main altar. The guide did a great job explaining the history, the archeology and theology of what we were seeing. You learn where Nero's Circus was (partially where the Basilica stands today), why the bones they found have no feet (since he was crucified upside-down), a bit of understanding of Nero and why he persecuted the Christians, Roman beliefs about the after-life, and the extensive excavations that were done here in the early 1940's. At the end, you are able to see the place where St. Peter's bones are located...
|You can see a box inside a hole - this box contained the remains of St. Peter|
Tomorrow we are traveling to Ostia - Saturday to Castel Gandolfo - and Sunday (if we can get tickets) Mass with Pope Francis for Pentecost. Stay tuned!