Sunday, December 29, 2013

"I feel fat today."

We've all said it, haven't we? So what do we mean? What prompts it? A step on the scale, a too-small pair of jeans, a look in the mirror? A critical look, from others or ourselves?

I said it yesterday. Well really, I mumbled it into my pillow through tears to my mother. I feel fat. I feel heavy, out of shape. I don't like looking in the mirror. This entire break I've pretty much lived in a pair of sweatpants and tshirts, preferring to hide myself than wear clothes that actually show the shape I'm hating.

I wasn't always like this. I've been overweight all my life (literally from the beginning, I weighed in at a whopping 11 pounds, 8 ounces at birth) and did nothing about it until the summer before my senior year of high school. I began that summer at my highest weight ever, and dropped 27 pounds before the first day of school. And I did it the right way. I worked out, I watched what I ate, and it worked. But I lost momentum, and I stayed at pretty much that same weight, with the same extra 20 pounds or so still hanging on my frame until I went abroad three years later.

I studied abroad in Italy. Y'know, the Holy Land of pizza and pasta (twice a day) and gelato (once a day). So long, diet. I felt fine while I was there, but then I came home and hated what I saw in the mirror. This past semester my roommate and I teamed up and became work out buddies, and I lost about ten pounds, which I'm proud of. But now I'm home, and the gym isn't a 30 second walk, it's a 15 minute drive, and I don't have a car to myself, and it's the holidays and there's food everywhere, and excuses, excuses, excuses. I'd be surprised if I haven't gained back at least some of the weight I lost this semester.

But tomorrow's another day. There are 2 weeks left of break, and then back at school I'll get back into my workout routine with my own food and my own schedule. There's a bigger picture. Yes, the last couple days I felt fat. But it's not who I am. And I'll lose the extra weight. I just have to remember to give myself some perspective on "I feel fat" days.

So whenever you're thinking this:

"I feel fat." 

And you're telling yourself in translation:

"I'm ugly. I'm not attractive. No one wants me. I shouldn't bother trying. I hate myself for gaining this weight."

Remember. Perspective:

"You are more than your weight. Your beauty is not dictated by numbers on a scale. You are as beautiful as you know yourself to be."

That's what I'm going to be trying to tell myself. Despite the acne that's broken out like crazy in the last week, despite the urge to eat all the Christmas candy, despite the doubts-

Love yourself.

Love, Chris

Home (Take 2)

After an 8 month blogging break, I've decided to get back into posting on here. I loved sharing on here when I was abroad in Rome last Spring, and with the New Year, I've decided to write more often. Here we go!

I'm posting from New Hampshire now, sitting by the blazing wood stove on the couch, where I've been firmly situated for most of the day. I have a whole month off this year, as opposed to the couple weeks I had at home last year before heading off to Roma on January 2nd. I only have a few things to get done over break, which is weird to get used to after the crazy amount of work this semester kept me doing.

Fall 2013 was not half bad. I wasn't expecting much from the semester after being abroad, but I kinda loved it. I came into it after a great summer working at camp, and it wasn't long before Mill South 207 was my favorite place to come home to. I love, love, love the ladies I am so blessed to live with. They keep me laughing and love me despite my less lovable qualities (cough, burping excessively, cough).

CAC predictably took over my life, and (most of the time) I was happy to let it. I think this whole year I'm going to be fighting those doubts telling me that since I'm not a competing varsity athlete at CUA anymore that I have nothing to offer to our athletes, but I'm keeping on. Planning Athletes Retreat was definitely a highlight of my semester and I'm really proud of how it went. However, I still have that desire to be in ministry in a larger way, which is why I'm spending yet another winter break (3rd times the charm?) on the Student Minister app. I'll keep ya posted.

Next semester holds 6 classes (yay Mission Trip class), a new job, a big event to lead for CAC, and Mission Trip Jamaica to close it out! I'm sure there will be bumps along the way, but I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks for catching up!
Love, Chris


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Home

If there's anything I've learned during my sophomore year of college, it's that a lot can happen in a semester.

I know you're probably thinking of my spring semester here in Rome, but my fall semester at CUA changed a lot of things for me.

Last fall, I was wildly over-committed. I was an Undergraduate Fellow, I was the VP of Catholic Athletes for Christ, I led Athletes Retreat, I lectored at daily mass on campus, I was a member of Gratia Plena, I had a youth ministry internship that I had to commute to every Friday night, the study abroad application to complete, and surprise, had a social life, friends, and family to maintain, not to mention a faith life. Oh, and 5 classes.

Every weekend, I would sit down with my desk calendar and map out my week, hour by hour for each day. And I know when it's all listed out like that above, it seems overwhelming and awful and chaotic. And sometimes it was. But it also made for a semester during which I saw myself becoming who I wanted to be. Every single one of those things that I blocked into my schedule were part of my life because I wanted them to be. I'm passionate about them. Those activities don't even include the 4 or 5 hours a week spent in daily masses and praise and worship, which I would hardly call commitments, since rather than being stuff to fit in, they were what helped me keep my sanity during all the rest of it.

I started last semester not knowing where I stood. I'd lost some friends over the summer, including one I honestly had never thought I'd have to navigate this thing called college without. I was hurt. I didn't know if I was worth becoming anyone's new best friend after having lost mine. I didn't even know my own roommate. I didn't know where I was going, but at the time that I was moving back into CUA last fall, I knew it wasn't the place where I had the friends I'd had when I left. It didn't feel like the home it had become freshman year.

But life has a way of putting people in your life when you least expect it, and when you need them most.

I met Joe and Ross, who became my friends somewhere between classes in O'Boyle and a Confirmation retreat we all ended up leading together, and who taught me that you can turn around someone's day just by having a genuine smile on your face, by doing that for me, and everyone else each of them meet, countless times.

I met Lauren Scharmer, who I'm sure is about to cry reading this, if she isn't already, and learned that I was not the first person to have every possible emotion that there is to have over studying abroad. I also learned that there are some people so kind that they will come up and hug you when they see you crying, and tuck you into bed when you're sick before they even know you, and that she is one of the even fewer people that will end up being your best friend afterward.

I met Colleen, who surprised me by wanting to be my friend just as much as I wanted to be hers, and whose easy friendship helped me get by in those first couple months more than I'll probably ever be able to express.

And most importantly, I met my roommate, Kelly. I met the girl who became my best friend out of nowhere, who is the first person I can honestly say I am always completely and freely myself with, who, by letting me be there for her, showed me how to let others be there for me, who can sing beautifully, who is comically shorter than I am, and who saved me.  Kel is my person. Strangers in August, soulmates by December.

So, yeah, a semester can change a lot. It can change your social circle, it can change your major, it can change you into someone who knows who she is, and more importantly, feels like she's growing into the person she wants to be.


And then I left to come to Rome. It was like starting all over again. No support system. Didn't know a single person coming in, not even by sight. But I did know that I had done this before.

Truth is, it was hard. It was hard getting here, orientation was hard, my grandfather dying was hard, it was hard a month in, it was hard when I was homesick, it was hard when I was happy, and sometimes it's still going to be hard.

That's the thing. Life is tough. But it's also good and incredible and exhilarating and emotional and it's worth it. I did so many amazing things this semester.

I went on a gondola in Venice.
I went to mass at Notre Dame in Paris.
I went wine tasting at a castle in Tuscany.
I saw the bones of St. Peter underneath the Vatican.
I prayed the Scala Santa on my knees during the Triduum.
I WAS IN ROME FOR CONCLAVE AND HOLY WEEK
I was in St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict left the Vatican for the last time as Pope.
I was there again for the white smoke, and saw Pope Francis for the first time with all the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
I went to FOUR Papal Masses (Epiphany Mass with Pope Benedict; Inauguration Mass, Palm Sunday Mass, Easter Sunday Mass with Pope Francis)
I've been within 10 feet of both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

I don't say all that to brag. I say it more to remind myself that none of this just "happened" to me. With the exception of all the conclave business, which obviously we can thank the Holy Spirit for, I made all this happen. I made the decision to study abroad in a country where I didn't know the language or anyone coming with me, 4500 miles away from all the new friends I'd just spent a semester making. I chose to make the most of my semester. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. I underestimated the power of foreign homesickness, how challenging it is to keep in touch with people, how emails and Skype never seem to cut it on the nights when you just want to be with the people you love.

I've learned about my faith and about myself.
I've grown.
I've made new friends.

And now, I have to leave this place where all this happened. Where I lived on my own for the first time. Where I was a 15 minute walk from St. Peter's. Where I spent 4 months surrounded by a foreign language in a foreign country. Where I cried and laughed and drank and lived exclusively on pasta and pizza. Where I woke up at the crack of dawn to go to Station Masses at 7am all around Rome during Lent. Where I had some of the highest and lowest moments of my life. Where I kinda figured out who I am.

So as I say goodbye to this place and head home to NH for a few days to see my family before I visit my other home and family at CUA, I can happily say that I achieved my biggest goal for this semester:

I made Rome my home.


To each person that contributed to the 2,500+ hits that this blog has gotten, thank you for letting me share this with you.

Love, Chris

Here's to the next adventure. Junior year, I'm coming for you ;)



Thursday, April 25, 2013

six dayz

..Til I see some of my favorite people at CUA!
 Can't wait!!



...herp derp.



 Love, Chris


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Photo Stream

Here are a couple little photo collages I made from some of my favorite pictures from the semester with all the great people I've been here with!



Finals week is upon us, so expect just 2 more posts from this blog! I'll have one up on Wednesday or Thursday with some photos from what my daily life here in Rome has looked like, and then one final post on Sunday morning before I FLY BACK TO THE UNITED STATES! ONE WEEK!! :)

(Expect the next posts to be heavy on the nostalgia and cheesiness)

Love, Chris

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vienna

Vienna Facebook album

If you take away the nightmare experiences of getting to Vienna and getting back from Vienna, both of which included delayed flights, missed busses, and near emotional breakdowns (okay, full-on breakdowns)... then I can honestly say that the 2 and a half days I spent in Vienna were a great experience.

My friend Cait and I took this last trip of the semester together. Cait is a girl I met here in Rome and who I traveled with over spring break, and actually someone I'm going to be living with next year! She's a great friend and we had a blast together.

We got to Vienna late on Friday night. We had all day Saturday and Sunday, and part of Monday in Vienna before our flight back to Rome. During that time, we saw 2 palaces, ate some schnitzel and strudel, and explored Vienna. We saw churches and parks and reveled in being a city that is so totally not Italian. I, for one, am so beyond ready to be back in the US, especially now after what happened in Boston on Monday, so it was nice to have a break from Italy and experience a city that was so different.

Everything in Vienna is closed on Sunday. The city has quiet hours every day from 10pm-9am. There isn't the claustrophobic hustle and bustle of Rome. There are no nagging street vendors. It's clean. Most people don't speak English. They eat meals at normal times. It was awesome.

It was just a little hard to ease into the routine of Vienna, because since we're now in our last week of classes, we have a ton of work and papers to do and finals exams to prepare for, so it was a little overwhelming to be away when we had so much to do.

I have my last class of the semester tomorrow, and then the following days will be filled with writing final papers, preparing for final exams, packing, and getting ready to say goodbye to Rome.

I'm sure by this time next week, when more of my assignments have been completed and I'm a little less stressed, I'll feel some more sadness about my time in Rome coming to an end, but right now I'm just really antsy to be back in the US. It's been a long time, and a lot has happened, and I'm just ready to come home.

Back to writing papers...

Love, Chris

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Capri Sun


Take me back to Capri. That's all that's coming to mind as I write this post. We had a incredible program trip to the Bay of Naples that made coming back to the reality of 5 page papers and final projects rough, not to mention the stark realization that we only have a few weeks left!

I saw Pompeii, went in the Blue Grotto, got sunburned laying out in the sun in Capri, had a memorable excursion into Naples, and probably most importantly, I got to do it all with a couple great friends.

Sounds pretty perfect to me.

I have plenty to do, so for now I'll just leave you with some pictures from the weekend, my words couldn't do it justice anyway!






Love, Chris


Also, check out this post by my friend Cait about the night we had before escaping to Capri! (Note to self: NEVER AGAIN... so it's back to writing my paper for now!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Experiencing the Triduum in Rome

For Holy Thursday, my parents were still here, so they joined me and some of my friends from the dorm for Mass at Santa Susanna. Santa Susanna is the American parish here in Rome. I sometimes go to their 6pm daily mass. It's a really beautiful church, and Holy Thursday mass was completely packed, which was great to see. Holy Week tends to mark the beginning of the tourist season in Rome.

Santa Susanna
On Good Friday, my parents met me in St. Peter's Square to see the Stations of the Cross acted out by students that attend a missionary school here in Rome. The students did a really great job.




At 3pm, a few friends and I headed to the English College, which is the British seminary here in Rome, for the Good Friday service. The College is really beautiful, and the seminarians did a wonderful job. Afterward, I headed to my family's apartment that they rented while they were here, to spend their last night in Rome with them. It was tough saying goodbye, but it helps knowing that I'll be home in a month! (Wait, what???)  

Holy Saturday was a really great day. We started out the day by climbing the Scala Santa, or Holy Stairs. These are 29 steps that are supposed to be the stairs that Jesus climbed up to Pontius Pilate. St. Helena brought them to Rome, among other things, back when transporting an entire staircase was apparently a feasible thing to do.  Now, I said climbed, but the thing about Scala Santa is that you ascend the stairs on your knees.

It was a painful and spiritual experience. Kneeling on each step praying the entire way can't help but bring you closer to Christ's suffering, and having just watched the Passion the night before certainly enhanced the experience.


Afterward, it was a beautiful day, so we went to see St Maria Maggiore, which is one of the four major basilicas of Rome. Then we went grocery shopping for our Easter dinner, and then took naps in preparation for the Easter Vigil!

After dinner at Abbey Theater, Cait, Mary, and I headed back to the English College for the four hour Easter Vigil. It was really beautiful and it actually didn't feel four hours long, though part of that may be due to the fact that I spent most of the first hour playing with the wax from my candle and making shapes with it. Anyway, they really did do a great job with it, and afterward we stayed for a bit for some champagne and chocolate with everyone before heading home.

After a mere 3 hours of sleep (ouch) we were back up again for Easter: Round 2- this time with Papa Fran! We were out the door by 7 and managed to get great seats up front for Mass at 10:30. We got a little nervous because he didn't process at the beginning before Mass like he had for his Inauguration, but never fear, turns out the 3rd Papal Mass with Papa Fran was the charm for me, because I finally got a great picture of him! He finally came around our side of the barricade on the last aisle he went down before heading into St. Peter's to deliver his Sunday Angelus Easter message to the crowd. 



After fighting our way back to school through thousands of people, it was back to bed until it was time to make Easter dinner. We had a great meal with 6 people from the dorm.


And today, Easter Monday, we went on a program-offered trip to Castel Gandolfo. We left school at 4 and went about an hour south of Rome to the small town where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI now resides. It was so cool coming up on the center of town, because I recognized the building that Benedict met the crowds at as he arrived at Castel Gandolfo on the day he resigned. It was so weird and awesome to be in the place that I had seen him waving from on TV as I had stood in St. Peter's Square. 

The weather was really rainy today, so it wasn't ideal, but the restaurant we went to had the best antipasti. The wine also seemed to be never-ending, which made for a fun bus ride back. (It's possible the entire bus joined in a rendition of "Die Young" by Kesha as it came on the radio). My bus buddy Cait and I also had a great time singing "Thrift Shop" to each other. 

It's the little things like that which are becoming more important as we all realize that we only have one more month here in Rome!!

"I've learned that a storm isn’t always just bad weather, and a fire can be the start of something. I’ve found out that there are a lot more shades of gray in this world than I ever knew about. I’ve learned that sometimes, when you´re afraid but you keep on moving forward, that’s the biggest kind of courage there is. And finally, I’ve learned that life isn’t really about failure and success. It’s about being present, in the moment when big things happen, when everything changes, including myself." - Cynthia Hand

Love, Chris

Thursday, March 28, 2013

If tomorrow means my death, pray You'll save their souls with it



Needtobreathe is my favorite band. This is one of their earliest songs, and as Bear explains in the first minute of the video, it's from the perspective of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. If you like their sound, I'd also recommend checking out "Washed by the Water," "Something Beautiful," and "Lay 'Em Down."

Won't you take this cup from me
Cause fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
Pray you'll save their souls with it

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

In this hour of doubt I see
Who I am is not just me
So give me strength to die myself
So love can live to tell the tale

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

Father let my heart be 
For you
For you
For you
For you

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

Father let my heart be after you



Monday, March 25, 2013

Francis of Assisi and Pickpockets of Colosseo

It's been a while, friends! And that's because....


The family is here!

My wonderful family kind of took "Chris is studying in Rome" as "excuse to take a vacation to Rome." And I mean that in the kindest way possible, especially because they brought me peanut butter and Dr Pepper. But really, it has been so, so wonderful to have them here. My parents arrived on Wednesday, and the rest of the fam (my Auntie Ann, my Auntie Claire, and my Uncle Jonathan and their kids Isaac (14) and Abigail (11) who are on spring break) got in on Friday. We've had a great time. Everyone will be here until this Saturday.

On Saturday, we went to Assisi! What a beautiful place, especially in light of our new Pope's name. We learned a lot about the life and work of St Francis during our time there, and I think I love Pope Francis even more now after learning so much about the saint he hopes to emulate in some way during his papacy. It was a program offered trip, so DDV showed us around and explained a lot, which was extremely helpful. A few of my good friends were also there, so it was great to be able to spend some time with them and my family, and we had a great meal together.

I definitely recommend getting to Assisi for a day or two if you ever have the chance. 

However, I do not recommend failing to keep your hand on your bag while getting off the insanely crowded Colosseo metro stop on a Sunday.

Because that is precisely how I found myself minus one wallet containing 50 euro, my ID, my metro card, my debit card, and a shred of my dignity. 

Yup. Guess who got pickpocketed. Not the tourists visiting for a week, but the kid who actually lives here that they were visiting. All in all, it could've been so much worse. I realized that it had happened pretty much as soon as the metro doors shut behind me, and we had my card cancelled within 20 minutes, with a new one that should be here by the end of the week. My metro card is a monthly pass that's provided by the school, so I'll get a new one for April next week, and since I filled out a police report, I didn't have to pay to get my ID card replaced. And as for my 50 euro, I'm choosing to believe that the guy who took it donated it to charity.

Tomorrow I'll be taking the fam to my favorite gelato place, Frigidarium, and on Thursday, I'll be posting a song on here by one of my favorite bands that is perfect to reflect and meditate on during Holy Week that is especially fitting for Holy Thursday. So do check back here for that.

Have a blessed Holy Week, everyone.

"Well, all I can say is that I hope he has a lousy day! No! I take it back! A lousy WEEK!" -Joan Fontaine, on the guy that has my 50 euro

Love, Chris



Thursday, March 14, 2013

HABEMUS PAPAM


 PAPA FRANCESCO!!!


I'll never forget yesterday for as long as I live, but the Italian newspaper I picked up today can't hurt.

Last night we had a planned dinner with the Provost of CUA with our program. The plan was to meet in St Peter's Square around 7:15pm, after the supposed black smoke would have appeared, and then we would head off for dinner.

No one expected white smoke. My friends and I were already planning to camp out in St. Peter's all day today, since that's when it seemed most likely it would happen.

So there we were, hanging around in St. Peter's Square, in the rain, waiting for black smoke. 

But all of a sudden...


Absolute shock. Mayhem. Tears. Thousands rushing the square.

But not at first. At first.. Silence.

Then.. "Wait..Smoke..Smoke.. WHITE smoke! WHITE SMOKE!!!!"

Unsurprisingly, it took a moment to process! As soon as Pope Benedict announced his resignation, we had known we would be here in Rome for conclave. Undoubtedly, we realized that we would in fact be in St. Peter's Square for the election of the new pope. Even as we stood waiting for the black smoke we expected that night, we knew that white smoke was a far-reaching possibility. 

But nothing could have prepared me for the night I had last night. I am entirely confident in the fact that this blog post simply cannot do it justice.

Anyhow. Smoke. Rushing the square. Getting surprisingly close to the very front. 

Waiting.

And waiting.

Realizing all the cell networks are jammed so I can't call everyone I know.

And waiting.

This hour felt like both an eternity and an instant. As you can imagine, the atmosphere in the square was incredible. The Vatican is lit up beautifully, there are birds flying over the sky, there are people singing, crying. And with every glance backward, the crowd seems to have grown exponentially. 

We're all wondering who it could be. Wondering what his name will be. 

I can assure you no one I was with threw out the name of Bergoglio or even, "that guy from Argentina." My friend Cait however, did mention the name Francesco. Something about the birds flying around the square tipped her off. 

Finally, the Swiss Guard assembled. The lights went up. It was happening.

The Cardinal Deacon stepped out to announce,

"HABEMUS PAPEM"

"We have a pope!"

Of course, as soon as we saw the deacon we all went ballistic because here we've been waiting for an hour to see our new Holy Father and thought the first guy we saw was him. No dice. He leaves. They rearrange the curtains. 5 minutes later-


We see Pope Francis for the first time! And if we thought we had lost it when we saw the deacon, we were absolutely beside ourselves we saw Papa Francesco. 

I have to admit, I was expecting the arms to be open, the red vestments to be on, maybe some tears from our Holy Father.

Instead, I saw a man clothed simply in white. Standing steadily. Looking out over the square.

Papa Fran began to speak. In Italian. Luckily, we had a very nice man in front of us who translated for us! Therefore, we got to be on the Pope's opening joke- The cardinals, looking for the new bishop of Rome, went all the way to the ends of the earth to find him!

Obviously, this a papal "first' on so many levels. The first non-European. The first Francis. The first Jesuit. 

As I'm sure all of you were watching, you know that he then led us in the Our Father, The Hail Mary, and the Gloria. He had little else to say. Before giving us his first blessing, he bowed his head and asked us to be silent for a moment and first pray for him. An incredible act of humility, much like his choice of simple white vestments, and all the decisions we're beginning to find out about today- choosing to ride back to St Martha's in the bus with the Cardinals, rather than in the Popemobile that is rightly his to use now, being just one of them.

It was an incredible night. I still can't believe it, when I see pictures like the one just above, that I was in that crowd in St. Peter's last night. I was there. I'll be at his first Angelus on Sunday. I'll be at his installation on Tuesday morning in St. Peter's Square. 

I'm here.

“And now let us begin this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which is the one that leads all the churches in charity. A journey of fraternity, of trust between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world so that this might be a great brotherhood. I hope that this journey of the Church that we begin today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar here present will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.” -Pope Francis


Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Break! A Photo Summary

What a week! I don't think I could even begin to say everything about this week in a single post, so I think for the moment I'll just post a handful of my favorite photos from the trip with a bit to say for each of them!


First up was Barcelona! During our 3 days there, we visited Sagrada Familia. This cathedral has been under construction for nearly 100 years, and it still isn't complete! Between running out of money and architects dying, it's been a work in progress for decades now. I had seen Sagrada Familia from the outside before- and I hated it. Thank God I went in! From the outside, it's absolutely gaudy and cluttered, but inside my view was completely transformed.


I love stained glass, and the high ceilings gave such a feeling of lightness that you never could have suspected just from looking at the outside of the cathedral.


Next was London!!


My friend Cait and I loved the bunk beds in our hostel :)


We stayed right by St Paul's and this is the view we had after crossing the Millennium Bridge on our first night. We packed in a TON of stuff during our four days in London.



We did a tour of Tower Bridge.


We went on the London Eye!


The view from the top! In typical London style, it was foggy and rainy and we loved it anyway.


Obligatory telephone box picture with Big Ben hanging out in the background.


We went in the Tower of London and got to see the Crown Jewels which are housed there. And I made friends with a Beefeater! :)


This is the best picture I have ever been in.

We went to King's Cross to see Platform 9 3/4. It was so great. We also saw Abbey Road, Baker Street, the inside of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's and the British Museum, where we saw the Rosetta Stone.

Then we took a 9 hour overnight bus to Edinburgh.

(...Never take a 9 hour overnight bus to Edinburgh)

Despite no sleep and the frigid cold, we perked up enough to go on a 4 hour walking tour of Old Town Edinburgh, and within half an hour I knew I'd have to come back to Scotland. It was so so beautiful. Plus we had an awesome Australian named Kiel as our guide, who easily could have passed for Scottish, because he has one of the most magnificent beards I've ever seen.



Very, very cold!


This morning we woke up to a couple inches of snow on the ground before we left to come back to Rome. It's bound to be another memorable week here, though- Conclave starts tomorrow!

I'll let you know when I see the white smoke!

Love, Chris



Friday, March 1, 2013

We'll Miss You, Papa Benny

One more post before break!

My friend Mark from back home was in Rome this week! He goes to Franciscan University and is studying abroad in Austria this semester. His program made a trip to Rome and I got to meet up with him on Thursday.

We met in St Peter's Square a little before 5pm, when the Pope was leaving the Vatican. I actually hadn't planned on being there for it, but I'm so glad I was.

There are massive TV screens set up in the corners of St. Peter's Square, and at 4:30pm they started broadcasting a live feed of the Pope leaving the Vatican. A huge crowd gathered in the square, and we all watched as the cardinals bid him an emotional goodbye, with those that worked closest with him visibly upset and teary-eyed. As I saw this, I looked around the square and saw that there were many teary eyes around me. In particular, as the Pope got on his helicopter, one priest behind me was just overcome, with tears streaming down his face. I think it wasn't until that day that I truly realized what this meant. That Pope Benedict was really leaving. As his helicopter left the ground, we all clapped in the square, and erupted into thunderous applause as we saw the helicopter ascend over the square. It took a turn away, but the Pope's helicopter then made one final pass over the faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square.

As I saw him leaving the Vatican for the last time as Pope, I felt a true sadness. Pope Benedict was a great Pope, and I was sad to see him go.

Each of us is willed, 
each of us is loved, 
each of us is necessary.
-Pope Benedict XVI

The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.
Pope Benedict XVI


Love,
Chris

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pope Benedict's Last Papal Audience



It still hasn't sunk in that I was that close to the Pope today. He was literally less than 10 feet away from where I stood as he passed by during his procession on the Popemobile.

I definitely had tears in my eyes as soon as I saw him coming down my aisle. (His route is left unknown for security purposes, so even though we were by a barricade, there wasn't a guarantee that he would come down our aisle).

If you can make out the 6 different sections in the center of the square (4 in the front, 2 long rectangles in the back), I was in the very front of the middle section on the right side, near the central aisle.

It was so incredible. It started at 10:30, so we got there by 8:30, and worked our way toward standing room in the front of that section. We were waiting for about 2 hours, but the atmosphere was so exciting that it really wasn't bad at all, plus the weather was beautiful today. I had one of the 50,000 tickets that were handed out by the Swiss Guard, but there are estimates that about 200,000 were gathered in the square today. People from everywhere in the world, and speaking what felt like every language. Chants of "Benedetto" would break out every now and then, as did, "Benedetto, sempre con noi" (Always with us).


So that was an incredible morning. And then for class in the afternoon, Msgr Irwin brought in Msgr Wadsworth of Westminster, who is the guy that was basically in charge of the new English translation of the missal- the guy who made us all say "consubstantial," and "with your Spirit." So that was really cool, he was great to listen to and it was cool to learn about the extensive translation process.

Anyway, this will probably be my last post for a couple weeks, as I'm off for Spring Break on Sunday! Next time you'll hear all about my adventures in Barcelona, Geneva, London, and Edinburgh!

"The Pope belongs to everyone, and so many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world's greatest figures - from the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline."
Love, Chris