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



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. 


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,


"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