Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Somethings never change, damn spiral staircase

I wrote this seven years ago and par for the course not much has changed as I am on that damn spiral staircase constantly going through and over the same old shit. Yes, I have "updated" it to add what has happened over those seven years but the sentiment is still the same.

I look around my room and see things and books that remind me of a faith I once had and wonder where it has gone. Where has my child-like-ness gone? I see "My Life on the Rock" and wonder how many rocks I have to climb and fall over. I see "Witness of Hope" and wonder where my hope has gone, and what could I possibly be witnessing to. I see "In the Presence of the Lord" and wonder where that Presence has gone. What was once so close seems and is so far away. I see "Lord Have Mercy" and "A Father Who Keeps His Promises" mutter a short prayer and wonder where and what those promises are knowing that God's mercy is there somewhere but is hidden to me. I see "First Comes Love" and think of all the different types of love out there and wonder if they are worth it. I see pictures of friends who are no longer friends and wonder was it worth it. Is it worth opening the wounds so freshly made to simply know you are not alone? Is it worth bearing one's soul and wearing one's heart on one's sleeve so that someone else does not have to go through or know the pain?

There are signs and glimpses of a faith that was once there, but they often fade away as quickly as they come. I am constantly reminded of what could have been, what should have been. I will forever be that black sheep who never seems to fit in. I am on the outside looking in trying to find my way back in and wonder if it will ever happen.

A Dark Night of the Soul is not something often if ever talked about because most do not and will not understand it. To know and see God, to feel His Presence and then lose it all only to see tiny glimpses of it return is not something easily forgotten or gotten over.

Questioning who and what one believes is normal. I believe what I believe because I believe, I just miss that child-like faith. One day I will understand.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rome Day 2

 Day 2 was the by far one of the best days of the trip as it was Papal Audience day.  Something that has changed since I was last in Rome is that tickets are needed for the Papal Audience and the airport security bag check before you get into the square for the audience has been added as well. Going through the metal detector with another person, literally 2 of us at the same time side by side, is something I would love to forget, but can't.  The day began early with Fr. John telling us to be downstairs and ready to leave at 7:15am.  Fr. John whom we met on Day 1 is what we call a Papal event guru, and very good friends with Fr. Geno.  Fr. Geno originally said 7:30am Fr. John said 7:15 to get us out at 7:30, see I've known Fr. Geno for a fair bit longer than the others on the trip so I know that when he says 7:30 he really means about 7:20.  Anyway, all of that doesn't really matter as the experience of the day far out weighs any discomfort of waking up so early and walking at a quick pace.

It didn't truly hit me as to where we were sitting until I was in the square and of course after fighting one's way into the square as seats are on a first come first serve basis.  Considering myself to be a Papal Event veteran having been to a few World Youth Days and a Papal Mass not to mention the Papal Audience when I was in Rome in 2001 with Seton Hall, I thought I knew what was about to happen, but I didn't.  I walked past where we sat with Seton Hall got to the "end of the columns" and realized that we were literally sitting on the steps of St. Peter's.  The Swiss Guard who acknowledged my ticket had to hear me say "Holy Hell or Damn they got us up close"  as I walked past and paused before finding my group.  Fr. Geno and Fr. John basically ran ahead and saved 4 rows for the group as there was 30 of us, and a group of that size very rarely if ever gets the "front row seats."  I don't remember much of what Pope Benedict said despite actually listening to him while there, reading it on line and watching the video of it. Which you can do here and you can see our group when we're announced as the camera panned over to us. (Pilgrims from the Diocese of Paterson)

Fr. John had given us instructions of "move your chairs over" and at the end get ready to move these chairs out of the way." At the end of the Audience, Pope Benedict drove past us as he normally, well he rode past us as someone else was driving the Pope-mobile as we all call it or the Papal Mobile as Fr. John, the official Vatican tour guide calls it.  I for the first time in my actually put the camera away, as the official Vatican photographers were taking pictures and I figured that I'd probably get into at least one, but I didn't because there was this crazy Korean lady, that I deemed a bitch, though that might be a bit harsh, but she was crazy as was the nun who was next to her. The priests were complaining about them as well so I'm not along.  The Korean Lady moved in front of me every time I went to move closer to the rail.  Now for the audience this five foot three inch girl had four, yes four, six foot tall guys in front of her, so Fr. John, who was one of them, said Mary, get in front of me, so I obeyed.  The pictures from the Audience do not do it justice, I was the closest I have ever been to the Holy Father.  I know that I kept looking for the feelings I had when JP2 would drive past me and when I saw him in St. Peter's square 11 years before when I was with Seton Hall.  I did not repeat those feelings, but I got something else.  While I have the actual images of JP2, I do not have one of PB16, I did and still do get the feeling that most get when close to the Holy Father one of peace, and a feeling of being in the presence of a holy man.  Benedict is not JP2 and never will be, but both men will be influential in my life for many reasons.  I remember crying tears of happiness when Benedict came to that window, thinking to myself, oh thank God nothing will change.  The seeds that JP2 planted and being watered and cultivated by PB16 and I know that evangelization and the "new evangelization" that Benedict is promoting will be a major part of my life.

The audience was by far the highlight of my trip and the rest of the day almost pales in comparison but I shall share with you the rest of the day.  After the Audience we went to visit the North American College aka the NAC whose actual name is The Pontifical North American College which happens to be where the American seminarians study and live when sent to Rome for their studies for the priesthood.  There's the link for more info and pictures of the place.   The NAC is one of those places that yes I have visited before, but it's always weird for me, a woman, to be in place that is for men.  There is a certain vibe of you belong here, but you don't belong here.   Anyway, the guys were all on their break from school so we had the place to ourselves and we got a great "tour" of the place, mainly we were up on the roof taking in the amazing views of Rome.  What will also be one of the favorite memories was Mass in the chapel, not the big or main chapel, but the tiny chapel in honor of the North American Martyrs.  We had 5 priests, Fr. Geno, Fr. Paul, Fr. Daniel, Msgr. Rodger, and Fr. Derek, it was crazy and awesome all at the same time.  I mean how many group gets to have 5 priests celebrate Mass for them and we had it happen twice, lol.

Anyway after the NAC we took a bus over to the Coliseum and the Forum.  Having stayed by the Forum last time in Rome this wasn't that big of a deal, for us it's like visiting one of our classic touristy spots.  Our tour of the Forum was cut short as the clouds were quickly turning gray and eventually opened upon us.  We went back to the hotel and then went out to what would be the first of many awesome dinners.  We went to Fr. Geno's favorite restaurant and were treated like kings and queens and drank a crap load of wine and it was wonderful. At dinner Fr. John would ask the normal questions of where did you go to college, what do you do, etc.  The question, well more of a comment was made of "study over here" to me about my lack of a Masters degree of which I would love and like, but more on Fr. John and that comment and grad school later.  Day 2 was by far one of the best days in Rome. I almost forgot here is day 2's album on facebook

Fr. Geno and I in the classic in front of St. Peter's shot, and also a typical shot for the two of us. 
The Jesus statue atop St. Peter's. When you've got some time to wait, you find things to do.  
Some of the detail on St. Peter's. 
Something I never noticed before probably because there is so much to see. 
Swiss Guards.. the Holy Father is near. :) 
PB16 did not just appear he did ride up in the  Popemobile or Papal mobile and this is when he was walking to his chair. 
Our seats were amazing, and I  still get chills just thinking about it.  
After the Audience we went to visit the North American College, home of the US seminarians, of which none where there as they were on break, but we got a nice tour of the place and got to see some amazing views from the roof of the college. This happens to be their soccer field and the only picture I have that lays claim to anything NAC related. 
One of the views from the Roof of the North American 
US seminary of course the Patroness of the Americas is there.  :)  I was baptized on the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe so she will always hold a special place with me.  ;) 
The Coliseum from the outside.  
The Coliseum from the inside.  
Some of the random hidden amazing pieces of art in the churches.   

My random cool shot from dinner ... we had a fair bit of wine that night.  ;) 
My attempt at a artsy shot, it was well after a few glasses of wine, so it was much cooler at the time. 
Our crazy waiters who kept bringing the awesome food and wine. 
the classic night of St. Peter's. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roma Day 1

So day one of the Rome trip was a whirlwind. We got of the plane around 7am which was about 1am New York time so suffice to say we were all sorts of wacky.  Most of us were tired but Fr. Geno had the we'll beat the jet lag by staying busy all day plan and that's what we did.  We couldn't check into the hotel until the afternoon so the morning was spent on a bus tour of Rome.  After the bus tour we stopped at St. Paul's Outside the Walls at that is the Basilica that the Evangelization Center is sort of named for.  After Mass, which was ad orientem, meaning the priests faced the same way as the people, we spent time looking around St. Paul's and then went to a local shrine.  The Shrine of Divine Love is just one of those local churches that people have left candles, canes, crutches, etc at as signs of the miracles that happened.  The old shrine is your stereotypical old school church the new shrine is your stereotypical ugly modern in the round church.  After the shine we went to lunch at a wonderful restaurant across the streets from the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, of which we would have gone into but we opted to go to the hotel instead.  I've been to the Catacombs so it wasn't that big of a deal for me to miss it.  I was impressed that my memory still worked after 10 years from the last trip to Rome.  We go to the hotel, relaxed, showered, and went off on a walking tour of Rome.  We got a taste of the speed for which the trip/pilgrimage would be moving at.  Fr. Geno having studied over there took us over back roads and side roads to the Casa Santa Maria, which is where the American priests stay when they are getting their doctorate or second masters degrees.  The Casa which I have seen before held a surprise for us, we were meeting Fr. John who had our Papal Audience tickets for us.  Fr. John was the surprise, as he spent so much time showing us around Rome and giving us tours of pretty much every place we were.  Not that Fr. Geno didn't but Fr. John was over in Rome for his seminary years and for his doctorate years and an official Vatican tour guide.  "Nothing but the best for the Paterson Diocese." Fr. John gave a "tour" of the chapel in the Casa, I remember the SHU group having Mass at the Casa, but I honestly don't remember the chapel.  After we left the Casa we walked back to the hotel.  I say walk, but at the speed Fr. Geno and Fr. John walk at it was more of a jog back to the hotel.  We stopped at the Fountain de Trevi, a must see stop when in Rome.  We also stopped for dinner and gelato on the way back.  In between Trevi and the hotel we saw the Pantheon and I remembered Fr. Holmes from SHU telling us about how amused he was that the McDonald's across the square from the Pantheon had a sign above that basically said something about not commercializing the place.  I think he would be happy to know that said McDonald's looked like it was closed and out of business.  We got back to the hotel and Fr. John revealed the suprise that was in the suitcase he was wheeling around, t-shirts for all of us.  We were given t-shirts that he or someone in his youth ministry program had designed as a fundraiser.  The t-shirts all revolved around John Paul II and his upcomming beatification that we all just happened to be over there for.  Thus ends day one.  What follows are a few of the pictures I took on day one, if you wish to see more visit my facebook album which has more details and comments. On our walk through Rome we saw many of the classic sites and a few others one.  We went to a church that had the tomb of St. Monica in it and we had a nice little prayer service for our moms.  Most of the trip is a blur and what stands out now will be what matters the most to me.  Fr. Geno on Mother's day  spoke about our side trip to the tomb of St. Monica so that's why I remember it more now, but the entire trip was simply amazing and awesome.  
Starting the Day leaving the airport.   
Fr. Geno leading us in prayer.  
Why was the first thing I saw a McDonald's 
The gas stations were literally on the side of the road. 
We saw a Burger King too.  
Me thinks there might have been something going on while we were there.  
"Rats with wings" or pigeons as they are known. 
There were literally signs for the Beatification  every where. 
Fr. Geno telling us about the Circus Maximus. 
A classic Roman sign.  
The Wedding Cake or the Victor Emmanuel Monument. 
St. Paul's Outside the Wall. 
Mass :) 
Inside St. Paul's. 
An old school confessional.  
A Holy Water Font.
Part of the ceiling. 

A somewhat modern window. 

The classic St. Paul's shot. 
The Shrine of Divine Love.
Some of the candles and signs acknowledging the miracles that had happened. 
The old shrine with a funeral going on.   There is a new shrine, but it's a modern ugly church.  ;) 

Castle San Angelo. 
Bridge of the Holy Angels.  
One of the sights on the walk/run through Rome. 
The Mary Statue at the Casa Santa Maria. 
St. Therese is my favorite saint and I almost always find a statue or some sign of /from her when I travel.
Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Chapel at the Casa. 
Part of the ceiling in the chapel. 
No trip is complete without a trip to Trevi Fountain

The Pantheon.
The ceiling, yes the one with the hole, in the Pantheon.
Tomb of St. Monica
Some of the painting in the church. 
A portion of the ceiling in the church. 
Our t-shirts from Fr. John.