Sunday, September 1, 2013

Click Here!

In case anyone still looks at this or comes across it sometime, I've started a new blog!  Check it out!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Home from Rome: Life After Rome

It's been almost a month since I left Rome, and since I posted on my blog.  I said I'd close it up more properly once I had caught up on sleep.  I don't know if I'll ever catch up on sleep, but I figure it's time wrap this up.

What is is like to be back in the United States after spending three months in Rome?  It is so weird.  I keep almost breaking traffic laws.  I walk out into the street, expecting traffic to stop for me; instead, I almost get hit every time.  I miss public transportation and living in the city.  My body can't handle not walking everywhere; I've started running again and I've been walking to church from my house pretty frequently.  It's not far, but it's a whole lot better than driving everywhere I need to go exactly when I need to.

I keep forgetting that everyone speaks English, and fluently, and that I speak the language of the people.  When I was on the crowed airport train in the Atlanta airport, I said, "scusi, permesso, scusate."  I forgot they all probably spoke English.  Half the time I'm talking, I assume the people around me can't understand me.

Also, I can't handle eating processed foods; the freshness of Italian food spoiled me.  I miss having pastries for breakfast.  I'm breaking my coffee addiction.  That's not something I'm doing on purpose; coffee just isn't as available or as cheap here, and it's not part of the culture like it is in Italy.
I found an Italian coffee place in the Atlanta airport.  I was going through withdrawal, so a caffe macchiato was a sweet little consolation.

The beauty of Italy can't even be compared to the United States; it's just not even fair to do that to our young little country.

What have I been up to since I've been home?  When I flew into Chicago, I had to go through customs, which took quite a while.  Afterwards, I was greeted by my mom and a small welcoming party.  By the time we got back to my house from Chicago, it was 2am Indiana time, which is 8am Rome time.  All I knew was that I'd been up for more than 24 hours straight and I needed to go to bed!
My family got had a cookie cake and balloons (not pictured here) waiting for me to welcome me home!  Please enjoy my cheesy smile.

As I mentioned in my last post, a day later, I went back down to Ave Maria for a few days.  I packed up my room, went back to work in the admissions office, went to graduation, spent time with friends, took a trip to the beach, and even made an Italian dinner for my roommate.

One of my beautiful roommates down at Ave Maria University. 
Enjoying a little homemade Italian, or at least as close as we could get.   I was desperate!  
After four days in Florida, I brought one of my roommates back to Indiana with me for a week!!  It was such a blessing to be able to spend time with her.  I missed her so much while I was in Rome!  It was also fun to be able to show her my home and my family.  I've been missing her ever since I took her back to Wisconsin!
My roommate and me, when I took her back to Wisconsin.  I didn't want to give her back!
Since then, I've been spending a lot of time with my siblings, helping out around the house, meeting up with old friends, babysitting, and spending time at my home parish, which I love SO MUCH.
Picture on the grounds of my home parish the other day
When my Rome-sickness gets bad, I end up doing things like reliving moments painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  I like to call this one "The Creation of Kitten."
It's definitely a different way of life, at a different pace, in a different setting, with different people.  It's been quite an adjustment, and I'm not even done adjusting yet.   I've also been sharing my experience in Rome whenever I get the chance.  Just the other day, I went and spoke to the students currently attending the middle school that I attended.  It's something that was such a huge gift that I loved so much that I just can't keep it to myself.  Can't you tell from my blog?  Speaking of which, thank you to everyone who has read any of my blog over the semester.  God bless you!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Keeping it updated was a great challenge, but also a great gift to me every day.  I know I'll be thankful for it in the future, too!

Even though absolutely everything in my hometown is different from life in Rome, God is still waiting to meet me in every moment of the day, just like He was in Rome.  Everywhere I go is always in pursuit of Him; He leads me, I follow.  That's how I got to Ave Maria, that's how I got to Rome, and that's how I got to where I am now.  So far, I'd say it's worked out pretty well.  Hopefully someday, it'll get me to heaven.  I'm confident that, with God's grace, it will.  Or, in the words of St. Josemaria Escriva, "I know I will accomplish this--not because I am sure of myself, Jesus, but because I am sure of You."

I ended my first blog post with a quote from the Song of Songs:
"Let me rise then and go about the city,
through the streets and squares;
Let me seek Him whom my soul loves."

Now, I find a verse shortly following that one to be an appropriate way to close my last blog post:
"I found Him whom my soul loves.
I held Him and would not let Him go
until I had brought Him to my mother's house..."
Song of Songs 3:2, 4

Thank you, Ave Maria University for another great year!  And most of all, thank You, Jesus!  I couldn't have known to ask for gifts as great as the ones I received this semester.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hello, America!



First off, jet lag combined with a lack of sleep is killing me; therefore, this post will be neither extensive nor thorough.  I just wanted to announce that I arrived back in the United States, safe and sound, on Tuesday evening around 7pm (that'd be Wednesday morning around 1am Rome time).  I'd love to elaborate on my re-entry into the States and how strange it was to be in St. Peter's in the morning and Chicago in the evening of the same day, but those stories will have to wait until I have caught up on sleep.  My body thinks it's 5am now even though it's really only 11pm, 6 hours earlier.  I must go to sleep.

Tomorrow morning, I'm flying down to Ave Maria University to help my roommates move out, see friends I've missed, make sure technical details are all set to go for next year, and give the seniors a proper send off.  If you're an AMU student and you're reading this, well, I will see you soon, and I can't wait!  Seriously!

Ok, but seriously, my ability to function is slipping away more and more quickly (who knows what I actually packed for my trip tomorrow...), so I MUST go to sleep now.  I will more properly close this blog at a later date.

Buona notte!

Monday, April 29, 2013

One Last Day in the Eternal City


The day has finally come, that is, my last full day in Roma.  I leave tomorrow morning at 8:30 to fly out back to the States.

I realize I have kind of disappeared for the last two weeks.  Let me tell you, in the places I have been, internet has been sparse.

So, where exactly have I been the past two weeks?

Finals finished up, and I had a few days in Rome before heading up north to the mountains.  The day before I left for the trip, two other students, my RD, and I embarked upon a very special pilgrimage--the Seven Church Pilgrimage Walk.  I don't know if all that is technically supposed to be capitalized, but it should be!  What is the Seven Church Pilgrimage walk?  In Rome, there are seven churches that, if you are a pilgrim in Rome, you should make a point to visit and pray in while you are here.  St. Philip Neri began the tradition of taking youth and making a pilgrimage walking to all of the churches in the 16th century.  On Monday, April 15, the small group of us walked to each of the seven churches, beginning and ending at the villa where we lived and studied.  It was such a beautiful pilgrimage.  We started around 6am and finished right before 7pm.  We walked all day long, usually stopping for about 15 minutes when we reached one of the churches and stopping an hour in the middle of the day for lunch.  We spent some of the time walking in silence, some of the time praying together, some of the time just talking, laughing, and making up songs.  Here's pictures of us at each of the seven pilgrimage churches in Rome:
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Mary Major Basilica
St. Lawrence Outside the Walls
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Lunch break
St. John Lateran
St. Sebastian
And lastly, St. Paul Outside the Walls
Fr. Bennett-on-a-Stick made the pilgrimage as well
These are all the points we hit (starting with the bottom left-hand corner and going up), but not exactly the path we walked
The next morning, I headed to the airport to catch a plane to Milan!  My planed ended up being delayed for three hours, so I chilled in the airport and met up with the rest of the group (they all took a train...but I bought my ticket later so flying ended up being cheaper for me) when I arrived in Milan.  We saw the Duomo and had a picnic in a piazza.  It was a lovely lovely day!
Duomo in Milan (the Cathedral)
Me and the Duomo!
We also found A CASTLE!
The next day, we headed from Milan to Pollonae, a small town in the mountains where Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati would spend his summers at his grandparents' house.  Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati lived in Turin, Italy, in the early 1900s.  As a young man, he had a great love for the Lord in the Eucharist.  When he stayed with his grandparents' in the summers, He would wake up at 4am every morning and hike up the mountain so that he was able to go to Mass and receive Christ in the Eucharist.  He also had a great love for the poor.  He gave away most of the possessions he had to the poor, supported many poor families financially, and helped the poor find work.  He sacrificed his own wealth and possessions to do this.  He often visited the poor and the sick, especially on Fridays.  After one particular visit to a man that was sick with polio, Pier Giorgio himself caught the deadly disease.  He began to get very sick and also started to become paralyzed.  He did not complain, and his family did not notice because at the same time, Pier's grandmother was dying.  In fact, Pier's family got upset with him for drawing attention to himself while his grandmother was dying.  By the time Pier's family actually realized that he was seriously ill, Pier Giorgio only had a few days left to live.  On July 4th, 1925, Pier Giorgio died at the age of 24.  The last thing he did before he died was ask his sister to bring him a prescription for a sick man that was in the pocket of his coat.  He himself, though he struggled with paralysis, wrote a note to have the prescription renewed and charged to his own account at the pharmacy.  He asked his sister to take the medicine to the sick man.  Pier Giorgio died the same way he lived, giving himself totally to others out of a great love for Christ.

I got to stay in the house where Pier Giorgio would spend his summers with his grandparents for two nights while we were in Pollonae.  I couldn't believe it, what a gift!  We got to go visit and pray in Pier Giorgio's bedroom, left exactly as it was when he lived there.  There was also a room that was set up exactly as the room where Pier Giorgio died in his house in Turin.  All the furniture, blankets, and drawers were there, left exactly as they were on the day he died.  Wow.  It was such a gift to be able to stay there!
Blessed Pier Giorgio's grandparents' house where he stayed over the summers...where I stayed for three days! 
A perfect spot for some quality hammocking time on the grounds
During the full day that we had in Pollonae, we hiked up the mountain to Oropa, the town that Blessed Pier Giorgio would hike to every morning to go to Mass.  What took Pier Giorgio 45 minutes took us three hours.  We did stop to play in a waterfall though...
Heading out and up!!
Stopping to ask some old Italian men for directions...always fun
Playing in the waterfall!!
Arriving at Oropa, finally, after our three hour hike.  Yay!
In Oropa, we visited the basilica, ate lunch, wandered around, did a little more hiking, then went to Mass before hiking back down.  On the way back down, we spotted a warehouse that had a sign that said something that's the equivalent of "Free Samples!"  So what did we do?  We scaled/slid down the side of the mountain to go get free samples.  Yep, it was awesome and totally random!
We found snow when we went hiking farther up in the of course, we made  snow-Mary and snow-Baby Jesus
Having fun drinking from ladles attached to a fountain in Oropa

The next day, Friday, we left Pollonae and headed took a train to Turin.  There, we stopped by the Cottolengo House, a home for the mentally handicapped, where the guys would be volunteering for the next few days.  Then, after a quick visit the basilica where St. John Bosco and St. Dominic Savio are buried, I was on a bus to the airport to fly back to Roma!

And of course, my flight was delayed, three hours again.  I got into Rome after midnight, but some saintly sisters were super kind and came and picked me, despite the hour being so ridiculously late.  I spent a few days working and praying with the sisters.  Since then, I've been making last visits to some special places in the city, running last minute errands, and doing my favorite things one (or two or three) last times.  I walked through the Villa Borghese and made my last visit to Our Lady of Peace where St. Josemaria is buried on Wednesday.  Yesterday, Pope Francis just happened to celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square (which I had no idea was happening until the day before), and by the grace of God and the love of His Blessed Mother, I ended up in the third row from the front.  What  a perfect way to spend my last Sunday in Rome!
First person view from my spot for Mass with Papa
Hi, Pope Francis!
Happy faces after Mass and seeing Papa driving around in the pope mobile
I've been spending a lot of time in the St. Peter's area and in the square and the basilica themselves.  St. Peter's is by far my favorite place in Rome, maybe my favorite place in the world.  I will miss it a lot.  I'm about to head over there now actually...

Enough time on the computer for my last day in Roma.  Time to head out into the city a second to last time, and one last time tomorrow morning....I'll let you know when I'm back in the States.  I hope you've enjoyed following me during my time in Rome!  Thank God it has been so wonderful...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Life's a Happy Song

Once again, I am way overdue for a blog post.  I just can't seem to keep up these days!

On Friday, after I walked around the villa taking pictures, I went with a group of my classmates to the apparition site of Our Lady of Divine Revelation and Tre Fontane.  It so happened that Friday was the 66th anniversary of when Mary appeared to Bruno, a strongly anti-Catholic fascist.  Bruno hated the Catholic Church so much that he dreamed of killing the pope.  On April 12, 1947, Bruno brought his three young children to the park across from Tre Fontane to play while he wrote a speech that denounced many of the truths held by the Catholic Church, including Mary's perpetual virginity and her assumption into heaven.  While he was working, he heard his children saying, "beautiful lady."  He thought it was a game, went to check on them, and found them praying.  Our Lady of Divine Revelation had revealed herself to them; they could see her.  Then, she revealed herself to Bruno, told him he was persecuting her, and said "Enough!"  Bruno conversed with Mary for about and hour and converted to the Catholic faith after this encounter.  The apparition is in the midst of the official approval process as far as where it stands in view of the Church.  I don't know a lot about it, this is just a recapitulation of what I was told.  I would encourage you to look into it more, I know I plan to!  Anyway, we went to the apparition site, having found out just the day before that it was the anniversary of the apparition, not knowing what time Mass was.  Right when we showed up, they were starting a rosary (there were TONS of people there), and we found out that Mass was going to start in an hour.  As if that weren't enough wonderfulness, we found an English-speaking sister we knew that is part of the religious community attached to the apparition.  Perfect!  A cardinal came to say Mass.  Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins is the man who was the head of the congregation for the causes of canonization of saints.  He was head of this important committee during the time when major saints, such as St. Edith Stein, St. Faustina, St. Padre Pio, St. Josemaria Escriva (YES!), and Blessed Mother Teresa, were canonized/beatified.  I believe that the site has been visited by a couple popes and that Bl. Pope John Paul II blessed a few statues of the Virgin of Divine Revelation.  But anyway, Cardinal said Mass.  We visited the grotto where Mary appeared after Mass.  All around the grotto there was a wall covered in plaques giving thanks to Mary for her intercession.  It was so beautiful.   Being there was such a blessing!

Afterwards, we visited Tre Fontane, the church across the street built over the place of St. Paul's beheading.  It was especially great to go there after studying the epistles of St. Paul all semester.  It's called Tre Fontane because when St. Paul was beheaded, his head bounced three times.  In each spot that his head bounced, a fountain sprung up.  The church that stands there today was built over these three fountains.  The pillar at which Paul was beheaded is in the Church too.

Saturday was a great day.  I don't have time to go into too much detail.  Our professor took us to the Etruscan tombs, one of the oldest things in Italy at about 3,000 years old.  It was the most beautiful day we could have asked for.  The tombs were peaceful and lovely.  They were fun to explore!

After the tombs, we headed to the beach!  It was definitely one of the most fun beach trips I've ever been on.  We started out just walking on the edge of the water and ended up going swimming.  We sat on the rocks in the sun to dry off a bit afterwards while we ate chocolate and chatted.  It was beautiful.  I'm so thankful for my friendships I've made this semester!

I have to get up in five and a half hours to walk all over Rome for the Seven Pilgrimage-Churches walk.  There are seven pilgrimage churches in Rome, and tomorrow a group of my classmates and I are walking to all of them.  More on this later.

Lastly, I am not sure when the next time I'll have internet will be.  After tomorrow, I'll be up in the mountains in Turin for a few days, and I'm not exactly sure what my situation will be when I come back to Rome. So, who knows when the next blog update will be?  It may be when I'm back in the States!  I'm all packed and ready to go (I had to check out of my room today).  Let the final adventures begin!
All packed up...not ready to go