Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday in Rome

Today began with a concelebration with Pope Benedict at the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. A few of the Institute priests discussed and we are making an educated guess of about 2 - 3 thousand priests.

Oh, and by the way, I got there too late to hear the no pictures instructions. I decided I would take some until someone came over to tell me not to.

Here they are.

Priests lined up in the narthex to enter the Basilica

Processing into the Basilica
Going up to the altar of God
Pope Benedict processing to the altar.
Beginning the Mass
The oils being brought up the aisle. The urns are too big to carry so they are moved on a wheeled table.
Some of the views of the basilica from my seat.
More views
Looking up into the dome. The letters encircling the dome are 7 feet high.
Pope Benedict in the recessional.
The Mass was a thrill to concelebreate. We did the renewal of priestly promises, led by the Holy Father.

Tonight I attended the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Casa Santa Maria. This is the residence for US priests who are living in Rome to complete a doctorate or other advanced degrees. After Mass, Father Stan from Cleveland, and I went to dinner. After a nice meal of pasta, we started to visit churches with the intention of visiting 7 churches. I have to say we made it to 5. I was praying for our youth group and friends who are doing the "7 to 99" tonight. Most of the churches were closing by 10PM. But we did go into some beautiful churches. The crowds of people, and especially young people visiting the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was inspiring. Wemade it to the Chuch of the Sacred Heart in the Piazza Navona, St. Louis de France, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, La Chiesa Nuova, and San Giovanni di Fiorentini.
When we realized that we would probably not find any more open churches, we decided it was time for gelato. We made our way to one of our favorite spots on the Via di Governo Vecchio. While we were walking, we were beside a group of American students. We overheard them talking about a great gelato spot. So we picked up the pace and got there just before them. We were ordering our gelato when they all piled into the shop behind us. I said to Fr. Stan in a stage whisper, "I told you they were heading for here". They all laughed. After we all had our coppa, we were standing around on the street talking. It turns out they are all 3rd year students at Notre Dame in Indiana. They are all on study abroad programs throughout Europe. The one student studying in Rome knew about this shop. And this is the best part. They made arrangements to all meet here in Rome for this weekend to attend the Sacred Triduum services with the Pope. There are about 14 of them. So we had a great chat. One young lady, Michelle, wants to come to the Boston College Law School in a couple of years. They have tickets to attend Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square. We told them we will be distributing Holy Communion and to wave if they see us.

Tomorrow is a quiet day. I will not set an alarm clock tomorrow. After a bit of breakfast, I will go down to the college to practice for a while. We must report to St. Peter's by 4pm to prepare for the Service of the Lord's Passion with the Holy Father.

In the midst of the beautiful liturgy, I have to admit, I was taken by a bit homesickness. We celebrate the Triduum well at St. John Neumann - parts are even better than at St. Peter's in Rome. So I was thinking about what will be happening in East Freetown in a few hours. It is midnight here; 6PM at home. I am certain preparations are underway to gather the people at 7:00PM.

Be assured that my prayers are with you all. Part of my heart is really in East Freetown this weekend.
Blessings everyone.