7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 3)

Yup, it’s Monday. Va bene.

1. Well everyone, we have a new Pope. Yeah buddy. Check out my posts about Papa Benedetto and Papa Francesco. It’s been a busy week and a half to say the least.

2. A couple weeks ago we went to Siena as a whole program. Initially I was really excited to see all the sites associated with St. Catherine, but once we got there I wasn’t that impressed. The Churches weren’t as beautiful as I was expecting, her incorruptible head was really weird, and I didn’t really feel a connection to her. HOWEVER, the best moment thus far happened when we were in Siena.  We were able to adore some “incorruptible” hosts that were a result of a Eucharistic miracle. It was so beautiful and definitely an influential point on my journey thus far.

3. Last Friday we went to see Mumford and Sons in Florence. It was definitely a stereotypical college groupie road trip in a foreign country. We hopped on a train. Didn’t know where we were going. Stood in line for half the day. Didn’t know who the opening bands were. Were surrounded by drunk juveniles. Screamed, danced and jumped our little hearts out. Crashed. And left the city within 24 hours. The mosh pit was a little too much for my taste, but seeing this band perform live was worth it. The guys are so genuine and sincere in performing the songs and lyrics, they are so talented, and they were very interactive with the crowd.

4. The next day we met the rest of our group in Bologna for a field trip with our Art History professor Dr. Liz Lev. You might recognize her from her interview on the Vatican Home page or her work as the Rome correspondent for NBC during the Conclave. Yes I just shamelessly name dropped. She is originally from Boston but has been in Rome for a good 20 years now, and she did her undergrad at the U of Bologna, so she seemed like she was “home.”

5. Tuesday was both the Solemnity of St. Joseph and Pope Francis’ Installation Mass. It was in St. Peter’s Square and the most beautiful Mass I have ever attended. There were no chairs, so that was rough, but the liturgy itself was stunning. The prayers by the new Holy Father were just so heart-felt and SO Catholic! And, I don’t know how this keeps happening, but the weather was gorgeous and sunny yet again for a Papal Event outside. Awesome.

6. Sunday we were able to attend Mass for Palm Sunday with Pope Francis again in St. Peter’s Square. This time we had chairs, thank goodness. This Mass was a little harder to enter into, as we sat very far from the Altar, and there were people around us who were not the most reverent (talking, answering cell phones, smoking, yelling at us for placing our apples on the ground…etc.) But again, the Vatican hands out these like 75 page high gloss booklets with the translation of the Mass in multiple languages, and it’s so beautiful to read along and share in this experience with people from all over the world.

7. We are on Spring Break and I’m gearing up for a restful, preparatory week until the Triduum, and then a hectic awesome week in Ireland and Poland. Woohoo!

**If you are visiting from the link-up from Conversion Diary, welcome, and stop by again soon!**


Papa Francesco

Ever since the start of the Conclave (which literally means “with key”), we were all on our toes waiting for the white smoke to rise. All our plans (classes, meals, meetings, etc.) had to be tentative because we had to be ready to run to the square at a moment’s notice to meet our new Holy Father.

Since we are studying at a Pontifical University, everyone in the entire school, students and professors alike wanted to attend all the conclave events, so it was very easy to attend them all. The theme of the trip for our group has been “Perfect Timing.” Now, granted, everything happens in God’s perfect timing, but in some cases it is easier to see than others. This semester, it has been loud and clear.

1. We were able to get into the Scavi and Catacomb tours right away, when usually it takes weeks if not months to get tickets for the tour. This allowed us to learn about, get a feel for, and fall in love with the Papacy right away.

2. Pope Benedict’s resignation. We didn’t get too comfortable with Papal events or Pope Benedict. We were all caught off guard for sure, but we are all confident the fact that the resignation and Conclave happened while our specific group is studying here was planned by God from the beginning of time. Weird, eh?

3. Pope Benedict’s last public Mass fell on Ash Wednesday. This meant we were able to see him and it, and we already had tickets. His last audience fell on my birthday. Awesome.

4. Every semester, the Chaplin Fr. Corolla takes the students on a Silent Retreat on the same lake as Castel Gandolpho. This semester the retreat fell just after Pope Benedict emeritus moved there, so we were able to be there while he was there, and join our prayers to his, and pray especially for him.

5. We usually have Community Nights on Wednesdays, so changing our night so that we could all be in the square to see the smoke go up was not a problem. Little did we know, the Lord would bless us with the opportunity to see the white smoke go up, and meet our new Holy Father with all of our fellow classmates. It was unforgettable that’s for sure.

6. A group of us bought tickets to see Mumford and Sons in Florence on March 15 before we even got to Rome. We would have bought the tickets to see them in Rome on March 16, but they were sold out. Little did we know our Art History professor had planned a field trip to Bologna for March 16-17. Had we bought the Rome tickets for the 16th, we would not have been able to attend. Wabam.

Supes cray, right? Maybe you don’t think so, but we sure do. And there are plenty more examples of this, but I won’t bore you anymore in this post.

So, we were in the square when the white smoke finally went up. The cheers and excitement was unbelievable. Our professor this semester has two girls ages 9 and 6 and I spent the evening in the square with them. It was such a gift to witness these girls’ childlike faith and excitement at a new Holy Father. I got to carry Hannah, the younger one, on my shoulder the whole night so that she could see what was going on in the massive crowd. It was raining the whole evening so everyone had their umbrellas up, less than ideal, but the Lord pulled through yet again, and the rain stopped as they were announcing our dear Papa Francesco.

The City of Rome also put up posters to welcome Papa Francesco.

Wonder what it was like to be present for such momentousness news? See for yourself…

Papa Bene

I am incredibly sorry this is so late, I have been trying my best to actually live in the moment here, as opposed to living on the computer while the moment is happening. Please forgive me.

As you can imagine, the entire business of the Pope resigning and the Papal Conclave, and now election and installation, has been incredibly thought-provoking, moving, overwhelming, saddening and exciting to say the least. We all have the sentiment of “Why me? Lord, why am I here at this time?” Our chaplain, Fr. Corolla, reiterated to us that every gift we are given is not for ourselves, but that we need to give it back. This gift, being able to be in the heart of Rome throughout these practically unprecedented events is an enormous one, and it is our duty to share with you all our first hand accounts of the Spirit working in the Church today.

Wednesday February 27 marked not only the day of my 21st birthday, but also the day of Pope Benedict’s last Papal Audience. What is a Papal Audience you may ask? Good question. Every Wednesday the Pope invites the public into an Auditorium (or in this case St. Peter’s Square) to be with him during a time of prayer and teaching. All the groups that are present are announced, and the faithful sing songs or prepare chants, and wave banners and flags to represent their country/school/order. Priests read a selected Scriptural reading to the audience in about 5 different languages and the Holy Father speaks on that reading in Italian (kind of like a homily). He then does a brief recap in each language.

We knew this event was going to be packed, so we did what any reasonable group of Catholic college students would do: we woke up at 2am to get in line to see our Holy Father for the last time. We stopped on the way at our favorite little 24 hour bakery, stocked up for the day ahead and planted ourselves just outside the gate at St. Peter’s Square. Fun fact: it takes 30 minutes to walk leisurely to St. Peter’s from our house.

Fun fact: it takes 30 minutes to walk leisurely to St. Peter's from our house.

Camp out.


I shared a little about my Thursday February 28 experience in a previous post:

“Thursday was full of many tears: both of joy and sorrow. It was the final day of Pope Benedict’s time and we said our final goodbyes. First we watched his helicopter depart from St. Peter’s, then we gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a prayer vigil during the final hour of his pontificate. Our large and boisterous group as Americans drew a crowd, both of other faithful Christians who joined us in our prayer as well as many members of different media organizations. It was pretty frustrating to have photographers and video cameras in our faces as we were trying to pray, yet part of us is glad we were able to be at least a small witness as young, devoted Catholics. We finished off the night at an Irish Pub, with beers all around to toast our Papa.”

But I would have to say this was the first time I really truly felt God alive and present in my “real life,” as opposed to in a Chapel on a youth retreat conference expedition high. Yup. Looking around St. Peter’s Square with such uncertainty as to what the future would hold for both the Church but also life in general, I was filled with hope that the Lord was present, looking out over and for us, and that He has a perfect plan for the Papacy, His Church and me. I was overwhelmed with how much He loves us. I looked around at the massive Basilica built to honor one of His disciples and I had not one shred of doubt of the afterlife, the saints, angels and Our Lord. What a gift, it was awesome.

Our group praying during the last hour of Pope Benedict’s Papacy

The city of Rome has paid a beautiful tribute to Pope Benedict Emeritus by putting up posters all over the city in his remembrance. “You remain with us always. Thank you.”

“You remain with us always. Thank you.”

Pope Benedict the White

An amazing story that must be shared. Prepare your mind to be blown.

We have two priests who help out in our community very frequently, and from what I can tell they are very close and do a lot together. They both told us this story the other night. Fr. Corolla, one of our chaplains, met Cardinal Ratzinger in 1999. He had the chance to converse with the then Cardinal and Fr. Corolla said “Your Eminence, sometimes when I study great minds I feel I was born too late. Then I see what my students are doing and I think I was born too early.” To which Cardinal Ratzinger replied, “Son, you were born at just the right time when the Lord wanted to use you, and you will do great things.”

A couple years later Fr. Corolla saw the Lord of the Rings movie, and the conversation that Gandalf and Frodo have:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

1) Gandalf says the same thing to Frodo as Benedetto says to Fr. Corolla. 2) Gandalf the Grey turns into Gandalf the White (Cardinal Ratzinger turns into Pope Benedict XVI). 3) And then Gandalf doesn’t die, he just sails off (Pope Benedict doesn’t die, he sails off to “Castel Gandolpho). Fr. Corolla exclaimed “Pope Benedict is Gandalf!” Excitedly, Fr. Justin, the other priest in the chaplaincy proclaims, “Fr. Corolla, if Pope Benedict is Gandalf, that makes you Frodo!” And Fr. Corolla goes “Wait!” and he starts digging around under his shirt and pulls out a ring on a chain! He said it is his mother’s wedding ring that his dad gave him when she died. And if that all isn’t enough…someone yells out “If Fr. Corolla is Frodo, Fr. Justin, that makes you Sam!” Little did he know, Fr. Justin said Samwise was his favorite character in all of literature just two days before…

Boom shockalocka.