What I Wore: Sunday

Today we spent a gorgeous day in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. It started off foggy and misty, and ended up sunny and hot. It was literally a perfect day. We took the 3 hour bus ride there and started the morning off with Mass at the Poor Clare Cloistered Convent. That was a very beautiful experience. The nuns there are really experiencing a crisis of vocations so they’re praying a lot for new vocations. Our chaplain joked with them “Sisters, you asked that I send any women considering the contemplative life your way: so today I brought 14.” All of us women laughed…nervously. This is what I wore:

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Here’s a close-up of the shirt: black and white gingham.

The Benedictine Trappist Monks in Norcia are famous for their beer. At first I thought it would just be something nice to bring back as gifts but then I tried one, and it was the only beer I’ve taken more than one sip of! It was fantastic.

We continued to walk around the city throughout the day, we were able to see all of it, three times over, because it was so small. But it was just perfect. After spending a relaxing day walking around, sipping coffee and building great community, we finished the evening with Vespers with the Benedictine Monks there. They were in full habit, one monk even came out with his hood up. That was intense. I was able to pray in the crypt of the Basilica there which has the remains of the home Sts. Benedict and Scholastica were born in! If you don’t know their story, I suggest checking out Tommie dePaolo’s book “The Holy Twins.”

Norcia is gorgeous, lush and green surrounded my mountains and marsh. The fresh air was magnificent.

Norcia is gorgeous, lush and green surrounded my mountains and marsh. The fresh air was magnificent.

*If you’re visiting from the WIWSunday link-up, welcome, and stop by again soon!*

What I Wore: Sunday

♫”It’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes, hard times in the neighborhood, but why can’t everyday be just this good?”♫

There are no complaints here on a gorgeous Sunday morning in Roma. This morning we made our way over to Mass at the most beautiful Church here, (besides St. Peter’s of course) St. Joachim. It’s also fun because there are always the most religious sisters in one place besides St. Peter’s as well. I love the super simple songs they sing in Italian–I know almost every word in each song!

This is what I wore for such a gorgeous spring day:

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Top: JCPenney, Necklace: Borrowed, Skirt: Gifted, Shoes: Borrowed
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This is my fabulous photographer, roomie and friend!

Also, today is my dear nephew, Henry’s First Holy Communion! He participated in the Sacrament of Penance for the first time about a month ago, turned 7 a week ago and today is the day he will receive Our Lord! What a gift. If you wouldn’t mind say a prayer for him today!

“O Blessed Imelda, whose faith was so firm and so ardent that in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament thou were rapt in ecstasy.  We implore thee to obtain for us so lively a faith that it will transform our lives entirely. Especially now, as Henry is about to receive his First Holy Communion, may he believe firmly that our Lord and Master Jesus Christ is here present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. We offer up to Jesus thy pure and faithful heart in place of our inconstant and cold hearts. For thy sake may He hear our prayers and come soon to take possession of our souls. Amen.”

Boy's First Communion Pocket Prayer Card

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

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 4)

Happy A Solemn Good Friday to you! We’re in the home stretch, y’all, until we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, but until then we must remember His Passion, suffering and Death.

1) Today marks the first day the Novena of Divine Mercy should be recited leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. Here is a super brief synopsis, but you should look elsewhere for a more in depth story/explanation: Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and told her to have the image she saw painted. Jesus also said that we should venerate the image and recite the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” and celebrate His Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter. A group of us will be going to Krakow, Poland to be there for the Feast of Divine Mercy! Woot woot!

2) This past week I had a true Roman experience: a haircut. The Italians, specifically men but lots of women as well, always have their hair in tip top shape, so I decided to give it a go. The guy didn’t speak English, which I somewhat expected so I made sure to bring in pictures. It was fun and I think it turned out great! (PS. This is an action shot, I didn’t end up with a mohawk)!

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3) On Wednesday, a group of us completed a traditional “7 Church Walk” throughout Rome. In the footsteps of St. Philip Neri, we started at St. Mary Major and continued to walk about 20 miles total to the 6 other “Pilgrim Churches” around Rome, finishing at St. Peter’s Basilica. We saw a lot of Rome we hadn’t seen before, and at times it didn’t even seem like we were still in Italy, much less Rome. The saying amongst the group was “You know you have it good when you walk up to St. Peter’s and feel like you’re home.”

4) My brother came and visited me this week. We didn’t do much site-seeing, mostly just ate meals together, as he also studied in Rome during his time in college. He asked what I would most miss about Rome when I move back to the States, and the answer was definitely seeing the bodies/bones/relics of so many saints. Learning about, following their examples and almost literally walking in their footsteps has been awe-inspiring. On our 7 Church walk on Wednesday alone, we saw the tombs of St. Paul, St. Sebastian, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, Blessed Pope John Paul II along with many other popes, and relics of St. Jerome, the manger, the true cross, the crown of thorns, a nail from Christ’s passion. Yesterday we went on another Church walk to visit 8 altars of repose after the Last Supper Mass, and saw the tombs of St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Siena. I know, unbelievable. We are so blessed!

5) My good friend recently introduced me to “The Staves.” They are three sisters with incredible voices and music. Check them out here. Also, have you seen this article? It’s a great take on modesty from the secular/fashion perspective. Aww yeah.

6) I have recently really gotten interested in reading scripture for the stories, ever since I was exposed to Ignatian Spiritual Exercises that the Jesuits practice. (What up Papa Francesco!) I thought it would be really sweet to read the Gospels in order of the Passion. For example, yesterday I read about Jesus’ time in Gethsemane  and the Last Supper. Today I will read the Passion and watch Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, tomorrow I will read about the Guard at the Tomb, and Sunday about the Resurrection!

7) I just found out about this initiative called “Pure Beauty Project.” The fact that so many initiatives are being started, and are thriving, in response to the lack of care and respect toward women is very telling: that women are recognizing this injustice. Amen sistas. What’s beautiful about this project in particular is that it very much reaches women in industries that are very much apart of the culture and caught up in the lifestyle that pretty much by it’s nature disrespects the feminine genius. (Have I said much too many times yet)? Check it out fo yoself! Do you know of any others that you really like? (ex. Dove Campaign, Made in His Image, Verily Magazine, etc).

Have a Blessed Triduum! Do you and your family have any traditions for the Triduum/Easter?

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.

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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.”

RIP Grandma Helen

Today I am hugging my loved ones a little tighter. Yesterday morning my Grandma Helen passed away. It was expected, and my one aunt was able to be by her side and the rest of my family was able to be at the hospital very shortly after that. This is the closest relative I have experienced pass away, and I am not super affected at the moment because at age 91, I can’t remember having a real conversation with her for a long time. However, I remember her being one of the funniest people I know, so sweet and smiley. One time I said “Grandma, you and I have the same nose!” to which she quickly retorted “No, yours is bigger.” And she cared for us grandchildren so well. Every Friday evening when we would see her, she would offer us sweets after sweets (my favorite being Pop-Tarts at 9:00 at night). She would also make us hot chocolate in a Batman and Robin mug, with whipped cream on the top, but only after pouring it into four different cups so the water would cool off.

Everything in her house was old fashioned–from the old radiators to the stained glass windows to the tiny gas stove. Many many family memories were made there, and I will cherish knowing her in the home she grew up in, raised my dad in, and loved us in.

The Lord has been a great comfort in this time, bringing peace and knowledge that He called her home to with Him–I sure can’t argue with that. I feel so Blessed to be a part of the family I am. I will never want for support or love, and the greatest gift they have given me is the gift of knowledge of our Lord and His Church. My grandmother was a great matriarch for so many years, and I sure hope and pray I grow up to be as strong and independent as she, and as diligent about teaching my children the Faith.

0594-1 (1)This picture very accurately depicts her-although instead of a beer, a cup of coffee would be more fitting, as she had one with every meal, every day.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. We love you, Grandma Helen!