Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day! I am not able to be with my mom today, but we had a May Crowning for the Blessed Mother and showered our “House Mother” with love and flowers today. In a similar vein, today was the March for Life in Rome. It traveled from the Collosseum to St. Peter’s. At St. Peter’s today, 802 new saints were canonized! Aww yeah. I know that sounds like a lot, but 799 of them were companions to the Italian Antonio Primaldo. Also canonized was Columbian Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui (1874-1949), foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and Mexican Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Handmaids of St Margaret Mary (Alacoque) and the Poor.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Mary!

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Top: Kohls, Necklace: Gift, Skirt: Piperlime, Heels: Nordstroms

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Our Chaplain Fr. Justin coined the Ascension as “The Inauguration of Heaven.” Now, thanks to the Ascension, 802 of our brothers and sisters are now seeing the face of Our Lord for all of eternity! Stick that in your pipe…

Sts. Antonio Primaldo and companions, Laura di S. Caterina da Siena, and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, pray for us!

If you’re visiting from the WIW link-up, welcome, and stop by soon! 🙂

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7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 7)

Happy Friday to you all! I am just so spoiled, we had both Wednesday and Thursday off of classes due to the Italian Labor day and the fact that my professor’s wife just had a baby! Woo! Elizabeth Irene. What a precious gem. We always have Fridays off so we get a 5 day weekend this week. “When in Rome” I guess…

1. Today we took a group trip to Capri. I was just there two weeks ago, but it is so stunning I didn’t mind. Today was 80+ and sunny, just perfect. It is very touristy, especially for Americans–so we were able to converse with a lot of people. Also, the area of Capri and the Amalfi Coast are known for their lemons and Limoncello alcohol. I really don’t care for the alcohol, but today we tried it in a frozen slushy form-that was awesome!

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This is the “Blue Grotto.” The water is totally illuminated and colored by the sun.

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We took a boat tour around the island and that little archway is called the “Kissing Cave.” Newlyweds traditionally go there and kiss for good luck on a long marriage.

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This was the view from above from Anacapri to Capri. The land form to the left and in the background is the mainland of Italy.

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We took a chair lift to the top of a mountain and this was the view.

2. Have you heard of the website “Encouraged“? I just came across it, and it’s kind of like an online magazine with just a bunch of really great articles on the life of a woman. It still surprises me that so many initiatives are either being formed or are continuing to be sustained in order to build women up and affirm their femininity and holiness. What a gift!

3. My friends and I are obsessed with these series of YouTube videos: Kids Snippets. You’ve got to check them out. Here is Drivers Ed, but Basketball Class and Math Class are also hilarious:

4. Did you see the “modesty” guidelines ABC sent out for the Grammy’s? What do you think?

CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.

Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could  possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure. Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on T-shirts. Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST. This as well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera. Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.

5. Today was my deadline for an article about “May the Month of Our Mother”  for the local newsletter “Heart of the Matter.” I’ll keep you posted when it is published but until then, check out the other articles in Heart of the Matter, including a couple by my brother, and consider contributing!

6. Monday was the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. Her head is in Siena but the rest of her remains are in Rome. It was so wonderful to spend some time praying with her at her tomb on the anniversary of her birth into eternal life. I was also happy to see so many people visiting St. Catherine’s tomb. I also happened to be there at the perfect time to go to Mass in English. That was just an extra special gift.

7. Have you seen the movie “Pitch Perfect?” I don’t really like most of it, but my favorite part is the “rap battle” half way through. I think the main character has a really beautiful voice, so for fun my friend and I made a cover for my brother who I miss of a song in the movie. Enjoy!

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

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. 5)

1. Last week I was MIA with all posts because it was our Spring Break. The Triduum and now Easter in Roma has been glorious. The weather is warming up (the sandals and capris are finally seeing the light of day) and everyone is cheerful and upbeat.

2. First on our itinerary for our Spring Break was Ireland. Before we left I kept joking with everyone “I’m afraid to go because I might not want to come back!” Boy, was I right. One of my brother’s best friends from college moved to Ireland to become a priest, and he is now in the diocese of “Tuam” which is just north of Galway. He played host for us for the 3 days we were there.

The first day he picked us up, showed us Galway and brought us to an amazing restaurant for lunch, then we went back to the place we stayed (a little nun’s house). This house was cozy and quiant and had a fireplace which the five of us girls snuggled up to with tea at least twice a day. That evening we went out for Irish Mexican food, go figure, and we finished the night off at a local pub with local musicians. Perfection.

The second day Fr. Shane organized a pilgrimage for our group, along with about 10 high school students from his parish’s youth group to the Aran Islands for the day. It was so wonderful to interact with the Irish Locals, particularly young people. Part of “Leap Year” was filmed on the Aran Islands, and it was the stereotypical Ireland we were yearning to see: rolling green hills with stone fences built by hand, huge cliffs and carribean blue waters. We had Mass on the Island and got to partake in some wonderful food.

Cathedral of Tuam, where Fr. Shane is.

The third day was the best: Father picked us up in Galway after shopping most of the day, drove us out by his family, and he took us to the town where “The Quiet Man” was filmed. After sun down on the drive home in rural country, we stopped in the middle of a field to see the most spectacular night sky of stars any of us had ever seen. Because we had an early flight the next morning, we stayed up and watched “The Quiet Man” with tea in front of the fireplace.
Not to mention it was sunny and didn’t rain all three days. What stuck out to me most was that everyone we met was amazing and so hospitable to us. The Irish welcomed us like we were their own family. All in all I’d say our visit to Ireland was not too shabby.

3. Near Galway is the area called “Claddagh,” the home of the Claddagh ring, so clearly I had to get one! My intention for this ring was partly aesthetics,  it’s really sweet lookin’, and partly relationship-wise. I wear it facing out which signifies that my heart is open, but at the same time, the Lord is king of my heart. Check out my previous blog on “Purity Rings” here!

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Epic pictures taken by my roommate Emily Hoffmann.

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4. After Ireland we were off to Poland. We flew in to Katowice on Thursday and planned to make it up to Czestahowa to see the “Polish Madonna” but we missed the last train and later found out that some of our fellow classmates had lots of troubles up there so we decided to nix it from the itinerary. We traveled to Krakow instead and the next day we visited Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. Walking around the camps, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and it was really sobering to see the living conditions to say the least. We were able to see the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe was, and a couple guys really like him so they really appreciated that.

Next we went to the Salt Mine just outside of Krakow which was a lot of fun. Our tour guide was hilarious (actually, we have been so Blessed to have top notch tour guides everywhere this trip, the Auschwitz guide was especially knowledgeable and helpful, and she has only been on the job for a year, and she looked like she just graduated college)!
Again, it didn’t work out to go to Wadowice, the home of the late Pope John Paul II as the home and museum are under renovation, or Rapka where my great-grandfather was from. At least knowing where my great grandpa was from was a great bit of trivia to pull out with all the locals 😉
So you may be wondering, what did we do if we didn’t get to all those places? Eat. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the food! Pierogis, Zurek soup, kababs, alcohol, and the desert was to die for! Finally, we finished our trip off at the Shrine of Divine Mercy a little outside Krakow on Divine Mercy Sunday! It was so cold (there was a little less than a foot of snow on the ground) and packed with people, but it was a great experience. The Polish music was stunning!
There were a couple of times when I thought “Man, I am so excited to go home and tell Grandma about my experience, she will be so proud of me!” It very quickly escapes my mind that she died this past January. It was a real gift to get to Poland, I kind of feel like I went “for” her, and it was like being at home when I could recognize and say Polish phrases that she would always say.

5. Here are a couple fun bragging links: My sister and her family were chosen to be the face of Huggies! You can see them on YouTube here (She is the one with the green&white checkered shirt). Also, I sometimes write for a monthly newsletter that is distributed in Coffee Shops around the Twin Cities and here is an article I wrote on True Freedom.

6. Yesterday we had an awesome opportunity to go to a private screening here in Rome of a new film “Little Boy.” It is by the creators of “Bella”, and has some overlapping actors with “Bella” as well. It’s about an eight year old boy who’s dad goes off to WWII and what the boy goes through to try to get him back. There are some pretty great actors, Kevin James from King of Queens and Hitch, the brother-in-law from Hitch Michael Rapaport, David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place, Ted Levine, and Tom Wilkinson among others. Also, really fun fact: We sat right in front of Ali Landry, she was Miss USA 1996, in Bella and Little Boy and once married to Mario Lopez but now she is married to the writer of Bella and Little Boy. I feel special. The movie is definitely a tear jerker–so be on the look out for it when it comes to theaters in the US, and let me know what you think!

7. Finally, today we all threw a surprise baby shower for our professor’s wife! It was a perfect day to celebrate a new life on the rooftop terrace of our house, eat delicious food and play ridiculous yet ridiculously entertaining games. No tears were shed until Mrs. Rota opened the gift of a bib from Medjugorje with a picture of Mary on it. We are so Catholic.

**If you are visiting from the link-up with Conversion Diary and Camp Patton, welcome, and come back 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…