This has been a very long day, and breakfast tomorrow is at 6:30, so I’ll try to make this as brief as possible. Here is a small selection of the 74 photos I took today in Rome. My flight landed at 8:30am, and I didn’t sleep very well on the plane, so I’ve pretty much been awake for three days. But I got a second (or third or fourth…) wind when I beheld the beauty and vitality of this city. A short description of the pictures, in gallery order:
- Looking up at the columns and statues that line the sides of St. Peter’s Square. Note the exceptionally beautiful weather.
- The stairs and outdoor altar area of St. Peter’s, where we will be at Palm Sunday Mass tomorrow! It will probably be decorated more at that time.
- I can’t believe my camera captured this gorgeous lighting decently. I don’t need to describe to you how beautiful that view was, except to say that it took my breath away, as it was my first glance at the interior of St. Peter’s.
- A photo that does no justice to the Holy Spirit stained glass window behind the back altar.
- Another photo of the same stained glass window, with a better view of the surrounding area, but still no definition on the window itself. I kept trying to get that shot right because it’s my favorite thing in the world, probably.
- “I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple,” and a mosaic of Pope John Paul II’s episcopal heraldry, on the drinking fountain.
- My Camelbak capturing the water from the right side of the temple! I never knew plain water could taste so smooth and sweet as the water does here in Rome. I half expected it to be dirty city water, but it tastes so fresh.
- Another shot of the outside of St. Peter’s.
- This is where the Pope lives!
Phase One of the jet-lag prevention strategy is underway. I’m staying up all night and during my first flight in hopes that I will be able to sleep on the second, longer flight and wake up when we land in Rome in the morning. It’s 5am EST, so the sun should be rising soon. I actually love this part of all-nighters, when the whole world seems to be asleep–even on a busy college campus. There’s a gentle hush over the city, with just the sounds of the trains and the few cars of commuters going to their crack-of-dawn jobs or home from night shifts. In a few hours, I’ll go to the early morning Mass on campus (because why not?) and stop at the store for a few last-minute items before heading out to the airport. Even though all my bags are packed, and I’m ready to go (name that song!), this trip doesn’t seem real to me yet. I suspect it won’t seem real until I’m on the plane, or until I step onto Rome’s cobblestone streets amid the structures both ancient and modern, and breathe the Mediterranean air.
P.S. I’m still taking prayer requests. The list is sizable, but I have an organization strategy by which I hope to give as much attention and prayer as I can to each individual intention.
Good news, Internet people! I received an email earlier this evening informing me that the paper I submitted to this year’s UNIV Congress in Rome has been selected to be presented at the conference! So not only am I going to the Eternal City during the holiest week of the year, I also get to talk to some sort of audience there about one of my favorite things ever, Gregorian chant! So now I guess I have to figure out what to say. I heard a speaker once (the philosopher Alastair McIntyre) read an essay of his out loud to us, pausing every so often to engage us in discussion about the content. I think that format could work for my paper, and I’m more than happy to get feedback so that I can really get to the issues my audience wants to hear about. I’d love to hear what you think about that format, or if you have any other ideas.
The title of this post is the title of my paper. It is a quote from St. Augustine and translates “He who chants well prays twice”. You can read the whole paper here. If you’re thinking, “I want to know what you wrote about, but I don’t want to read NINE WHOLE PAGES”, no problem! Just read my abstract, posted below. I’ll keep you all updated on my trip and such. There will be plenty to write about.