Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Ordination, a Cappuccino, and One Hell of a Town

I am in Rome right now, visiting the Eternal City for the third time in my lifetime.  My good friend from my seminary days, Fernando, was ordained to the Holy Order of the Diaconate today, and I came to see it happen.  The pictures of the ordination at the Altar of the Chair, inside St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, did not come out so well because of the dim lighting inside the mammoth edifice.  Here's a picture of Fernando and me during the tour he gave us of his seminary.  (He's really not that much taller than I am; it's only that I am squatting to avoid making him feel bad on his ordination day.  Lolol.)  He will, if all goes as planned, be ordained a priest of Jesus Christ at the end of June back in his home diocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The ordination was as beautiful as one would expect.  Nothing is done poorly in St. Peter's.

After the ordination, reception, and tour, my friend Trisha and I walked around Rome for a few hours, stopping for a late lunch and some souvenir shopping for friends back home.  Lunch was great.  Italians do food very, very well.  No place else could a panino, a simple ham and cheese sandwich, taste so excellent.  The gelato that followed... well, let's just say that I am a confirmed gelatoholic and have been for some time.  That is the real reason that I run, actually.  After lunch, before we began browsing our way through the shops north of the Vatican in the direction of the neighborhood where Fernando's family was holding his reception, I decided I needed a cappuccino.  Italians do coffee very well, too.  Only in Italy can it be 80* and a coffee somehow feel refreshing.  Trisha doubted me, but after a nice lunch in the shade on a pleasantly warm day, a cappuccino really did the trick.  I don't usually drink very much caffeine, but this didn't bother me.  In fact, only eight hours later, I am still wide awake blogging.  Nope, the caffeine really wasn't a problem.  As we walked and browsed back, the Holy Father drove by.  Trisha ran into the store where I was browsing Italian religious books and pulled me out just in time to see him.  That was a pretty cool treat - we were within twenty feet or so and could see him waving through the open windows of his street vehicle (not the popemobile, because this wasn't actually a public appearance... he was just appearing in public).

The reception was at a restaurant near the Chiesa Nuova, where a prayer vigil was held the night before for the deacons-to-be.  Please do me a favor and do not ask Trisha why we missed the prayer vigil.  I'll never hear the end of it.  Anyway, about the church:  The church is actually named, but never called Santa Maria di Somethingorother; I think there are too many Santa Maria's in Rome, so at some point somebody decided to start with a new name.  Chiesa Nuova, "Newchurch," if we were in England, seems to have stuck unofficially but unambiguously.  Now the restaurant near the church was called Don Mario's, and man, was it good!  First course, all kinds of appetizers: bruschette, prisciutti, polpi, formaggi, and more.  Then two pastas, one in some sort of vodka or arrabiatta sauce, the other in an alfreddo.  Then the meats: veal, chicken, pork, ham, sausage, beef, with a portion of each for everybody.  Then the desserts.  The fifth course was the coffees and the lemon sorbet, to clean out the palette.  It was really good.  I do not normally go on about food so much, but it was excellent.

After dinner we all walked back, each party going its separate way as we went.  Trisha and I took some pictures during the blue night.  There's one to the left.  I think it is of Castel Sant'angelo, that in older days guarded the way to the Vatican perhaps, but now only guards museum exhibits.  The only problem with Rome is that it is so damn ugly and un-photogenic.  I mean, really.  That's the Tiber, lazily reflecting those horrible lights.  Lolol.  Actually, if you haven't noticed my tongue in my cheek, let me come clean and tell you that Rome is beautiful.  As I type this blog post overlooking the Viale di Trastevere, the main street in the neighborhood of the hotel where I am staying, I can honestly say that sometimes seems difficult to find a spot in Rome that is not photogenic.  One of Fernando's close friends is here with his wife, and neither of the two is Catholic.  This crowning achievement that is Rome has certainly overwhelmed them, especially the gems like St. Peter's, Maria Maggiore, and the Sistine Chapel.  If they are not convinced of Catholic truth, they are certainly stunned by Catholic beauty.  We joked about how ugly churches so often are, Catholic or Protestant, back in the States.  Smaller than St. Peter's is a given, but ugly need not be.  We Christians owe it to the world to show the goodness of our beliefs and morals with the beauty of our lives and works.  We Catholics have a sacramental faith that makes physically manifest God's glory and love.  We Catholics owe it to our separated brethren to lead the way.

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