An audience with the Pope

Fr. Bernie sent this photo, writing “You never know who or what you will see on the streets of Rome!”

As noted yesterday, Fr. Bernie Rosinski, SCJ, is among those on a pilgrimage to Rome organized by the province development office. Fr. Bernie wrote the following at the end of a day that included attendance at the papal audience in St. Peter’s Square:

The group of pilgrims awoke Wednesday morning to learn the latest news of the presidential election. When the polls were closing on the West Coast, Romans were waking up to the morning sun.

Today was spent at a pontifical audience with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s square. Fr. Dominic and I explained the “liturgy” of the audience, what languages were used, the order of precedence, the formality approach. Fortunately, after some terrifying dark clouds, only a few sprinkles of rain fell and the sun came out to welcome the Pope.

Pope Benedict gave a fine talk about how, from his very creation, man is meant for God. When s/he is unhappy, the cause for the distress usually lies in the choice man has made to put some created thing or value in place of God.

While the full papal discourse was given in Italian, brief summaries followed in French, Spanish, English, German, Polish, Portuguese, Croatian (there were approximately 7,000 Croatians present), Indonesian and what seemed to be Arabic. I was stumped by that last language.

Right after the audience a member of the group and I went to verify a meeting location for the tour bus. In the meantime, the pilgrims twiddled their thumbs awaiting our return. However, after we got our information, the Italian police wouldn’t let us return into the area where the rest of the pilgrims were waiting. About 20 minutes later, someone in the group began looking for us and saw our frantically waving arms. Eventually, everyone got together and waited at the proper place for the proper bus to arrive at the proper time. And even the proper tour guide was there.

In the interim, to make use of toilet facilities (which are not all that conveniently common in the city of Rome) the group members entered a large tourist gift shop and bought some objects: this practice appears to be an acceptable “quid pro quo” with Roman merchants.

The remainder of the afternoon consisted of a bus trip through interesting parts of the city out to the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and to the catacombs of St. Domitilla.

Tomorrow the pilgrims take a bus to Assisi, the city of peace, the new Jerusalem. It will be an all-day affair with lots of walking and step climbing. This is a state of affairs that creates problems for some among the group. However, all look up to the example offered by Natividad, a 92-year-old resident of McAllen, TX, who has “walked the walk” and is a remarkable model for the rest of us pilgrims.

Finally, all are mindful of the three pilgrims who did not join the trip at the very last moment because of an 18-year old relative who suffered a brain aneurism just as they were preparing to leave. All have offered prayers for the victim at the sacred sites they have visited as well as for those who did not join them.

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