Heather in Rome

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Tuesday, July 11

Euro Trip

If anyone is still reading the blog, here is the latest update. I'm in Paris and will be here until the 15th. After that I head to Milan and hang out with Matteo for a day, then it's off to walk between the 5 coastal villages of the Cinque Terre before leaving for Cali on July 19th. I've been to Salzburg, Austria; Altotting, Munich, and near Eisenach, Germany; and now France.

I'll have to write more later, but I wanted to throw out a proposal to anyone who is interested. For however long I am at home, I would like to start a prayer group similiar to what I did in the school. It would start with praise Emmanuel style and then have some time for prayer and then maybe it would end with sharing on how God has worked in our lives during the week. It's really simple yet it helps us see how God is working in our lives. So, everyone is welcome to think about it and let me know. Part of the process will be seeing where the Spirit leads as I adapt all I've learned into a form that fits with normal Cali life.

Got to go. The Eiffel Tower awaits me tomorrow.

Monday, June 19

Short Update

Life is crazy right now. It always is this year, but with 11 days left in the school year, every moment is packed more than usual. Just some shorts points about life. Pentacost was busy with missions at St. Maria Maggiore (a major basilica in Rome) and St. Maria in Via and for the gathering of all the new communities on the vigil of Pentacost with the Pope, we were sitting on the stage close to the Pope once again. Being in the school with its connections is amazing. Since then there was the household weekend, which I think I wrote about. I succeeded in driving through Rome and did pretty well if you ask me. Yesterday we had our farewell party with all our teachers throughout the year and friends that we have made. It was in a small garden downstairs with music, lots of food, skits, and good people.
I've got to go, but please pray for the soul of my grandma, Phyllis. She died on Friday after having a stroke 8 days before that. The family is doing fine and so am I. I'm coming home as planned, after a vacation that as of yet is still not planned. I have to get on that.

Friday, June 9

Household Weekend Away

This weekend is a household weekend away. The school separates into the four household groups and we attack various parts of Italy. My group of girls is going to San Giovanni Rotondo, the city where St. Padre Pio is from. It is on the east coast of Italy, more south of Rome. It's not easily accessible by train or bus, so guess what? We're driving and at least in the crazy cities it is going to be me who drives. Teresa and Siska drive on the left side of the road so in the cities they are out. Carole is the only one who has driven in the past 8 months, but her ankle is still recovering and is not ready for the gas pedal. Anna has her license but isn't comfortable driving so that leaves me. Yikes!!! Italian drivers are crazy. I haven't driven in 8 months. It's a manuel, which I can drive, but if I get stuck on a big hill it could be a little scary. And lastly, Rome streets are chaos. So keep me in mind when you are driving this weekend and maybe offer up a little prayer. I have to pull out my CA freeway driving skills.

Wednesday, June 7

After More than 8 Months of Pasta

Well, there are only 23 days left in the school, then I have 19 days of travel around Europe, which means that I will be back in Cali in 42 days. I thought I should prepare people for at least the physical changes so people aren't shocked when I come home. I haven't posted pictures for awhile so I don't know if you have seen my new hair cut. I've had it since last month, courtesy of Marco our lovely student barber, and everyone thinks it looks really nice. Feminine, good style for my personality, etc. It's shorter, with framing around my face. Difficult to explain, but maybe I'll have pictures soon.
On the bad side, I've probably gained 6-8 pounds and lost some muscle at the same time. It's terrible. When you lose muscle, you're supposed to lose weight too. Not when I'm eating 2 courses a meal, with pasta counting as one of them, and not exercising as much as I used to. My cardiovascular fitness has dropped too. Augghh. I need a gym when I get home and a physical hockey game. How I miss hockey sometimes when I'm here. I didn't miss it a lot last year, I guess because I was doing other athletic activities, but now I do.

Thursday, May 25

St. Maria Maggiore Mission

Last weekend, the school had a two day mission at St. Maria Maggiore, one of the four major basilicas in Rome, and it was wonderful. I am constantly amazed by what happens when we go on mission.

Friday I met a 5 year old girl and her mom. The girl started hitting the bongo drum and strumming the guitar with me. It turns out that the grandma takes the little girl to church (she's evangelical pentacostal), but the mom is afraid of religion because her mom used to have exorcisms performed on her when she was little, stuff like that. I kept the little girl occupied while other missionaries talked to the mom. This little girl, Aida, was so cute. She knew the story of Jesus' birth and when I asked her if she wanted to repeat the Hail Mary after me, she said no but that she wanted to make one up herself. I don't remember what exactly she said, but the prayer was profound for a 5 year old who probably doesn't hear about the importance of Mary from her grandma.

Saturday an older man went before the Blessed Sacrament and put his prayer intention in the box and when he picked a scripture passage out of the basket, I could see it struck him. He went to the side of the chapel and started crying. Another young guy finally came into the church to pray for work after Jean-Fran├žois and I spoke with him for awhile. For a guy who didn't seem interested in praying, he sure spent a lot of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and later in front of the relic of the crib of Jesus. It is great to see.

Thursday, May 18

A Franciscan Pilgrimage

Ahhhh, time spent in the great outdoors; how I love it. Last week we were told that the school would spend two days this week following the footprints of St. Francis by walking to four sanctuaries where Francis spent time during his life. My ears perked up immediately. This would be my type of trip. I knew some in the school wouldn't feel the same excitement about walking 4-6 hours per day through the Umbria countryside, but I was loving the idea.

Let me tell you, it was exactly what I needed. Before going, I was stressed about the future, wondering what I will do for a job when I get home and if I made the wrong decision about Camp Gray. I love being in nature and after spending time in it during the silent retreat, I was questioning why I chose to deny a job that would let me be in it. The doubt was occupying my mind quite a bit, but after talking with my spiritual companion on Monday night and doing the walk on Tuesday and Wednesday, I have peace with the unknown future. Something about hiking and praying at Franciscan sanctuaries (after all, he was a great preacher of peace) combined to soothe the soul.

I realized why I like hiking so much. Besides the visual beauty that can be taken in at the pace of a walk, there is time to think and time not to think at the same time. I guess it depends on what mood you are in. For example, when I'm stressed about the future there is time to think about what is really important to me in a job, what will bring me fulfillment and allow me to contribute to the common good at the same time, etc. These are important things to think about and while walking there is a lot of time to mull over them. At the same time, though, time stands still when I'm hiking. The focus is on that day and how long you have to walk and how your feet feel and are you drinking enough water. You really live in the moment so your mind is not concerned as much with what will happen a month later. It fits with the message of Matthew 6:34: "So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." That's one of the reasons why I like hiking. Ah, heaven.

Before I sign off, a week or two ago the school got to visit the Congregation on Divine Liturgy. Who is the head of this congregation? Cardinal Arinze, the African who was one of the front runners for Pope during the last conclave. He was amazing. He joked with us, told the truth as it is, yet said it in a friendly way. It was great to get some answers on Liturgy from the top guy himself.

Monday, May 8

Good Friday

<-----Yves preparing to play Jesus

I was the narrator for each station. I had to yell as loud as I could to make sure I was heard by all. ----->

<----- Pontius Pilate condemning Jesus to die

Jesus picks up His cross ----->

<----- Walking from one station location to the next. This is all happening in St. Peter's Square.

Jesus meets His mother ----->

<----- Veronica wipes Jesus' face

One of the guards with his mean face ----->

<----- Jesus is stripped of His clothing

The crucifixion ----->


I've added pictures to the recent entries, going back as far as the middle of March. I think that's when that entry was written. You can check them out. It should make what is written more interesting. And the next large chunk of time I have, I plan to put pictures from the Stations of the Cross that we did on St. Peter's Square on Good Friday. There are a lot.