This past week, the seminary community made its annual silent retreat. Sr. Marie Joelle Bec, former Superior General of the Marianist Sisters, gave us conferences each day, reflecting on the thoughts of Mother Adele, Foundress of the Marianist Sisters. Except for her talks and our times of common prayer, we were asked to remain in silence. This included meals. I can now signal "Can you hand me some wine?" without saying a word :) I probably "speak" better in silence than I do in Italian! The retreat was a time of great grace and listening for me, and I thank everyone for their prayers.
|Our group at the end of the retreat.|
However, our General Secretary was able to get us good seats on the side of the stage, putting us very near to the pontiff.
The Pope enters the square in his popemobile and winds through the gathered crowd to cheers and much applause. He is quite the celebrity! After a scripture reading is proclaimed in several languages by various bishops (and in our case one abbot), the pope gives a talk in Italian. This time, it was on the liturgy, "the work of God...and the work of the people." Afterwards, pilgrim groups in attendance are recognized according to language and the Pope greets them in their own language. Typically the groups cheer or sing when their name is called. Not to be outdone, the "Members of the Seminary of the Society of Mary" gave a rousing cheer to which the Pope turned and waved to us. At the end, all chant the "Pater Noster" (Our Father in Latin) and the Pope gives his blessing. Finally, any dignitaries that are present greet the Pope individually and offer him gifts.
I offer you some pictures from the day. It was a quite joyful experience, and goes to show that the Pope is very much loved and respected by many, many people.
Among the pictures, is something that has never been seen before - I am wearing a Roman collar. It is recommended that we don clerical attire for "official" events such as this one. I will admit that it was a little "weird" to put it on for the first time. But, just another thing to get used to in this crazy adventure of mine! And as our rector continues to remind me, "piano, piano" (slowly, slowly.)
|So, there it is!|
|Waiting for "Il Papa." With Brothers Bosco, Daniel, Nereo, and Chinnaia.|
|With Bro. Javier.|
|You've heard of "Where's Waldo?" The new game is "Where's Benedict?"|
|I love the expression captured on Pope Benedict's face. It's either that he was surprised to see me, or the popemobile was going too fast. I'll let you be the judge :)|
|Pope Benedict giving his talk.|
|Yes, we were close enough to get pictures like this.|
|Trying to capture just the right picture...|
|...and the Pope turns to wave at me :)|
|The final prayer and blessing.|
|As Pope Benedict was leaving, he stopped to hold and bless a baby. Afterwards, many people were lining up to get their picture taken with the baby and her parents!|
|It's not everyday you get background like this.|
|Some of the new seminarians with our directors: Fr. Pachi (Rector), Brothers Nereo, Daniel, Me, Javier and Les (Vice-Rector)|
|As we were heading home, Bro. Les made a new friend.|