Alright, I've finally staked out a little time in which to update my blog, and there is just SO much updated to perform. I'll begin with Christmas, work my way back to the Spaghetti Bowl and Thanksgiving weekend, then catch everything else I missed.
Christmas really was a very blessed time. We were all a little homesick, so we spent a lot of time together, watching movies like The Muppets' Christmas Carol (which is one of the best Christmas movies of all time, no exaggeration), and just spending time together. We played cards, waxed philosophical, and wandered the city a bit. It was very enjoyable. Christmas Eve, as I said before, we all attended Midnight Mass with the Holy Father. It was actually 10 PM Mass, since the Pope was starting to feel his age a bit. We showed up around 6:30 and waited outside at the side entrance by the sacristy for an interminable amount of time due to a misunderstanding, but we finally got in, got practiced, and sat waiting for Mass to begin.
Mass began and proceeded as usual, but then we heard an audible gasp and the procession stopped. The sound of a couple women stifling screams was clear. If I am being honest, I have to admit that my first thought was, "Dear Lord, who shot the pope?" We waited in suspense, being on the other side of the main altar, unable to see anything which was occurring. Finally, we heard the sounds of cheering and knew that the Pope was fine. The Mass continued and went beautifully. It was such a graced experience, not just being able to attend Mass with the Holy Father but to be able to sing for him was great. My Italian has been improving- I could understand a not insignificant part of what he said in his homily. Had I been more alert and not so close to wanting to fall asleep after a long day I would have understood a fair bit more, no doubt. After Mass we returned to the college and had an early Christmas breakfast while quickly discovering what had happened to the Holy Father- that he had been knocked over by that agile but mentally-disturbed woman now made famous in that youtube clip. Here are some of my pictures from the event.
Here you can see how close we were seated to the high altar. The Pope sat in front of it, so we couldn't see his face for much of the Mass, but that's definitely ok. We had a spectacular view for the Eucharistic prayer and consecration, which was great. You can really see the great love the Pope has for our Lord in the reverence with which he prays the Mass.
Ok, before anyone says anything, this was not during the Mass. I hate hate hate hate hate it when people take pictures during the liturgy, but this was after the Mass had ended and the organist was playing the recessional. Everyone was snapping pictures and I figured I would sneak a quick shot in myself before my prayers after Mass.
Finally, this was the view of the Christmas tree and the giant Nativity scene in St. Peter's square, which was unveiled earlier that evening. I would have gotten closer, but as you can probably tell from the picture, it was raining heavily after Mass and I didn't want to soak my cassock.