Monday, April 21, 2014

In Which We Do the Homeschool Thing and See the Ruins of Rome

We got back to our apartment barely able to move today after being gone from about 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for a day of a whole lot of walking and sun.  We found out before we left that today April 21st just happens to be Rome's birthday.  Just like our Independence Day, many places are closed and people don't work.  There was a celebration in the ancient part of town that Brian factored into our trip and he combined that with looking at a lot of the ruins of ancient Rome.  You can't really come all this way as a homeschooler and not see this stuff, right?  So we headed that way for what was a homeschooling mother's dream field trip and for what I jokingly dubbed our pagan day...Christianized by a few stops into churches, too :)

(Warning lots of touristy pictures ahead...)

Checking out the Curia ruins

The Forum of Caesar

We didn't get to go in but I snapped a picture of Santa Maria de Loreto and Sacred Name of Mary.  Trajan's Column is to the right.  (I don't really know what that is but Brian said to mention it.)

The monument to King Vittorio Emanuele II

 Random Christian fresco I thought was neat.

Brian works so hard on these trips!  

The Piazza del Campidogilo
(Don't think I remember all these names.  Brian is here helping me cheat.)

The Temple of Vespasian

We stumbled upon the prison that held Saints Peter and Paul when they were in Rome.  We were bummed that it was closed because that would have been amazing to see inside.  So we prayed outside :)

Ooh, I didn't even realize I got the moon in this pic!  Postcard worthy.

The Basilica Amelia

We checked out the Church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian as well which was built in an ancient Roman building (how's that for non-specific?).  A sign on the wall said something about Franciscan Friars, T.O.R which I thought was cool since their the order that runs my alma mater.

A side room that held a beautiful nativity scene

Just a little beautiful?

And then we headed over to the Colosseum that Luke still laments over its brokenness.

The Arch of Constantine is under construction but I don't think you're allowed to not get a picture of this if you're here.

We decided not to go in the ole Colosseum having been warned that it's pretty overpriced for what you get.  It would have been cool but we just couldn't do it all and besides, that line you see behind was all waiting to get in.  

Ignore my tres chic Dollar Tree goggles.

You only wish you wore your yellow today like all the cool kids.  

Then we waited a whole lot again and went to the parade where we roasted like little Roma tomatoes and watched lots of Roman soldiers and such.  It was pretty cool for the boys.  The uniforms were realistic and they did some little scenes.  It felt odd to me.  It's so weird for me to think about the billions of people who have lived and what times were like.  The brutality is too much.  It did, however, increase my respect a little bit for the people back then, I mean, besides from the fact that they were geniuses and all.  It was kind of a conquer or be conquered kind of time.  And thinking about it more made the revolution that was (and is) Christianity that much more poignant.  I am so grateful I live in the time that I do. 

John Paul especially loved the gladiator-esque music they played while being surrounded by the actual ancient ruins of Rome.  "Just look around, Mama.  You feel like you're actually there."

There was an assortment of temple virgins present as well. 

Enthralled by the horses

They also laid a wreath in front of one of the Caesars which I thought was sort of odd.  But sort of not. 

I think I should train the boys to start carrying me around like this, right?

Afterwards we walked a while, stopping into a few churches while we waited for the gladiator fights that were supposed to take place in the Circus Maximus.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin where we got to see the skull of St. Valentine.

San Giorgio al Velabro where we got to see a piece of the skull of St. George.  (We Catholics are so awesomely weird, right?)
This kid.  He has been so fun to watch on this trip.  He went right up and wanted to pray.

The Basilica of Saint Anastasia

They had Eucharistic Adoration in a side chapel which was neat.  

We finally got to the Circus Maximus for what we thought was going to be cool gladiator reenactments but what ended up being a weird playacting thing with lots of temple virgins doing mediocre dances.  Not that I'm up to speed on my temple virgin dance ranking or anything.  We stayed way too long waiting for the fights and then gave up.

And I think I can now check teach Ancient Rome off the list.  For a few years at least anyway.

Other Notes from Today:
-David has developed such a heart for the poor in the last few months.  After seeing a beggar woman yesterday he was so concerned about giving her money.  Today he kept a pile of his own change in his pocket ready to give out.  He gave the disabled man we saw today several coins.
-Remember to put the sunscreen on before you've been in the sun for several hours.  Noted.
-John Paul really wanted to tour the Capitoline Museum which we thought was free today.  It wasn't so we didn't end up doing it.  He was so great about it.
-The Tevas I got off of Ebay have been awesome.  (Thank you for the recommendations!)
-We get lots and lots of comments about having four boys.  And sometimes you can tell people are talking about us but we have no idea what they are saying and if it's good or bad.  I try to just smile and do my best to not look too crazy...
-Seeing the lizards run around on the ruins

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Buona Pasqua!!

He is risen!!!

We were up super early this morning to get our spots for Easter Mass.  It was packed already when we got there around seven a.m. for the 10:15 Mass.  The line was a bit mob-like but we survived, the boys eating breakfast smooshed amongst travelers from all over the world and Italian ladies who really do pinch cheeks.  

Waiting in line

All set up for Mass

We were really happy to get seats right here and were surrounded by some awesome people we got to chat with.  Hearing all the different languages really gives you a sense of how universal our Church truly is but it is nice to meet people you can speak with, too!

For over two hours the boys colored and ate and entertained the lovely Guatemalan nuns behind us.  We met a seminarian from Wisconsin (studying in Rome), some people from Dallas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and D.C.  

These nuns were awesome and loved talking with the boys as best they could.  John Paul did his best Spanglish and Luke was giving kisses.  

I'm pretty sure the boys made their day.  They had tears in their eyes when we parted ways at the end of Mass!

The couple in front of us tried to get our picture with the special boy.  He was slightly blinded by the sun and trying his best to hold his eyes open.  This was the best shot we got :)  The weather couldn't have been better.

David wanted some of the action.

One view of the crowds

And another...I can't even fathom what the canonization will be like.

During the long wait I suggested that Brian go up to one of the guards/escort men and ask if they had any suggestions for Michael being able to make his First Communion on the off chance that they could help us out.  We had gotten our pastor's permission to receive if we were given the opportunity.  There just happened to be an American nun with a group of girls from Duquesne sitting right behind the barricades who overheard and were thrilled to help us.  (One of the girls was even from my crazy is that?)  

When Communion time came, we were able to go up before everyone else and all the people around knew it was Michael's special day as word had spread during the wait.  Sister and the girls made room, the priest came down, and our little Michael Joseph received our Lord for the first time in St. Peter's square with the Eucharist consecrated by Pope Francis.  

God is amazing.

This was the best shot I could get with the crowds but that's Sister Mercedes behind him and look at the girl's face in the background!  They were all so sweet.

We got back to our spot and then the tears came.  
Thank you, sweet Jesus, for showing a little boy just how much You love him and listen to his prayers.  Thank you for loving our Michael more than we could ever imagine.  
Thank you for letting us be here.
Thank you for the ridiculous undeserved gifts you keep pouring down upon us.  

The Mass itself was so beautiful.  Readings and prayers of the faithful in all different languages.  The Gospel is chanted once in Latin and then in Greek, which I thought was neat.  The little boys did unbelievably well, despite the fact that Luke barely slept the night before, which was very good because there was really nowhere to take them anyway if they were having a hard time and we were sure it was going to be rough.  The schola (chorale)...oh my.  It gives you chills.  I don't ever want to forget hearing the Easter Alleluia in St. Peter's.  I did remember to lift up all your intentions during the Consecration and it brought me so much joy to be able to do that.

The boys loved seeing the Swiss Guard do their Easter thing which involved marching and drums and spears and was pretty cool.  At the end of Mass the bells tolled and tolled and oh my goodness, we did our best to soak it all in.  There are no words to describe the blessing it was to be there.

Someone was sort of happy at the end of Mass...

And then little did we know but Pope Francis was getting in the popemobile and came through near our spot not once but twice.  I didn't get a good picture of the first roll through but how bout this:

You know what was so cool?  So many people offered to hold the boys to get a better view.  The seminarian Luke that we met held somebody and I think one of the nuns was holding somebody.  It was so great.  All of the boys got to get pretty close and see.

Then he went up to the window for the Ubi et Orbi address and blessing.

The final wave :)

We managed to get one shot in of Michael on his special day in front of St. Peter's as we were getting moved out.

And those sweet girls also managed to get a family shot for us that didn't turn out half bad, even if the sun was crazy bright!

After Mass we finally finally got our first taste of Italian gelato.  Our self-control these past few days was near heroic levels.  I'm pretty sure David thinks that now that Easter is here we'll be eating gelato every day from now on.  He may be right :)

Buona Pasqua, friends!  
Thank you so so much for your prayers for us.
May the risen Christ be with you and bless you and draw you ever closer to His life and heart!  May your Easter season be filled in abundance with His grace and blessings!  

Other Notes from Today:
-Remember always John Paul saying at the end of the day "I don't have the words to say how happy I am for Michael."
-I love that the Vatican provides booklets for every Mass with an English and Italian translation of the Latin.  So helpful.
-Not gonna lie, the pizza is eh.  And I think we'll be eating almost all of our meals from here on out from our little apartment kitchen after seeing the bill for the simplest of dinners out...
-Apparently, Romans on Holy Saturday night (or maybe just every Saturday) are up til all hours of the night.  Sleeping was near impossible until like 3 a.m.  It was cool hearing St. Peter's tolling the bells at midnight, though.
-Apartment different.  
-Luke has no issue saying "ciao!" to strangers or with having nuns he doesn't know tickle him.
-It was sorta nice not having to worry a thing about Easter baskets this year...
-But I did miss seeing family!
-Don't forget the sound of the boys yelling "Buona Pasqua!" in St. Peter's square and David yelling "Alleluia!" as we walked down the street.  

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