Friday, January 4, 2008


January 4, 2008

ROME – 11:18 AM

Blogging early today… I need to begin an intimate relationship with my books this afternoon. I find myself missing Bristow today. All the hymns at Eucharist were in German today. I hummed with the familiar melodies and just listened to the rest. It’s funny how the liturgy is universal and at the same time quite particular. I miss our hymns…our circle…hearing the Rule first thing in the morning. There are some very beautiful aspects to the liturgy in this house. The environment is very simple and, I’m guessing, reflective of the European aesthetic. I’m in love with the baby JESUS in front of the altar. He’s smiling and reaching out to us…and tucked into the stump of a tree for his bed. It reminds me of the hymn we sing at home – “wood of the cradle, wood of the cross…” All the Christmas decorations are natural or homemade (except a string of white lights here and there.) I’m wondering how our Bristow tree is faring…
I miss our LOH. The sisters here pray the Roman Office – lots of antiphons, few pauses and six ribbons to keep it all straight. The biggest challenge so far was our choir practice with the Graduale Romanum for the Epiphany liturgy on Sunday. Most of the sisters from other countries have been taught to sing Latin chant. The American sisters are only slightly better off here, than we were with the German hymn texts! Much to absorb…
We have our first study group this afternoon. Sister Veronica and I are partnered with Sister Maria Goretti from Fort Smith, AK. Sister has visited Bristow several times and sends greetings. She has been in formation ministry for many years and also runs the Gift Shop. There are only eight Americans here. Communities represented are Yankton, Fort Smith, Ferdinand, Christ in the Desert, Our Lady in the Desert, Clyde and Bristow. Six of us have planned our first day in the city tomorrow. We will spend half a day at the Vatican and then move to the Piazza Navono for the Epiphany festival. I am in charge of finding a place for our main meal – yippee!
I am catching up on sleep slowly but surely. Sister Veronica had a bad night. One of our neighbors does a fine impression of a buzz saw. I seem to be oblivious to the noise once I fall asleep. My Dear Old Dad snores so, for me, that’s the sound of safety and home. For Sister Veronica, on the other hand, it’s like trying to sleep in a woodworking shop. I hope tonight she’ll be too tired to be disturbed. Our “free day” will be full so don’t look for a posting until Sunday. Until then, sisters…friends…family…students…you remain in my love. – Sister Vicki

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Daily Schedule

Daily Schedule at Casa Santo Spirito

06:15 Lauds
07:00 Holy Mass w/ Monastic Community

After Holy Mass: Breakfast (taken in silence)

08:45 Session w/ Sister Aquinata
11:30 Midday Prayer
12:00 Lunch (w/ recreation)

14:00 – 16:50 Personal Study or Small Group
17:00 – 18:00 Lectio
18:00 Vespers (f0llowed by Supper w/ table reading)

19:30 Compline

· Saturday is FREE
· Sunday includes Conference on RB Prologue

January 3, 2008

January 3, 2008
+ Holy Name of JESUS

ROME – 12:54 PM

…let each one deny [herself] some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting. (RB 49:7) Well, it’s not Lent yet, but Sister Veronica and I are excelling at sleep deprivation. Even though we each slept about eight or nine hours, our first class at 8:45 AM felt like 2:45 AM North American time. I think it will take a few days for the pattern of life here to right us.
Our first real class was on the context of the Rule of Benedict. Sister Aquinata lectured on the political, social and cultural dynamics of 6th century Rome. My head is spinning with Vandals, Goths and various barbarian hordes. Sister Aquinata is big on hand-outs and pictures. Many require serious study – like the one that graphs the typical hours of the day in Benedict’s monastery. Many terms are familiar to us as our monastic customs bear a lasting imprint of the practices of early cenobitic life. But there are many Latin terms and phrases which will come, I hope, in time.
It’s grey and very cold here. Not certain of the temperature, but Roman winter is damp, raw. We have heat in our rooms – praise GOD. During the day hours, it’s rather chilly, but at night, the heat is turned up for cozy sleep.
Breakfast here is a typical continental repast - fresh, warm, crusty bread, sweet Italian butter, thick marmalade, coffee and team. For the adventurous among us, there is salami and several cheeses. And a thick, sweet apricot nectar that needs a little watering down for my American palate. Everything here tastes so good…there is always pasta and meat for lunch (which is dinner here.) At supper, we have soup and bread - very simple but very good.
I am fighting off something…can’t tell if it’s in my chest or sinus or throat. I plan to load up on sleep and fluids so that I can feel well enough to explore the city on Saturday (our ‘free’ day.) I am adding a second posting today to provide the horarium (daily schedule) for our program. My bed is calling to me…our siesta is from 1-3:00 PM. (I can hear someone snoring through the wall already!) More tomorrow… - Sister Vicki

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

January 2, 2008

January 2, 2008
+ Basil & Gregory Nazianzen

ROME – 2:16 PM

We’re here – praise GOD, thank you JESUS! After spending a full day at Philadelphia International, Sister Veronica and I caught the 6:10 PM flight to Rome. It was a full flight…lots of folks returning home so we heard our first bit of Italian in the air. Several very little people who did not like being on a plane one bit! Poor little things…eight hours is a lot for grown-ups. Sister Veronica fell asleep after the first movie. I, on the other hand, couldn’t figure out how to make my seat recline, so I bobbed and shifted much of the way.
We chased the sunrise to its source and arrived at Da Vinci Airport at 8:20 AM, Rome time. For our bodies, it was 2:20 AM. Needless to say, we moved through the passport control station in a bit of a fog. It took an hour before we saw signs of our baggage. But, it arrived, too, without a hitch. It amazes me how we can move through time and over oceans and come out in one piece at the end of the journey.
We were greeted by the most hospitable Benedictine sisters at the Casa (Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, Germany, who are our hosts for the program.) Our instructor, Sister Aquinata, embraced us both and welcomed us into the first day of class. Fortunately, we missed only the “introduce yourself” portion of the morning and were able to slide in and get with the program.
We are 28 participants from all over the Benedictine world: Bulgaria, Korea, Manila, Nairobi, Uganda, the United States, Australia, Jerusalem, and, believe it or not, Ndanda, Tanzania! Here, it is a very small Benedictine world! Sister Veronica and I are the youngest in rank. It’s harder to tell if we’re the youngest in age – Benedictines never look as old as they are!
I’m tired…deep-down, inside-out tired! I’ve unpacked and figured out how to flush the toilet (I know, over-sharing!) The power adapters Sister Veronica purchased seem to work just fine with the laptop, for which I am truly thankful. I’ll stay awake until COMPLINE at 19:30 (that’s 7:30 PM for North American monastics.) Then, a deep sleep that will realign the body clock a bit. Love to you all…Sisters, friends, family, SGHS students and faculty…keep us in your prayers. -------- Sister Vicki