The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rome: Day 2 and a half

Diane and I were apparently more tired than we thought. We went to bed at 11 last night and awoke 11 hours later at 10 this morning. The only negative was missing the nice breakfast provided by the hotel. But at least we're now rested and functioning at or near 100%.

Today is my birthday (64), so we spent it doing some very birthday-like things. We made the obligatory visits to a few of the shops that sell religious articles and books. I, of course, bought some books for myself, enough that we'll probably need to buy another suitcase. We then enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a restaurant we had visited some years ago. Our Polish priest friend, Fr. Adam Domanski, took us there for lunch during our Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome in November 2000. At the time, Fr. Adam was studying in Rome. He eventually earned his doctorate in Sacred Scripture and now teaches at a seminary in Poland. Anyway, the food was wonderful and I enjoyed some of their local white wine. (By the way, that day with Fr. Adam was the day I met and accosted Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the street. The future Pope Benedict XVI was very understanding and actually spent a few minutes chatting with us and posing for a photo with me,)

After lunch Diane and I made our leisurely way back to St. Peter's and spent an hour roaming around the Basilica, once again awed by size and the almost overwhelming beauty of the place. We had to leave because we had reservations for a guided tour of the excavations and ancient necropolis beneath the Basilica. Only a week ago I finished reading "The Bones of St. Peter," a wonderful book -- now sadly out of print -- about these excavations that began in 1939 and ended with the uncovering of St. Peter's simple tomb. Our tour guide was a lovely and very knowledgeable young woman -- a historian and wife of a Swiss Guard. She brought us back to the time of Peter, the time of Constantine, and the time of the secret excavations during the years of World War II. It was a remarkable experience, one that we will never forget.

Then, after a brief rest back at the hotel, we enjoyed a marvelous dinner at one of the local restaurants. And because it was my birthday, we thought it OK to sample a few of the house desserts. What a wonderful, if mildly sinful, decision!

Tomorrow we plan to attend 9 a.m Mass at St. Peter's and then pay a visit to Castel Sant'Angelo which is just a few blocks from our hotel. The weather may cause a change in plans, however, since they're predicting rain showers. We'll just play it by ear, as usual.

A fun day for an old guy and his much younger wife.

Blessings and God's Peace...

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