Some final thoughts on the “Ad limina” visit (in no particular order)

February 20, 2012

Nothing on the trip can beat the honor of meeting the Holy Father and talking with him. To think he takes time out of his busy schedule to meet with us when we come to Rome is amazing. Over the past few months there have been a lot of rumors about his failing health and possible retirement. I didn’t see any of that. What I encountered is a man who is in his mid 80s and carried himself as such.  My Dad is 89 and his doctors tell us that he is in excellent health.  But he is 89.  You can’t ask him to look and act like he’s 75.  So, I think it is for Pope Benedict.

I found the meetings at all of the various congregations, councils, tribunal, commissions and such to be very informative. Whichever office with which we met went out of their way to be present to us, often with the head of the office, the secretary, and the undersecretaries in attendance. They listened to what we had to say, responded to our questions, and offered information as needed. I was struck by how small their staffs are in comparison to all the work they have to do. They do a lot with a little. 
Another series of great moments that were part of the “ad limina’ visit was being able to concelebrate Mass at the four major basilicas (St. Peter’s, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, and St. John Lateran) and at St. Peter’s saying Mass at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II and on another day, the tomb of Blessed John XXIII.

I wasn’t able to stay for the consistory because I had the Rite of Election scheduled for this past Sunday in the cathedral. The Rite of Election is too important in the life of the Church for me to miss it. Perhaps there will be other opportunities for me to attend a consistory in the future but not this year.

Onto some lighter notes…

The smog in Rome is much better but it still has a long way to go. It seemed like I had a chest cold the whole time I was there.  But if you don’t mind the cold, February is a good month to visit Rome. Everything is still open and there are no crowds anywhere. The weather this year though after the snow days cleared and the air was as clean as it gets.

The “rigatoni alla carbonara” at the Abruzzi just off the Piazza Dodieci Apostoli is good but the the “spaghetti alla carbonara” at Mazzicone’s on the Borgo Pio has it beat. It’s a heart attack in a bow and delicious as such.

The plane flight from Rome to Atlanta is a long one. Almost 11 hours. You can go from Tokyo to Munich in that time. Never knew that until I was thumbing through the airline magazine while standing in the galley trying wake up my legs from sitting so long.

Speaking of traveling, I can’t say enough about how great the train system is in Italy and western Europe. It is amazing who quick the”rapido” or express train gets you between one city and another.  It is now less than an hour and half from Rome to Naples and less than two hours between Rome and Florence. When I was a student in Italy in 90-94, it was pretty much double that time. And going first class is the way to go (it’s only about 30% more).

It’s nice to be back in the USA.