Monday, March 11, 2013

Manic Monday: Rome 24 hours before a conclave

When the opportunity came up to come to Rome for the conclave, and I prayed that God would direct me to know whether I should do so as a quiet pilgrim in prayer, or share the experience of prayer via Social Media. I sensed that God wanted the latter, so I said, "God, I'm happy to share the experience with anyone you wish."

Since then, in my first 20 hours in Rome, I've bumped into all sorts of interesting media types here to cover the conclave.

For example:

On my flight from London to Rome, the man across the aisle asked me if I was going to the conclave. I said yes, and we had a lovely chat the rest of the flight. Turns out, the gentleman is Sean Klein, the Bureaux Editor for the BCC, for the entire continent of Europe. He is here with a huge gaggle of reporters from the BCC to cover the conclave. We chatted about journalism, languages, paparazzi, and how faith factors into the professional life of a journalist in Europe these days.

At the east edge of the St. Peter's square a host of journalists are gathered. I bumped into the team from WGN in Chicago and chatted with them about why I am in Rome and what the conclave means to me as a priest and a Catholic. They were particularly interested in the fact that I studied in Chicago at Mundelein Seminary for 5 years. Watch WGN tonight and see if my mug gets on there. On the WGN website they said they spoke with a seminarian from, hey WGN, I hope you didn't mean me. I'm neither. Check out my beard, you know? I'm old!

Later in the day, strolling by the well-known Via Borgo Pio just north of the Vatican, I bumped into Fr. Jonathan Morris from Sirius XM. He has been doing wonderful short interviews with Cardinal Dolan from the North American College.

There is a calm anticipation all around Rome, perhaps it would seem like a normal March day, except for details here and there...The windows of the Apostolic Palace shuttered. Pictures of Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus on the back of buses, with the word "Grazie!", "Thank you!" above it. Press boxes going up in random places. And my favorite...I was sitting outside at lunch enjoying great, simple Roman pizza with seminarians and priests and other friends, when we saw a cardinal quietly duck into the front door of the little church just behind us.

Apparently he has something on his heart to bring to prayer.

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