pps/ tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) we have an afternoon off - we've just purchased our 'bus' tickets to hit Rome - Yes!!
. . . was how I left you last time - hope you have all had a good week!!
I don't really know Rome, but to be honest, our bus trip could have been to anywhere - just a need to 'get out' for a while. So, two Provincials and myself headed to Rome - couple of bus journeys later we're strolling, quite casually like, across the Pope's patio. There really was a buzz about the place, as if we'd missed something (which we probably had!!). Still that really didn't stop us heading off to the nearest coffee shop to sit and watch life go by. Do you drink hot chocolate? O dear Lord, it is to die for here - its like someone takes a bar of Galaxy and melts it in your cup. Diary note - try it if you're out here - it's delic.
And then on the Monday, the General Chapter started - big Mass, and then speeches from everybody important - Cardinals, Bishops etc etc - Cardinal Bertone (ex- Secretary of State - now has a new job!) was around with his bodyguards (security or something) - it's the first time I've been stopped going into the toilet by a big burly man.
The Rector Major gave his state of address - it was very interesting - how is the Congregation after 12 years of him being i/c? - stats, pictures, italian language (lots of it!) gave us a solid picture of the Salesians, and although our numbers have dropped a little, we are now in more Countries than ever before!! (132 I think - I can't read my own writing!!)
The next few days saw us heading off to our Commissions - I was in the English speaking one(!) - there are about 50 of us from all over the world - and we talked and debated and chatted and laughed (a lot actually) - and we gave proposals about proposals on top of suggestions about proposals - it was good - we thought that our Community Life worldwide was really, really important.
Towards the end of the week the RM started answering the questions people had proposed to him (about 60!) - okay, it was a bit of a slog sitting for long periods in assembly listening, but one cannot fail to notice that the Congregation has been, for the past 12 years, in the very capable hands of a holy man, and thank God for it.
And talking of which - prayers, tons of them - in all sorts of languages - chinese, french, spanish, polish, korean etc etc - and a lovely little statue of Our Lady of Vietnam presented to us by the Vietnamese Provinces.
You know, we joke a lot about Salesians and the Salesian world - but meeting these guys from all over the world is a very humbling experience - the pastoral work that is being done for the young; the prayers bombarding heaven daily - you very quickly realise what a privilege it is to be here!!
That's probably enough for the moment - we're heading off to Naples for the day tomorrow. It's a wee break for us being so good during the week!!
Pray for us!!
ps/ there are rather a lot of churches in Rome - my two favourites so far visited - St Agnes in Agony (mainly because I kept thinking of the line - 'some saint in pieces'!!) - and the Pantheon - which is just amazing - you have got to hand it to the ancient Romans - clever, clever dudes.