Sunday, February 28, 2010
A Belated Update--Roma e Ravenna
WOW..it's a lot harder to keep up with the blog than I thought! Since we've been doing so much over the past 2 weeks, I haven't had the chance to update. I'll try my best to recap, and we'll see how this goes...

I guess the main highlight has been doing the station churches! :) We go to a different church every morning for the Lenten season, according to a centuries-old tradition. It's ridiculously early, mind you, but they're amazing churches, and I love the chance to get to participate in an ancient tradition. So far, we've seen Santa Sabina, Santa Giorgio (which was Cardinal Newman's parish when he was in Rome), Ss. Giovanni e Paolo (over the house of Sts. John and Paul), Sant'Agostino (which has the bodies of St. Augustine and St. Monica), St. Lorenzo (on the site where St. Lawrence was martyred), and a few others whose names I have forgotten already. I think my favorites so far have been one of the last three...I couldn't take my eyes off the painting behind the altar at Ss. Giovanni e Paolo.

As of now, I've started all my classes! I think I covered a little of the other 2 classes, so I'll just fill you in on these ones. Church, Culture, and the Biomedical Revolution is good--one of the teachers from St. Thomas is teaching it, and it's running basically like a regular class, so lots of reading, papers, etc. We're reading the Social Doctrine of the Church, so it's very good material!
Fundamental Moral Theology is just absolutely amazing--we have it with the Pope's theologian!! Great professor--he talks SO fast and packs in a TON of information though! I think I took 6 pages of notes the first day, and still missed stuff!!! The last class was so insightful even just as an inspirational talk that I think I would've been content just listening. The guy is so gentle, and so knowledgeable on his subject (obviously, cuz he's, y'know, the Papal Theologian. Which means he rocks, but not quite as much as the Pope lol). This is a European-style course, so entirely lecture, and very little class input. BUT, two Thursdays ago, we started to read a passage, and he was pointing out a problem with the translation from Latin. He asked the class some general questions about how the Latin is laid out, and I answered a few times. Eventually, when he asked another question, he pointed at me and said, "You tell me! Your Latin is good!" I think I was complimented on my Latin skills by the Papal Theologian!! I don't even know what to make of that! Especially since I'm surrounded by priests and seminarians and nuns and theology majors and stuff, so I'm extremely humbled to even be there, let alone have him call on me for something, considering I'm just a random kid from Pittsburgh compared to all these people. As you probably could have guessed, I was freaking out for the last 10 minutes of class lol. Anyway, the last class is Poets and Mystics. It's with Fr. Paul Murray, who was apparently once Mother Teresa's spiritual director. Also taking the class is a Nashville Dominican, Sr. Jane Dominic, who spoke at the University of Pittsburgh earlier this year. It sounds like it's going to be a good class, and the professor definitely has character. :) OH and I am taking Latin!!! Haven't had the class yet, but we're doing the Latin Vulgate Bible. :-D So I think that's the gist of it. Otherwise, I've met up with Caitlin Crawford and Adam Burch this week since they were in from France, Barbara from my high school (who is also studying in Rome), my cousin Jen studying in Florence! :-D It seems like everyone's converging on Rome this week! I'm also having fun with my community, who are all very nice people.

Also, since Tuesday was the Chair of St. Peter, I got to see St. Peter dressed up in the Basilica! :) Every year on this feast, they put a papal tiara and priestly robes on St. Peter's statue, and I was so excited to see it!!! As soon as I get the pics on my computer, I'll post one! :-D

I guess the last thing to recount is our trip to Ravenna! We rode the bus up VERY early Saturday morning, and we got back this afternoon, so it was a quick trip, but quite fun! We got to see a LOT of mosaics from the 5th century to medieval times. It was so neat to see the consistency in art between Rome and Ravenna, and also to see how well some of the mosaics had been preserved throughout the centuries! :-D We saw Dante's tomb, too, and heard a great story about how they hid Dante every time some outer force (the Florentines once, Napoleon once, and a possible threat in WWII) tried to reach him. There's now a huge monument to him, which we got to visit. I kept thinking of Fr. Mike, because Dante's his favorite author! We had a VERY fun AND HUGE dinner last night, and ate on the road today. We stopped at a truck stop which was pretty much like a Sheetz, only it served Italian food instead of subs. :-D

All in all, it's still been an amazing experience, and God is definitely pouring on the graces! I'm praying for the grace to trust more in the Lord and to open up to His Love so that He can work through me and within me. He has provided so much, and I'm so thankful for His blessings!
posted by Kristin @ 4:47 PM   0 comments
Friday, February 12, 2010
Made it to the first weekend!!!
I can't believe I've only been here a week--it feels like so much longer! I love living in Rome, and I love the community with which I am living! :-D

Thursday, I had a lot more free time than usual, so I had the chance to do a little exploring around the Angelicum. I didn't go too far because I didn't have a map, but I was still happy with what I saw! :) We had a presentation in the morning called "A Dominican University," outlining the history of the Dominican Order and the Angelicum, which is run by Dominicans. I knew the Dominicans were awesome before, but I think they're even more awesome now! Plus, Fr. Alejandro, the priest who gave us the presentation, was really funny! (OH!!! Pittsburgh students---I saw Fr. Brian Welding in a video they showed!!! He was still a student there at the time, and they interviewed him to ask what he thought of the Angelicum! :-D)

At lunch, I went to the San Andreas delle Fratte, a church which is small, but significant!!! First of all, this is a church where a Marian apparition occured, which inspired a Jewish man to convert to Catholicism. Secondly, this is the church where St. Maximilian Kolbe said his first Mass, and also where Fr. Kim said his first Mass. And lastly (I was here for this one!!!), it was where Angel and Melissa made their Marian consecration last year!!! I was so happy to be able to pray for them in this church again! I know I'll be back--it's only a 5 minute walk from my school!

After I came back from the walk, I went to the garden by our school to relax awhile. The garden is beautiful, and one of the most quiet parts of the city I've found. I think I'll be spending a good deal of time meditating there. :)

Then, we had Italian class, and after that, went to see some churches before Mass. We saw the tomb of Sts. Philip and James the Lesser before going to the Gesu. The Gesu is where St. Ignatius of Loyola's body is, as well as the hand of St. Francis Xavier!! Since St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of missionaries, I took this wonderful opportunity to pray for the FOCUS missionaries, especially the ones at Pitt! Also, I prayed for my friend Trey, who took St. Francis Xavier as his Confirmation patron! :-D We were going to stay for Mass at the Gesu, but then we found out that the Mass wasn't for another hour, so we went to the Chiesa Nuova instead. The Chiesa Nuova happens to be the church where St. Philip Neri's body is!!!!!!!!!!!! I was SO ecstatic to be going to Mass there, since he is the founder of the Oratorians! Of course, I prayed for all the Oratorians there and thanked God for the influence they all have had in all of our lives. Seeing 5 saints in one day? I'd say that was productive. :-D

Today, we had Monte Casino!!! I can't really explain it, only to say that karaoke, poker, Bananagrams, and Apples to Apples were all involved. What a fun day it was!!!! :-D We all ended up singing and dancing several times. And I did "Piano Man" with my friend Meghan. I absolutely love my community!!! OH, and we sang an Italian song today!!!! It's called Tutta mia la citta (or something like that lol).

Who knows what our first weekend will hold? :)
posted by Kristin @ 5:58 PM   0 comments
Sunday, February 7, 2010
"An Experiment in Christian Community"
Greetings from Rome! I'm finally settling into my residence here at the University of St. Thomas Bernardi Campus, so I finally have some time to write. Actually, this blog post has been ongoing for quite some time, but I just haven't had the chance to finish it.


First, let me describe to you the type of community I'm living in right now. There's 29 of us living in an old villa, which became a Spanish convent, and now finally belongs to the University of St. Thomas. Of these 29 people, 12 are laywomen, 9 are laymen, and 8 are seminarians at St. John Vianney Seminary, which is connected with UST. The first floor is the men's floor, the second floor is the women's, and both of us have community space on the ground floor (where our chapel, a study room, and a living room-type space is), the basement (where our computer lab, kitchen, and dining room is), and the third floor and terrace. Our residence is what our chaplain, Fr. Carola, described in his first homily to us as "an experiment in Christian community." He said that by having all different vocations living together in community, we learn how to support each other in Christian charity, and therefore form a strong Christian community. I'm looking forward to living with my brothers and sisters and growing in faith with them as we live here in Rome!!! I have very nice roommates, Jacqui and Ashley, who both go to St. Thomas, and I have a very lively community as a whole! :)


Here's a brief synopsis of events over the past few days, since it's been awhile, and I know I have a lot to report:


On Thursday, one of my classmates, Nick, helped avert a crisis by telling me that our flight from DC to Rome was cancelled due to the storms. Luckily, because of his information, I was able to transfer my flight to JFK, on a flight with 9 of my other classmates. Once this was all worked out, on Friday, I flew in from Pittsburgh to JFK, met up with my classmates, and we all flew to Fiumicino (Rome's main airport) together, where we met up with 6 more students to travel to our campus. We got on the bus and headed to Bernardi, which is a 20-25 minute walk north of the Vatican. Saturday and Sunday were full of orientation to our dorm, as well as two Masses with Fr. Carola, our chaplain. (Pitt, CMU, and Chatham students: Fr. Carola taught Fr. Kim when he was in Rome! :-D) We will be having Mass at our home every Wednesday night. The Mass with Fr. Carola is very much like the Mass at the Oratory, minus the chanted Gloria, so it is very comfortably familiar. :)

Monday was the first day at the Angelicum, or the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Priests, religious, seminarians, and laypersons from all over the world come to study here!!! Our classes, except Italian, are all in English. So far, we've only had two of our classes--Church and Culture (or something like that...she wants a new name, but hasn't picked it yet) with Dr. Liz Lev (!!!), and Italian with a wonderful Italian woman named Marta. My other classes start next week, when the rest of the Ang starts classes. I'll also be taking Fundamental Moral Theology with a priest who I've heard is the Pope's principal theologian, Poets and Mystics with Fr. Paul Murray, and Church and Biomedical Revolution with Dr. Wojda, a professor from St. Thomas who, along with his wife and 5 children, are staying with us at Bernardi. (His wife and 2 older children are auditing Dr. Lev's class with us!)

Already, we've had some amazing experiences! For Church and Culture, Dr. Lev already took us to St. Peter's Basilica and the Catacombs of St. Priscilla. Dr. Lev is a world-renowned art historian, and it's wonderful to hear her insights about the art we are seeing! Today was the catacombs, and we got to see the first ever recorded images of Madonna and Child and the Epiphany. It's unfathomable to think that these treasures have remained underground for the past 1800 years, and it's humbling to consider the strong, resilient faith of the early Christians. Even just wandering around in Rome, there is so much to see! On the way back from class on Monday, we stopped in a church just to look around, and it ended up being the church where St. Charles Borromeo's heart is!!! How awesome is that?!? I can't wait for Lenten Station Churches to start--that'll be a wonderful opportunity to see Rome's splendors! (I'll explain Lenten Station Churches later!)

Today was also the Papal Audience!!! :-D We got to see Pope Benedict XVI, who looked like he was quite delighted today! My favorite part of the Audience was the Pater Noster and Papal Blessing in the end. Everyone in the audience chants the Pater Noster together, regardless of where they all traveled from to get there. I love how the Church encompasses all cultures, yet can come together in one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism...it transcends cultural boundaries...truly Catholic, truly universal! Oh, and get this!! The Papal Blessing extends to all friends and family of the attendees, so consider yourselves blessed! :-D

Well, I guess that's all I can think of to write for now. I'll try to write more frequently...already so much has happened that I can't write about it all! I hope you all are well, and I'm praying for each of you! (If you have special intentions, email me at kgottron@gmail.com.) May God bless you and keep you this day and always! Pax Christi vobiscum!
posted by Kristin @ 10:46 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Extended Christmas break comes to a close
What a break it has been! It's been slow in ways, but so fast in others!

I think I left you right before Charisse came in. We had SO much fun together when she came!!! That Friday, I picked her up from the airport, and we went straight to Chipotle, and continued right on through midnight at the Oratory for Mass and a talk, snow tubing at Wildwood Highlands, then dinner at Eat N Park. We didn't stop the next day, either...or the next day...or the next day. Some of the highlights included: watching Up while knitting and eating Buffalo Chicken Dip, Newman Club 80s Dance, doing 2 early morning Holy Hours--TWICE :-D, finally eating at the Rusty Nail, and overall getting to spend time with a dear friend whom I haven't seen in a very long time. :)

Once Charisse left, my weekdays became quite mellow, what with my siblings at school and all. I spent way too much time on my computer and overall wasted time, except for the wonderful opportunities I had to get together with various people from Pitt and from Pittsburgh. My weekends were spent with trips to the Students for Life of America Conference (which was EPIC--the first time I've been able to just hang out with friends in an unfamiliar city and have a blast--hopefully it's a taste of things to come :-D), and to Erie to see my sister (also quite a whirlwind experience, which included a movie, a musical, a massage, and four Matthew Kelly talks! Lots of "m's" :-D).

Now I am finally getting packed for Rome. I have all my school supplies in a suitcase, and all my clothes and other stuff are now on my bed, waiting to get packed away as well. I'll be headed out in 3 days!!! :-D
posted by Kristin @ 6:16 PM   0 comments
About Me


Name: Kristin
Home: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
About Me: Seeking my true Fatherland as I travel this spiritual journey with Our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope, with the help of God, to follow in the example of the saints and strive for holiness.
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