Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Almost Worth the Stink

Sundays are leisurely days in Rome. Many of the shops close, and while only about thirty percent of those who name themselves as Catholic attend Mass on Sunday morning, a much larger proportion use the day to walk the streets of Rome, enjoy the weather and get some fresh (a relative term here) air. Two of my classmates and I decided to join them today. Our destination - a panorama of the Roman Forum (pictured on the right). To get to where we wanted to go was a bit of a hike, so instead of wasting precious time walking to our destination, we decided to ride a bus most of the way and then to walk back. Thus, we climbed into the 40 whose route begins immediately behind our building. Feeling especially impish today, I decided that I would not sit with my classmates, but instead, a row behind them. It was my hope that some odd character would board the bus and sit with them, thus causing them some degree of discomfort. I guess I got exactly what I had hoped for.

In Rome, and in much of Europe, Gypsies are a race of people toward whom others harbor a great deal of distrust and prejudice. In origin, they are a nomadic bunch who call themselves the Roma people. They can be found throughout the Mediterranean and Eastern nations of Europe. They tend to be rather anti-Christian (though, at least in Rome, they are always in possession of holy cards), and have apparently resisted most efforts to evangelize them. As with the Native people of the USA, they belong to a culture that sits crossways to the culture in which most other people operate. They live in camps on the outskirts of towns, and they make their living by begging, picking pockets, and other varieties of theft. They are very good at their trade, and they employ ay variety of tricks to distract people (especially American tourists) while simultaneously lifting their wallets and cutting the bottoms out of shoulder bags, backpacks, and purses to get at whatever might be found therein. Thus, there was a noticeable elevation in tension when, one stop after having gotten on the bus ourselves, three gypsy women boarded the bus. Two seated themselves next to my classmates, exactly as I had hoped would happen. The third parked herself right next to me.

A smell of wet donkey enveloped me as the woman next to me turned and gave a gold-toothed smile. The conversation in which I was engaged quickly ceased as we sought to turn our heads in such a way as to be most exposed to the cool stream of air entering the bus from an open window a few seats ahead of us. I placed my hand on my breast as though reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Thank goodness! My wallet was still there. I then examined my pocket. The little change I had brought along remained in my possession. As long as I wasn't asphyxiated before arriving at our destination, I would be fine.

Several stops later we disembarked from our bus, smelling faintly of livestock, but in possession of all the items with which we had left our residence. We climbed a steep flight of steps walked 100 yards, and behold, ancient Rome stretched out before us. Several of the ancient pillars still stood. The tomb of Julius Caesar was visible, as were some temples and a variety of ancient buildings. As we gazed, I wondered aloud, "What buildings will remain in America 2000 years after we are gone?"

We stood perhaps ten minutes, soaking in the sun and peering through the mists of time. We were brought abruptly back into the present, however, when one of my classmates commented, "Well, seeing this was almost worth the stink."