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!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vespers with the Pope

Tonight, as he was leaving to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wall, the Pope nearly ran over one of our men. Well, that's his story at least.

Some of us did, however, get to pray with the Holy Father at the Basilica. It was a first for us to attend a Vespers like this. We ended up getting there a little late and there were about 700 people in line before us. We were given good advice, though: wear your cassock and bring a surplice. This gets you into the choir with the other 300 clergy and religious.

We figured out (with much fear, trepidation and anxiousness) that you then need to be watchful! As we were taking our seat, we noticed they were setting up a whole other section of chairs. None of the ushers really know what's going on, so they'll just let you go pretty much where ever you want - so long as you're not taking a cardinal or bishop's chair! This ended up being much better for us, for the new section was directly to the side of the pope whereas the first section was back in the transept where we couldn't even see the pope.

Twice the pope passed very close to us (after reverencing the altar at the beginning and the end of Vespers). His chair for presiding was only about 40 feet away from where we ended up being seated. These photos are edited and look poor because of the poor lighting and camera-settings.

Something I appreciate and have noticed about these events is that most of the prayers are in Latin, valuing our Tradition and forming us with the Spirit of the Liturgy.

Perhaps most interestingly, though, was two things we saw while leaving. The first was simply that they immediately began taking everything down and packing it away. Here they're taking away the Cardinals' chairs:

The other point is that they are prepared for most everything with the pope around. Here's two firemen's jackets and helmets in the back!

Though we couldn't understand a lick of the homily, the whole event nevertheless speaks of the enduring need which presses upon the Church: praying for unity.