Monday, October 13, 2008

Horror of Horrors

As a "studentessa" of Thomas More College in 1995, I stayed in a 17th century convent, run by retired Augustinian nuns. The girls stayed in small bare rooms that had two beds, a sink, and a wardrobe. Most rooms had a small balcony, although mine did not.

Our beds were made with stiff cotton sheets, and rough, heavy wool blankets. My Mom sent me a teddy bear for Valentine's day, and I would put it next to my cheek to sleep as everything else in the bed felt too harsh.

There was little heat, and the showers frequently overflowed. The toilets lacked seat covers, and the dinner served nightly was pasta and "siempre vitello" - veal being the cheapest meat in Rome at the time. All of the bedrooms overlooked a small courtyard with a fountain off in one corner. There were giant goldfish in this fountain, and I remember watching one of the workmen clean his brushes in the fountain. It apparently, did not bother the fish.

We loved the austerity of the place, the old nuns "keeping their difficult balance" as Wilber says, the cold marble floors, and the beautiful chapel - the last to be built by Boromini before his death. Actually, it was never finished as the patrons ran out of money.

And now, the nuns have passed away, many who had carried marks of starvation from WWII when they hid Jews in this convent. The "suori" fed us both breakfast and dinner, reprimanded us for our antics, and lovingly though harshly sometimes slapped our cheeks.

The Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori convent has been sold to a hotelier. The luxury and magnificence of the building belies the true love and growth that occurred there. Students would never be allowed to roll their oranges down the hall after dinner, or take their shoes off and skid down the carefully cleaned and swept floor, furtively watching out for the "suori" the whole time. The sinks in each room are now gone where every student dutifully washed their laundry, hanging it out on the balconies to dry. The metal beds that held studying students during the day, and sleeping students are night are replaced by velvet and silk monstrosities.

It is as if the convent has lost all character and personality. And so, this post is a requiem, perhaps, of that beautiful building and the nuns who were so long protectors of it.

Below are the pictures of what it is now. I will search around for pictures what it once was.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Evening with the Vazquez & Flat Stanley

Here's how I spent my Wednesday night!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested by Mary Ann

Staff Sgt. Jude Voss
Staff Sgt. Jude Voss
1st Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne)
U.S. Army

His courage illustrates a combat truth to these veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam: Soldiers aren¢t thinking about glory or ideals in the midst of a battle. They fight for the men to the left and right of them.

And that's just what SSgt. Jude Voss did in September of 2006 when, without consideration to his safety, SSgt. Voss ran through enemy fire and the burning, smoking debris of a truck to rescue Sgt. 1st Class Greg Stube. Sgt. Stube was in a bad way. Uniform burning and legs busted, but because of the actions of SSgt. Voss he is alive today.

Because of his actions that day, SSgt. Voss was nominated for and received the Silver Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action. "I did what everybody out there would do" Voss said. "I was just the closest guy."

You can read SSgt. Voss's story here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams. Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pope Honors the Irish - And why shouldn't he?

Irish Get Special Place for Corpus Christi Events Honors Recall Paul V and 1608 Flight of the Earls

ROME, MAY 21, 2008 ( Thursday's Corpus Christi procession led by Benedict XVI will have a historical flavor honoring the Irish. Students from the Pontifical Irish College will have a special role in the Corpus Christi Mass and procession. Deacons Colin Crossey from the Diocese of Down and Connor, and Shane Gallagher from the Diocese of Raphoe will participate in the Mass. And six other seminarians (four of whom are Irish) will flank the Pope as he processes with the Eucharist from the Basilicas of St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major.

The participation of the Irish College seminarians hearkens back 400 years to 1608 when Earl Hugh O'Neill and his party received the honor of carrying the canopy in the Corpus Christi procession. According to Monsignor Liam Bergin, Rector of the Pontifical Irish College, "The honor shown to the Irish Earls 400 years ago, by Pope Paul V, has been revisited on eight Irish College seminarians who will assist Pope Benedict in this procession tomorrow.
As this anniversary is being marked in Ireland and beyond by historical and cultural events, it is appropriate that the religious dimension is also acknowledged and that the welcome given to the Catholic princes four centuries ago, by the Holy See, be joyously celebrated today."

History O'Neill and his followers arrived in Rome on April 29, 1608, fleeing from Ireland. The party was received with full honors by Paul V and was given prominence at civil and religious events in the city. O'Neill, together with his son-in-law and six other nobles of his party, were given the particular honor of carrying the canopy in the Corpus Christi procession on June 5, 1608.

Tadhg Ó Cianáin's contemporary diary of the event records: "The Italians were greatly surprised that they should be shown such deference and respect, for some of them said that seldom before was any one nation in the world appointed to carry the canopy. With the ambassadors of all the Catholic kings and princes of Christendom who happened to be in the city at that time it was an established custom that they, in succession, every year got their opportunity to carry the canopy. They were jealous, envious, and surprised that they were not allowed to carry it on that particular day."

The 400th anniversary of the so-called flight of the Earls was widely celebrated in Ireland last year, as the party left Ireland on Sept. 14, 1607.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Marriage of True Minds

I love it when my favorite things come together, like the following:

1. Pope Benedict XVI in Yankee Stadium
2. Vanilla ice cream & warm apple crisp
3. New CD & a road trip
4. Eager student & old books

And the newest amazing pairing:

5. Country Music and Shakespeare - "To Quote Shakespeare" by The Clarke Family Experience.

Check it out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

O! The Ironies

Prince Charles is giving us 18 months to help the environment - or else ...

There was a time in our history when people were practically hostages to the weather. School could only be taught when the weather allowed children to get to the schoolhouse. Certain areas with extreme desert or tundra conditions were rendered inhabitable because there was no protection from the elements. Only those strong enough to endure harsh winters or harsh summer months would survive to adulthood. Travel was expensive, and costly not just in monetary terms, but also in terms of lives. One had to be rugged in order to endure a long trip without dying of disease, exposure or starvation.

In today's uber-technological world, it is absurd to schedule one's day around the weather. Employees are expected at work despite rain, wind or shine. Even times of flooding, blizzard of tornado are considered mere inconveniences that can be overcome in a matter of hours... or, in extreme cases, days. And yet, the heir to the British throne is telling us that billions of dollars MUST BE SPENT to stop deforestation and climate change.

Yes, this is heir to the same throne that successfully clear cut Ireland six hundred years ago. The Irish have survived. So can bonnie Prince Charlie.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wednesday Hero

Sorry I've been out for a week. I had a conference in Boston, and chaos at work. Be back soon!

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested By Cindy

Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Davila
Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Davila
From Sierra Vista, Arizona
U.S. Naval Reserve

On the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States, Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Davila raised an American flag over Camp Korean Village, Iraq, he brought with him from Arizona.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008, Sierra Vista firefighter and emergency medical technician Chris Davila presented that flag to Fire Chief Randy Redmond as fellow firefighters looked on. Monday, May 5, 2008, was Davila’s first day back on the job with the department after being gone for nearly nine months, with seven of those months deployed as a Navy Reserve corpsman serving with a Marine unit near the Jordanian and Syrian border area in Iraq.

And, as luck would have it, on his first shift saw him responding to a blaze in Sierra Vista. "Right back to work," he said with a laugh.

You can read the rest of PO 2nd Class Davila's story here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.