Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Rome Journey: Part Three

I began blogging about my recent journey to Rome for the Church Up Close conference for Catholic journalists. Part one is here and part two is here in case you haven't had a chance to read them.

I left off where I was taking a little rest in the homeless shelter, graciously allowed by the MC sisters in Rome.

 I got up from a very short rest, straightened up the bedspread on the bed and made my way over to the chapel to prepare for Mass.

The chapel was beautifully decorated for Mother's feast day. How comforting it felt to be there in that holy and loving place. Time stood still for me at Mass. God was blessing me, I had no doubt. I spoke to Him about all of His blessings for me and asked for a place to stay that night until I could get the keys the following day to where I was supposed to be staying.

The Mother Superior told me that a family she knew (who didn't speak English) would take me right after this Mass over to the other convent across town where the 7:00 PM Mass would be held. I had previously got word to my friend Mary while still in the U. S. (who was going to the Church Up Close conference as well) about the 7:00 PM Mass and hoped that she may be able to attend too.

After the Mass, another sister whom I met last year gave me a big hug outside the chapel. Feeling so filled with grace after the Mass, it was extraordinary to hear her words to me. She said something like,

"Donna-Marie! Mother Teresa brought you here to us this day - her feast day! She wanted you to be in our shelter and feel these feelings!"

It was as if she read my mind and heard my heart! I felt that her words to me were such an amazing confirmation about my earlier conversation with our Lord! God is so good. I was extremely thankful for His loving care and was so happy and humbled that He allowed me to experience all of this on dear Mother's feast day.

I talked a bit with sister there outside the chapel and then went to get my luggage and give more of my books to the Mother Superior. Then, it was off with the generous family who drove me across town to the other convent. It was there in the monastery next door that I was told I'd stay for the night.

Upon arriving to the big church next to the convent, I had to get my HUGE suitcase up the many stairs that led to the church. The kind gentleman who drove me assisted me. I felt that I needed to constantly apologize for my heavy suitcase. When you're an author, you bring your books to give away, and books are heavy! They didn't understand a word I said which made it all the more embarrassing.

I went over to the convent to see if I could let Sister S. know I had arrived. But, I was told that she wasn't there yet. She was over at Mother Teresa's exhibit. As I headed over for Mass, I turned a corner and there was the Cardinal coming towards me, reaching out his hand. I took it and kissed his ring. God was blessing me again!

I made my way into the huge crowd to find a seat for Mass. Droves of MC sisters filled the church along with the laity. Many of the sisters humbly sat in the back over to the side and on the floor. I squeezed through some people with my lap top computer case hanging on one shoulder and my purse on the other and managed to get a seat a couple of rows from the back of the packed church.

"Wow, two Masses on Mother's feast day - God is good!" I thought. The music started and Mass was beginning. I bowed my head in prayer and then just moments later felt someone tapping on my shoulder from behind. I turned to face a MC nun.

"Donna, it's me, Sister S., please come with me." She took me by the hand and led me through the crowd standing in the back of the church because she wanted to speak with me outside.

"Donna, where will you be staying tonight? We can't put you up here. It's a men's shelter," she explained. My heart sank and I felt that little tear well up in my eye again (exhaustion can do that to you).

"Oh, that's okay, Sister, I thought I was staying here but my friend Mary may be at this Mass and I'll see if I can arrange something or find a hotel." Sister said she'd be praying that Mary would be there. And I knew that it was getting later by the moment (and this would be a long holy Mass) and I wasn't sure where I would end up - would any hotels have vacancies?

I went back to my seat, set down my things and prayed. "Oh, Lord, what am I to do? But, thank you for bringing me to this holy place, I know You have a plan. I surrender everything over to You."

I felt our Lord tell me "I had no place to lay my head." I thanked Him profusely for allowing me to feel these feelings and to have the grace and really no other choice than to depend on Him.

To be continued...

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