7th April, 2009 (Tuesday in Holy Week)

{Logged on Wednesday 8th . I am not entirely a happy boy tonight. Despite a great day, there were many issues surrounding the pilgrimage that still need to be worked out. On top of this, I still have not resolved the internet access problem AND I have just discovered – after having packed my pipe with tobacco for the first time in about four days – that I don’t have a lighter on me. Bum. But I am sitting out in the upstairs courtyard where Cathy and I have just enjoyed an evening’s repast under the full moon that heralds the start of Passover, and I guess life isn’t too bad…}
Today was our pilgrimage to Assisi. It began very early, as I found that I could not kick the habit that had developed over recent months and woke at 4am – even if it was Roman time. I went downstairs to the entrance lobby where I made myself a cup of coffee in the slot machine (surprisingly good actually – it must be a proper espresso machine of some kind) and bought a croissant in the other slot machine, upon which I breakfasted while writing up the previous entry.

Cathy came down to see how I was going, and suggested that we get ready for the day and also join the Missionary Sisters of Charity next door for morning mass. We were a bit rushed and not entirely ready to leave by the time 6:30am came around, so we dashed down and around the corner and rang the bell. We were admitted into the chapel where about thirty (mostly young) nuns and novices were gathered. I don’t know the name of the Englishman who said mass, but it was a terrifically interesting and educative and evocative sermon on the role of the Beloved Disciple in the passion narrative of St John as compared to the place of Peter.

I thought at one point that Cathy was having an attack of hay fever, but realised then that she was actually weeping tears – moved by the simple spirituality of the eucharist in the company of these dedicated women. And it was a great privilege to be there. Communion was in both kinds, but with the priest intincting the host in the cup, and giving it to us while one novice held the chalice and another held the communion plate under our mouths.

We had to really rush after the end of mass to get to the Colosseo Metro station and then to the Termini, where we bought tickets (as directed by Maria Pinto from the Incontrini.Romani / Focolare movement guides) for the 7:55am direct train t Assisi. These cost us €9.50 each way. We had to run then to catch the train at the platform at the other end of the station and jumped onto the first carriage. Soon after the train left the station, the ticket inspector came along and politely but firmly informed us that we were second class passengers and that we were sitting in the first class carriage. We both agreed that the quality of the accommodation and seating was rather extraordinary. We walked back and found seats in the commoners carriage, which was not quite so comfortable.

We had the good fortune of sitting next to a woman who came from Armidale in NSW. She was on a holiday, travelling on her own, planning to meet up with friends in Florence. She was a woman who enjoyed conversation (let us say) and it certainly whiled away the two hours and a bit that it took us to travel to Assisi. The Italian/Umbrian countryside is truly very beautiful.

Arriving at Assisi Station, we found that we were a short walk away from the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels of the Portiuncola.

(I haven’t gotten around to finishing writing up my notes for this day yet, so stay tuned)

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “7th April, 2009 (Tuesday in Holy Week)

  1. Herman

    Dear David

    There is a positive about not having a lighter for your pipe. Since you know where I work, and you work just up the road from me, I think making the loss of your lighter a permanent thing is a good idea. This way you will be able to continue your good work and you will not join me as a patient at the place where I work. It is not that I dont like to see you there but I prefer to see you in good health and happy breathing. I would also like to see you live a long and healthy life

    Yes, I also use to smoke a pipe many moons ago But we simply love you too much not to be concerned about you.

    • I am not addicted to the pipe, Herman, as the fact that I went for six days without it shows, but I do find it enjoyable and relaxing. The pipe may kill me, but I find that life has a way of coming to an end eventually, and I may also get hit by a bus in Italy after I failed to look the right (ie. wrong) way before stepping across the road. In fact, the latter is far more likely.

  2. Matthias

    The great Baptist preacher CH Spurgeon was taking a carriage ride with a whole lot of Anglican bishops ,when they all took out their pipes began to light up. Spurgeon cried out “gentlemen,please” ,they put away their pipes and looked very embarrassed. Spurgeon then took out a large cigar and lit it up.
    True story

  3. Hehehe. Love that story, Matthias! Yep, I love a cigar myself. So does Nick.