One Reason Being in Rome, Though Wonderful,
Being in Rome intensifies many things, because in Rome one sees so much of the universality, the catholicity of the Church. One sees more problems from around the world than simply what we hear from CNN and The Economist. One sees how there really is something for everybody within the Catholic Church.
Today, for example, I had a chance to go the Pontifical Commission for Interreligious Dialogue. This was very interesting indeed, because I was with a class (not your everyday sort of field trip) in which I am probably one of maybe three people total (out of the whole class) who are neither a priest or a nun and one of maybe a third of my class who is Caucasion. Accents are thick, the universality is blatant. Imagine a class of Filipino priests and African (not African American) nuns and you're starting to get the picture.
These priests and nuns see everything! People--both the rich and the poor--come to them for help. Imagine questions from these priests and nuns about how we, the Church, are to respond to violence by Muslims (not in New York, but on the local streets of Nigeria), how we are to deal with politicians with their own agenda, how we are to break down walls which divide, and the like. Now imagine that these questions are being answered by a priest in the Roman curia (the upper hierarchy) who has the authority to set up meetings with the Pope directly for interreligious matters.
It's hard to be a lay person from the American suburbs and come away from experiences like this the same. A class with no notes: just listening and an attempt to soak it all in. Tough! And that's just today.
In this picture (sitting next to me in St. Peter's on Good Friday), are some of the most amazing people I've ever met: a few Missionaries of Charity I've gotten to know personally. Ten minutes with them is an accidental, tough lesson on how to live.