I'm back from Rome, and I'm all tired out. I think I'm getting a cold, too.
If you were interested in what I was up to during the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, I hope you went to LSN to read my reports. I wrote an awful lot.
This was my daily schedule for three weeks:
6:15 AM (latest): Get up, make first coffee.
6:40 AM (ideally): Start walking to Mass.
7:15 AM: Mass.
8:00 AM: Start walking back to flat.
8:30 AM: Stop in cafe for cappuccino and croissant at the counter.
8:35 AM: Continue walking back to flat.
8:45 AM: Wash the dishes or pick up a bit.
9:00 AM: Writing time!
Write, write, write, write, write, write.
1:00 PM: Start walking to the Sala Stampa (Vatican Press Office)
1:15 PM: Arrive at Sala Stampa and get translation machine from the nice young men in suits. Find seat and gawk at all the famous Catholic journalists: Edward Pentin, Robert Royal, Sandro Magister, Michael Voris (for the first week), JD Flynn, Christopher Altieri, Ines San Martin, Cindy Wooden (I think), Fr. Thomas Reese, Austen Ivereigh, Christopher Lamb. Eventually Krystian Kratiuk from Polonia Christiana arrived, too.
1:30 PM (approx) PRESS CONFERENCE
2:30 PM: Stand around awkwardly and then start walking back to flat
2:40 PM: Gelato until I gave it up in reparation for the Pachamama craziness
2:55 PM (approx): Write some more. Or shoot news videos.
Write, write, write, write.
During the second of the three weeks, Benedict Ambrose stopped by. I seem to recall he got up early two or three times and went to Mass with me. We had dinner together a few times. He brought a map. He took the map away again. One of my favourite memories of my Roman assignment was crossing the Piazza Navona with my colleague Jim and seeing the phone-less B.A. bouncing along the piazza himself, bound for a glass of wine at our favourite restaurant before going to an Early Music concert. Of course, I ran like mad to catch up with him, and we all sat down together. B.A. mostly spent the week looking at pretty churches. He enjoyed being able to do this at a leisurely pace, no impatient wife wanting only to go to lunch.
I saw expat or pilgrim friends in Rome a few times, too. That was nice. Mostly Americans, but also an Irish priest, a Scottish seminarian, an English ex-seminarian, a German student, and a Polish student. I did no sightseeing (yay!) except to climb the Janiculum Hill and I felt very tired, cross, hot and bored when I got to the top. Oh, I got into Vatican City for an event (as you may have read) and got lost on the way out again, so that might have been sightseeing, in a way.
Naturally I saw Pope Francis (from the press galleries set up in St. Peter's) and dozens of cardinals and bishops, including my own Scottish bishop. I met a life peeress, since we were both lost at the same time and place.
It will take me a while to process everything I learned and experienced reporting on the Synod. I think, in the main, it would be a good idea for everyone to earn and save as much money as they can and also to live as simple a life as they can manage. More than that I dare not write today.