This past Thursday the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education said mass in St. Peter's for the new academic year and all the students of the Athenea and Ecclesiastical Universities of Rome were invited. I was tempted not to go because it was raining(and it rained hard -I got soaked to the bone and my cassock weighed a ton because the wool had soaked up all that water!). But that afternoon I was over at Santa Croce for a meeting and one of the priest professors there came up to me and asked me if I was going to the mass - I hemmed and hawed - but then he said, well, you can't pass this opportunity up and handed me a main concelebration ticket of which there were only about 100, i.e. a front row seat! Turns out, these were given only to professors. But apparently some didn't want to go and had done the same thing as this one at Santa Croce. Anyway, what an opportunity! I got to vest and process in for the mass. I even got a front row seat:
Now of course this was taken after mass! But it is where I was seated.
At the end of mass, we all remained in our places because the Pope came to give us a talk. That is what made my seating so awesome! He came and stood not ten feet away from where I was seated:
And no, to anyone who asks - I wasn't able to shake his hand - even though I had a white main concelebrant ticket I didn't have a golden ticket (cue the music from Charlie and the Choclate Factory). Literally, I didn't have the yellowish gold shake-the-pope's-hand ticket. These were reserved to the rectors of the universities. But being that close was good enough for me! And to think, I wasn't even going to go.
To top it all off, afterwards when we divested, we were able to go right up to the Pieta of Michelangelo (i.e. behind the glass wall protecting it).
Notice that there is no glass between me and the Pieta!
That little set of events brought me back up after a grueling week of classes and the rainy weather. Deo Gratias!