“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR CELL PHONES”

Various business appointments took up my morning and I spent much of the afternoon looking at new computers at a great store called Euronics (found several winning possibilities to replace my computer,which actually has worked all day!). Euronics has all imagineable types of electronics, household items from pocketsize to refrigerators and whatever fascinating new gadget is on the market. Euronics is not on any main bus route and so I took a taxi and had a fascinating learning experience.

I hailed a taxi in front of my house and on the side was written ‘mytaxi’. Taxi companies in Rome are usually known by their four-digit phone number, preceded by Rome’s area code, thus 06-3570 is one company, 06-6445 is another. Often their FB page or wesbite is the same number. I always enjoy chatting with taxi drivers, wherever in the world I travel, as they have their pulse on all sorts of matters. In Italy, conversations focus mostly on soccer and politics but often drivers can advise restaurants and stores – or give you advice about taxis.

My first driver today told me about the mytaxi app and I downloaded it as we rode to the store. Mytaxi is a service, as I have learned in only two rides, that far beats Uber here in Rome. Taxi drivers here must be licensed, have their photos taken, have insurance, etc. and they pay a very hefty fee for their license – kind of like the Medallion fees in New York.

Uber drivers have none of the same requirements and they pay only €5,000 for a license, compared to €150,000 or more a taxi driver pays. There have been strikes by taxis here because of Uber – there will be another one November 21.

In any event, when you use the mytaxi app, you know the driver’s name, the make of car, how far away (or close) they are, cell phone number, etc….this is all similar to what Uber shows you in my experience in the States. When you sign up for mytaxi, you insert your name and cell phone number and email. You may pay in cash or by credit card but you do not have to insert a credit card number on the app form if you do not wish.

Mytaxi is offered in 70 plus cities in Europe and only recently came to Italy – is in Milan and Rome. It is a service of Mercedes Benz. I’ve only met two drivers on my first ‘mytaxi’ day but they were wonderful and very enthusiastic about mytaxi.

I am going to such lengths about this service because many of my readers live in Rome, and so many others travel to Italy and Europe. I’d use this over Uber in Rome any day – and, by the way, it will generally cost less. AND, you can earn bonuses in a number of ways – perhaps €5 or 10 for reccomending mytaxi to a friend.

As far as I know – but I will double check – they can’t come to the airport to pick you up as there are already long lines of official white taxis waiting outside the arrival halls and they have fixed fares to Rome (€48 from Fiumicino).

Joan’s Rome Tip of the Day!

“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR CELL PHONES”

I really loved the Pope’s catechesis at the general audience today, especially his off the cuff remarks about Who we receive in the Eucharist – the Lord! – and the awe we should have at the consecration in particular and when we receive the Lord in communion!

He mentioned the Eucharist as that is the focus of his new series of catecheses. In fact, he announced today, Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Today begins a new series of catecheses devoted to the Eucharist.  The Mass is the very ‘heart’ of the Church and the source of her life.  How many martyrs have died to defend the Eucharist!  Their witness confirms our Lord’s promise that by partaking of his body and blood we pass with him from death to life (cf. Jn 6:54).

“At every celebration of Mass,” said Francis, “our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.  The liturgical renewal called for by Second Vatican Council sought to help the faithful understand more fully and share more fruitfully in the Eucharist.  At Mass, Jesus becomes truly present and allows us in some way, like the Apostle Thomas, to touch his flesh and renew our faith in him.   In coming weeks, we will seek to grow in our appreciation of this great gift, so as to share more fully in its spiritual riches and beauty, which give ultimate meaning and direction to our lives.”

The Pope said he wanted “to give some answers to important questions about the Eucharist and the Mass in coming catecheses in order to re-discover, or perhaps discover, how the love of God shines through this mystery!

Explaining that, for Christians, it is essential to understand the meaning and the value of Holy Mass in order to be able to fully live our relationship with God, he added: “We cannot forget the great number of Christians who, in the entire world in two thousand years of history, have resisted until death in order to defend the Eucharist.” And there are those who, yet today, “risk their lives to participate at Sunday Mass”.

The Pope recalled the history of Christians in North Africa who were caught celebrating Mass in 304, during the persecutions by the Roman Emperor Diocletian: “When asked why they had faced such danger, the Christians said that their Christian life would end if they did not go to Mass.”

Those Christians, he said, were killed and became witnesses of the Eucharist, which they chose over their mortal lives.

The Holy Father explained that the word Eucharist means thanksgiving, because we thank God for allowing us to receive him.

Then, in the following remarks, many of which were off the cuff, the Pope said, “the Eucharist is a marvelous event in which Jesus Christ, our life, is present. To participate in Mass is to live once again the passion and redeeming death of the Lord. It’s a theophany, the Lord is present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. The Lord is there with us, present.

Impromptu: “So many times we go there, we look around at things, we chat among ourselves while the priest is celebrating the Eucharist, and we don’t celebrate with him. But it is the Lord! If today the president of the Republic or some other very important person of the world came here, I am sure we all would be close to him we would want to greet him. But just think when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you’re distracted – it’s the Lord! We must think about this” ‘But, Father, you say, Masses are boring’. ‘But what are you saying! The Lord is boring!’ No, no, the Mass is not, the priest is’ Then priests must convert, but it is the Lord who is there – do you understand? Don’t forget it – to participate in Mass is to live once again the passion and redeeming and death of the Lord.”!

“Now, Francis continued, “let’s ask some simple questions of the Lord.

“For example why do we make the sign of the cross and say the penitential act at the start of Mass? Here I want to make a little parentheses: Have you seen how children make the sign of the cross – you have no idea what they’re doing. If it’s the sign of the cross or they’re designing something (and with his hands the Pope gestures like child drawing). We have to teach children how to make the sign of the cross well. That begins Mass, that begins life, that begins the day. This means that we are redeemed with the cross of the Lord. Look at children and teach them to make a good sign of the cross.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “sometimes, at a certain point, the priest who presides the celebration says ‘Lift up our hearts’. He doesn’t say, “lift up our cell phones to take a picture!’ No, that’s a terrible thing, and I must say that I feel so much sadness when I celebrate Mass here in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cell phones raised up, not only by the faithful but also by priests and bishops. Please – Mass is not a spectacle, it’s going to meet the Lord and for this reason, the priest says “Lift up our hearts.’ What does this mean? No cell phones!”

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