FOREVER CHANGED …

FOREVER CHANGED …

Nine days after the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington, I wrote an email to everyone in my address book at that time, family and friends alike. Today, as we commemorate the 17th anniversary of those attacks, I thought about that letter and how I described my feelings, the reactions in Rome and in Europe, and how people marked September 11th, one of the blackest days in American history.

I am in Honolulu on the tail end of my vacation time and it was fascinating today to re-read that email – which I entitled “Forever changed” – at a distance of 17 years and now I’d like to share it with you. I was working for the Vatican Information Service at the time.

A month ago I visited Ground Zero and the amazing Museum erected to memorialize that event and the lives of the 2,977 people who died. The memorial fountains honor 2,983 people as they added the name f the 6 people killed in an attack on the Twin Towers in 1993. Visiting the museum was like being in a cathedral – the feeling of awe, reverence and recollection has made this a spiritual site for so many. People spoke in very low tones, or they did not speak at all. It was extremely impressive.

I’ve created a slide show of some photos I took and will try at a later date to explain each picture.

Dear Family and friends,

I had all the best intentions of writing to you last week, following the horrific, unspeakable events in our nation, but too many things got in the way and time just ran out each day. I had just returned to Rome from the States so there was some jet lag, but mainly a great deal of work as soon as I came back. And then our days became filled with and dominated by nonstop CNN coverage of doubtless the most incredible week in our nation’s history. I am not sure the magnitude of that terrorist attack is truly implanted in my brain yet.

Please sit down and have a second cup of coffee for this will be a long letter. Today I wanted to share with you not only my feelings but life in Rome as of 2:46 p.m. (local time on Black Tuesday.

On September 11, just before 3 p.m. Rome time (9a.m. in NYC), my colleague Alfonso called from his office next to mine and told me to turn on CNN to see something horrendous. I did so and thought for about one minute that I was looking at a horrible plane accident. And then I saw – right there on my screen, bigger than life – a second plane directly hit the other Twin Tower – and I knew it was terrorism. I was riveted to the screen, my brain not yet totally processing what my eyes had seen – and then the news that the Pentagon was burning! And then that a fourth plane, with terrorist commandos, had crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. Real became surreal.

The impossible became possible.

I watched TV in the office for a few hours and then went home. Since my satellite dish has not been working since July, I watched a bit of Italian news and then took a nap, trying to shake off jet lag, and later joined American friends for dinner that night at their house. These were times when one craved the company and comfort of friends, especially American friends.

The next hours and days the TV became like another limb on my body – I could not get through the days without it – especially because we were cut off from America. For a day or two it was tough or impossible to reach New York and Washington via phone and for a number of days there was no physical way to get to the United States from Rome – or anywhere else in the world. You’ll never understand that feeling – although some of you to whom I’m writing live in Rome or abroad so you DO understand.

I know all of you have been watching TV and I am sure you are fully aware of the support for the U.S. around the world – the candlelight vigils and processions, the myriad church services, the flying of flags at half mast, the countless bouquets of flowers laid near embassies or consulates, the Europeans who stopped their American friends – or even strangers – to pat their arms, express their condolences, give them a hug, buy them a meal or ask if they needed someone to be near them.

The three young children of an American colleague of mine in the press office all asked Joy if they could donate blood to help the wounded Americans. My friends at ZI GAETANA’s restaurant in Rome helped some of the Americans stranded here last week by offering them their meals. I am sure such stories were repeated throughout Italy – and the world.

I am also sure you saw the extraordinarily moving images of how Europe mourned last Friday when everyone and everything stopped for 3 minutes at noon and stores kept their doors closed for 10 minutes starting at noon.

Whoever they were – simple citizens, government leaders, tourists, salespeople, business men and women – alone, in twos, groups of 10, 100 and 100,000 – and wherever they were at noon – at outdoor markets, in churches, touring, eating lunch in a fancy restaurant or a fast food place, at work in factories, offices and stores – they simply stopped, frozen in their tracks, silent in prayer and reflection for 3 minutes. It was like the biblical story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt.

To see the images on the Italian news that afternoon and evening was remarkable, moving and unforgettable. One station played “Amazing Grace” for 3 minutes and simply showed images of how Europeans stopped, put their lives on hold for 3 minutes and mourned.

Here in the Vatican the staff members of each office in the Roman Curia prayed the angelus at noon and sang the requiem. I sincerely hope you all saw the unforgettable pictures of an anguished Pope John Paul praying in his private chapel at Castelgandolfo. And, in a first in the history of weekly general audiences, the Holy Father dedicated his weekly catechesis during the September 12 audience in St. Peter’s Square, not to a religious or spiritual theme, but entirely to the attack in the United States. And that is what my show on Vatican Radio that Wednesday was dedicated to – as were many shows in many languages.

Italians have called and written me (and just about every American living in this great country) to express their condolences, horror, indignation, disbelief, anger and support for our country. They have also expressed in recent days their fears that the U.S. will retaliate in such a way that they will stoop to the level of the terrorists and ending up killing innocent people. Europeans, to a man, woman and child, have said they are all Americans now. Every Italian who has spoken to me has said how well they know that their country, that Europe, would not be what it is today had it not been for America during and after World War II – especially the Marshall Plan. “For once in our lives, we can now help America,” is what they tell me.

As the hours, then the days, then the first week passed, feelings have changed very little. If anything they are more profound. The mourning will be lengthy, the anger deep, the revulsion everlasting. All of us STILL want to wake up – because we know this was all just a terrible nightmare and things will be right when dawn comes and the sun rises and warms us and dissipates the darkness that surrounds us.

Like it or not, we have awakened ,only to discover that this has not been a dream or a nightmare but rather our worst nightmare come true. And the full impact will come in small ways and large: a greater police presence at monuments, embassies, government buildings, military bases and “symbols” such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s, etc. There will be more requests for IDs as we move about, and also a terrific impact on the world of travel – passengers, airline employees, travel agents, airport employees and so on.

I’d like to interject two personal notes here: 1. I don’t mind if some of my rights are abbreviated if the new measures being enacted will help to eradicate terrorism in the world; 2. I do not agree with the media who feel that the public “has a right” to know everything that is going on. We do not have a right – nor do we need to know what the government is planning. I don’t want America to cease being an open society – but we don’t have to know what the CIA, FBI, etc., etc., are doing to entrap and/or capture terrorists, to infiltrate their organizations, to destroy their economic base.

This past Sunday at 10:30 at the church of Santa Susanna here in Rome, the parish for Americans which has been run by the Paulist Fathers since 1922, there was an extraordinarily touching and beautiful Mass for the victims and families and friends of the victims of this attack. American Cardinal Edmund Szoka presided, about 50 priests (one of whom lost a relative) concelebrated and I was honored to be one of the three lectors. There were so many people that they flowed out of the church and onto the adjacent piazza. The new ambassador to the Holy See, Jim Nicholson was there with his wife Suzanne, as well as former Ambassador Thomas Melady and his wife, Margaret. A surprise guest, who found himself stranded in Rome after the attacks, was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his wife.

Father Paul Robichaud, our rector, gave a beautiful homily and tried to answer the questions “Where was God?” and “Why did God allow this to happen?” Half of Sunday’s collection will be sent to New York to help the families of the victims.
At the end of Mass Cardinal Szoka offered some stirring reflections in both English and Italian and then Ambassador Nicholson spoke. He had paper in front of him but rarely looked at it – the words came straight from his heart. As we processed out of church, we three lectors were last and Richard Zaccaroli carried the U.S. flag – which received an enormous round of applause. We stood outside the church and sang patriotic songs, reluctant to leave each other.

I know that what we did here in Rome was repeated thousands of time, in tens of thousands of churches, all around the world. Our fears, our hurt and anger, our pride, our solidarity, our patriotism, our hopes, our prayers – the entire spectrum of emotions – you felt and lived these and so did we.

Well, dear family and friends, I think that is it for now. I’m sure I will think of things I missed, but thanks for hanging in there.

A closing note before I leave you: I have a colorful sign on my desk that I’d like to share with you: “Don’t just live the length of your life, Live the width of it as well.”

God bless you one and all! May He protect you and yours – and may He give you an extra big hug today!

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VATICAN INSIDER AND FR. REGGIE, A PAPAL LATINIST FOR 40 YEARS – SO YOU THINK LATIN IS A DEAD LANGUAGE? READ ON!

VATICAN INSIDER AND FR. REGGIE, A PAPAL LATINIST FOR 40 YEARS

Tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend for my visit with a man who made some history at the Vatican! I recently spent some delightful time in Milwaukee with Discalced Carmelite Fr. Reginald Foster, the papal Latinist for 40 years and you’ll hear Part I of our conversation this coming weekend.

Fr. Reggie is a living legend! He likes to be called Fr. Reggie – or even by his name in Latin, Reginaldus! He worked for 40 years at the Vatican in the Secretariat of State office for Latin translations – from 1969 to 2009 – and for 30 plus years taught Latin at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome. A prodigious producer and translator of documents for Popes, Father Reggie was known as the Papal Latinist.

And he designed this: https://twitter.com/pontifex_ln?lang=en If you want to learn Latin, go to the papal twitter site in your language, read the last tweet posted and then go to the Latin twitter site for the tranlation!

Now semi-retired, Fr. Reggie lives in his native Milwaukee but still teaches Latin several days a week, and students come from around the world for his summer courses! He converses as easily in Latin as you and I do in our native tongue. This is an interview you won’t want to miss! As you will see, he loves to wear the clothing of the several generations of plumbers in his family – that is part of the legend!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

SO YOU THINK LATIN IS A DEAD LANGUAGE? READ ON!

Tempus fugit: Time flies!

Have you ever used that expression?! Perhaps you have, not realizing it was Latin even though you knew what it meant! Maybe you’ve never used it but should, just for fun!

As you will see in the following expressions, you use Latin more than you think every day. Many thanks to http://forreadingaddicts.co.uk/language/latin-phrases-still-use-today/18753

Et cetera: This is probably the most common Latin phrase that we all use in writing. This is the actual spelling but we use the abbreviated form etc. Meaning and the others it is used to denote that a list of things could continue ad infinitum and that for the sake of brevity it’s better to just wrap things up with a simple etc.
Vice Versa: Another commonly used phrase in written as well as oral communication is vice versa which translates as the positions being reversed.
Ad infinitum: You might be able to guess what this phrase means simply through its similarity to the word we use in English. It means to infinity and can be used to describe something that goes on, endlessly.
Mea culpa: This Latin phrase that translates literally to my fault is a fancier, less outdated way of saying my bad.
Persona non grata: From the Latin meaning an unacceptable person this term designates someone who’s no longer welcome in a social or business situation.
In vitro: We are familiar with this term from medical vocabulary because of modern fertility treatments, but in Latin, in vitro actually means in glass and any biological process that occurs in the laboratory rather than in the body or a natural setting can be called in vitro.
In vivo: In vivo on the other hand, means within the living and the two most common examples of this kind of experimentation are animal testing and clinical trials.
Other common phrases from the same field are-
Post mortem: after death
Post partum: after childbirth
Rigor mortis: stiffness of death

Law, judiciary, politics and the education corps also use a lot of Latin vocabulary:
Ad hoc: for this purpose
Bona fide: in good faith
Ex tempore: without preparation
Lingua franca: common language
Prima facie: at first sight
Alias: an assumed name or pseudonym
Sub poena: under penalty of
Curriculum vitae: the course of one’s life-in business/ a lengthened resume
Versus: against
Circa: around/ approximately
Status Quo: current situation
Habeas Corpus: a court order instructing that a person under arrest be brought before a judge
Verbatim: in the exact same words

The list must definitely include the phrases very often used in mathematics, literature as well as economics like:
Ceteris paribus: all things being equal
Post scriptum: written later (abbreviated as P.S.)
Ante meridiem: before noon (A.M.)
Post meridiem: after noon (P.M.)
Per annum: by the year
Per capita: by the person

There’s also this: https://www.inklyo.com/latin-phrases-you-use-every-day/

Joan 1, Technology 0

Just a line to share the news that, while I have a new computer and the improved technology has made my life better, there are still wrinkles to iron out. I am winning the technology battle but one of the still-to-be-resolved issues is that I can access my blog on WordPress but I cannot enter to add, correct, or change a text or add photos. For now,I can post via iPad, but with some limitations….thanks for understanding! I am posting on Facebook so pay a visit! Grazie!

JOAN 1, TECHNOLOGY 0

My new computer is up and running but there are many wrinkles yet to be ironed out, programs installed, etc. In any case, i am in better shape than yesterday and trying to conquer all that is new in technology.

Of the many things I cannot do as I have done on my previous computer, one is posting a column on Joan’s Rome….I can access my blog on WordPress but cannot enter to write, correct, post photos, etc. thus, these few words, posted via my iPad, with its various limitations, are an alert that this column may not always be be updated daily.

I am keeping up with people and news and events on Facebook so you can go there daily….thanks for understanding!

TECHNOLOGY 1, JOAN 0

After multiple attempts to post even a brief line on my blog, using my near-death computer and an auxiliary notebook that I have, both of which have failed me ignominiously in the last 48 hours, i have turned to my iPad which has proved to be a more faithful companion in these difficult days. This brief note is to explain my absence Friday and my likely absence tomorrow in this column. I have been able to post ….to re-post, actually….some news stories on Facebook to keep you informed but have not been able to post my Joan’s Rome column, photos, etc.

And that has been a shame because, for example, I had an amazing day yesterday in my home, sharing coffee, a Christmas panettone and great conversation with Alveda King! I will get those photos to you as soon as my new computer is up and running with all the new programs installed, etc. Alveda and I first met a few years ago through Priests for Life when Father Frank Pavone was marking the 20th anniversary of that organization he founded. Joining Alveda and me were Bob LaLonde of PFL and Geoffrey Stickland who helps the PFL Rome office and is one of the organizers of a conference Alveda is in town to attend, the Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs.

She did a Facebook live in my office where I interviewed her for Vatican Insider and I did share that on Facebook today. She also posted a great blog about her trip to Rome…..her first time!…. and I will post a link to that as soon as possible.

In late afternoon yesterday, I interviewed Msgr. Robert Vitillo, director general of ICMC, the International Catholic Migration Commission. We had a truly amazing conversation about the work ICMC does throughout the world with millions of refugees, migrants and internally displaced peoples. (IDP)

Tuesday should be a thumbs-up day for the new computer, although I fully realize there will be many new things I will have to learn and that may take some additional time. I have a wonderfully talented friend, Alessandro, who works for SKY Italia and he has been a genius in assisting me technically over the years. I am counting on Alessandro….and St. Gabriel and St. Francis de Sales!

Hope you are having a fruitful Advent, a wonderful weekend and that December 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception was an especially meaningful feast for you.

THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN……

…….sometimes go astray!

I have never used the WordPress.com app in my iPad so this is just a test. As I wait for my laptop to reboot and start functioning (I have been trying for well over an hour since my return from the EWTN offices where I looked at new computers online), i just want to announce possible delays of a day, or even more, in posting blog columns if these issues persist. It is easy to post on Facebook but some blog readers have access to only wordpress, not FB, so this announcement is for you.
Well, let’s see what haspens when I hit POST!