Like many of you, I lead a very ordinary life. I work an ordinary job, fight the ordinary traffic, and come home to an ordinary family. This morning I awoke in my ordinary way, poured myself an ordinary cup of coffee, kissed my ordinary husband good-bye as he left for work, threw an ordinary load of laundry in the washer and greeted my ordinary children as they arrived downstairs for their ordinary breakfast. I went to Mass, (which of course, is never ordinary and therefore is always a highlight of my day) and afterward my ordinary son asked me to please bring his ordinary gym clothes to school because he forgot them at home. So, I skipped my ordinary workout at the YMCA and returned to my ordinary home for the gym clothes. While there, I had a few minutes to check my email and facebook messages and I found a message which was far from ordinary, and suddenly, upon reading it and feeling the joy and love it contained, to know that there is so much beauty in the Catholic Church, made everything feel different, beautiful, holy-quite extraordinary.
You see, my dear friend, Bishop Hying, has been living in Rome for the past two weeks attending what he calls "Bishop School" with his fellow newly ordained bishops from around the world. Although he is an experienced world traveler and has been to Rome many times, this experience is so different and new because he has never been to Rome as a bishop before. He has been generously posting notes to his facebook page about his Roman experiences so that his 400+ facebook friends may vicariously travel along with him. He has shared stories about the people he has met, the discussions he has encountered, including whether or not bishops should be on facebook (to which I give a resounding "yes!" and they should write blogs, too!) and about the weather and the beautiful Roman moon.
Bishop Hying would probably say that his life is usually very ordinary as well, but the words that he posted today were about an experience that is far beyond extraordinary, in fact, he called this day "Magic." His words made me feel as if I had been sitting right by his side in the Castel Gandolfo Courtyard. Reading about the bishop's day has lit a magic fire within my own heart and I am so grateful that he has agreed to my request to re-post his words here on this ordinary blog so that you, dear reader, may feel the magic as well! Our lives may seem to be very ordinary, it's true, but when God grants us the opportunities to become keenly aware of His goodness through the blessings of a loving family, beautiful friends and the gift of faith found in the Catholic Church, ordinary is really quite outstanding, and through the sharing of our life experiences we all join into an extraordinary community united in His tender care for all of us as siblings in faith, the children of God.
"Today, all 110 bishops got on two buses, drove out to Castel Gondolfo, the pope's summer residence, for an audience with the Holy Father. I sat in expectation, listening to the babble of German, Spanish, Italian, French,Portuguese, Arabic and English around me, as I conversed with Auxiliary Bishop Arthur Kennedy of Boston, who was part of the Apostolic Visitation of St. Francis Seminary back in 2005. We got to the beautiful little town in the hills outside of Rome and entered the papal residence. There we all were, in our bishop's cassocks, sitting on chairs in the heat of the inner courtyard, watching the Swiss Guard as they silently stood at their posts by the big wooden doors. I felt like a child at Disneyland for the first time! Suddenly, the pope came down the stairs and we found ourselves on our feet applauding loudly. He gave us a talk in Italian about the role of a bishop in the Church today (I didn't grasp most of it--I guess I need to study Italian!) and then we each went up to meet him, for all of 10 seconds. What an honor and blessing to kiss his ring, say hello and assure him that the great Catholics of Milwaukee love him and are praying for him daily. How human and holy he is, our Holy Father! He was genuinely happy to be with us! Coming back, we had a great lunch and the seminarians at the place we are staying put on a live concert. Amazingly beautiful!! I will never forget this day. All of you were with me in spirit and I offered my Mass today for your intentions! My heart is overflowing. Love and prayers to all!"