Attending Mass in Rome not quite as easy as you’d think
posted at 7:25 am on March 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
A quick observation on my first Sunday here in Rome …
I had figured that it would be easy to find a church nearby my hotel in Rome, because … well, it’s Rome, right? When I asked the hotel’s clerk, however, she seemed a bit nonplussed. She suggested the Vatican at first, but that’s nearly a mile away. I was hoping to give my sore legs and feet a little relief today after walking back and forth from the media center both Friday (twice) and Saturday (once, blessedly). Part of the reason for this is that my hotel is, I have discovered, off the beaten path for tourists and pilgrims, and is in more of a government-office section of town. It’s nice, but not as active as Campo di Fiori or Piazza della Repubblica, where we stayed the last time.
The clerk then suggested a church here in the neighborhood, but I misunderstood her directions in English — my fault, not hers — and didn’t see any church at all. I consulted my GPS system to find the nearest church, and it was 1.1 kilometers away, almost the same as walking to the Vatican. Finally, as I headed back, I realized the church she pointed out was practically in the same building as the hotel, just around the corner from the entrance, and looks nothing like a church from the outside.
I entered and waited for Mass to begin, at first with only a few elderly congregants in the pews. By the end of the half-hour, though, the place was packed, especially with children who had obviously just finished their Sunday school lessons. I tried to follow the service, very easily recognizing the structure as identical to those everywhere but failing to comprehend much of what was said. I offered my responses in English, quietly so as not to distract the people around me, and said “Pace” during the Sign of Peace. That must have worked; I got plenty of smiles and “pace” responses. Queuing for Communion turned out to be less organized than in most American churches, but I managed to go with the flow.
It’s very comforting to know that one can travel and still be in communion with the Church and the people of the community, even if we don’t understand a word each other are saying.