I don't mean to grumble but I cannot help reflecting on the elusiveness of Rome. Not for others, but for me. Last year I should have been out there for an ordination, but at the last minute, for reasons it is unnecessary to rehearse here, I didn't go.
So, I was looking forward to climbing aboard the Easyjet flight tomorrow from Gatwick to Fiumicino. I was due in Rome to give a paper at the Dietrich Von Hildebrand conference at the Holy Cross Seminary. I have indeed sent off my paper so it can at least be read in my absence. But I won't be going. Ho hum.
I won't describe the problem, but it is very painful. My mother and grandmother have had it too. I'm sure I need the penance. And I'm not going to turn up my nose at the £300 I have saved on accommodation and conference fee. Still, elusive Rome again ...
As I may, mustn't grumble. But I really hope one of these days to make it. It's little consolation Rome is coming here in September.
I say it's little consolation. I've been noticing over the last few days the debate concerning limits on numbers at Pope Benedict's public functions in Scotland and England. The official line is that health and safety demand some restrictions, and that people can always watch on TV at home. Hmm, well, of course they can watch the Pope on TV at home. But they can do that now while they AND the Pope stay home for the occasion. They only need to tune in to EWTN via satellite or the internet. It's anybody's guess how TV coverage of the papal visit is consolation for anybody but the infirm and the elderly.
On the other hand, the older I get the less I am impressed or attracted by the kind of mass gatherings which the papal visit will undoubtedly give rise to. Of course we could treat them as a pilgrimage, or as penance of some kind. I personally will have to (if indeed I am in the country and choose to attend). For me, it will feel like going to a Catholic version of the Boxing Day sales.
So, maybe what I should try to do is plan my trip to Rome while the Pope is visiting England. I will still get a pilgrimage in the bag, but instead of queuing on a London street or standing for hours without toilet or water in Coventry Airport, I will be able to watch the Pope on TV from the comfort of my Italian hotel before trotting down to the Gesu to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Strada.
Is this the soft option? Well, it might be. But be gentle. I'm really feeling quite poorly. And quite disappointed. Rome, the elusive...