Holy Week Encounter for girls in Rome (Italy), April 2nd-5th, 2015
Here in Rome, the Home of the Mother organized a young women’s Holy Week Encounter in English. Most of the young women who participated were American university students in Rome this semester. On Holy Thursday we had an early start; we wanted to make sure to find seats close to the Pope for the Chrismal Mass. We were surprised that the Pope decided to speak about tiredness in his homily, but by the time we left we were ready to “get tired” for love of the Lord and seek our rest in Him alone.
After Mass we came home to hear a talk about St. Teresa’s relationship with the Eucharist and eat lunch, after which we returned to the Vatican for the Mass of the Last Supper with Cardinal Comastri. On our way home we visited the Altars of Repose in several different churches. We ate the traditional paschal meal together and had our Holy Hour with the Lord in Gethsemane. Several of the young women mentioned that they loved being able to follow the Lord so closely through the washing of the feet, the Eucharist, the paschal meal and His agony in the garden. We took turns keeping watch with the Lord until Friday morning.
On Friday morning we had points of meditation about the Passion and then watched the film the Passion of the Christ, followed by some moments for silence and prayer. After lunch we heard a talk about St. Teresa and the Humanity of Christ, prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and headed off to the Good Friday service at St. John Lateran. We venerated the Cross and walked to the Coliseum, where Pope Francis presided the Via Crucis.
We started Holy Saturday with a meditation about the Heart of Mary. The talk that day was about prayer according to St. Teresa. In the afternoon we watched a documentary about Mother Teresa with a group discussion afterwards. For the Easter Vigil we went to the Venerable English College. We all agreed that the liturgy was beautiful and helped us to lift up our hearts to the Lord and celebrate His resurrection. And after the Vigil we celebrated our festival.
On Easter Sunday we celebrated the resurrection with the Holy Father in St. Peter’s square. Soon after we arrived at St. Peter’s, it started to rain. After an hour most of us were soaked and shivering. It stopped raining half way through Mass, after three hours in the rain. One of the girls, when asked how she was doing before Mass, summed it up well, saying, “I’m in a struggle between spiritual joy and my human condition.” We made it home and after lunch it was time to say good-bye. Some of the young women said that during the Encounter they had discovered that prayer is more than just vocal prayer. Others had never lived a Holy Week so united to the Lord in his Passion and Resurrection. Several have said goodbye until World Youth Day 2016 in Poland, because they hope to come with the Home of the Mother and see each other again.