Robin's Space

















Christianity and Standing in Line

Maybe it's just me.

Right now I am in the middle of my semester abroad in Rome.  We are currently on our Easter holiday, and I chose to stay in Rome to relax and to celebrate here.  Because I go to a Catholic school (though I am not Catholic), I ended up with a ticket to go to the Easter Vigil service at the Vatican with some friends of mine, and I figured it would be an experience. 

It was.

The service was  scheduled for 8:00PM (20h00, European/military time).  My friends thought we should get there by 5:00PM.  I thought they were out of their minds, but I went along anyways.  So, after eating dinner at 4-something in the afternoon, at McDonald's (I'll have a lot to say about that later), we headed for the Vatican, getting there about 5:15PM.  And it was insane.  Between each of the columns in the inner colonnade there was a metal detector and by many of them there were x-ray machines.  But that wasn't the insane part.  That was the crowd.  Underneath the colonnade, stretching to the walls of Vatican city, were lines and lines of people.  But to say "lines" would imply some sort of order.  There was none; it was chaos.  The Vatican guards and the Jubilee volunteers were doing all that they could to keep the crowd from breaking through into the square.  Two men in front of me were chugging their beers while I watched another group, armed with ice-cream (gelati) cones, push past me.   

Then they began to let people into the square.

People began pushing and shoving and yelling at each other in many different languages.  I watched in horror as a member of the ice-cream brigade dumped her ice-cream down another woman's back, neither apologizing, nor even batting an eyelash.  The guards, with what little control they had, attempted to herd people through the metal detectors, sending those with bags to working x-ray detectors, and dealt, surprisingly coolly, with everyone's abuses.  I really felt like I was being herded, as if I was in the midst of a mad heard of cattle, or, better yet, wild dogs.  At one point I just had to turn to a friend of mine and ask: 

"This is a Christian service we're going to, right?"

I felt more like I was at a rock concert than at a worship service.  Or if it was a worship service, it seemed like many of the people there were more interested in worshiping the Pope than God.  Don't get me wrong, I think the JPII is a really amazing guy, I'd actually love to meet him, but I (if no one else) was there to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, with people from all over the world.  But I found my self thinking:

"Darn, I forgot my lighter."