Monday, January 14, 2013

Taylor Serves Our Beloved Pope Benedict XVI

At the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, our dear seminarian friend Taylor Leffler had the opportunity to serve the Holy Father!  What a rare privilege!

His job was to carry the incense, and in the photo above, you can see him on the left, walking toward the pope with his hand reverently on his chest.  In another moment, the pope will use that incense to bless the large nativity set.  In the photo of the little pope huddle below, Taylor is on the far left.  :)

The whole video of the Christmas Mass (including many opportunities to see our friend live in action!) is available at the link below.  I've copied and pasted below Taylor's excited email to us, telling us of this unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

If you recall, Michael and I met Taylor and his friends in Rome when we were there for our honeymoon in the Summer of 2011.  It was thanks to Taylor's invitation that we got to go on the Scavi Tour and see the bones of St. Peter which was our favorite, most memorable experience!  Months later, in the Fall of 2011, Taylor flew from Omaha, Nebraska to virtually our backyard, where his sister lives.  It was so much fun catching up with him and meeting his parents and the rest of his family.

Taylor is currently a seminarian studying in Rome. 


Dear Lisa and Michael,
Merry Christmas! Here's a link to the video of the Vatican's Christmas Mass online:
My dear mother went through all the trouble to find all the segments in which you can see me:  14:40-16:00, 50:36, 51:41-52:25, 129:33-50, 130:37, 133:45-135:40, 140:29, 208:37-209:57, 2:13:48-2:15:50.

My favorite is the very last one.

So my job throughout the Mass, as you can see, is the hold the incense boat. Every time the Pope would use incense during the Mass, I would hold out the big gold incense boat, and he would reach in with the little spoon and scoop some into the thurible. I was able to approach him four times to do it.

The unforgettable moment was right when the Holy Father arrived to the little room where he vests. We were all there a bit earlier, and we were to vest in the Pieta chapel. It was amazing! The door was thrown right open. All the Pope's vestments were laid out on the altar under the Pieta. We could've reached up an touched the Pieta if we wanted to! Suddenly, one of the monsignors came up and said, "Alright, Taylor. The Holy Father is arriving in a few minutes. We have to get in our places." I didn't know what was supposed to happen, but it turns out that the Pope arrives by car, enters a door right off the Pieta chapel, walks into a little room where he vests, and the first thing he does is put incense in the thurible. So I got to be one of the first to greet him! We heard the rumble of the car, the door slam, and then our hearts stopped. The monsignor whispered, "As soon as that door opens, it will be the Holy Father!" Sure enough . . . the door opened, and in came Pope Benedict. He was looking at the floor to make sure he didn't trip over the carpet, but when he looked up and saw all of us eagerly grinning, the same grin appeared on his face, his eyes lit up, and he looked right at me and said, "Buon Natale a tutti!" I wished him a Merry Christmas in response, and walked up to him to give him incense.

The rest of the Mass was just as amazing. At one point, another monsignor told me to put more incense in the thurible because the Pope didn't put enough in. So the Holy Father and I were the only ones to impose incense during that Mass!

The very next day we left for France and Ireland. I was able to visit Paray-le-Monial (where Jesus revealed his Sacred Heard to St. Margaret Mary and where she is buried), Paris, Leon, Lisieux, Ars, and Dublin. It was an amazing adventure with lots of  encounters with saints along the way. I spent four whole days in Ars, so I had a beautiful time in the quiet to read and pray.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Please tell Liam that I said hello!