Midnight Mass

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:22 am

Midnight Mass at the duomo in Perugia. My teammates, Josh and Marcus, and I went up to the center just after 11 PM last night for midnight mass. All the bells from all the bell towers in the center began ringing just before midnight. We walked in the door and found every seat filled – standing room only.

The mass was just like every other mass I attended. Same order of service – perhaps a bit more flash since the Cardinal was present. Of course, the number of people there had drastically increased. Most services have but a handful of people present.

At the end of every Catholic service the priest turns to the audience and says something like, “Go in peace.” The final songs starts, the priest and altar boys head down the aisle, and the service is over. Last night, at the end, the priest turned to the crowd, and said “Andate in pace” (go in peace). But instead of waiting for the priests to head towards the back, the crowd instantly began talking, gathering coats, and heading for the door. An usher had to clear a path for the processional. And I couldn’t help but be struck with the idea that everyone present had fulfilled their obligations. And inaudible whistle blew – punch your timecards – you’ve done your duty for the year.

And I long for the crowds to know something more. To see Christ and His church not as a duty to fulfill, but a relationship to explore.


Who thinks this looks like Tony Danza?

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:26 am

I see ths guy’s picture all over the place. Doesn’t it look like a young Tony Danza?


Uhh … I think he wants them to move

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:14 pm

Tonight there was a free concert in the center of town given by a drum group from Assisi. They wore medieval clothes and played some amazing … whatever it is that drum groups play! Songs? They were really loud – probably around 20 members just pounding the tar out of these drums. It sounded like what armies must do right before they go to battle.

The concert was right by the fountain in Perugia, which is right outside the duomo (cathedral). It started at 6:00 PM. And so did mass at the duomo. About five minutes in, the priest comes running down the stairs, right up to the first drummer he comes to. His arms were flailing and the drummer barely flinched. The most the priest got out of him was a shrug of the shoulders – and he never missed a beat. So the priest moved on to someone else who looked like they were in charge. He obviously wanted them to move since mass was about to start.

There are many stereotypes about Italians. Most of them are exaggerations, but the ones about wild gestures during conversation and shouting matches during an argument are pretty much right on. So the priest and the man in charge started flailing and yelling. The crowd noticed and snickered a little. Eventually, the drummers moved … about 20 feet. Clearly enough for them to say they moved but not enough to make any difference to the handful of people that were attending mass.


Basta con l’inglese macaroni

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:28 am

There’s a poster that I see every day on the way to the kids’ school that I’ve never really stopped to read. It had a picture of two people inexplicably eating in the middle of a field. They both have a piece of pasta in their mouths – Lady and the Tramp style. Kind of weird. But today I stopped and read it. Apparently September 18 was some kind of protest against English pasta. I’ve read a couple of articles about how alarmed Italians are because most of their pasta is now imported from China and the US. And if there’s one thing Italians are passionate about, it’s food … Italian food. The poster read “Enough with the English macaroni!”


Hot Water Bottles

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:20 am

Winter has set in here in Perugia. And as everyone knows, winter means high gas bills. Most homes have some kind of radiator system. Our hot water heater also heats the water for the radiators. But since natural gas is so much more expensive here – about twice as high as the US – most thermostats are also a kind of timer. For example, our radiators kick on from 6-10 AM and 5-11 PM, unless it’s warmer than 20° C (kudos to the first person who comments with the conversion to Fahrenheit). So that means the house gets cold at night. So to make it a little easier, we’ve started using hot water bottles.

At first, I was a major skeptic. They sound so old-fashioned! But I can’t imagine life without them now. The hot water from our tap is very hot and keeps the bottles warm for hours. Who’d of thought? They also save us a lot of money since we don’t have to run the heat at night.

Hot water bottles – 100% Rotert Family Approved! (Aren’t we weird?!)


Religious Holidays that Aren’t

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:50 pm

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – the day that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Actually, that’s what everyone thinks. It’s really the day when Mary was conceived and God worked on her soul to keep it from the stain of original sin. But lots of people mix this up – I had to go look it up to make sure I had it right.

Heidi asked the young man who lives two floors up what kinds of things Italians do for this day. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nothing really. Sleep in?”

His answer provided a little glimpse into the Italian mindset. The country may observe Catholic holidays, but those days mean nothing but a little more shut-eye to the average person.


Parent-Teacher Conferences Part II

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:46 am

Last night we had Parent-Teacher Conferences at Lance & Chloe’s school. We showed up at 6:00 PM, only knowing that our last name fell in between 6:00 and 7:00. There was a crowd of parents around each of the kids’ classrooms, and every few minutes the door would open and everyone would try and figure out who was supposed to go in next. There was a list posted on the door, but I quickly learned that the list meant nothing to anyone.

The meeting went great. All of both the kids’ teachers showered us with compliments. They used words like incredibili (incredible), superbi (superb), and my favorite in gamba (an expression which literally means “in the leg” but means something like great, prepared, polite, etc.).

Those of you who know me well know that my biggest concern in moving here was the effect on the kids. But so many of my fears have been relieved. My kids are doing so well in school, they’re learning to speak the language all on their own. Chloe’s teacher even said she had a great accent and that she can’t hear any “American” in her when she speaks! They not only speak, but they speak correctly!

While waiting in line to speak to the kids’ religion teacher, I was chatting with Eduardo & Virginia’s mom and dad. They were very nice, and have kids in each of our kids’ classes. We stood there forever (he joked with me that our kids hanno fatto molti peccati – they must have sinned a lot) and just … talked. Not a small feat. And Heidi and I both noticed that they initiated conversation with us! It sounds silly, but we’ve found that sometimes people here get irritated when talking to foreigners.

We give all the credit to God for helping our kids along in this crazy school process. Please keep them all in your prayers – we would love to keep having Parent-Teacher Conferences like this.