The weather was unusual this week in Rome, with a rare snowstorm blanketing the city. “We got between four to six inches here, which is totally unheard of. In fact, the last time I’ve seen snow was February of 2012 and before that, it was about 30 years [since] Rome had even seen a snowfall. So this was, needless to say, a big shock to everybody. This is happening in the month of February when our average temperature is usually about 55 degrees, yet this morning when the papal audience kicked off it was about 29 degrees,” said Ashley Noronha, Relevant Radio® Rome Correspondent.
“The whole city has pretty much come to a complete halt, for one thing because the city just doesn’t have the capability to deal with snow. What they ended up doing was actually deploying the army to go and salt and … try to make streets passable. But in the meantime they asked people to just stay home.” Romans made the best of the situation, said Noronha, with people using their cross-country skis in the streets, making snowmen, having snowball fights, and sledding down hills with makeshift sleds.
The Holy Father’s general audience was held inside the Paul VI Audience Hall this morning as the temperature dipped much lower than normal. Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Holy Mass, speaking about the presentation of the gifts. “When the members of the congregation bring the bread and wine up to the priest who is celebrating the Mass, that has very important significance. It signifies the spiritual offering of the whole entire Church and of those who are specifically gathered there for the Eucharist,” explained Noronha. “And it’s at that time that we, too, are invited to present our own lives as a spiritual offering with the bread and wine.”
“The Holy Father pointed out that at this point the lives of the faithful but also their sufferings and prayer and work and everything is united to … Christ and to His total offering. So with that they take on a completely new meaning and a new value.”
As we offer our gifts and our lives to the Lord, He offers us so much more in return, Noronha explained. Pope Francis spoke off the cuff, saying God asks us for an open heart and He asks us to want to be better. He then gives us so much more than we ask for, as He gives us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
“At every Mass, we have that opportunity to experience the preparation of gifts not just as a wrote part of the routine, but as an invitation to offer our lives completely to the Lord, and it’s through that grace that we can evermore fully live our vocation to grow in holiness and to serve Him in the coming of His kingdom,” said Noronha.