I just landed back in the states last night from a week in Rome with my Catholic University. There were about 15 of us students and we were shown around by our Theology/Art professor. I have to say, it was incredible.
It was actually my third time visiting Rome and, of course, each time I get to go it is a wonderful blessing. This time, we all stayed in a seminary within walking distance of just about everything (Saint Peter’s Basilica was just a brief walk over the Tiber!). Breakfast was at 8, we met outside at 9 for a full day of “class” around the city, and the nights we had to ourselves to explore Rome with awesome friends. To give you an idea, here are just some of the things we got to see:
- The 4 major Basilicas (St. Peter’s, Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Paul Outside the Wall, & St. John Lateran),
- The Colosseum, the Vatican Museums (i.e. Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, etc.),
- and a ton of other sites and smaller churches.
It’s funny though. I could write a book about all of the cool things I learned about the places we visited, the experiences I had praying at places like where St. Paul is physically buried (yes, the real St. Paul. The guy who literally wrote the Letters to the Corinthians, Ephesians, etc.), or seeing the enormity of structures like the Colosseum in real life. However, I’m thinking it’ll be the seemingly minor memories that stick with me the most.
On our first full day in Rome, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica. After spending about 20 minutes in the adoration chapel, I really wanted to go to confession. Because I had been there before, I was comfortable enough excusing myself without telling anyone and walking over to where the confessionals are. I figured I’d just meet up with my classmates later.
So I went to confession and was finishing up my penance in one of the side chapels. I stood up to leave and go find my classmates, only to turn around and see them all kneeling in the back of the chapel waiting in line for confession as well. It seems like such a small thing and not a big deal at all. Of course my Catholic friends from school would be going to Reconciliation in St. Peter’s. But even at a Catholic school, and even in Rome, sometimes I can forget the role God wants my friends play in my spiritual journey. That instance for me after confession was just a great reminder of the blessings God has given me in the people He has put in my life even in just the past year.
The above picture is from another God-incidence I had on the trip. It was the end of the day and we had just left from the Vatican Museums and were heading back to our place to get ready for a night at the Trevi Fountain. We had to stop and wait up for some people so there were 5 of us standing on the street in front of St. Peter’s. All of a sudden, a group of 2 priests and some other young adults walk by carrying this massive wooden cross and a guitar. Turns out they were carrying the World Youth Day cross. They stopped off to talk to us (they spoke English!) and invited us to pray with them. So we stood there for about 10 or 15 minutes in front of this cross in front of St. Peter’s singing praise to God with our voices and guitar. What are the chances?
Anyway, I could write a lot more about different experiences we all had. Suffice it to say that it was a great time and a spiritual journey all the same. It is amazing the way God chooses to reveal Himself to you in every moment of your life. All we have to do is open our eyes to see Him.
…Oh and P.S. – I got to go to mass with the Pope….TWICE!
Have a blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter!