So, I made it to Rome earlier today after a long flight and a little sleep. Blessings to you all who are following my progress. Some undoubtably are wondering whether I am here on a little vacation or something. No, I am here in order to commence studies of Italian which I am to begin on Monday morning. I will do two months of intensive immersive studies – intensivo – as my course is actually called. Then, with hopefully enough progress in Italiano, I will begin a Licentiate in Moral Theology. But, as for today, I was free to wander the streets fo Rome and visit as many Churches as I could.
As I visited numerous Churches I was obviously confronted with a lot of other tourists as the above photo confirms. I was most suprised by how many torusits there were visiting the Pantheon or Santa Maria dei Martiri as it is also called. I was so suprised by the incredible lineup in orderto get in that I decided I would come back another time, perhaps for Mass or in the morning sometime. In each of the Churches that I visited I stopped to pray for a bit or for a while longer than a bit but, in almost all of them, I was confronted with the same experience. Many many people milling about taking millions of pictures (I took my small share as well) but most of them never stopping to pray. I was really struck by the amazing presence that was right underneath their noses (or camera lenses) and how so few of them even realized it. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Pantheon. When I arrived their was an anticipated Sunday Mass in progress so there were guards to keep people form going in. I was grateful for this care to keep sacred the liturgy. Nevertheless, people waited and waited for the smallish group of Mass goers to come out so that they could rush in to see the grande building and space (and indeed it is grande!). I wanted them to know that they looked for beauty, for mystery and for something to awe them but that, although they may have found some of it in the stunning architecture, there was something – Someone – infinitely more awesome and particualry present in that same space in the Eucharistic Lord!
God’s sacramental presence! The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist! They were entering into the proximity of Christ’s most inredible presence and had no idea that God is there in a unique and privildged way… My heart went out to them. I was so grateful to know the Lord was there, in those Churches which were meant to display and captivate and lead people towards Him – to an awareness and an openess of His loving presence and humble love. Oh Lord, grant to many of them the gift of faith and the keenest of experiences to direct and guide their hearts and minds to You, the great and amazing Lord of all. Grant peace to them in such a way that nothing in this world, not even the grandest of Your churches can ever hope to them, so that they are moved to seek You and be drawn to You because of your Merciful gifts.
My dear freinds, thank you for all your prayers, please know that I am grateful for them and I have been and will be praying for you too! May the Lord be with you and grant you His Peace as well – reminding you of the incredible and unfathomable treasure that we have in the Eucharist!
I will see you in the Mass!