“O God, your will is my paradise.” | Postcards from Rome 2019
Top highlights of the week (June 17-23):
- Got to see Pope Francis at his Wednesday Audience. By God’s providence, we were blessed with amazing seats that were very close.
- Did a short pilgrimage within the city to visit the tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labre. He’s not a very well known saint, but I’ve been getting to know him lately and so I was happy to be able to pray before his remains.
- Went to Orvieto to celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. This is the town where the solemnity began in the 1200s due to a Eucharistic miracle. They have a beautiful Eucharistic procession as part of the celebration.
- Had a very insightful conversation with another seminarian of The Rome Experience about the role and importance of some liturgical practices for the spiritual life. This may sound a bit abstract and boring, but rest assured that it was not.
- Prayed before the relics of Padre Pio and Jude the Apostle.
At the end of The Rome Experience I will have the privilege of staying a few extra days in Europe and visit Fatima. Thus, from the very start of this program, I have been looking forward to Fatima as the place where this month-long pilgrimage will culminate.
As I have journeyed towards Fatima these past few weeks, the words of Servant of God, Sister Lucia (the Fatima visionary), have been echoing in my heart: “O God, your will is my paradise.”
Until recently, I had never heard anyone describe the will of Our Lord in such beautiful terms. Not only do we see in Lucia’s words a total surrender to the will of God, but it is also evident that the will of God is her utmost joy, her greatest delight, indeed her paradise. This true understanding of the will of Our Lord is easy to embrace when we remain in the abstract. However, as we move to concrete situations, it can get much harder.
Take, as a simple example, the daily reality of being a participant of The Rome Experience. It’s usually 100F weather, we wear all black, we can walk up to 10 miles on a single day, and most buildings we use don’t have AC. Well, as I find myself drenched in sweat under the burning sun on a daily basis, or as I toss and turn in my warm room trying to fall asleep every night, do I think myself in paradise? Not really – or at least not initially. But regardless of how I feel in any given situation, the truth of the matter is that I always am, in a mysterious way, in paradise.
Our Good Father in Heaven is so loving that He does not allow anything to fall outside of his Divine Providence. This means that there is no single situation we can get ourselves into that is not at the same time a gift to help us attain our greatest good: union with God. In any given moment, the Lord is infallibly calling us to himself. Let this awesome truth sink in: never does a single second go by without the Lord seeking to draw us to himself.
At this very instant, as I write these words, and as you read them, the Lord is seeking each of us out. And later today, as you find yourself stuck in traffic, as you mourn the death of a loved one, as you battle trivial or grave health issues, and as you suffer the awful and chaotic messiness of life, the Lord will continue to seek you out.
Each moment of our lives, whether easy or difficult, is and will always be a gift. But it is only when we choose to embrace these moments as such that the gift comes to bear. I do not pretend to over-romanticize the great sufferings of life, or to say that embracing the Lord’s Providence is easy. Many times, the Lord gives hard gifts, and very hard ones at that. But this does not change the truth that in a mysterious but very real way, they continue to be gifts. Choose then, and live in paradise.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute, deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will, deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future, deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence, deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me, Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You, Jesus, I trust in you.
That you are with me in my suffering, Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better than anything else, Jesus, I trust in you.
(Excerpt from Litany of Trust by Sisters of Life)
The Rome Experience Class of 2019
Diocese of Austin
St. Mary’s Seminary