Beauty and Blessings: Postcards from Rome 2021

June 7, 2021
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Another take on Week 1!
Top 5 Highlights: May 26 – June 1

1) Arrival to Mundelein
2) Travel Day
3) Arrival to Bracciano, Italy
4) Meet & Greet w/ Cardinal Pell
5) Silent Retreat

The arrival to Mundelein was a noteworthy event for me for a couple of reasons. For starters, it signified the beginning of the Rome Experience. Second, I was taken aback by the beauty of the seminary. I come from a beautiful part of Southern California, but I was still amazed by the beauty of Mundelein Seminary. As soon as my Uber driver passed through the gates, I instantly felt the presence of God amidst the nature surrounding the campus. With the beginning of orientation, I began to meet the other seminarians going on the Rome Experience. While I may have only known these men for one week, I feel like we’ve been brothers for a long time.

The travel day was interesting. The travel day and our arrival to Bracciano are two separate days, but they felt like one. We began with a short flight from Chicago to New York. An almost five-hour layover allowed for the seminarians to connect and get to know each other a little bit more. A five-hour layover seems like a long time. But I had such great company, the time flew by. Before I knew it, it was time to fly to Rome. After a series of naps during an eight-hour flight, we arrived to Rome and took a bus to Bracciano, Italy.

In Bracciano, we are staying at a retreat house run by the Nashville Dominican Sisters. Arriving here is a highlight for the same reason Mundelein was. I was once again taken aback by the beauty of nature that was before me. The retreat house is beautiful in and of itself and it also overlooks a magnificent lake. Despite being tired from the day of travel, we hit the ground running. A group of men went into town, while others of us went for a swim in the lake. The next day a few of us went into town and got to see a castle that had been here for centuries.

On Thursday, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet Cardinal Pell. Our meeting with him took place at the retreat center we are all staying in. He spoke to us about many wonderful things. One of the key takeaways from our conversation was how to grow in obedience. When someone is asking something of us, we should say yes unless there is a good reason to say no. Another key takeaway was his response to a question on forgiveness. We should decide to forgive, and hope our feelings soon follow.

The silent retreat is a great opportunity to exercise mental prayer, to talk to God more intimately, and to continue the discernment of my Vocation. These are not three different or mutually exclusive things, but rather, the discernment of my vocation comes through talking to God more intimately which happens through my mental prayer.

Miguel Cabrera
Archdiocese of Los Angeles