“The Home of the Church on Earth” | Postcards from Rome 2019

June 20, 2019

Reflection on Week 4 (June 10-16):

Among the many blessings during our time in Rome is the opportunity to pray and venerate the relics of many great saints that have influenced the Church and the world through their lives. Among these are St. Peter and St. Paul. This past week we had the opportunity to go on the Scavi tour which is the tour under the Basilica of St. Peter to see the foundation of the old Basilica as well as the Tomb of St. Peter. Later in the week we travelled to Monte Cassino, which was the first monastery that St. Benedict founded and where the Benedictine order developed. It was also were St. Benedict died and where he is buried along with St. Scholastica, his sister who was also a religious. We then returned to Rome and visited St. Paul Outside the Walls where St. Paul is buried. We then celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Rome Experience by a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Harvey followed by a nice dinner. These have been the highlights of this week, now allow me to offer a reflection on these events.

In Cardinal Harvey’s homily for the tenth anniversary he spoke of the blessing that this program is for seminarians in the United States because it gives us the opportunity to experience Rome and learn in Rome, and thus be able to drink from the fount of Catholic Wisdom here in what could be said to be the home of the Church on Earth. He then mentioned how Rome ought to be the home of all priests in a way since it is the seed of the Church which is the bride of Christ and the bride of all priests. In hearing these words I see this to be the case and can see the blessing that it has been to be here these past three weeks. Especially in light of having visited the tombs of two Apostles that gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel and now form part of the Communion of Saints and desire to intercede on our behalf so that we too may live for Christ and do our part in the Lord’s plan of salvation.

While visiting the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul I reflected on their humanity and the reality that they too were men that had their own flaws and weaknesses and perhaps had their own plan for their life prior to their encounter with Christ. Nevertheless, upon this encounter they chose to give everything else up and follow Christ and do what he asked of them. This was not simply their own doing but rather their cooperation with the grace imparted to them by the Holy Spirit that allowed them to become the greats Saints that they became. Similarly with St. Benedict and St. Scholastica who chose to listen to Christ and cooperate with the grace they were given and thus became who God wanted them to become.

It is no different for us. Although it is a different time period and we may have the temptation to think that their lives were much easier and therefore facilitated their becoming saints, we need to recognize that this is not entirely accurate. For Christ is the same, the Spirit is the same and He desires to speak to us and transform us into who we ought to be. We just need to cooperate with the grace that he gives us and ask the Saints for their intercession so that they may assist us in our journey. This is especially true for us in the seminary, to ask St. Peter and St. Paul to teach us how to become men dedicated to Christ and His Church. That they may intercede for us so that we may take the Gospel wherever Christ leads us.

Fermin Luna
The Rome Experience Class of 2019
Archdiocese of Louisville
The Athenaeum of Ohio