“AS MEN PREPARING FOR THE PRIESTHOOD” | POSTCARDS FROM ROME 2018
Top Five Highlights (Week of June 16-22):
1. Dinner and get together with Cardinal Burke: The Cardinal gave a very inspirational talk about preparing for the priesthood and the need to be formed in the tradition of the Church and the unity of the Church that comes from the See of Peter. He also spoke of the need to help reintroduce young people to the faith through education and catechesis.
2. General Audience: We got to see Pope Francis as he drove by us before the audience officially commenced. His catechesis on the importance of living the Ten Commandments in light of the love of the Father for us as Sons was helpful to reflect on. I was struck that the whole speech was given to us about seven times in different languages, but was followed by the Pater Noster and a benediction in Latin, thus manifesting the diversity in unity of Catholicism.
3. Day Trip to Assisi: The town is wonderfully peaceful and still very medieval in its buildings and layout. I went to the tomb of Saint Francis and then that of Saint Claire. Finally I ended at the spot where Saint Claire died at San Damiano.
4. Dinner and get together with Cardinal Stafford: The Cardinal was inspirational through his energy and passion with which he spoke about parish life and the difficulties and joys of the priesthood. He focused on the need to reinvigorate parishes.
5. Visit and tour of the Basilica of St. Mary Major: Each of the major basilicas has its own beauty and grandeur, but this one is more ornate and crowded with different projects of the arts. Yet, it is beautiful in its eclectic-ness. We prayed before the manger that Christ was laid in after He was born. There was also a statue of Mary Queen of Peace, which was dedicated by Pope Benedict XV before the end of World War I. I found it fascinating because of its dynamic yet somber tone.
Being in Rome has been awe-inspiring. We have had the privilege of getting to know the city a little bit, becoming familiar with some of the best art and architecture, while seeing the center of unity in the Church through the work of the Curia on behalf of the See of Peter. In all these ways, we are being formed as men preparing for the priesthood, in order to help save souls through a knowledge of the history of the Church, through the beauty she has produced, and the firmness and maternal affection with which she proclaims Christ the Truth.
During our time spent traveling, we often see people stop and stare: they obviously aren’t used to seeing a group of young seminarians tromping through small side streets or the ruins of ancient Rome. Some even get up the courage to ask us where we are from and what we are doing. This has helped me to get more of a feel for pastoral work, being able to see a little more where ordinary people are coming from and what questions and concerns they have. More than merely asking questions, a few have been drawn to actually engage us in dialogue, often about their difficulties with the Church and the problems they face in their lives.
We provide what answers and support we can, but what gives me the strength and hope to continue is being able to ask the saints that we visit for their intercession and guidance. When you come to the tombs of great men like Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Philip Neri or those of Catherine of Siena and Claire of Assisi, you realize that you are not alone but can rely for aid on those who have gone before us.
The Rome Experience Class of 2018
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
St. John’s Seminary