Welcome Graces | Postcards from Rome 2022
Benj Klare’s Top 5 Highlights:
1. Seven Churches Pilgrimage
Walking in the footsteps of St. Philip Neri, 19 of us followed Fr. Eric across 15 miles in 90 degree heat to venerate Our Lord at 7 prominent churches in the Eternal City. Beginning at St. Peter’s, we proceeded to St. Mary Major, St. Lawrence, Santa Croce, St. John Lateran, St. Sebastian and finished at St. Paul Outside the Walls. The day was filled with much prayer, wonderful conversations, and even some opportunities to evangelize along the way. Above all, we intended to pray for the Church and the world and to learn to offer our sufferings.
2. Private Tour of the Vatican Museum
What can one say about the Sistine Chapel? There’s a certain heaviness, a felt solemnity before such a great work. One knows himself to be before the work of man, and yet he experiences something more: he notices the unmistakable mark of the divine. To tour this work at all, let alone on a private tour, would itself warrant flying to Rome. It was simply an opportunity of great significance, and all of us are incredibly grateful to The Rome Experience and its many connections and donors for making something like this possible for us.
3. The Solidification of Brotherhood
Earlier this week I overheard the remark, “Man, I can’t believe we’ve only been here a few weeks, it feels like I’ve known you guys for much much longer.” I’m not sure that anyone came to Rome to form friendship or to develop extra-diocesan brothers. Not that anyone was against it, but it’s hard to say it was anyone’s main motive. Nevertheless, being here for three weeks and having experienced so much together, there’s a strong sense of brotherhood. The chance to meet and form bonds with men all over the U.S. has been a welcome grace!
4. Papal Audience
Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia. Where Peter is, there is the Church. This is the motto of The Rome Experience. It was hard not to experience its truth while attending Pope Francis’ Papal Audience this past Wednesday. Here the diversity and unity of the Church were felt keenly as individuals from all over the world gathered around the Successor of Peter to hear the Word of God proclaimed and preached.
5. Catacombs of San Callisto
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Tertullian), and on The Rome Experience we got to see where those seeds were planted. The opportunity to tour and celebrate Mass in the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus (the original burial site of St. Cecilia and 16 martyred popes) was foundational. To pray within the graves of those who have come before us, to honor their sacrifice, to beseech their prayers, to beg for their salvation, and to stand in awe of their witness, for a Christian — especially for a seminarian — was of uncontested importance. This trip to the Catacombs was both challenging and reinvigorating for my faith! Would I have the strength, trust, and grace to die for Jesus Christ and his Church? This is no small question to ask, let alone to feel within the pit of your chest. For this experience, we are all deeply grateful!
Archdiocese of Cincinnati