“Abandoning Ourselves to God and His Grace” | Postcards from Rome 2019

June 5, 2019
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Reflection on the Week (May 27-June 2):

This past week has been one of contrast. The week started off with us on retreat in Ars, France and ended with the group arriving in Rome. In order to understand this distinction one has to imagine all that Ars is. Besides being the resting place of Saint John Vianney, Ars is a very small rural village in southeastern France. Every day we would wake up to the cool country air, roosters crowing, the sound of sheep and silence. Being in the town of the saintly Cure d’Ars gave us the desire to affirm God’s will just as John Vianney did over 150 years ago. For this reason, it was helpful to be pulled out of our ordinary circumstances and daily routine, which can leave us in our own world with our own projects and plans. The good of taking time for a retreat in an unknown place was beneficial in allowing us seminarians to contemplate eternal truths, mainly what God has revealed through his saints, especially John Vianney. We were able to focus and center our lives on this revelation, mainly the Eucharist. When the retreat ended, we had mass at the tomb of John Vianney where we were able to witness two miracles with our very eyes. The first which was the Eucharist celebrated and the second which was the body of the saintly Cure, resting in a glass case, incorrupt. Immediately after the mass at John Vianney’s tomb, the group set off for a day trip to the town of Annecy, which is a beautiful town nestled in the French Alps right across the border from Switzerland. As we approached the town, the bus made its way through the high mountains and snow could be spotted on peaks in the distance. When we finally arrived, we were able to enter the Basilica where the remains of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jeanne de Chantal are currently held. Being in France and seeing these Saints was of great inspiration to us since they lived in a time so much like ours in which secularism and subtle persecution undermined Church teaching. These saints encourage us in abandoning ourselves to God and his grace. Upon our return to Ars, we said goodbye to France and prayed for her one last night since the next day, we were off to Italy. The feeling in the air was that we enjoyed France so much that we didn’t want to leave. However, upon arrival in Rome, we were immediately impressed by the magnificence of the city and many of us went directly to Saint Peter’s Basilica and Square. Refreshed and invigorated by France and our experience we walked the city all afternoon and took in the sights. The big buildings, beautiful baroque churches and artwork, people speaking many languages reminded us that Ars and the French country life were far behind. Now it is time to experience the city that many have longed to conquer, but whose influence has mainly been that of our Church and our faith.

Marc Gustinelli
The Rome Experience Class of 2019
Diocese of Palm Beach
St. Francis de Sales Seminary