The Final Week | Postcards from Rome 2022
1. Mass at St. Peters for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
One of the highlights of our last week in Rome was attending Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul at St. Peter’s Basilica with the Successor of Peter, Pope Francis!
2. Day of Recollection in Bracciano
Fr. Roger Landry led our day of recollection in Bracciano. It was wonderful to be back in peace and beauty of Bracciano after a month of excitement and seemingly constant activity in Rome. The day of recollection was a welcome change of pace, but it is going to take many days of recollection to unpack the graces of the Rome Experience. Fr. Landry helped us to begin unpacking these graces by powerfully preaching on the significance of the Eucharist, Rome, and gratitude in our lives.
3. St. Peter in Chains and Mamertine Prison
We were well prepared to celebrate the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on Wednesday because we spent part of Monday visiting the church where St. Peter’s chains are kept and the prison where both St. Peter and St. Paul were kept before their martyrdom. Learning about the historical background really helped me to understand the ways that they would have suffered and appreciate the depth of their sacrifice.
4. The Forum & Colosseum
The other part of our tours on Monday was spent learning about the civic history of Rome. Our tour guide, John, gave a wonderful tour; he knew so much about Rome that trying to take it in was like trying to drink from a firehose. His enthusiasm makes me want to learn more about the history of Rome.
5. Class with Fr. Landry & Graduation
Fr. Landry also taught our last class of the Rome Experience. He is a National Eucharistic Preacher, so naturally he taught our last class on the Eucharist. His teaching was very powerful, inspirational, and practical, and he increased my excitement to be a priest and celebrate the Eucharist.
One of the most impactful aspects of the Rome Experience has been visiting the tombs of the different saints buried in Rome. Often these visits were a complete surprise because so many different churches have a saint in them, but any time that I was able to spend in front of a saint was a blessing regardless of whether I planned to see that saint or not or if I even knew who that saint was.
The saints really came alive when I was able to spend time praying in front of their bodies. Seeing them made it easier to remember that the stories of their lives that I have heard since I was a kid are stories of real people that actually happened. It is not that I thought they were made up before, but the reality of the lives of the saints really set in while I was in Rome. Once they were alive here on Earth, but now they are alive in Heaven. In a somewhat paradoxical way, seeing the dead bodies of the saints was a powerful reminder of how alive they are! They are our brothers and sisters living in Heaven who intercede for us, and while we were visiting their tombs I realized in a new way how personal and relatable the saints are. St. Augustine preached about this once in a homily on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. He spoke of internalizing the memorials of the saints buried in Rome. His concern was that the members of his flock were too focused on the physical, earthly elements of these memorials, rather than letting the memorials penetrate their hearts and direct their thoughts to Heaven and eternity. The Rome Experience gave me an opportunity to encounter our heavenly brothers and sisters in a new way and to allow their memorials to penetrate my heart and deepen my relationship with them.
Diocese of Lincoln