To Be Expectant | Postcards from Rome 2021

June 9, 2021
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Highlights from Week 2 (May 31 – June 6)

1. Six conferences on the Beatitudes and how to receive the Holy Spirit by Fr. Jacques Philippe,
2. A tour and conference on the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts by Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru,
3. Visiting Rome for the first time and praying at St. Peter’s Basilica,
4. A presentation on the Dicastery for Integral Human Development by Fr. Christopher Mahar,
5. Enjoying the town of Bracciano, the Villaggio Betania (where we have been in residence), and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.

Greetings from across the pond!

This week has been a wonderful experience full of grace and blessings from the first moment until the last. The week began with our final days of silent retreat. After having our hearts full from the conferences and the prayer, we traveled into Rome for the first time. The experience was overwhelming in the best way. The conferences given by Fr. Eric Neilson with the intimate moments of encounter with the Lord in prayer made us want to express our love for God in a manifest way. Seeing, then, the grandeur of the Universal Church displayed in the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica and praying in front of the tombs of great saints in the history of the Church made us so grateful for God’s intimate work in our lives, but also incredulous at his work in history on the universal scale. Once we returned to Bracciano, where we have been in residence since arriving in Italy, we began a two day series of lectures on the spiritual life given by Fr. Jacques Philippe.

The reputation of Fr. Philippe preceded him. We were anxious to experience the man behind the spiritual master works many of us had come to know and love. He did not disappoint. His talks on the Beatitudes were presented in the light of their relation to spiritual poverty, a virtue necessary not only for the diocesan priest, but for all Christians. The wisdom and experience of having pierced the depths of God mixed with the light heartedness of a man who understands how small our lives are now compared to what they will become in eternal life amazed and inspired us all. Fr. Philippe spoke from his heart to ours; we could not help but leave better for it.

So far, the Rome Experience has surpassed all of our expectations. We are quickly learning that it is better not to expect something particular, but to be expectant, knowing that God’s plan to bring us to the Eternal City and to the heart of the Church will carry with it more grace, and more surprises, than we could have ever hoped for.

Pax et bonum,

Steven Chabarria
Diocese of Tyler