Street markets, cobblestone streets, charming alley ways, street eating, and the heat of summer in the midst of Rome! It’s not an ordinary day for a few American seminarians, particularly myself.
It is a delightful experience walking through the Roman streets and suddenly catching the glance of another Filipino who will gesture a nod with their head to greet me hello. It happened a few times this afternoon as we made our way to visit the tomb of today’s celebrated saint: Aloysius Gonzaga.
This 23 year old saint is the patron of youth and is one who strived for holiness in his time. But this would not be the end of our ventures today with saints from heaven.
We made our way to the headquarters of Opus Dei. It’s a movement in the Church that calls lay people to a life of holiness in their every day state of life. We celebrated Mass at the tomb of its found Saint Josemarie Escriva.
Here’s the part that caught my attention! After Mass, I spoke to God about my own journey with him these many years and how I long for him…. heart to heart …. He gently responded to my prayer as another priest entered the chapel during our personal meditation and celebrated his Mass in silence. It was as if no one was in the room, even the 18 seminarians physically in sight, as the priest made present the most import worship of the Christian Life: the Holy Mass.
During his recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, something struck me …. a heart to heart revelation if you will … The priest’s arms were in exact imitation to that of the Lord’s arms on the cross during his intense moment of offering the Lord’s Prayer. Suddenly, I was awakened to what it truly means to be priest … and not only priest, but priest-victim … one who freely lays down his life for his sheep. It was a moment, heart to heart with God … in which I almost saw the future of my own journey and was deeply moved to prayer with God in the utter silence of this worship.
Afterwards, we got on metro and I caught sight of another filipino who greeted me with a nod and sparked a conversation. It hit but again, Christ present in the person right in front of me. But it’s more than the Filipino who greets me. I am involved with ever person I come in contact with as one day they will all be my sons and daughters as I am called to be their father. The priesthood of Jesus Christ: more than a title, it’s an identity.
After this heart to heart moment with God and strolling through the street markets, cobblestone streets, charming alley ways in the evening heat of summer in the midst of Rome, we did the only thing we can do for dinner: Pizza!