Monday, October 20, 2008
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Buona Sera from Roma!
It is with great pleasure that I report that I am doing well, and I thank you for your support and prayers for me.
What a blessing to be here in the Eternal City. I may be here as a student, but my journey here is first and foremost a journey of faith, and it is aspects of this spiritual journey that I wish to share with you, my brothers.
About three weeks ago, myself and one of my seminarian friends decided to go visit St. Peter's Basilica. I wanted to attend the noon Mass, and I wanted to go to Confession. However, we took a wrong turn and ended up walking along the entire perimeter of the Vatican City wall. When we finally make it to the opening where the entrance to St. Peter's square is, we see that people are lining the road into the square, and, after questioning an English speaking couple, discover that the Holy Father is on his way back to the Vatican from a meeting with Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome. So, my seminarian friend and I found a good spot right next to the side of the road, and were able to get within five feet of Pope Benedict XVI, who waved at the crowd from beneath a white "papal umbrella" atop his popemobile. What a grace-filled experience this was!
A week ago this past Friday, my classmates and I all journeyed to Florence, and, while there, had an encounter with God that I will never forget. We decided to attend Mass at the Cathedral (Duomo) there, and met one of the holiest priests that I've had the privilege of meeting, Fr. Don Alessandro, who just celebrated 50 years of service to Christ as a priest. He is one of the kindest and warm-hearted individuals I have ever seen, and equally as Christ-like is a woman, slightly younger than Fr. Alessandro, that we also met. When she spoke to me and my classmates, there was a point in the words of wisdom she shared with us that I felt that God was speaking to me through her. That day I was feeling particularly down regarding the situation with my parents, as, during my time here, I have grown more and more certain each day that God is asking me to serve Him as a diocesan priest.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is extremely strong here in this city, and I have at times been moved by the Holy Spirit to write, either in my journal or whatever tablet of paper I happen to have with me. It's hard here being the odd man out, so to speak, as I'm neither a layman nor a seminarian, but something inbetween the two, but periodically taking breaks to be alone with Christ has helped with that. So much grace here, I can't say that enough.
Know that all of you are and will remain in my thoughts and prayers in a special way during my time in the Eternal City.
With every good wish, I remain
Your brother in Christ and in discernment,