Fifteen hours after departing Rome, I returned home late on Saturday evening.
There’s nothing like foreign travel to help you appreciate the simple things - the hug of a child, the loving glance of your wife, being able to follow a schedule, home-cooking, and your local Church.
The next morning, it was off to early Mass. Being in the heart of the Church (Rome) gives you a new appreciation for the heritage that we as Catholics are a part of. Attending Mass Sunday morning, I somehow felt more alive, more connected with Christ, and better able to pray. After gazing upon the beauty of Rome’s artwork, I had a new appreciation for the stained-glass windows, the statues, and the beautiful paintings in our little country Church. The Crucifix seemed somehow larger to me, somehow more central.
I wish that all Catholics could have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Rome at some point in their faith life, because being in Rome helps you to realize that you are a part of something far, far larger. As you stand in St. Peter’s Square and watch the many nationalities and hear the languages of all the people who pass by, you begin to see how Christ’s admonition to “Go make disciples of all nations,” has become a reality. You realize the tremendous universality of the Church.
Yet, there’s more. Much more.
Surrounded by the Roman ruins, the catacombs, the ancient art, the monuments and bodies of popes and saints, you also realize that you’re a part of a rich, rich history. It’s not a history that goes back only 30, or 200, or even 500 years, but extends back to the very beginning, and you realize that no one else has this. They simply don’t. The Catholic communion is one that extends across both space and time, connecting us with all who have gone before and all those who will come tomorrow. Being in Rome helps you to realize that our faith is a cosmic faith. It’s center is Jesus Christ, redeemer of the Cosmos.