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Rome: Day 1

November 4, 2012


When a day starts in St. Peter’s Square looking up at Pope Benedict addressing the crowd from his apartment window and ends with a private Mass for five in the cell of St. Dominic at Santa Sabina, how can I even begin to describe it?

Rather than run stop by stop through visits to the Pantheon and Santa Maria Sopraminerva, among others, I can only offer impressions gleaned over my first full day in Rome.

In the basilica of Santa Sabina (built around 430 on top of a first century church) a stone lays inlaid to on the floor, marking the original burial spot of St. Sabina and her servant who led her to faith in Christ. It’s said that St. Dominic would lay prostrate on the stone until all hours of the night praying and weeping for the poor, the oppressed and sinners. It’s hard not to envision that man of faith lying there pleading for the souls of others in tireless love. It’s harder still to imagine that he hasn’t assumed the same state in heaven, praying for the pilgrim church and for the souls of all.

“This stone,” said Father Brian, our guide through Santa Sabina, “has literally been soaked with his tears.”

The tears were all mine as we gathered in Saint Dominic’s tiny cell to celebrate Mass. The great, wide and universal church became so small and intimate as we sat in silence before Father Jorge began his short homily with the words, “It is said that in the silence, the Lord does his teaching.”

In the silence I prayed for my wife and each of our wonderful children one by one. “Help me to be the father of Saints, and to be to living image of God’s fatherly love,” was the prayer of my heart. I lifted up each of our Godchildren, Ellie, Deacon and Timothy, asking that they too may experience the love of Christ that their parents hold so dear.

Another image of parenthood permeated my day in different ways, via two statues of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The first, in what was formerly the Pantheon, was an image of Mary standing behind a four or five year old Christ. The second, a statue of Mary in the church of Santa Maria Sopraminerva with the infant Christ suckling at her breast. Both captured a simple reality of motherhood that struck me in a way I didn’t expect. It reminded me that, while we the Church look at Mary as such a prominent, almost inhuman example of faith, she was first and foremost the mother of Jesus. The images of Mary reminded me of all the ways I’ve watched Michelle be “mom” to our children and made me, once again, thankful to be reminded that our Church celebrates the subtleties of love and care that a mother has for her children by providing us a spiritual mother.

I am so thankful for this day, for my friends and family back home and for a wife that loves me enough to send me half way around the world to confront spiritual realities that should be apparent in the everyday.

There were so many laughs along the way today that cannot begin to be captured. My fellow pilgrims are all in good spirits and looking forward to another amazing day tomorrow. Until then, buena note!

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 4, 2012 9:21 pm

    Wow! Your description almost made me feel the emotion of your incredible day. I can’t wait to see what the days ahead hold for us. Thanks for being our tour guide on this incedrible trip.

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