“Postcards” from the Class of 2014

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WEEK 3:  THE HIGHLIGHTS

I refer to the following three highlights as “The Triduum”:

Sunday, June 1, 2014
After going to Mass at a beautiful Franciscan church just to the side of St. Peter’s Basilica, I along with a few others went to the Regina Caeli led by the Holy Father at St. Peter’s Piazza. I have never been to Rome nor seen the Holy Father in person so I was excited to see the Pope – though not as much as I had anticipated. About five minutes before the Pope was scheduled to appear, I distanced myself from the group and began to pray on what is the significance of seeing the Pope in person is. (The fruit of this prayer is posted below.) Then, as he made his appearance from the window of the Papal Apartments, I found myself having to hold back the cheers I wanted to express for the Holy Father. I found myself with arms up welcoming the Holy Father as he looked at us from his window.

It was the solemnity of the Ascension and he spoke that day of God’s continual presence with us – in particular, he mentioned those persecuted Christians who suffer so much quietly. He asked us all gathered in the piazza if we believe that God is with us. He asked us this same question twice and then had us say out loud: “The Lord is with us!” The Pope also said that Christ offers his wounds to the Father and so we must do the same.

Monday, June 2, 2014
On Monday, Fr. Roger Landry from the diocese of Fall River, led us on tour in St. Peter’s Basilica. We had Mass in the crypt of the Basilica. While the whole morning was full of blessings, I particularly would like to share the experience of participating in the Scavi Tour. This tour is of the excavations that have been done under the structure of St. Peter’s. We walk through what was once the necropolis next to Nero’s Circus. The highlight of the whole tour is the sight of the bones of St. Peter. We stood about 10 feet from where they were returned (where they were originally located) after being examined after they were discovered. They are kept in a see-through container.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
On Tuesday we went on pilgrimage to the catacombs of St. Callistus. We had Mass in the catacombs – the very place where the early Christians would bury their dead and where countless martyrs were placed. I reflected on the gift of our faith – a gift which has not come to us cheaply – countless martyrs have given their life in witness to this same faith. At the catacombs, I had a deep sense of the communion of the saints as well as the glory and pride that is our faith! These, our fathers and mothers in the faith, believed enough so as to die in order to remain faithful to Christ. We should not be ashamed of our faith but rather rejoice and present it to others as the treasure it is – a treasure worth dying for.

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A DAY-TRIP TO ASSISI 

Sunday, June 8, 2014 (Mass)
A few of us went to Assisi for the weekend. On Sunday morning, we participated in Mass at the Basilica of Saint Francis. After Mass, we went into the crypt of the Church. This is where his tomb is located. I was confirmed under the name Francis, so this was a particularly special encounter.

Sunday, June 8, 2014 (Hermitage)
Before the Mass, a few of us from the group that were in Assisi hiked up to St. Francis’ hermitage. It was a little over an hour walk. What was most impressive of the hermitage were the small caves in the walls of the mountain where the friars would live. They had so little yet so much.

REFLECTION:  This past Sunday I saw the Pope. Like many who I imagine will read this article, this is not a common thing for me. It is, actually, rather extraordinary. This trip has been one of many “first’s.” It is my first time in Europe, and therefore, it was my first time in France and my first time in Rome; it was the first time I spent seven hours on a plane; yes, it was even my first time having gelato. But I must say that seeing the Pope in person as he spoke from the window of the Papal Apartments, and as I, from the piazza watched he whom is charged with the responsibility of being the universal shepherd of Christ’s flock on Earth and seemed like a one inch speck because of the distance, could not help but think and pray on the role of the Roman Pontiff, i.e., the Pope. As noon was approaching, and therefore the time that the Pope would make his appearance, I reflected on what my seeing the Pope in person meant. It is that in seeing the Pope, I am seeing an expression of the universality of the Church. This is to say that when I see the Pope, I am not only seeing Pope Francis, however good he is, but that I am also looking at a ministry that Christ himself instituted while he was still here on Earth (Matthew 16: 13-19). What does this mean for us Christians if not that Christ, despite what is going on in the world and even the problems within the Church itself, is still with us and leading us. In other words, when I see Pope Francis, I also see his office and ministry. Pope Francis is not my pope or someone’s pope; he is our Pope. Though one does not need to see the Pope in person to realize this, it is a more palpable, and graspable, expression of this reality, i.e., the universality of the Church, if we are blessed to be able to see him in person. Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia.

Ion Chamorro
Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Miami
Rome Experience Class of 2014

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