Within two weeks, I will be back in the good old US of A; I will back in Minnesota and life will go on. How time flies! As my time in the Eternal City comes to its end, I can’t help but reflect back on the experiences and blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me in these past 4 months.
If you’re planning on going on this program, you have probably already heard – or if you haven’t, you will hear – that this semester abroad through the Catholic Studies Rome program will change you and change your life. When I first heard this, I didn’t believe it. Or I suppose a better way of explaining myself is to say that I was skeptical of such a bold statement. But I can’t doubt it any longer; the statement is true. This semester really does change you, transform you. In some ways I’m still the same – I’m still as blunt as ever, I still think basketball is the greatest sport ever to be invented, I can’t resist dessert (a new addiction has also been added to the plate: gelato), my Minnesotan vowels are still as long as ever, and the list goes on. But there are some things about me that have changed.
For one thing, my mindset of the world and of the faith has greatly expanded. There’s really nothing like living in a foreign land for 4 months to give you a fuller view of the world. You mean the world doesn’t revolve around St. Paul, Minnesota?! That’s exactly what I mean; and to be honest, it’s been awesome to let that really sink in, as simple of a concept it may be. I’ve also realized this semester that while going to Mass on Sundays and praying Rosaries are good, it’s not enough to call yourself Catholic, to be Catholic. It’s so much more that that – it’s a distinct lifestyle, there’s a mindset that goes along with it. The way we live needs to follow what the Church teaches and in our secular world this may seem radical at times. But, it’s worth it; it’s completely and truly worth it because it invites you into a deeper and fuller way of living. As silly as it may sound, I’ve never felt so human. Read encyclicals by Pope Benedict XVI and now Blessed John Paul II and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
While living in the Eternal City, the heart of the Catholic Church, I have also experienced the universality of the Church in such a profound and unique way. It’s still amazing to think that the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI himself, lives no more than a mile away from my current residence. The saints, too, have come alive for me like never before. I can’t put into words how cool it is to be able to pray in front of this relic of this saint or in front of that tomb of that saint. It really is incredible.
And these are only a couple of the blessings the Lord has given me. So when I go back and hear the question that I know I will be asked – “How was Rome?” – if it takes me a while to produce an answer or if I can’t seem to stop stuttering, it’s because I’m thinking about all of this and more. Was it life changing? Yes. Was it amazing? Yes. But these statements can’t even do the experience justice.
Pace e bene,