Saturday, June 25, 2011


Our trip to Italy was one of spiritual focus as well as of sight-seeing and meals. Ours was the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist in some extraordinarily special places—

We were in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of Santa Chiara in Assisi, as well as in the upper basilica of San Francesco;
We were in the house of St Catherine of Siena;
We were in the Eucharistic miracle chapel of the Cathedral of Orvieto;
We were in an ancient church on the island of Capri and the Cathedral of Sorrento;
We were in the crypt-chapel of Monte Cassino, just below the tombs of Ss Benedict and Scholastica;
We were in special chapels in Santa Prassede, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and the crypt of St Peter’s in Rome.

These are all extremely imposing edifices, but their beauty is overshadowed by their age and tradition—from Apostolic times through the rise of monasticism to the renewal of the Church and the healing of divisions in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it is both humbling and renewing to be there and know that we can take part (active part) in this long heritage: in fact, we are called to do so.

Sharing food and drink at our regular meals was “eucharistic” in its own way, as well: after all, it was at a supper that Jesus gave us Himself in the Sacrament. This means that every meal can be for us a “sacramental,” a reminder of His total self-giving love for us. Surely that’s why grace before meals is such an important tradition (one we share, of course, with other religions—most especially our Jewish brothers and sisters).

Travel is exhausting, but it is good because it reminds us of the fact that ultimately we are all pilgrims, and our goal, our homeland, is not here (see Hebrews 13:14). Some of the “inns” we find are delightful, but they are rest-stops, not our destination. As St Augustine put it, “Sing, but continue walking.”

[NOTE:  The picture above is of the base of the obelisk in the center of the piazza in front of St Peter's in Rome.  For more images of our pilgrimage, see my Facebook page.]

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