From Fr. Paul 5-21-2017
Last week a priest friend and I had the great opportunity to lead 47 pilgrims on a holy journey to Assisi, Siena, Orvieto and Rome. We had the opportunity to celebrate Mass at several holy sites including the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi, the sites of two Eucharistic miracles – one in Siena and one in the town of Orvieto, the tomb of St. Peter in the lower level of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, as well as the oldest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. Mary Major in Rome. We got to see Pope Francis close up at his Wednesday Audience as well. He blessed a friend of mine who will be ordained a priest in a few weeks. I believe it was a time of profound grace for many of us, allowing for a strengthening of our Catholic beliefs. We saw beautiful artwork and architecture throughout these cities and learned the history and the culture. We also enjoyed the great food (and gelato almost every day) that Italy has to offer. For me, it was a time of grace to witness others experiencing the transforming power of God.
I was also able to share with the group some of my favorite churches including the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Santa Maria sopra Minerva near the Pantheon in Rome where St. Catherine of Siena is buried, and the large Jesuit church of the Gesú, the site of the relics of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola. I found visiting this church a particularly moving experience. There is the image of the Virgin Mary that the Jesuits venerate before leaving for mission, and an original image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please know that you all were prayed for at these holy places. God’s goodness and grace is abundant.
Things were in full swing when I returned with the First Eucharist liturgy, a wedding and our missionary priest visit all last Saturday. I want to congratulate all those who received their first Eucharist last week and those who will receive Jesus for the first time this Saturday. I pray that you may always recognize the great gift that is the Body and Blood of Jesus. May you never miss a Sunday Mass where you are called to hear the God’s word and receive the Eucharist. These two are essential so that you might accomplish the mission God has for you.
As we continue to celebrate this sacred Easter season, let us pray for renewed faith in Jesus risen from the dead, renewed love of Jesus in the Eucharist, and renewed desire to accomplish the mission Jesus has for each of us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Have a blessed week,