Here I am, a whole month past my dream trip to The Eternal City.
My past Christmas vacation to Rome proved to be more than just a nice get away, it was a pilgrimage that impacted the way I view my religion and how I fit into such a large community that can seem over my head at times.
The Vatican City is the heart of Catholicism. Thousands of years worth of history emanate from the walls of the Saint Peter’s Basilica and meaning behind every little detail of the architecture, traditions, and practices of Catholicism are never in short supply. Although I have been Catholic all my life, in the presence of the extravagance of this religion on full display, I couldn’t help but feel like I was a bystander observing from the sidelines rather than a member of the faith. I felt intimidated and almost inadequate for not knowing more foundational knowledge about the rich culture I grew up in.
My cousin Zack, who has been attending seminary school in the Vatican City for the past 5 years, helped to ease some of my shame and guided me to seeing the inclusiveness, warmth, and mercifulness of my Higher Power who I call God. Here are 2 quintessential findings that resonated with my spirit most.
1.There are things that are much bigger than us that we will never be able to fully comprehend and that is okay.
As I was strolling the cobbled streets of Rome, gazing at the breathtaking basilicas, ancient ruins, and impressive political and economic buildings, I realized just how overwhelmed I was becoming by trying to understand every bit of history and meaning that walked these streets before me. Nothing is black and white and even the most knowledgeable historians do not know the inner workings of every being who contributed to this rich culture and history of Rome. I realized all I can do is be present, and allow all that I do not know amaze me rather than overwhelm me. I am a tiny particle in this intricate design of people and time. That feels liberating.
2.Asking God what He wants for me fills me with an indescribable peace
As I strolled the breath taking Saint Mary Major Basilica, I noticed many wooded confession boxes (i’m sure there’s a proper name that sounds much better than box) with priests waiting inside them. I figured if there is any “best” time to do confession, it would be in one of the Papal Basilicas in Rome. Even though I was nervous, I walked up to the calm priest and released some things that were weighing on my chest.
The priest’s response to my shaky confessions took me by surprise. He told me to “Ask God what he wants for you.” So simple, yet something I never did before then. In a way maybe I assumed I wasn’t allowed to know, so I never bothered to ask… thus always feeling enveloped in a blanket of anxiety becasue the future appeared pitch black. I tried asking this question for the remainder of the trip, and I was met with a multitude of different sensations. At first, I felt sick to my stomach. Absolutley engulfed in fear and dread as I awaited His answer to my queston. What if His plans were different then mine? What if my world as I have built it starts crumbling down now that I am allowing God to share his hopes and dreams for me?
After a couple of days of fear, my dread started to turn to a peaceful sense of freedom. I felt lighter in a way knowing that if I allow God to tell me what He wants for me, I will have a clear path to follow. One that will ensure me lasting peace, no matter the trials I face on the way. I supposed the main feeling I experienced was security. I didn’t feel as much pressure on my shoulders to “get things right” with my life. I realized that I can trust God enough to pursue His ideas for me, I mean who am I to question that?
I would say that would be my biggest takeaway from this family trip to Rome. I learned a lot of behind the scenes information about the inner workings of the church, its history, and its people. The richness of its existence is one too deep to fully comprehend, and that is what makes it a priceless place to visit.
Until next time,