We here in Austria are reeling from the crazy, activity-filled, 10-day Rome and Assisi trip. Given that you all on main campus are begrudgingly returning back to good old Steubenville from spring break, I think that we are all in the same boat.
Italy overall was absolutely incredible – much more than I had anticipated. Of course, with Rome being our Catholic “home” in terms of our faith and Assisi being the home of the great saint after whom our school is named, one would expect a lot of big things from this trip.
But I think for myself and many others here, what made the difference was the fact that Rome truly does feel like home. Everywhere you go, every church you see is so full of historical and religious significance.
At the start of our trip, we were encouraged to approach this 10-day with a pilgrim mindset and to see what a difference it made in contrast to a regular travel trip. And my goodness – what a difference it made.
No longer were we just a horde of college kids running around Rome from monument to monument and inhaling gelato (though I certainly participated in the latter). But rather, we were pilgrims, taking in, with deep respect and profound awe, the incredible sights around us.
From the bones and chains of St. Paul to the body of St. Catherine of Siena to relics from the passion of Christ — nothing was insignificant.
The strength of the faith of these men and women just like us was so inspiring — an excellent reminder that when we stand up for our faith and put our trust in God, we stand on the shoulders of the giants who did it before us and who cheer us on.
This lesson rings especially true in our world today, with the threats of groups like ISIS who wish to wipe out the face of Christianity. A scary thought to be sure, but there was a strong sense of comfort and peace in the history of unsuccessful attempts to destroy the church in the past. As Christ said to St. Peter when giving him the keys to the kingdom, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”