At this point, we have been to Melk, Durnstein, Salzburg and Vienna. By the time this is published, we will have had our first free weekend. It is all a delight.
We have heard the stories and now we are living them.
Beauty abounds here in Gaming. Part of that is the nature itself. There are hills and mountains and rivers and creeks and wide open fields. And, did you know Austria has five different categories of trash? It is not just recommended but mandatory that we sort it appropriately. Austria is a very clean country.
There is also a whole lot of beauty in the life we are living.
There is Mass once a day—we all receive Jesus together as a community, and it is fabulous. Many people are getting involved in the liturgy for the first time. I was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion in Steubenville; here I am still getting to EMHC, and I have been trained to be a sacristan.
There are no desserts at the Mensa (the Kartause’s cafeteria). I love this because it helps to cultivate the idea that sweets are special. When we have gelato in a new city or a pastry from a local café, it is exciting and a treat. It is easier to appreciate good things when we are intentional and not mindless about them.
We are living in close community with people we might never have met otherwise. Without household to cling to, we are forced to step outside the safety of our established groups. But it is not hard to make friends when you are spending the night in a random hostel or struggling together to navigate the Vienna metro system (where each station name is a long, seemingly unpronounceable German word).
It has been a treat to get to know the Franciscan friars, the Byzantine priests, the T.O.R sisters and the “university families,” all of whom are living and worshiping alongside us. It has also been a cool experience to get to know the Language and Catechetical Institute students, who are learning English and Catechetics here in Gaming. They are so brave—just think, we are living our (kind of) normal lives in a new country; they are taking classes and making friends in a language that is foreign.
We are constantly reminded that the semester will fly by and encouraged to make the most of every moment. The advice is cliché, but it is true and important. As one example of trying to live this out in a concrete way, I have decided to not look at the pictures I take until I post them on Sundays. It has been a good way to stay present to the people I am with while still capturing the memories.
The Holy Spirit is very present here in Gaming.
Beauty, I believe, instills in us a sense of wonder, which leads us to Christ. We are living abundantly, growing constantly and learning how to better love each other and give of ourselves.
The blessings are unending, and I am so thankful to be here in Gaming.
All the glory to God, Amen.