It is week three, and we leave for our pilgrimage in two hours. Four days in Rome and then three days in Assisi. While the excitement was building this last week, our classes, papers and looming exams did not leave much time for daydreaming.
I am learning to love the Gaming Kartause culture. True, it is different, but it is thoroughly Franciscan. With its rigorous four-day weeks that roll into weekends of travel, students become engrossed in their work, communal prayer and one another. The more time spent here, the more familial it becomes.
Our classes contribute tremendous amounts to the semester’s formation. Three of my favorite classes — Christian Moral Principles, Theology of the Body and Aesthetics — amaze me in how they overlap, blend and merge into a wisdom I have never been exposed to before. Each class works from the ground up and, for those three in particular, that means reconciling the natural with the supernatural, discovering the role we, immortal souls, have in the passing, physical world.
Each class, in one way or another, focuses on goodness, truth and beauty. Commonly referred to as the three Transcendentals, one can find these principles in our own good, true and beautiful personality traits.
As each one of these holy characteristics reflects God, our lives radiate the bright light of the infinitely-faceted diamond that he is. He is an integrated whole of full truth, goodness and beauty. With each good act, word of truth and encounter with beauty, we come to know God a little bit better.
The best part is that we are hard-wired to get to know God through these three principles. An Austrian semester abroad reveals how living in a place halfway around the world can open one’s eyes up to such graces in a wholly transformative way. Our intellects are made to recognize and reason upwards to truth as our wills are made to desire and know goodness and our hearts, beauty.
This is, I think, one of the main reasons traveling is so widely desired. Traveling breaks us free from routine and allows our eyes to be opened to the goodness, truth and beauty in ordinary and extraordinary places and people in the world.
The truth of Catholicism can be found in places where martyrs gave their lives or cultures where the same faith can still change cultures. The goodness of Catholicism is in every living faith, in every smile we share with a stranger. The beauty of Catholicism is in its church buildings, yes, but furthermore in the sacraments offered to the world every single day.
Our faith is eternally good, true and beautiful because our God is so. We don’t need to travel the world to find it or him. With our minds we can come to truth; with our wills we can embrace and share goodness; from our hearts we can share beauty in our talents and strengths, all for the glory of God.
Life is difficult. But wherever there is truth, wherever there is goodness and wherever there is beauty, there is Christ. You don’t have to travel the world to find him. Just open your eyes and ask for his grace to see.