Showing the Umbras of St. Peter

If I could spend a few hours per day just walking around St. Peter's Basilica and showing people the visible signs of the Catholic faith, I would be the happiest person in the world. Unfortunately, I have class. But fortunately, I can spend some time on the weekends, like today, doing some 'improv' tour-guiding. Today was a great example of what amazing fruit the Lord sometimes issues forth on such occasions...

After Pope Benedict's regular Sunday Angelus in St. Peter's Square, I decided to go into the basilica for.. well, simply to walk around and talk to people (I find that's the best way to work on my Italian, as well as get some down-to-earth contact with non-seminary types). Anyway, in the cue line for the church I met up with a group of Canadian pilgrims, waiting to enter. We began talking and ultimately ended up walking in the doors at the same time. They wanted to see the tombs of the popes, below the main floor, and asked if I could show them. I was more than happy to help. We saw the tomb of John Paul II, and even got to sneak back (yes, 'sneak' is not an overstatement either) to the chapel behind the tomb of Peter, where you can see his actual bones. I was floored by how intensely this struck all four of them; they began crying and just simply stating how much of a difference this made for their entire pilgrimage, which included the Holy Land as well. We stayed for a few minutes, then ended our little side-pilgrimage with an Our Father for their intentions back in Canada.

On our way 'sneaking' out of the Clementine Chapel, we picked up a few (like nine) more Americans and all headed up to the main basilica for a walk around and, again, a little 'side trip' to some not-so-seen but amazing places to pray. (In Italy, it's all about who you know and how you ask... luckily the guards were feeling nice today!) Again, just allowing people to see and pray at some of the sites in St. Peter's was enough to instill tears in even the most seemingly skeptical of eyes. In short, it was incredible.

I am convinced that this is precisely the reason we are here, as seminarians, to study; not only do we learn theology, but the history of the Church and the saints, and also the very lives of the saints when we visit their tombs and show others the glory of their holiness. I hope that the Lord continues to sustain my fervor with opportunities like this. It really is a blessing to have the chance to be humbled so much by the greatness of God, who surpasses us all to an infinite degree!

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    # by 2005 travelling buddy - November 20, 2007 at 9:59 AM

    I'm confident He will keep your fervor alive in St. Peter's. How can one not be awestruck with each experience?

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    # by Andrew Haines - November 20, 2007 at 11:50 PM

    i hope that you are right. God is more than generous but i am certainly not always open to that. i look at priests here in the seminary and see some very holy men, and am continually forced to realize that this is not a vocation for the faint of heart!

    please pray that i will be fervent to offer my life in this manner, and be assured that i'll be praying for all of my readers...