More Updates from Italy

by Friar Don Bassana, OFM Conv.

Rome July 3rd 

In the early morning hours on July 3rd I was in Vatican City on the steps of St. Peters Basilica waiting for the gates to open. I noticed the sign that read Santa Porta (Holy Door) and walked over and stood at the gate. Well aware of my great need for the Lord’s Mercy and this being the Year of Mercy, I prayed to the Holy Spirit (as I usually do) and asked to be made aware of His eternal presence in me, and my presence in Him.

I also asked for intercessions from St. Anthony to help me find the lost connection and oneness I and all humanity were given with the Holy Spirit through the Incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Soon after the gates opened, I walked near to the Holy Door, paused and prayed for the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, that being sanctified I may also be transformed spiritually. That the Light, Love and Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit may flow through me and be shared wholly, perfectly and completely with all humanity, creatures and creation. That just for this day I may be Christ to all I encounter.

This is a prayer I have recently found myself praying with great frequency with an increased desire to bring Christ's presence into all I do. I stepped up to the Holy Door and put my hands on the door panel of Christ crucified and prayed to Jesus. I cannot describe what happened but I can say just for an instant I felt a Peace and Presence, which brought tears to my eyes.

I knew my prayers had been heard and God in His Infinite Mercy showed me, a sinner, what is to be. It was only an instant, but I felt it was a true gift. The Mass I attended was at a side alter along with about twenty or so people, and the priest spoke about the changes Jesus can make and bring us Heaven here in this time and space.

Tears sprung up once again as I had been meditating on time and space in my earlier contemplations at the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua. I believe the time spent in preparing for my second novitiate was, if not verified, at least acknowledged with this gift that brought tears of Joy.

I plan to reflect upon experiences and summarize the week or if moved by particular experiences perhaps mention those in more detail. Pace e Bene.  

July 5th

Today we made our way up north of the city to the mountains and the little town of Tagliacozzo. Two Franciscan friars who are twin brothers greeted us and it is wonderful to see the strong religious ties in a family.

cross            In the little church of the friars there was a large cross hanging over the alter that captured my attention. While looking at the cross I thanked the Holy Spirit for allowing us to arrive safely. I then quieted myself interiorly and I began to gaze intently at the cross. 

            Since I began praying more intently to become like Christ and share the Light and Love of our heavenly Father with all He created, Christ crucified has grasped my attention in a different way. I have used in prayer a paraphrase of the words St. Paul “that I may die and it be Christ who lives."

            Suddenly, springing up in my mind were the words "there is no greater love than this to lay down ones live for another." I have been praying to God to allow me to die to myself that Christ may live...In love I offer my life for Christ's life. Pace e Bene

July 6th

Today we walked over to St. John Lateran, the earliest basilica in Christendom. This was the Popes' cathedral for the first 1000 years of our heritage. Constantine dedicated this basilica to Jesus our Savior.

            Large statues of Christ and the Doctors of our faith greet the pilgrims as we arrive. While many renovations have taken place, there are remnants of the original basilica from the 300s, such as the depiction of Christ on the outside and the Pope's private chapel on the inside.

            In today’s reading for Mass we heard the words: "do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" These words echoed the words of my earlier ponderings and drew my mind back to the Holy Spirit within us.

              The Gospel reading with Zacchaeus climbing the tree had me wonder about my own life. To what lengths have I gone to encounter Christ?  Have I become discouraged by the crowd and missed opportunities? Or have I gone the extra step, have I made the extra effort to rise above the daily deterrents and keep my vision and my focus on Christ?  Pace e Bene