For the past week, I have been accompanying a group (mostly parishioners from the Paulist Mother Church in New York) on a Year of Faith Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. I didn't have my laptop with me and we didn't stay in places with easy internet access, so this is my first (brief) comment on the experience. Tomorrow I fly back to New York and the next morning back to Knoxville! In Rome last Sunday, we attended the Papal Mass at St. Peter's for the solemn opening of the Synod of Bishops on the topic of the New Evangelization. The special highlight of that celebration was the elevation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen to Doctors of the Church. Having recently compelted a course here in Rome with the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, It was especially interesting to attend this ceremony, which after all happens not that often. And St. John of Avila is an especially appropriate saint for the Church to celebrate as we embrace the challenge of the New Evangelization.
The historic and religious sites we visited were all familiar to me already. So for me the highlights (besides spending time with familiar friends from years past) were the Masses I was privileged to celebrate on Monday at St. John Lateran, on Tuesday at St. Paul's Outside the Walls, and on Wednesday in Assisi. These were moments of real grace for me as I look forward to this Year of Faith, which the Church begins today.
I have gotten so used to going on line every day, to keeping up with the NYTimes and other political and news sites, I had wondered what it would be like to survive without them for a week. Well I've made it - none the worse for being out of touch and maybe a bit better off for having not heard anything about the presidential campaign for a week!