The second thing that struck me about Rome was death. Tombs, funerary monuments, dead bodies (corrupt and incorrupt), instruments of torture, catacombs, etc. I felt such gravity.
As I reflected on this, I realized something that I had known rationally before but perhaps not spiritually, that brutal murders, decaying bones, and marble coffins aren’t an end but a doorway.
A few weeks before my trip, a priest at my parish had reminded us that each time we hear the Mass we recall that we live this life in view of the next:
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I guess I was experiencing some anxiety about seeing all these physically dead people, but once I realized that they were spiritually alive and well in Heaven, the whole experience took on a new meaning.
It became like making new friends! Like, “Hey St. Catherine of Siena, how’s it going?” Or “Wow St. Monica, is that really you?” It was very moving saying “Thank you, St. Josémaria Escriva” as I was kneeling before his tomb.
My journey from the darkness of death to the hope of eternity with our Savior was yet another spiritual fruit of my trip to Rome. I’m sure other fruits will emerge, but I’m very grateful for the two I’ve written about here!