So I’ve headed off again to Italy (no surprise, right?). What are the expectations of my journey? Let me just say that I have discussed this with my spiritual director/confessor, and his comment to me was, “You always do the same things; you are so predictable!” I think that by “predictable” he really meant “boring”! Still, you might wonder what will I be up to?
Yes, this is a spiritual retreat for me. Forgive me as I write in future tense since I’m writing this before I actually leave. I’ll take a train to Florence and have a day-trip to Siena—there is housed in a church there a wonderful Eucharistic miracle, and I’ll pray there in a special way for dearest Cullis Holub, who so loved the city and that church.
In Assisi, it’s my time. Evening Prayer and Eucharistic Adoration in the evenings at San Damiano are guaranteed for me (weather permitting), as well as Mass (hopefully, I’ll concelebrate) at the Basilica of San Francesco (where the saint is buried), or perhaps Mass (again, hopefully, I’ll concelebrate) in Santa Chiara, where that saint is buried. I’ll walk down to Santa Maria degli Angeli (Francis’ Porziuncola) for Mass and Rosary; I’ll walk up Mount Subasio for lunch at La Stalla, a great rustic location, and further up to the Hermitage where Francis often went to spend time alone in prayer. The place is tremendously peaceful, and the view is staggering; it’s easy to see why Francis loved it
In Rome, there’ll be Rosary for my Mother at Sant’Agostino (where his Mother, St Monica, is buried); Rosary for my Dad at St Paul Outside the Walls; confession for me with the Dominicans at Santa Maria Maggiore; Mass one morning at St Peter’s. I’ll certainly notice several “legitimate” beggars on the streets (it’s hard to fake an amputation), and I’ll engage them in conversation and give them some money. Oh, yes: and dinners with friends!
Confession, Rosary, Adoration, Mass, Liturgy of the Hours—it’s my routine, and if it seems “boring” to others, it’s a comfort and time of healing for me. When I take groups, as I will this June, I have virtually no private time (it’s not vacation for me—it’s work). But when I go by myself, I get to spend quality time with the Lord in very special places. I’m so blessed for these opportunities!
I know that this sounds terribly like bragging. Please forgive me. The truth is that I am spiritually strengthened by these visits, and I hope they enable me to be more effective as a priest because of them. Pray for me, and I will be praying for everyone at Our Savior.