This was my fourth visit to Rome, but my first as a priest. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, all I can say is that it was quite overwhelming. I used part of my summer vacation to lead a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Rome and then to stay in Rome a few days with just some priest friends. It was an incredibly graced period, time that I know will impact my priesthood for years to come. There is something about Rome that removes you from yourself, from your little world. We often get so wrapped up in our selves, our own problems – big as they may be. But Rome helps to reminds us that we aren’t alone, that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, something truly universal.
I was given a great gift to be present for the Holy Father’s opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops. I was seated in the clergy section right behind the main altar in St. Peter’s – not far from the sistine choir. I arrived early and sat in awe of the incredible space, under the dome of St. Peter’s, just feet above the tomb of St. Peter. To my back was the Holy Spirit window. One could truly feel something special was happening, in anticipation of the Mass, the arrival of the Holy Father, and of the synod itself. There seemed to me an excitement, an electricity in the crowd, even among the bishops and cardinals as they arrived. There seemed an eagerness to get to work, to allow the Holy Spirit to inspire them.To be present at Mass with the Successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Jesus Christ is something I won’t soon forget. Nor will I forget the joy and expectation of being in Rome during these days. There is a lot of eagerness to see what happens with the Synod. There was something in the air that Sunday. I’m not afraid to say I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit there to inspire the Synod Fathers and each of us as well.