Travel Log: Part 1

(click on the links for photos)

I remember the Sunday morning we came back from Europe. It felt great to be back home, although most of us already missed living out this amazing dream for the past few weeks. We went to Mass a few hours later and right before the procession, the cantor mentioned that it was the feast of the Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul. Once I heard that, I immediately looked at my mom, smiled, and thought about how great God is and how much He has blessed me and my family within those few weeks.

After everything was settled, I talked to some of my friends about the highlights of the trip. God was truly with us throughout the whole time and I’m still incredibly shocked that we walked on the same grounds as Jesus’ apostles. We spent our first few days, as well as last, in the beautiful city of Rome, one of the many destinations we traveled to.

The first place I want to share about is St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. I can still perfectly illustrate in my mind what I saw – from the brilliant lighting of the Basilica against the sapphire night sky to the towering marble columns that surrounded the square to the flawless craftsmanship of the saints’ statues placed atop of those columns – the memory of the smallest country in the world, and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church has definitely left an immense impact on my life.

I’m just getting started, too.

The architecture of the Square and the Basilica wasn’t the only part that amazed me, but everything behind each component doubled the amazement.

It only got better.

The Sunday morning before we embarked MS Freedom, our whole family was invited by Fr. Powers (the priest who presided my cousin’s wedding and the one who helped them with the all of the preps) to attend Mass in the Basilica – a private Mass, I must add. Moments after entering the Basilica, we looked around at the several altars, chapels, sculptures and continually gazed in awe at every single thing. I couldn’t believe that I stood right in front of the original sculpture of Michaelangelo’s Pietà. It’s still hard to believe it now as a type.

About an hour passed and we were allowed to walk down the steps that led to the Crypt. The Mass was held in a chapel, but not just any chapel. This chapel faces the tomb of St. Peter. What more do I have to say?

That hour or so spent in the crypt was one of the best moments of my life. We celebrated the Holy Eucharist in front of St. Peter, to the right of John Paul The Great, and around several other popes that were laid to rest there. Never in my life did I imagine a moment like that. Listening to the Word and partaking in the Eucharist in the Basilica was already crazy, but all that in front of the 1st pope and the last pope before Pope Benedict XVI, our current pope, made it a thousand times crazier.

The sculptures and tombs of ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things simply because of their love for God can undeniably be found in these headquarters. We honor them for what they’ve done and look to them as examples to how we should live our lives in the world today. As Catholics, we should also continue to pray for their intercession, that we may draw our strength from God and completely trust Him when it comes to the ongoing battles in our lives. My faith in God and my love for Him only grows when I think about how much He’s blessed me and for giving me the opportunity to step foot in St. Peter’s. One of my most favorite places in the world.

I pray to come back soon.

Plenty more to come….

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