Ciao Roma!

Stay beautiful, Roma. Closing out an amazing trip. Thank you to all who shared their stories, their tables, and cappuccinos. Can’t wait to continue to share and tell you more. Avanti! Mercy! Ci vediamo a presto!!

“The immensity of it all was so perfectly summed up in the Colosseum; humanity has so much capacity for good, but yet also for evil. Its immensity is beautiful and being there, with the Pope for the Stations of the Cross was so amazing. It was built in 70 A.D. as a killing machine. Uniting the suffering of Christ with dozens of thousands of people there that night, and throughout the world, and history was truly powerful.”

“The best advice I have ever received about discerning my vocation; ‘Pray, and don’t worry.’ I found that God does not need me to place extra pressure on Him to tell me His will. He wants to reveal it to me, more than I want it to be known. I discerned my way into seminary and I am currently studying for the Diocese of Milan.

But I came about this only after realizing my need to be receptive of a call. I began, and often tell people that you must begin by realizing that God needs family, and is family. Most of us are called to form families; this gave me great peace, and a place to start. You must know yourself in order to know what God is asking of you. But it is easier to do this when you start, unafraid of His call. There is no point in becoming anxious about your vocation.”

“So, I am a bit of a thinker, and the Christianity that I was exposed to avoided the difficult aspects of life; it had a limited, shallow consideration for all of my questions. Basically it was like ‘Oh, we arrived, the plane didn’t crash; Praise be to God.’ But what happens when the plane does crash?

I couldn’t reconcile it all and I wanted to get as far as a human can understand it. Poverty, sickness, my cousin died of cancer when he was really young; how do you make sense of all of that? These were the areas that I really needed to dig my teeth into. Challenging my intellectual understanding, reconciling a Jesus who was helping people, suffering with them, has proven very integral for me.”

“I don’t know which one is my favorite. Saint Lawrence! While they cooked him like a rooster on a grill, he was still making jokes.” (With best American accent): “Happy Easter, y’all!!”

“There was only one candle lit, and it was his. I feel really privileged; there were only a few of us outside with the Pope and the Pascal Candle. It was my brother and I and a few other people, while everyone was inside waiting. There was a reason why I was chosen to be able to experience that, and for that I am very grateful. That moment at the heart of the Church will remain with me forever.”

“I am getting flowers for the house with my dad. It’s something that one or both of us try to do almost every Saturday. It is something small, but when you come over after Mass on Sunday for lunch, you find the house illuminated by your previous’ days excursion.”

“It is like what was said in the homily tonight: ‘Mercy will save the world.’ I think that it is so amazing we have a pope who is stressing this recognition of God’s mercy. It’s such an amazing time to be here. The Church was born from the wound that pieced Christ’s side, from out of which, blood and water, love and mercy came out. It wasn’t His death that saved us, it was His love. No matter how much we hate one another, the love of God will always be greater and will continue to be poured out.”

“Our restaurant is named after Saint Joseph, because that’s the name of the church next door. He made a fine dad from what I hear. If Jesus had come here for his last supper, I’m sure he would have enjoyed it.”

“I don’t know the name in English, but in German it’s called, ‘Kreuzweg’. My mother is organizing it. There are several stations you stop at, but it’s when you are walking and you are praying and carrying small crosses. In our area which is Franconia, church bells don’t ring, and we have no advertisements on the radio. It is the Friday before Easter, the day Christ was lead to the cross.”

“I was married to an abusive man, and he was one of the people that I spiritually brought with me on this pilgrimage to the Holy Door [for the Jubilee Year of Mercy]. To me mercy is giving forgiveness, and I continually pray for him. I want what is best for him. Even though he has done things to me that are not great, and he continues to do things that aren’t great, I continue to pray for him. He is the most painful person in my life, but I let his stuff go, otherwise it will weigh me down and I can’t let that happen. Mercy is what strengthens me. I am a very different person than I was when I started this journey. The Holy Door really sealed the deal on my conviction of that.”

(2/2) “Did you hear of the ‘Way of the gods path’ in America? We walk this every day. We will be walking the ‘way of the cross’ on Friday. There isn’t anyway for cars to get back here to us, just horses and our feet. I spend a lot of time thinking; you have all day to think. You think about all kinds of things, a lot goes through your head. You can talk to God. You can talk to the goats, you talk to the people from all over. It is good but I don’t know how much longer we can do this.”

(1/2) ”I get up and start work at six, and then I never know what time it is after that. Each day is 12, 13, sometimes 14-hour days herding our goats. This type of work will soon no longer be around though. I am twenty-eight, my family has been shepherding in this region for at least five or six generations. No one from Naples wants to do this. They look at me and they think, ‘he’s crazy’. But then again, at least I’m not the one letting my 8 year old and 10 year old walk around all day staring at their phone, bumping into walls. The world is moving further and further apart. Two neighbors in the city living right next to each other don’t even know the other person’s name.”

“I am stubborn. So I am like Saint Peter in that.”

“It’s the little things that aren’t big, like my dad always getting us flowers on Easter or being able to read at the Vigil Mass. I realized it on Palm Sunday; I miss being able to be home and celebrate Holy Week with my entire family. But I think that’s what it’s all about, it’s letting go and putting it in God’s hands. We have been able to be spontaneous and it has worked out well for us so far.” “I really like that quote on beauty. Just don’t use it on us with our picture after traveling.”

(1/2) “Well, first off you need to be born in Switzerland and to be a practicing Catholic. All of us do our service through the Swiss Army and then we can apply. I am the tenth of my family’s name to become a Swiss Guard. It has been a tradition in my family since 1873.”

(2/2) “I am happy to serve the Pope and I am very fortunate to do so. It has not always been my dream to do this, and I tried fighting that tradition early on, but I am glad that I am. This type of service is very rewarding. There are many who apply, but only about 30 or so brought in each year. Even my brother now wishes that he would have joined, but he feels the process will take too long; now he is 26 and wants to make money. Please excuse me, we are making a change.”

“Let us turn our faces to Him, let us ask for the grace to understand something of the mystery of His obliteration for our sake; and then, in silence, let us contemplate the mystery of this Week.”

Buckle up everyone!! Holy Week is upon us! Follow along this week as we will be bringing you stories from within the Eternal City

“I went to Confession after a long time and there I truly encountered the Merciful Heart of Jesus. I left the confessional that day with an immense joy and sense of gratitude and a great awareness that so many others have not opened themselves up to the redeeming love of Jesus which flows through that Sacrament. That day a seed was planted in my heart - the seed of a desire to help others come to experience the merciful love of God. That seed began to grow and awaken in me the call to the priesthood. At my first Mass I told the people present that in a sense my vocation was born in the confessional.”

“All of us want to be deeply and intimately connected with another. For me, Lent is a time to be vulnerable with our strengths and weaknesses and connect with the fulfilling and life-giving Heart of Jesus.”

(2/2) “I teach literature and creative writing at a detention center for youth. There was one kid that was looking at possible life in prison when he came in and for a long time we really butted heads. But before he left, something clicked; he sat me down one day and said ‘I’m sorry I’ve been such an ass. You have the same name as my mom and she was terrible to me. You always showed me kindness and you forgave me, and it changed the way that I see people.’

Being loved and cared for by people really transformed his character. These kids constantly surprise me. It’s amazing to see the power that love and mercy have. I love every part of it.”

“It has been my experience that art can lend the shoes of the artist to the audience. The observer is able to walk in the perspective of the artist; feel their heart break, their philosophy, and glimpse into their life, into their story. I don’t expect anyone to leave my show to come away thinking the same philosophy or believing the same faith, but I hope they walk away feeling it.”