Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

Rome and Reasons for Hope

I just returned from my second pilgrimage to Rome in the last 10 months. This one was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Apostles of the Interior Life community, a Roman/American community of consecrated women, priests, and laity, of which I am a lay member. The Lord God lavished grace upon grace upon me, and gave me reasons for hope in this time of world-wide moral struggles. It is for this reason that I compose this entry. God is utterly generous and gratuitous in the bestowal of heavenly gifts.  Of this truth, I am a living witness. So, if you feel anxious or worried about this present darkness, be at peace and confident in this fact–in Christ, the battle is won, and the victory is ours. Consider the following:

Without realizing the audacious events that were about to unfold in the U.S. regarding the Supreme Court and the redefinition of marriage, we were given the privilege to celebrate Holy Mass in the crypt of the  tomb of St. Peter directly beneath the High Papal Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on June 26. While attending Mass, I was able to peer continually over the priest’s shoulder to eye the actual tomb of Peter. Immediately after the homily, all of the married couples present were invited to approach the altar and renew our wedding nuptials. My wife was able to enjoy the pilgrimage with me, so we were deeply honored to be able to renew our vows with all of the other wonderful married couples. Only later that afternoon did we find out about the SCOTUS ruling. After my shock and anger subsided, I realized what had happened earlier in the day–I renewed my marriage, along with around 20 other couples, on the bones of Peter–the Rock of Christ’s Church. It is THIS Church to which Christ gave this promise: the gates of Hell will not prevail.

The next sight we visited was the church of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists. This church is the custodian of a very popular and important icon: the original Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The original image OL-Perpetual-Helpwas painted sometime before the 15th Century on the island of Crete, before it was stolen by a Roman merchant and brought to Italy. After various apparitions, miracles, and misfortunes, the holy image ended up on display in the current church in the mid-19th century under the care of the Redemportists. Known for the many miracles and profound fruits of her intercessory care, Our Lady of Perpetual Help  is one of the most popular and best known icon’s in the world. We all beseeched Our Lady for her continued intercession for our country and for the protection of marriages world wide. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were there on the eve of the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 27. By the way, the holy image is particularly known for bringing good out of evil circumstances.

On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, we went to Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis. His message was that the church of our times, just like the times of Peter and Paul, is being challenged by a pagan culture and therefore needs to be a church of Prayer, Faith, and Witness.  The Pope reminded us that throughout history, forces have consistently tried to destroy the Church, but they themselves were destroyed and the Church lives on! To the ongoing praise of God! And how does this happen: by our constant prayer, faith, and witness. No better or truer words were needed.

Our last day there, we celebrated the Feast of the Martyrs of Rome. Their heroism reaches through the ages to remind, inspire, and sustain us in our own times of conflict. The OT reading for Mass that day? The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Here’s my take on these events: God knew the events unfolding in the U.S. and the negative effects this news would have on all believers. Thus, He wants to reassure us that He alone is God, that He is in control, that His Church is built on rock and will withstand the storms of life that are destined to rage against her. He also gives us a Heavenly Mother to protect and lead us to her Divine son, and who torments demons. That He is the Divine Judge, and that our encouragement comes through seeing with the eyes of faith, not of the world.

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3 Responses to “Rome and Reasons for Hope”

  1. Jody Sheehan says:

    The TRUTH is in Jesus and HIS/OUR church.

    YBIC Jody

  2. Greg says:

    Thanks for your inspirational witness Troy!

  3. Mary Z says:

    Thanks for the reminder Troy. God Bless!

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