As it is the beginning of the Easter Season, we have been hearing various accounts of Christ’s resurrection. A prominent theme in these accounts is that Jesus has risen in the flesh and that He is, even after His resurrection, fully man. He says to His disciples: “Look at My hands and My feet, see that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see, for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” In so doing, He reassures them that He, Himself, has risen and come back to them, but He also reveals something to us about ourselves and the nature of belief: Christ is made known to us “in the breaking of the bread.” As composites of body and soul, our journey to belief is not merely intellectual; instead, belief incorporates every aspect of our being.
This paradigm, of belief incorporating the whole person, is a predominant thread that ties together my recent pilgrimage to Rome. The truth of this claim is manifest in the way in which the faith becomes all the more real when you are standing in front of Paul’s tomb, Peter’s bones or John Paul II’s tomb; when you are humbled by the sheer magnitude of Saint Peter’s Basilica or Bernini’s Baldachin; or when you are at the place of the conversion of Saint Francis or the Colosseum where many Christians were martyred for sport.
Being at these places leads one to ask: “What is it that led these Christians to prefer death rather than giving up their faith? What is it that led Francis to renounce everything for Christ? What drove Paul and led him all over the ancient world?” Another way of putting this is that the veneration of relics and the act of pilgrimage is a physical action that forces one to turn inwards to reflect on one’s own interior disposition and the interior disposition of those saints whom we venerate. The answer to these questions, of course, is Jesus: for Paul, for the apostles, for the martyrs, for Francis and for the many saints, the complete gift of self is “worth it” because Jesus taught us so in his word and deed – and this is true today.
In the course of a week, we visited around 30 churches and walked about 10 to 15 mile a day. We saw many beautiful churches and some amazing relics – with Saint Peter’s Basilica and his bones being at the top of the list. I have to say, though, that my favorite part of the whole trip was praying with the Sant’Egidio community at Santa Maria Trastevere, meeting a few members of their community and eating at their restaurant. The atmosphere was permeated with life, joy and energy – and this was seen in the huge turnout for prayer and in the many lingering conversations afterwards. The whole experience was made all the more special when I learned that Santa Maria Trastevere is considered to be the home of one of the first Christian communities in Rome. The church is not simply a tourist trap or a historical antique; it is still today a place of prayer and worship in the name of Jesus Christ. The very same person is at work in our lives today as he was in the lives of Paul, Peter and Francis. As a result of this historical continuity, the apostle’s entrusting of the deposit of faith has been made all the more real for me. The very same faith that motivated them to give of their lives is the same faith that should permeate every aspect of my life so that in the Eucharist Christ might be revealed anew.
Mr. Gabriel Griggs entered Moreau Seminary as a Postulant in the fall of 2015. He completedhis undergraduate studies in liberal studies and applied mathematics at theUniversity of Notre Dame in 2014. He is originally from South Bend, Indiana.