Ad limina reflections: the most blessed week ever
ROME — It is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ever top the events of this week in Rome and the time that I spent in Assisi and Siena.
From start to finish, the ad limina pilgrimage has been a privilege and the most intense personal experience and professional assignment I have ever accepted.
Most days were 20 hour days, spent walking close to 10 miles a day and also riding in multiple forms of transportation in a country that has an "organized chaos" approach to traffic, especially in Rome.
To say that it has been a whirlwind is an understatement.
But amidst the intensity of the travel, the sightseeing, the interviewing, the blogging, the photography, the sleep deprivation and the attempt to overcome the language barrier, there has been great joy and a sense of purpose in being able to share with the rest of the world what it is like to go to "the threshold of the Apostles."
My joy has been twofold, as not only did I enjoy the company of my fellow pilgrims on the journey, but I also had the amazing opportunity to accompany the 15 Bishops of Region XIV to the Apostolic Palace for their meeting with the Holy Father and attend Mass with them each day, photographing them as they came together to celebrate the Eucharist at the Tomb of St. Peter and in the most sacred of churches in Rome.
I am in awe at the priceless gift that has been given me by Divine Providence.
To travel the Italian countryside, walk the streets of cities I have pined to see for decades, and take in the culture of the "country of saints" in the company of my brothers and sisters in Christ has enriched my faith and made it come alive.
To spend time in prayer at the tombs of my beloved Sts. Francis and Clare gave me great peace of heart.
To see Rome for the first time, to run up the Via della Conciliazione in the rain, just in time to see the Holy Father pray the Regina Coeli and greet pilgrims from his window was so surreal.
To step into St. Peter's Basilica early in the morning to witness the priests heading to the altars around the church, then hearing the sweet sound of bells tinkling softly during the consecration and small groups of people singing during the Masses and receiving the Eucharist was truly heaven on earth.
To witness our bishops process through the most beautiful churches in all of Christendom, to listen to their homilies, observe them in prayer, and watch them grow in holiness was a great grace.
To pray at the tombs of the Apostles - St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John and the popes – especially Blessed John Paul II - was a very moving experience for me.
To contemplate images of Our Lady - in roadside shrines, in public squares and depicted in artwork and statuary all over the churches we visited in Italy was like being in her embrace everywhere we went.
And lastly, like a gorgeous jewel in the crown of grace, to experience the joy of seeing our beloved "Papa" face to face - to actually look him in the eyes – was a moment that rendered me speechless, like a child happily gazing into the face of her father whom she deeply loves.
This ad limina pilgrimage has truly been a once in a lifetime journey, a most blessed gift, which I will remember for the rest of my life.
— SueAnn Howel, staff writer
Read more about the whole trip in SueAnn's blog charlotteadlimina.tumblr.com
Father Patrick Winslow: What can we learn from Pope Francis?It appears as if popes have something on their mind when first elected. One might call it a diagnosis and a proposed remedy for current ails. With Pope John Paul II, it was a message of hope to a world filled with fear. One can still hear him...
David Hains: Close that unhealthy health centerThe Gosnell abortion mill in Philadelphia and A Preferred Woman's Health Center in Charlotte have something in common: little regard for human life. It should come as no surprise that women are being mistreated in these facilities since...
Peggy Bowes: Honor thy mother: Devotions to Mary"We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor His Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son." — St. Louis de Montfort,...
Father Shawn O'Neal: In this debate, remember Church teaching on human rightsAs a means to develop a comprehensive plan to reform our nation's current immigration system, a group of senators has introduced legislation formally called the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013."...
Father Matthew Buettner: Radical ChristianityRecently, the Boston Marathon came to an abrupt end when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Three young people died in the explosion, including an 8-year-old boy who received his first Holy Communion just 11 months ago. Along with these...
The Poor Clares: Joy and sacrificeSt. Paul was a man passionate with zeal and consumed by love for God and desire for the salvation of souls. His actions and words were geared toward one purpose: the claiming of souls from the dominion of the devil, and the deceit used by him...
Brian Williams:The honest 411 on Vatican III recently had the opportunity to take a class about the Second Vatican Council offered through a diocesan adult education program. While much was covered within a relatively short span of four classes, one subject occupied much of our time...
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
Vatican II called for post-conciliar liturgical adaptationsThe April 26 Catholic News Herald commentary entitled "The Honest 411 on Vatican II" discussed a participant's experience at an adult education series in the diocese. The course, "The 411 on...
Warrior saints are found throughout historyRegarding the April 26 letter criticizing St. Nicholas of Flue, I am disgusted that an American would insinuate that a soldier who distinguishes himself or herself in combat is not following...
Who would be worthy?In a letter in the April 26 Catholic News Herald, St. Nicholas of Flue was referred to as someone who "did not follow those teachings" of Christ because he defended the faith with his sword and...
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy