Once upon a time, in a book title, I referred to Rome as “Sweet Home.” It’s a phrase that doesn’t grow old for me. After a quarter-century as a Catholic, I’ve lived here as much as I’ve lived anywhere. It’s home.
When I say “Rome,” of course, I’m talking about this great Church — wherever we may encounter her: in a small town in Nebraska, on the seas off Alaska, or on an improvised altar near the battle fronts of Afghanistan. The word “catholic” means universal; and wherever there’s a Mass, we Catholics are happy to be home.
But Catholic Christianity is historically particular as well. The Word became flesh at a very specific time in a very particular place. He established a Church that went out from an ethnic capital, Jerusalem, to find its center in a worldwide capital, Rome.
Rome became a sign of his Church’s that his Church was one, catholic, and apostolic. It was one kingdom, like the Empire, with subjects as far flung as heaven and earth. It was catholic – universal – like the worldwide Empire. And it was apostolic, founded on the blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who went to Rome to meet their martyrdom.
I am always at home in “catholic” Rome. Nevertheless, I love to make pilgrimage to “particular” Rome. Though I don’t speak the language of that city, I feel at home there.
This year I’m going home to Rome with a group of pilgrims May 23-June 1. There, we’ll do as the Romans do: attend a papal audience, pray the Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum, climb the holy stairs, enjoy cappuccino in romantic Piazza Navona, and so much more that can only be done in the Eternal City.
But, along the way, we’ll also study the Scriptures that relate to Rome, and we’ll ponder that message as we visit the sites related to the history and prophecies. We’ll talk about the words of the Apostles as we follow their very footsteps, to the very sites of their imprisonment, martyrdom, and burial.
I’ll be leading this pilgrimage with my lovely wife, Kimberly, and my friends and colleagues Steve Ray and Mike Aquilina. We’ll be joined in Rome by the art historian (and EWTN host) Elizabeth Lev, who will accompany us during the week and show us Rome’s masterworks of art and architecture. We’ll speak at the sites, and we’ll also lead seminars back at the hotel. We’ll even give you background as we ride the bus from one site to another.
We’ve made pilgrimages before, but we’ve never assembled such an extraordinary group of guides. Would you consider joining us? If you do, they’ll be your companions as we walk the cobbled streets. They’ll be your tablemates at meals. You’ll experience graces and begin friendships that will last a lifetime.
Please consider joining us. If you can’t join us this time, please pray for us as we go — that this will be a fruitful pilgrimage and inspire our pilgrims to bring the Word back home with exceptional power.
I thank you for all you do and all you pray for our sake. I promise to pray for you when I’m in Rome, the sweet home we share.