Monday, October 25, 2010

Ok, scrap my top 5

Ok, so I recently gave my list of top five moments in Italy. I wrote that with a full 24 hours left to go in Rome. I spoke too soon. My last day in Rome was certainly the best.

Perhaps Sophie's blog post about it was more eloquent, but I'll try to explain it from my point of view.

Fr. Peter Balleis, the international director of JRS, told Sophie and I that he was going to say Mass my last night in town in a chapel at the Church of Gesu, the church for the Jesuits in Rome. We went to the Church and met up with some others from the JRS staff, and the finance officers from the African regions who were also in town.

We entered a building beside the church, wandered up some stairs and came to an old wing of the building, which is where Jesuits live now. Fr. Peter told us that this room -- that we were standing in at the time -- was the room where Saint Ignatius (founder of the Jesuits and a personal hero) lived and died.

We were floored. We were in the presence of God just by standing in his room. We got to see his writings and his clothes (the first black robe).

Then we entered his bedroom, which had a sign saying that is was reserved for personal prayer. Peter told us that this bedroom was converted into a chapel and that is where we would be having Mass.

It was too much. We sat in a circle, listened to the readings about working with the poor and gave the Eucharist to one another rather than forming a line to the altar.

It was personal and communal. And while I continue to worry that I am not accepting God into the present moments of my life, I experienced God in that moment. I prayed for Sophie's grandmother, who was being buried that day, her aunt and the work of JRS. I asked Saints Ignatius and Francis Xavier and Fr. Pedro Arrupe to look over us as we traveled to new locations.

As I sit here, in my new office with JRS Asia Pacific in Bangkok, I hope they continue to look over me because I am going to need it. And while I feel blessed to have experienced God's presence at Mass in such a holy and personal place, I hope I can experience God walking with me outside Mass, down the streets of Bangkok, into refugee camps and detention centers, in my present and my future.

The first black robe. In Lakota, "Catholic" literally translates to "Black robe" because the Jesuits were always seen in robes such as this.

The famous shoes that Saint Ignatius walked thousands of miles in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Molly, what a lovely post. I guess what I always have to remember is that God is walking with me whether I feel the presence or not. I imagine Bangkok is chaotic and life is unsettled. But you can find that quiet place in yourself where you remember God is right there. And those who love you are there too!