A Catholic Student’s Reflection on Rome

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By: Alexander Koshakji, Columnist

I am deeply blessed to have been given the opportunity to study in Rome for a semester. From being immersed in a new culture to learning about key influencers of Western civilization, my time in Rome has proven to be both a cultural and learning experience. But more importantly, because of my faith, I have gained more than just knowledge and experience; I have come to understand that I can better myself as a follower of Christ only with God’s grace, bountiful in the Eucharist.

       As I am Catholic, I have had the privilege of both admiring St.Peters and taking part in a mass at St. Peters Basilica, easily spotted from a distance because of its enormous scale. Upon walking up to it, the sheer size of the Church evokes feelings of awe and amazement in me, but as I enter the massive church, I am even more taken aback. St. Peter’s perfect proportions trick the eye and make me believe it is smaller than in real life. I see beautiful works of art adorn the Church, including the “Pieta” by Michelangelo, protected by a thick glass barrier. I am gradually being pulled as if by an invisible force towards the end of the Church towards Bernini’s “Baldacchino”. Crafted in the exquisite baroque style, the Baldacchino stands right above the altar, where the sacrificial meal takes place during Mass. The consecration of the bread and wine is sacred to me; it is the culmination of the mass which connects me to God, and from this comes an outpouring of grace.

       I have come to realize that the grace flowing forth from the blessed Eucharist has tremendously helped me in my life, especially during this time. I see that grace endows me with the will to carry out a difficult task; grace also bridges the gap between the will and the act of the will. In other words, through grace, more often do I want to do the good as well as do the good. For example, on a few occasions, particularly controversial issues pertinent to the Church have been brought to the forefront. I had a few relevant points to contribute, points which refuted the claims brought forth by others, but I was hesitant at first to share them for fear that many would disagree with me. After a few minutes of deliberation, I shared. Sure, I was challenged, but the important thing is that I spoke up, and it would not have happened if it had not been for God’s grace.

       Thanks to the access of many beautiful churches, including St.Peter’s, I have been taking part in the mass at a deeper level, and benefiting greatly from the grace coming from the Eucharist. In truth, the Churches here have rendered me more receptive to the grace of the Eucharist, because they are so overwhelmingly beautiful and direct my focus towards God. Because I am more receptive, the grace is helping me go out and perform good works, and take on tasks that I would otherwise shy away from. I am very blessed to be here in Rome. I am very blessed to be a Catholic.

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