Br. Ryan with the Holy Father.

At the time of this writing I have been in Rome for almost two months. The novelty and excitement of this city has gone as I have seen all the sites and the demands of my studies are underway. The honeymoon period is over and homesickness is setting in. The challenge is on.

I am not sure of my own strength, but I place my trust in God’s Providence. It was not until a week before my departure for the eternal city that I realized this fact through prayer. Our Father General had informed me in June of this year of the decision to send me to Rome and my flight was scheduled for October 4. Within this timeframe came waves of emotions: happiness, excitement, fear, anxiety and sadness. How true it is that when we give into our subjectivity and loose our focus on Jesus – our objective, we, like Peter, put ourselves in danger of drowning in the very waves we create.

In hindsight, although I knew God was with me, I trusted more in myself than in God. I was excited, confident and unafraid. After all, I was going to be living in the very heart of the Church, in a city bursting with history, and attending a prestigious seminary. Eventually, nevertheless, one, even a religious brother, gets tired of seeing churches on almost every street corner. One would rather be close to home then literally living behind the Porticus Octaviae which preexisted the Incarnation by more than two decades, and convenience stumps prestige in comparing Immaculate Conception Seminary/Seton Hall’s electronic efficiency to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas’ outdated paper forms and applications. Yes, friends, the once evident excitement and confidence have faded, but, I assure you, I still am unafraid, for, again, though I am not sure of my own strength, I have placed my trust in God’s Providence.

La vita e bella a Roma! But, life here is also not without its sorrows for adjusting to a new environment, a new culture and a new language is not an easy feat. God, nevertheless, has provided everything needed for the adjustment. Fr. John Paul Gasparini, CRM, my superior here has been most kind in accommodating me. A kind confessor at St. Peter’s Basilica has been an invaluable source of wisdom and encouragement. Several friends have been of great assistance in helping me get used to many practical and academic differences. Miraculously, I can understand about 95% of what my professors say in my classes which are all, except two, in Italian. The Blessed Mother has been a perpetual source of help as well. Allow me to recall my second day here in Rome when, daringly, I took a stroll alone and not surprisingly got lost. I entered the Church of Nostra Signora del Sacre Cuore, on the Piazza Navona, and there asked the Mother of God to help me find my way. I exited a different way from how I entered and then knew exactly where I was! I thanked Mary and added, “While you’re at it, can you help me find a McDonald’s too?” Lo and behold, a split second later there was a sign in front of me pointing the way to a Micky Dees! Though not every prayer has since been answered as precisely as this, I know I am where God wants me for the time being.

I normally go out for a walk around the city in the afternoons. Sometimes, I literally allow myself to get lost in the city of Rome for the sake of stumbling upon something worth stumbling upon (I don’t have to worry anymore about finding my way back for, not only will the Mother of God surely show me the way, but I now have a handy Roman map downloaded on my iPod). Rome certainly is full of surprises…and how much more is our God! On the right is a picture which best expresses my current relationship with my God (It is amazing what one can find on a Google image search). Just as I get lost in this city, I leap trustingly into the arms of God and allow myself to get lost therein. I am not sure of my own strength, but I throw myself into God’s providential embrace; then and there I know I can do and overcome all things! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!