By Anthony Rufo and Ariana Trease
Seniors, Bishop Grimes Prep
One hundred and fifty thousand people, one purpose. What an amazing concept! When our tour group arrived in Europe for a visit to London, Paris and Rome, none of us believed we would be experiencing the occasion of a lifetime.
On a beautiful Easter Sunday in the month of April, no one could consider the opportunity we received as anywhere close to normal. As every Christian in the world knows, the season of Lent is one of the most exciting times of the liturgical year. While Christ pursues his battle to end death and suffering in the world, all who worship him unite with one purpose in mind: that of praising the Lord. Add into the equation the fact that our tour group from Bishop Grimes was able to be present at the Vatican and one has a lifelong memory.
When our group, which consisted of Bishop Grimes students as well as students from North Carolina and New York City, were first presented with the opportunity to attend the Paschal Celebration at the Vatican, our tour group was faced with a dilemma that could not easily be resolved. Although most everyone wanted to attend the celebration, we had only been provided with 25 exclusive invitations to the Mass, making the opportunity that much more important. To make the decision harder, our troop was also given the chance to visit the Colosseum at the same time.
While many were torn by the options presented to us, the students from the Bishop Grimes community knew the answer. As a group, we decided to attend the service to be held at St. Peter’s Basilica, an event not worth missing for the world.
Our journey began with “organized chaos,” a catchy phrase used by our Irish tour director Chris Morrison to describe the Italian way of doing things. Our group moved in an organized mass toward the Vatican, reaching ever closer to our destination.
Metal detectors were a worthwhile obstacle to an occasion that would live on in the memory of all who were able to attend. Just as soon as we had passed the security personnel present outside of the square, we were presented with an awesome scene rarely experienced in the world today. Peoples of all nations and age groups were celebrating together as one soul, one body. As flags representing the many nationalities flew high, the Mass provided inspiration to all present.
The many clergy participating on the altar along with the presence of a wonderful choir created a breathtaking atmosphere. The scene was also intensified through the decorative uses of various flowers present on the altar, added there to compliment the already amazing appearance of the Basilica. Though the Mass was read and sung in Latin, it was apparent that the intention and importance of what was transpiring was nonetheless understood and respected.
Although our group navigated valiantly to be present at our 10:15 a.m. appointment, we arrived late; an unfortunate consequence of traveling in such a large contingent. Because of this, we were denied entrance into the main section of the Mass, a permission that should have been allowed due to our invitations. Nevertheless, as our time in the Vatican dwindled down, we made the most of the gift given to us. We were conscious of the fact that we had been a part of something bigger than all present, a gift from God that is available to all of humanity: his death and resurrection. As our group made its way toward the exits, we knew we had been left with an unforgettable memory to cherish and keep forever. One hundred and fifty thousand people, one purpose. That was certainly more than any of us could have asked for.