St. Peter’s, Rome ~ February 26th, 2008
on the Rock the Church was built on
the Rock that still holds her up
after two thousand years of blood and tears and toil.
Enfolded in the arms of a Mother
forever reaching out and gathering in
I am home: thousands of miles from the place I was born
and the location of my family.
An unknown and yet familiar home:
that I am seeing for the first time and yet belonged to first.
miles beneath the earth,
into second century burial grounds
breathing in the damp, cold smell of ancient stone and clay
And the Faith of generations, who didn’t crumble
in the face of persecution.
Walking in the footsteps of those who risked their lives
to bury here in honor
the father who had birthed them into
A life that never ends.
in the face of a reality, a person
too incredible to believe in
and yet too real to disbelieve.
Standing in the shrine
built by an Emperor
to honor the humble Fisherman named Rock
by the Son of God.
And my heart is crumbling
before the power of God
using simple, human instruments
to realize the Truth of His own Word:
to build His Church upon this Rock.
through the tangible, touchable glory
of God, enfleshed by his children
in a living memorial of stone, and glass and gold.
Solid, unmoving, through years
speaking to all generations:
“We belong to the One Who made the mountains firm,
and Who gives beauty its’ name.”
And I feel at once like a drop being lost
in the vastness of this ocean of the Church’s beating heart.
Like a lost child stumbling
upon the unknown home
I never knew I had here waiting.
At once lost in vastness and finding myself.
And I’m swept into the current planted
in the heart of a fisherman hanging on a cross
which continues to thunder down through the ages,
sweeping us with him into the arms
of the Shepherd for love of Whom he died.
Standing on my mother’s lap
descending into my own foundation
trembling before the one who birthed me
walking into the heart of my home
kneeling within the current of the Church’s life
so much bigger than me
and yet making me all I am.
“Peter is here,”
this place of glory still proclaims the message
etched in second century stone,
and it will carry it proudly through the ages.
For he is still here:
not thanks to the greatness of the fisherman,
but to the faithfulness of the Shepherd Who called.
And this is why we come,
and this is why we hope
because we too, belong to the Shepherd Who fulfills His promises.