The Canonization Pilgrimage of two Popes with the Young Catholic Professionals of Dallas

Monday April 21st…..Arrival in Rome

There are nearly thirty people in our group from the Young Catholic Professionals, including a Legionary priest who is getting a real kick showing us where he matriculated in Rome.

Father Benjamin Cieply being blessed by Pope John Paul II
Father Benjamin Cieply being blessed by Pope John Paul II

I’m unaware if all pilgrimages have a priest along with them, but having Father Benjamin Cieply along has been a blessing from a spiritual and intellectual direction.

Another blessing to have along on this trip is my girlfriend and her mother. It is nice to share the experiences with people you love, including nearly sixteen hours of air travel from Dallas, Texas to Rome.

In the old days, pilgrims had to walk from each holy site to another. Today, we take jet airliners, but the journey still had its own hardship. Just imagine sitting on a nine-hour flight with a shouting toddler in the seat directly in front of you. People advised getting sleep on the flight to help accustom myself to the difference of seven time zones. I was wide awake. Even when the toddler finally fell asleep, I was too wound up, bored, or uncomfortable to be able to lose consciousness.

Arriving in Rome was exciting. This was the first time I’d been anywhere outside of the United States. I guess one could count Canada, but I wasn’t bombarded with a sole Romance language upon walking down the concourse’s corridors. This was it. I had finally made it to Rome.

The itinerary that Cesar and Father Benjamin had planned for us pilgrims was brutal, though the logic was sound. After probably staying up unwittingly all night on a nine-hour flight, Father Benjamin and Cesar rushed all of us off to the Vatican for Pope Francis’ Angelus address that he gave today, as well as a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. The theory was that we needed to do what we could to avoid falling asleep immediately. Again, it was sound logic for the sake of the trip, but it was brutal on some of us, including this author.

Still, the sights were worth all of the struggle. It probably didn’t register on me right then how precious and awe-inspiring the sites were. Heck, it’s still not registering on me now as I’m writing this blog post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a catnap only to wake up to the letter L scrolling across my page because I lost consciousness. Seriously, it’s taken me five tries just to finish that last sentence.

For the next week, I’ll be covering my pilgrimage to Rome here at Catholic Travel Blog.  Socrates said it was very good to live in interesting times, and this particular juncture in Rome is a very interesting time indeed. It makes for lively experiences, and you can count on me to share them with you each day.  

God bless all of you,

Mark Lane… Sonrise Morning Show