Grace and peace to you,

Sometimes life can feel like it has a moving target, but this week we have been reminded of the ultimate goal that doesn’t change.  Love.  The Lord.  Heaven with Him forever.

We began our week by meeting with two members of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, & Life.  Prof. Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Philip Milligan shared with us their role in serving the Church.  They work closely in making World Youth Day the success it is but also work hard to aid the laity in realizing the great impact they can have on the Church by sharing their unique gifts and talents.  They both reflected a deep desire for the upbuilding of families and Church involvement world wide.

Monday evening we were welcomed by the Emmanuel School of Mission for Mass, a tour, and a meal to learn about their community.  This was definitely a highlight of the trip for many of us so far.  Pierre, a member of the Emmanuel Community shared with us about the location of their Church which is on top of the Spanish steps.  It is a community founded in France with a focus on evangelization.  We were able to meet many of the students in the school of mission; they were young adults from around the world who love the Lord and want to learn how to serve effectively on mission.  They radiated a freshness in mission that reminded many of the deacons of their own early yes to go and serve.  After the students shared a little about themselves and the mission, a few of the deacons also shared their own stories of how they came to say yes to Jesus.  We will be joining them tomorrow in their evangelization efforts.

Wednesday we were able to meet with 3 inspiring men who serve the Church in very unique ways.  First, we were welcomed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints by Msgr. Robert Sarno.  He has been working in the Congregation for 37 years, and had a lot of spiritual wisdom stemming from his work.  One of his major lessons was that we hold up the saints in honor because they’re ‘immitatable’, they’ve won the race and have reached the ultimate goal in which we are striving.  After lunch Archbishop Jorge Patron Wong came to share about his work as the Secretary of Seminaries in the Congregation of the Clergy.  Archbishop invited us to reflect in gratitude for our formation, and take the time to think about how we want to be good priests in our diocesan assignments.  He had a pastor’s heart, and inspired each of us to cultivate that pastoral love in our own hearts.  We closed our day by meeting Paolo Mancinelli who is a member of the Sant’Egidio community.  He shared about the founding of the lay community, mostly by youth who wanted to gather and pray.  The community has expanded to many countries, and their pillars are prayer, poverty, and peace.  They gather for evening prayer as a community at a local parish, serve the local homeless, and strive to assist countries struggling in war both by intercession and mediation.  We were able to end the day by joining them for their evening prayer.

It’s been an honor to meet with so many zealous, well grounded, and holy people.  They’re full of joy, and I think the main reason that’s true across the board is because they don’t take their eye off the goal of Heaven.  They long for the eternal love they were created for, and by their witness countless others–ourselves included–are reminded of our own sting for more.  I pray today that each of us might take a moment to recognize our longing, turn our gaze toward Heaven, and take a step forward.

In Christ,

Deacon Bobby Blood

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