The seminarians were on a week-long silent retreat in Assisi, home to St. Francis, to prepare for the transitional diaconate ordination this summer. Assisi is a hilly city that can be explored on foot, and one will find stunning churches within a one-mile radius. The Basilica of St. Francis is one of the most famous churches in Assisi, and the saint’s tomb is located on the lower basilica of the property. San Rufino Cathedral is where Saints Francis and Clare were baptized, and Carlo Acutis’ heart is also displayed there.
made several trips to Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore to pray in front of Carlo Acutis’ body which is visible through glass. St. Clare, who lived in poverty, slept on humble straw mats and ended her earthly pilgrimage on August 11, 1253, in a small dormitory at San Damiano. It was at this site that St. Francis penned his renowned Canticle of the Creatures. Clare’s body, however, and the San Damiano Crucifix are at the Basilica di Santa Chiara for pilgrims to visit.
Throughout the retreat, there was ample time for private prayer at various churches in the area. The retreat conferences focused on the diaconal promises, helping seminarians better understand the role and responsibility we are about to assume. Whether spending time praying in a church or jaunting through the narrow streets of Assisi, there was a sense of deep peace and joy when thinking about the life of ministry I would embark on.
In our culture, the common idiom is “go hard or go home.” However, when it comes to the diaconal promises with the repeating phrase “Do you resolve…,” it is “go hard and go home” for me. This motivates me to give my all, with God’s grace, in fulfilling these promises so that every fiber of my being is conformed to the image of Jesus Christ to serve his people and his Church.
Every morning at 6 a.m., I woke up to the delightful aroma of bread filling my hotel room. It made me think of the sweetness of Jesus. As they say, home is where the heart is, so I believe that “home” is where God is. Go “home” to the Eucharist and delve deep into your heart to experience the sweet fragrance of God’s love for each one of us this Christmas. Upon your arrival, tell Jesus that you are home and joyfully celebrate his birth. All hearts come home for Christmas.
-Thanh Ho, Diocese of San Jose