Rome Highlight: Mass

3768 3768_ () 3768 3768 It’s hard to choose one highlight of our time in Rome but if I were pressed (hard) this would be it:

The morning of our third day in Rome, Father Tim arranged for us to go to Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. I honestly can’t remember how he presented it, if I understood exactly what he was telling us right off the bat. But as it turns out, we would be going to Mass at St. Peter’s — a private Mass said by Fr. Tim, the three of us at one of the altars in the church.

The way it works is you arrive at the church early (we left our apartment around 6:45 a.m. to walk over). The priests enter through one door, we walked through the front. It’s the perfect time to see the church, so quiet with very few others there. We walked through security and then as we proceeded we saw Fr. Tim coming towards us with an altar server (an aide of some sort who works there). That man led us to our altar — where Father would celebrate Mass.

And the next thing I knew, there we stood, the three of us, celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at a private altar. Paul and Tim, friends since they were fourteen, when each of their families moved to the South (the Balducci’s from Virginia, the McKeown’s from New York). They moved here to join this Christian community because Paul’s parents and Tim’s parents all knew that it was God wanted them to do.

And a friendship sparked — they went to the local Catholic high school together and then our community started a school their senior year. And those boys left their nice, happy little Catholic high school experience to be the only two boys in their Senior class (along with three girls) to make up the original graduating class of our school — the one my children now have the pleasure and joy to attend. In part because these men, Paul and Tim, were willing to say yes to Jesus in the same way, to do what they felt God wanted them to do.

This is what I marveled on as we stood there celebrating Mass — as I read the daily reading there in St. Peter’s (which was St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, if you can believe it): that God dreams so much bigger than we can dream.

Maybe those boys were scared way back when, to leave their diocesan school, their basketball team (that they loved) to go be a part of this small little brand-new school on a much smaller basketball team. But I don’t think they were. I think they just knew that’s what they were supposed to do. After their senior year, those boys were roommates all through college and then for the years after that when they discerned their vocations — when Tim decided God wanted him to pursue the priesthood and Paul decided (after praying about being a priest for years) that he should go to law school.

There we stood in St. Peter’s Basila and I realized that oftentimes the best things happen when you abandon your will to Jesus and just do what he asks you to do. If Tim had decided years ago that his life dream was to say a private Mass for his best friend in St. Peter’s, I can’t imagine it would have happened. Maybe it would have. But maybe not.

But when your goal in life is to just say yes to Jesus, one day at a time, moment by moment, big things happen. God is big. So very big indeed. 3768″> .



  1. Allison Kennedy Owen says:

    Beautiful story, Rach! As always.

  2. Amazing and wonderful and lovely post!

  3. jen ambrose says:

    So incredible!

  4. One yes at a time!

  5. Michelle says:

    I have often come to realize that God’s plans are always better than even our best plans. What a wonderful experience you all were able to be part of! :0)

  6. Awesome. I had no idea that Paul’s family was also part of the community. Sounds like a good lead in to a “how you met and how you started dating” story….!

  7. okay, so wiping tears away right now as I pray that my kids would be blessed with the same kind of rich, rich friendship. I have told Father TIm this but I marvel that I had been reading your blog for a year when I finally realized you were in Augusta and asked if he just so “happened” to know you. He chuckled, saying, “she married my best friend.” God is big indeed.

  8. I just love seeing your posts in my “in” box…I drink in the words. This one was no different…a wonderful story! God is so very big.

  9. Wonderful point, say yes to Jesus and he brings you where he needs you.

  10. This is why I love reading your blog- because it inspires me to also step back and look for the Hand of God iny life, which does move in very big ways! I agree that this post made me want to hear the “how we met and how we started dating story.”.