Spring Break. If you believe the cable networks, it’s the time when college students cut loose and go wild. I haven’t seen the so-called reality shows, but I suspect that they’re as staged as anything on Broadway.
Still, there is a kernel of truth, and it holds true even for professors. I know that I cut loose and went wild over spring break. I cut loose from the earth, boarded a plane, and went to the Church’s earthly capital, Rome.
And how did I go wild? I deplaned and caught a ride to the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, a university established by and directly under the authority of the Holy See.
There I taught an intensive course on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. The classroom was packed with eager students, mostly seminarians and priests and theologians in training. They came from every inhabited continent on God’s earth. They raised eager hands of every imaginable skin color.
What united them was their Catholic faith. That’s what “catholic” means after all: universal. Every Sunday we profess belief in one Church and it’s richly diverse.
Something else united those young and hopeful souls, and it’s something that comes with being truly Catholic. They were united by a passionate love for God’s Holy Word. And they weren’t ashamed to show that passion. Don’t get me wrong: I love my students in the United States. But these young folks in Rome were so eager and so grateful that they fairly regularly erupted in applause.
I assure you, they weren’t clapping for me. I was just the messenger. They were clapping for the message—applauding their one Lord and the marvels he has worked from the first moment of creation, but culminating in the establishment of the Church and the sacraments.
Can you imagine the joy they’ll know when they celebrate the sacraments?
As a pontifical institution, the university where I was teaching is authorized to grant ecclesiastical degrees. What does that mean? It means that my students will be qualified to go back to their home countries and train future generations of priests. In some cases, they may go home to train the next generation of holy martyrs. Pray for them, that they may be strengthened by their study of the Word.
When they go home, they know they can continue to rely on the same training. They won’t be abandoned. They know that they can still draw from the St. Paul Center’s free online Bible studies, in Spanish and in English. They know that they can download free audio, so that their education may be ongoing—forever.
This is what you make possible when you pray for the St. Paul Center and when you support us with your letters of encouragement and your donations. By God’s grace, you are the strength of the martyrs. You are the joy of His priests. You are the channel of His Word to distant lands. How’s that for a reality show?
“And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).
May you know many such rewards this month, when the Church traditionally devotes to the Mother of God. I beg her intercession for you, and your loved ones, and for all your intentions.