This morning we gathered for the last time at the parish to board our bus and say our good-byes to our host families. It was a joyful and bittersweet moment for all of us, as we had come to love those who so generously opened their homes and hearts to us. Many had tears in their eyes as they parted ways for the last time.
The drive to Barcelona was smooth and the landscape very beautiful. We arrived in the early evening, checked into the hotel and then departed for Sagrada Familia.
This grand church has great significance for us, and constitutes another important step in our journey. Very clearly, this trip and the whole year, the Lord has been showing us the path of the Church as a family. In the homily of Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, he exhorted to the same thing: we are not simply independent individuals, but we part of a universal Body, a Family, and we must live out this reality in our daily lives. As well, we have seen that we have become a family in our days together, a more mature and authentic one.
Moreover, it is intricately connected to the John Paul II Newman Center: on the same day that Bishop Jenky dedicated the Chapel of our new center - Nov. 7, 2011 - Pope Benedict XVI also dedicated the Church of Sagrada Familia. Moreover, we are here on this day - Aug. 22, the Queenship of Mary - which is the one year anniversary of the first Mass ever celebrated in our new chapel. Beautifully, when we arrived at the magnificent Church, the central image on the exterior was of the Coronation of Our Lady.
After spending some time looking and learning about the Church and the meaning behind all its structures, we were able to celebrate Mass downstairs in the crypt chapel. The Mass was celebrated in Catalon, but the priest gave us a warm welcome in broken English. We felt very privileged in general to celebrate such a
special feast day in such a truly magnificent and beautiful structure. It is a place in which one sees the great gifts of men placed in the service of the Lord to create a masterpiece which gives him glory.
Though it was a short visit, it was a moment in which the Lord was bringing together so many of the graces he had given us so far, and showing us very clearly through the dates and events that He had designed this moment from all eternity. He is calling us to a family....the family of his Church. And it is our choice whether or not to enter into this family - with both its gifts and responsibilities. The joys of being part of it are incomparable, but it requires a "putting ourselves to the side." As archbishop Dolan said "joy" is found by following its order:
J) esus first
O) thers second
Y) ourself last
This is how we live in family.....may we choose to accept and live this most beautiful gift with all that it entails.....