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April 23: All roads lead to Rome
— busy beyond telling

April 24: All roads
lead to Rome
— Il Papa viene

April 25: All roads
lead to Rome
— everybody's here

April 26: All roads
lead to Rome
— a Costarrican celebration

April 27: All roads
lead to Rome
— rejoicing with the saints!


From left, Father Ronald Saenz of Costa Rica, Father Mauricio Granados, a Costa Rican studying in Rome, and Father Alexander Castillo of Oakland in front of St. Francis Basilica in Assisi.
Courtesy photo

Rev. Alexander Q. Castillo

April 25, 2014
All roads lead to Rome
— everybody’s here

Everybody is here. I mean it — everybody is in Rome this week. I think the whole of Poland moved to Rome.

But not only them. In a brief trip to Assisi today, we found people from the Philippines, Colombia, Mexico, the United States and at least half of the Polish population. Those living in Rome and in the surrounding cities are truly amazed of how many people have been arriving every day.

But if you are not here physically, I am sure that you are here in spirit. First of all, because everybody is following the canonization events with great expectation, and, moreover, because probably somebody is praying for you here. I do.

One of my favorite devotions is to light candles in every church I visit (something my friends might find too pious and a little bit annoying sometimes), and I always light two candles: one for the living, one for the dead. And I have prayed for many people these days as I light my candles. If you are reading this, I have certainly prayed for you.

The canonization of the two popes is not only a great feast of the catholicity of our Church, a feast of the true faith, and a celebration of our deepest hope: holiness.

If we look at the lives and experiences of the two soon-to-be saints, we can see many differences, but we can also feel that they both got what is essential: a heart fixed in Christ, a radical faith and the true joy of the Gospel. That is what brought them to heaven, to join those who can see God face to face.

So other people are here as well: the triumphant Church is joining us to celebrate that holiness is true and it is possible, for you and for me. And that is what I pray for when I light those candles.

Thus, it is true: everybody is here … I, you, millions of pilgrims and all those in heaven. All roads have led us to Rome this week.

(Father Castillo is secretary of the bishop and episcopal master of ceremonies for the Diocese of Oakland. He is in Rome for the canonizations of the two popes.)

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