During our trip to Rome to study the Synod on Synodality, we stayed at a simple, yet beautiful older convent that is home to a community of Sacred Heart sisters.
On the first morning we were in Rome, my roommate Anna and I woke up and heard a faint melody. We had kept the windows open throughout the night and walking towards them we could distinguish the sound. The nuns who lived at the convent were doing morning prayer. We could hear the birds in the trees chirping, too. The wind whistling. Waking up to these beautiful melodies reminded me of the blessing of a new day. All of the creation around us was praising God. We, too, can wake up and immediately praise God for this immense gift. From this beautiful beginning, I was encouraged to live my day focusing on the gift of the present moment.
The night ended similarly with Taizé prayer in the chapel. My friends and I gathered to chant, “Bless the Lord my soul, and Bless God’s Holy Name.” The Taizé prayer always strikes me for its repetition. It is continuous adoration of Christ. This serves as a model for how our entire life should be. Every moment should be oriented towards Heaven, striving to have God’s light shine through us. Our life should be flooded with love, the way the sun’s rays in the morning flooded our room. I yearn for the Christ-centered consciousness that this repetitive song of praise, at all hours of the day, represents.
The city of Rome itself also highlights a Christ-centered consciousness. There are over 900 churches in this city! As we journeyed throughout Rome, we continuously passed stunning churches, where Christ lives and is praised. While the physical structures we pass, of course, have Jesus, I am compelled to find God in all things. Our experience in Rome at the synod gave me many opportunities to uncover God’s living presence in all the people whom I encounter. I think especially of our encounter with the American synod delegates, Julia, Fr. Ivan, and Wyatt—all examples to me of incredible humility and care.
Again, Rome’s stunning physical beauty and the beauty of the musical experiences both inspired a Christ-centered consciousness in my heart. With the obvious home of Christ-made-present in Rome, the not-so-obvious dwelling places of our God can be brought to the light. The synodal call to listen for the voice of all, where the Holy Spirit is being housed, is made clear in the Eternal City.
This music is all around us. People’s laughter echoing down narrow streets. Church doors creaking open in a quiet church. All speak to the beautiful gift of life. Can the example of synodality compel us to open our ears and attune ourselves to the music of all?