Every pilgrimage has a certain destination and certain goals. However, this journey to Rome was very special and important for a couple of reasons. The first reason was having the chance to join other Christians who believe what I believe, and the second was having spiritual preparation. As a community, we prayed a Novena before each Mass for 9 days. Each pilgrimage has special moments in which we can experience spiritual blessings, and LCI had a lot of them as we had the chance to meet with the Pope of Rome, Archbishop Cyril Vasil and visit the Basilica of Saint Clement.
Why was the meeting with the Pope of Rome was so special for us? First of all, the Pope is a successor of Saint Peter, and therefore Jesus himself. We as Christians could feel that we have a real shepherd who gives us courage, supports us and teaches us how to live properly. Living in today’s world, young people have particular difficulties with faith and moral values. Also, meeting with the Pope strengthened our faith in hearing his words and prayers. During this meeting, we also met a lot of young people from all over the world and it was a sign that there are many young people who want to follow Jesus Christ. There were also many sick people and the Pope’s love for everyone was evident as he approached each person. He emphasized the importance of the sick people in the Church. It was a beautiful testimony that the church consists of so many different people. Often young people do not think about sick and suffering people, but this meeting gave us the realization that every human life should be treated with love and respect, because they are a special image of Jesus Christ, who also suffered for us during his mission on earth. The conclusion of this meeting can be attributed to the words of the Bible: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Rom. 15:2-7).
The next important meeting for us was with Archbishop Cyril Vasil in the Vatican. He is a Slovak Jesuit priest, and a professor and Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. On 21 January 2010 he was appointed as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in addition to his duties at the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He wanted to meet young people from LCI to get to know us and to hear our testimony. During this meeting he talked a lot about unity of the church founded by Jesus Christ. Each of us was also able to share the problems and development of the churches in our country. In his answers there was a lot of hope for further development of Church, but the main aspect of it was our testimony and living out the faith. In the end we had a prayer in the chapel of St. Cyril and Methodius, received his blessing and small souvenirs. This meeting reminded us that we are One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
Lastly, the LCI group went to the Basilica of Saint Clement, where there are relics of St. Cyril. Saints Cyril and Methodius (815-885, Moravia) were two brothers who were Byzantine Christian theologians and Christian missionaries, and also the creators of the Old Slavonic alphabet and Old Church Slavonic language. Both brothers are venerated in the Orthodox and Catholic Church as saints with the title of “equal-to-apostles”. LCI gave us the opportunity to visit the museum and pray together at the relics of St. Cyril and Methodius. We finished this visit with some Italian pizza and espresso. It was a joyful and blessed time for LCI.