Home Sweet Home

A Journey to Italy, a Reminder of Catholic Roots

They say you can’t go home again. In my case, its usually because someone has changed the locks on the door—so that I, literally, can’t go home again.

And being the transient that I occasionally find myself being, I got a chance to go to Italy this summer and visit my ancestral home—a tiny city in the Abruzzo region called Villa San Angelo; population 500.

There’s a little house there, among a bunch of other little houses (villas, by definition, have lots of little houses). And it’s such a cool connection to the past.

Before moving to America, nearly everyone in my family had been born in this house. My aunts and uncles, my grandpa, my great-grandpa, you get the idea. Just standing outside the door of the place gives my life a very different perspective. And a reminder of what the Catholic faith is all about.

Lino, Guido, same thing.
I’m every bad stereotype you could have about an Italian. I eat pasta 7 days a week, I’ve got a predilection for wearing shirts which only button halfway-up. The first (and only) time I saw Rocky IV, I went out trying to pick fights with big Russian dudes. You name the stereotype, and I’m probably it.

But hey—I’m Catholic. I’m used to bad stereotypes: There’s the overbearing nun with a ruler, the guilt over you-know-what, the fish fries, the…Come to think of it, do Catholics have any good stereotypes? We really should do something to fix that situation.

Gimme the keys, gimme the keys
I knew the address of my ancestral home (#44), but that was about it. I didn’t have keys; I certainly didn’t plan on being able to go into the place. But within 5 minutes of being in Villa, people started coming up to me to find out who I was (apparently I looked familiar).

After meeting the neighbor lady, she even invited me in to have some coffee. Conversation flowed easily, we laughed and talked about life in the little town, and I really felt a part of the place.

And just like I could trace my roots all the way back to this town—it reminded me of how we Catholics are able to trace our religious roots, as well.

The “other house keys”
According to the creed said at Mass, the Church is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” (I think other folks say that in their services too.) And the fact that, in faith, we can trace our roots back all the way to the apostles—which means all the way back to Jesus—is something to reflect on.

That’s how we know that the faith is solid: it traces all the way back to Jesus. It should give us a sense of security, the same kind that I felt there at that door– like “this is home (even though I don’t have a key).”

Of course the beautiful thing with faith is that we do have a key. Read Matthew 16:19 if you don’t know the keys I’m talking about. Because they open doors which lead us to heaven, which is our true home.

That’s a home I’m hoping I never get kicked out of.