Reflections from the 'Ad Limina' Visit
Here are Bishop Soto's reflections from the Vatican
about his "ad limina" visit from April 17:
I arrived by night into the city of Rome. The Pontifical North American College had a driver retrieve me from the airport. With little delay, we were on the road into the city. “Vienticinco minutos” (25 minutes), I was told by the driver. His Spanish was better than my Italian.
On the way, I was reading on my kindle the Sacramento Bee’s accounts of the latest travails with the Kings. After what seemed a brief interlude, the driving jolted me from the news of Sacramento to the unmistakable urban landscape of Rome -- rust, tan, and auburn tones to buildings lining streets that refuse to go straight. Such driving conditions do not enable easy reading of a kindle. I left the Sacramento news on my lap as I soaked in the nocturnal charm of the Eternal City: rambled rows of scooters lining streets around bright-lit cafes, couples taking a brisk stroll with stylish coat collars and scarves pulled tight against the spring chill.
The first monument I recognized was the Castel Sant’ Angelo, an ancient reminder of the timeless threats and tumults to the church. Glaring floodlights made the castle a haunting sight against the night sky. The histories and contrived tales tell of fearful flights from the papal palace to the fortress so as to wait out a siege or another sacking of the city. The building is a memory of past turmoil and maybe a temptation to some of how best to weather our own tribulations today.
I was delivered to the front door of the North American College. Aaron Rose, one of our seminarians studying there, received me at the entrance to the seminary. He took me to my room, handed me a welcomed 1.5 liter bottle of water, and chatted with enthusiasm about the arrival of the California bishops for the “ad limina.” I finally signaled my travel fatigue. We said good night and I closed the door.
I busied myself with unpacking and settling before going to bed. I took out clothes that suffered from too many travel creases. Generally my travel bags are light, but the “ad limina” required packing a cassock as well as an alb and miter. Tough to get all that and my tooth brush into a carry-on.
It occurred to me to pull the drapes and open the shutters of my room to see if I had any view. As the window shutter rolled up my jaw dropped down. There, glistening in the night, was the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. I was stunned to be so close and to see so clearly the central purpose of this “ad limina” visit. The formal name for a bishop’s official visit to the Holy See is the Visita Ad Limina Apostolorum (visit to the threshold of the Apostles). I have joined the bishops of California, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii in our visit to the threshold of the Apostles. On the night before the events of this “ad limina” visit were to begin, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica welcomed me.