We waited for hours from the very first glimpses of sunlight, exhausted but wide-awake with anticipation, with me dressed in my wedding gown and him in his suit, waiting, hoping, and imagining the moment that we would be able to personally meet the Holy Father. My husband and I had been surprised with a trip to Rome for our honeymoon to be part of one of the ‘Sposi Novelli’ (New Spouse) blessings from Pope Francis, and the day had finally arrived. When we initially started planning the trip, we were going to leave for Italy right after our wedding, but when we realized that Pope Francis would be away for all of July and wouldn’t be back until August, little did we know that God had bigger plans for the trip than we had planned for ourselves.
A few weeks earlier, not long after our wedding, I had come home from work unusually tired, with a pounding headache and a sour stomach. I lay down on the bed, complaining to Zach, who jokingly said, “You don’t think you’re pregnant already, do you?” I laughed, but then thought, “Oh my goodness, I bet you’re right!” Two days later, we were leading our amazing group of teens on the Steubenville Youth Conference trip in St. Paul, and during Adoration I strongly felt Jesus tell me that we really were pregnant. I was so filled with excitement, and it took all of my strength to stay focused on ministering to the youth for the rest of the weekend and set aside all of the hundreds of thoughts about the baby!
The next week, on the day before we were leaving for Rome, I had a doctor appointment and asked them to run a blood test just to confirm the pregnancy. To my surprise and dismay, the test came back negative and the doctor assured me that we were not expecting and that I should go enjoy Italy. Even though I knew it was early and possible that the test was just inaccurate, my heart hurt with the conflicting messages as I wrestled with questions like ‘Was that just me hoping I’m pregnant?’, ‘Did I not hear God correctly?’, ‘What if I was pregnant but miscarried right away?’, but my wise husband reassured me that God’s words would not go unfulfilled and that if Jesus said we’re pregnant then we are.
Off we went to Rome, and on the day before we were to meet the Pope, we went to Nettuno, the town where St. Maria Goretti lived for the second part of her life and where she was killed by Alessandro who had tried to rape her. We had been married on her feast day a month prior, so it was an incredibly special experience for us to pray in front of her body and walk where she had walked! Towards the end of our time at the shrine, a dear Italian man working there showed us a room of mementos that people had left to thank St. Maria for prayers answered through her intercession. I immediately noticed a few baby bibs, and I started praying with renewed fervor that she would help a pregnancy test come back positive before meeting the Pope the next day if we really were pregnant.
When we got back to Rome that night, we took another pregnancy test, and to our great excitement, it was positive! God proved to us to His perfect timing and His faithfulness yet again. So the next morning, there we were, in a sea of at least a hundred other newlywed couples from all over the world, and Baby Silbernick received a special blessing by the Holy Father. It was absolutely surreal!
In all of the excitement and amazement that the Pope had really blessed our baby, it all felt like a blur. But God has been reminding me lately to ‘carry all these things in [my] heart,’ pondering them with Our Lady, rather than letting the graces He wants to bestow through reflection on that experience slip away. This is a pretty big example of a mountaintop experience, but we all have moments where God’s beauty and glory shines through. As we come closer to Advent, what is the Lord calling you to ponder in your own heart in order to more deeply understand the glory of what He has been doing in even the most simple things in your life? Mountaintop experiences are beautiful, but it’s after we ‘come back down the mountain’ when the real beauty is found: in the pondering, slowly and timelessly soaking in the graces, paying attention to what the Lord is speaking and doing underneath the daily activity. This Advent, where can you find space to just be still and ponder what the Lord is doing in your own life?