Why dont you get a basket, Wilson?”
He was a towering Christmas tree in April!
He had Rosaries, scapulars and other religious articles hanging on both arms. His left hand tried to grasp on two miniature-sized Colosseum, two of St. Peter’s Square, and another of Trevi Fountain.
“You know what, I could easily get a million likes by tagging you as the Octozilla from Venice invading Rome!”
We both shared a hearty laugh.
“Father, what other souvenirs can you suggest I buy for those at home?”
I couldn’t believe he was still looking for more souvenirs when he had literally already foraged through every possible item in the store.
“What about a Roman shield, dude?” I said.
“Where can I possibly buy that, Father?” Being the simple person that he was, Wilson took my suggestions quite literally.
“I can’t really say, but you don’t have to buy something for everyone, Wilson.”
“I don’t understand, Father.”
“I mean that there are limits to what we can buy. Souvenirs are really simple tokens that express our gratitude and appreciation for the persons we value in our life.”
“But I want them to share what I have enjoyed in this pilgrimage in Rome, Father!” he contested.
“I know, Wilson. But no matter what gift you give them, they can never experience Rome with a miniature of the Colosseum or St. Peter’s.”
“So what would the best souvenir be, Father?”
“Like, what did you buy, Father?” he interrupted me.
“Like you, I bought some religious objects. But don’t you think the best souvenir would be ourselves?”
“We, souvenirs? Like how?”
“I’m just taking from Pope Francis who reminded us, in his messages these days of Holy Week in preparation for Easter, that we cannot be static Christians.
We must be vital and living conduits of the grace, witnesses of our Lord’s Resurrection.”
“You’re saying, more than giving things, I should give myself?”
“But I still want to give people something that they could treasure or use from my trip, Father.”
“Precisely! But besides these things we have to give ourselves as the best souvenir that can be constantly appreciated by our loved ones.”
“How can I do that, Father?”
“Like any souvenir, we have to give ourselves. Sometimes some of the things we buy aren’t very expensive. But like we say, ‘It’s the thought that counts.’”
“I think I like that idea, Father. In fact, it can come out cheaper,” he smiled at me mischievously.
“Hey, dude, that’s not what I meant.”
“Just kidding, Father!” Wilson chuckled.
“So how does being a souvenir really work out, Father?”
“Every souvenir, no matter how simple, is a reminder. And we have to be reminders through good example of our own commitment to Christ.”
“Wow! I never thought I could be worth something, Father.”
“We are all worth something wonderful, as long as it’s united to our Lord. This union will always activate an infinite content and value in everything we do.”
“Then, every souvenir represents something. As buying a small Colosseum is meant to share something we treasured about the place we visited, then our life and examples have to be the things we treasure in relation with Christ.”
“So what are some examples, Father?”
“There is the souvenirs of our prayer, sacrifice, of virtues like patience, service and forgiveness.”
“Wow! Then you are actually saying we can give them every day?”
“Exactly! And these give an invisible but lasting remembrance of the presence of Christ in others’ lives through us.”
“Oh, Father, do you think I could I bring home some of the soil from the Catacombs we visited the other day?”