My journey to God on the road to Assisi


By Sam Aitchison
The Church is Alive!


In the quiet countryside of Assisi, Italy, I awoke on Easter Sunday to a glorious sunrise paired with the crow of a rooster, signaling the beginning of a new day. After getting ready, packing my backpack and having a few eggs, I left my quaint Bed and Breakfast and began a 3-mile hike toward the Basilica of St. Francis in the center of Assisi to attend Easter Mass.

I chose to spend my Easter in Assisi because I wanted a place where I could be present and fully engrossed in this most holy day. The quietness, solitude and simplicity of this small town — rich in religious history (St. Francis and St. Clare are from here) — allowed for a powerful Easter experience.

It was an exquisite morning as I walked through the countryside filled with small farms, vineyards and cottages. I felt very much like a pilgrim hiking to Mass with all my belongings in my backpack. My hike to Easter Mass seemed analogous to the goal of our lives as Christians — I made the ascent to Mass by taking one step at a time, each step bringing me closer to my destination. I thought of what St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). The race takes place each hour, day, year and decade during our earthly journey; the ultimate destination being eternal union with God.


The verse from Corinthians tells us to run so as to win. To me, this means to work to emulate Christ in all my thoughts, words and actions as best as I can, knowing that I will never “win” in the sense of my life on earth. The victory is possible because of Easter, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection for the sake of our salvation.

Working to build God’s kingdom, recognizing that we may never perfectly accomplish this in our lifetime, can be unsettling. In the secular world, the victory comes with graduation, getting a job and having a family, etc. As satisfying and fulfilling as those things are, we long for something more — eternal union with God. Our faith journeys, which we live out in the secular world, lead us to a deeper union with God through prayer, a more open heart and a more perfect relationship with others.

I will never win the race on earth, yet Christ calls me to model heaven on earth. The symbolism of my physical walk reminded me that I have a calling to continually strive for that perfect union with God in my lived experience as a Catholic. During this Easter season and beyond, I am going to try to keep in mind our call to run towards Christ in our thoughts and actions and to keep the ultimate goal of our lives — union with him — in mind. The joy of Easter calls us to do so!

(Sam Aitchison is a sophomore at Saint Louis University. He can be reached at

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