Tom & Sue Poland Days 13 & 14 Kalwaria & Wadowice (Home of Pope John Paul II)

Dzien Dobry:

Sunday (Day 13 of the Poland portion of our personal pilgrimage)

What a day! Even though we were up at 6 we didn’t care.  We hung around the house having several cups of coffee and went to the 9 AM Sunday mass just down the street. It was a beautiful little church and the place was packed. Again we ended up standing in the back but at least we could see. Some people were even out the door for lack of room. During the service a young girl sitting next to where we were standing got up and offered Susan her seat.  I wanted to laugh, because I knew what was going thru my honey’s mind……..do I look that old?

Mass was great and before the final blessing there were announcements and as I looked around the church not a single person had left early.  We have found that to be the general case everywhere we go.  There are no early bird specials here. After mass many of the people went to the cemetery behind the church with flowers for their loved ones.  It was great to see.

Getting cash so we can pay for our lodging
Getting cash so we can pay for our lodging

We then went to the bank to get some ammo so we could pay for our stay in cash and then we stopped at the market and got some ribs for dinner, we were not going anywhere else today.

We spent a leisurely day at the house and had breakfast around noon and dinner at 7.  We accomplished a few things today but mostly relaxed and did it feel goooooood!

 

We only saw our hosts, John and Dana, once today as we were leaving.  We have spent a lot of time with John outside in the back since his English is very good.

Groundhog day for sure this time
Groundhog day for sure this time

Besides solving the problems in the world we discussed what he was going to do about his groundhog problem.  It had created new mounds everyday and reminded me of the movie Caddy Shack, because that’s how I would have been. (I didn’t tell him about our groundhog problem) Susan suggested they name him, Dana did, and no we call him Max. There were 5 fresh new mounds today, oh boy! That’s all I remember.

Monday Day 14 Kalwaria & Sanctuary of the Weeping Madonna

This morning we slept till 7:30…….we had gone to bed at 8:30 last night, I guess we were tired.  I didn’t make breakfast because neither of us was hungry.  After the usual prep for the day we headed out around 10 for Kalwaria and the Sanctuary of the Weeping Madonna, Our Lady of Calvary.  She shed tears of blood and veneration quickly became widespread and each year almost a million pilgrims come to pray and submit their petitions to Our Lady.  Today we were two of them.

The Calvary extends for five miles and the walk of Mary goes high into the mountains.  There was no way we could have done it today or maybe forever, as much as we had wanted to, since being here 2 years ago on a short stop to the airport.

First Holy Communion in the church
First Holy Communion in the church

We spent a lot of time on the grounds and in the church, including mass at 11 with a lot of First Holy Communion children. The sermon was so verrrry loooong that the next group was coming in before the final blessing.  I think I even dozed off. Oop’s

We were hungry now so we went to the restaurant on the grounds and had lunch.  It was very good and I am ashamed to tell you how much it cost, so if you want to know send me an e-mail.  We had a 2 PM reservation in Wadowice at the birth place and child hood home of St. John Paul II thanks to our friend Fr Tomasz since we waited to the last minute.

He reserved for us an English speaking tour, and I much as I dislike this stuff, I had tears in my eyes most the way.  What an experience to touch his sofa and bed and crosses and to see how he grew up in this modest apartment. It was so beautifully done and the hour flew by.  His life was one of tragedy and joy and he gave up what he loved most, acting, to become a man of God. A Saint for our times and a great advocate he has become for us. (Lots of photos).

 

 

Editor’s note:  Looking at some of these photos is a reminder of how young and vigorous (only 58 ) this Pope was when first elected.

Baptismal font where JP II was baptized
Baptismal font where JP II was baptized

 

The Basilica next door has a special chapel for his Baptismal font, another for Saints Pio, Stanislaus, Kolbe and Simon of Lipnica with relics for each.  The St. John Paul II chapel also has a relic and the other chapel across from St JPII is the chapel of Miraculous painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The Basilica is named after the Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

We lit candles here for all your intentions
We lit candles here for all your intentions

 

There is a side chapel in honor of Divine Mercy so what better place to pray the Chaplet, plus there were 2 chairs in front of the altar and a painting of Our Lord.

We Lit candles there for all of you.

Editors note: you can still add your name to their prayer intentions by emailing them at tsmelillo13@aol.com.  

The "Pope's Cake" is a tradition here
The “Pope’s Cake” is a tradition here

 

This was again our 2nd visit to this village but this time we left with a much greater sense of the Saint and what it means to be holy.

We departed after we stopped for a piece of Pope cake, as they call it, since it was St. JPII’s favorite and renamed it after he became Pope.

 

It was back to Kalwaria, about 20 minutes away to spend a little more quite time at the shrine.  We figured the buses would all be gone by now and we could pray our rosary in the Chapel of the Weeping Madonna. We started there but moved just outside in the main sanctuary to finish for some people we coming in to pray and we didn’t want to disturb them.  The Basilica is where St. JPII’s father took him after his mother died, when he was 9 and here is where he developed a great love for Our Blessed Mother.

A few more photos and we left for home as we call it, for it is so comfortable.  John was outside and we all talked for awhile, had a glass of wine together and then Susan & I noshed on some leftover ribs, cheese and pate and then it was to work, to begin repacking and preparing for tomorrows’ journey to Zakopane in the Tetra Mountains. YEAH!

Editor’s note:  Tom loves to drive those winding mountain roads…..Sue, not so much.

John told us to stay as long as we like so we decided not to rush in the morning and maybe sleep in. Any way it’s 10 PM and I’m still typing, so I’m calling it a night after this truly magnificent day.

God Bless you all;

Love

Susan & Tom

 

 

A Lapsed Catholic finds God in Nebraska

A lapsed Catholic finds God in Nebraska:

 

It’s strange how I decided to make the trip up to the chapel, after having driven past it numerous times (it is clearly visible from I-80). I had been reflecting on the famous statement made by Nietzsche who lamented that “God is dead.” And I guess the thing that made his words ring true were the countless times I found churches with nothing new and revivifying… the tradition was all there but there was no passion! And I began to feel the “deadness” because the words had become so rote and repetitive, and because the message was never applied to how I ought to act in the modern world. I began to think Nietzsche might have been right, and that perhaps those bland, relatively dark churches were in fact coffins in which we were holding a series of funereal rites.

But this dark thought caused me to look anew at the chapel on the hill… I looked and saw that someone must believe with all their heart to have built such a place. And I thought, “well if it is to be a funeral, at least here is an open casket!” It spoke to me as a lapsed Catholic because it did not attempt to recreate old styles of architecture, but rather it was built as something brand new and designed to be a natural piece of the landscape.

And so I visited, and I was filled with awe. I spoke to the deacon in the visitor center who told me the entire story of the construction of the place, and the series of miracles which allowed for its construction.  I have personally had intimations of miracles in my own life since coming to this place… and I find myself returning to it every week, since I am fortunate to live so close to it (in Omaha, NE).

There have been many miracles witnessed at this place, and I can only imagine it is because God is pleased by an offering of such transcendent beauty.

What is YOUR “Benedict Option” ?

Author Rod Dreher, is his book “The Benedict Option” argues that the best way to fight the growing secularism and hostility to Christianity that most of us see in our home countries is to go back to the example of Saint Benedict of Nursia.

Saint Benedict of Nursia, looking at the moral collapse following the fall of Rome in the 6th Century, chose to retreat from the world and build communities based on the order and stability that Christianity offered.  The existence of these communities is credited with saving Christianity and Western civilization.

Dreher points out that watered-down Christianity, a secular culture that is hostile to Christian values and general apathy of Christians themselves, make it advisable….maybe even necessary….that we build our own separate communities.

It is certainly easy to get discouraged and feel that you are swimming against the tide….such as the Charlie Gard case, where the government dictates what care parents can give their child.  Or where Catholic doctors and nurses are obliged to violate their consciences in order to practice their profession.  Or sidewalk counselors are threatened with arrest.  Or even some of our own clerics who have strayed from the teachings of the Church.

However, something we may have forgotten was that Christianity was never meant to be easy, and unfortunately, surface Christianity has become too easy in many places.  No one stops you from attending Mass or practicing your faith….until you take it out of the church building.  But, of course, the building is not the Church, we as Catholic Christians are the Church.

What is often missing, though is a sense of community.  In fact, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has stated that Facebook has taken the place of churches in providing a sense of community, and sadly, he is probably correct in many cases.

Although retreating to a monastery might appeal to some (and they may even feel called to it), it is not practical for most of us.  We have jobs, children (or grandchildren) to raise, responsibilities that keep us in the world around us.  And, of course, we are called to be “a light unto the world” rather than withdraw from it.

Archbishop Charles J. Caput has written a similar book on the subject, “Strangers in a Strange Land”, as shown here on the left.

We highly recommend it.

And in reality, what Dreher is proposing in his book is similar:  rather than hide out in a monastery in the forest, we remain in the world, but withdraw from those things which are so harmful to our spiritual life.

 

Some simple things you can do that can be your own Benedict Option:

†    Turn off the TV and read a book.

†     Start a prayer group

†     Plan a weekly social event with other like-minded Catholics.

Thus, we become our own community, or “Benedict Option”.

So how does all of this relate to travel?  We suggest you go on a pilgrimage or retreat.  Traveling to a local shrine, taking a pilgrimage, whether near or far away, can be a way to help renew our faith and to be in community with fellow Catholics.

There are many opportunities…a retreat center nearbya group pilgrimage to various shrines, or just a personal pilgrimage as shown on our blog.

Being around other Catholics offers a chance to re-charge your batteries…..not so much in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense.  You realize that you are not alone in the struggle. And, of course, if you travel to on a pilgrimage you will be with other Catholics, participate in Mass in other cultures, see just how universal the Catholic Church really is, and how you fit in to this world-wide community.

And that, really, is what “The Benedict Option” is all about.

 

 

 

Guidebooks aren’t dead–and why you should consider using one

The importance of Guidebooks

It was recently revealed that the venerable “Frommer’s” travel guides were purchased by Google and soon thereafter it was announced that they would discontinue publishing the travel guides in book form.

In the age of the internet, many people get their information from websites such as ours.  That is a good thing since there is such a wide range of sites out there, but we caution against relying on websites alone (even this one).

For starters, guide books are a great planning tool before you set out on your travels.  The better ones are generally written from first-hand experience.  And they often go in to more detail than general travel websites.

Read moreGuidebooks aren’t dead–and why you should consider using one

A Martyr Beatified in Oklahoma City

On September 23. 2017 the first U.S.-born Martyr was beatified:  Father Stanley Rother, of the Diocese of Oklahoma City.

An Oklahoma farm boy, he fit in well with the oppressed Catholic peasants of Guatemala during the chaotic war fought in the late 1970’s and 80’s, when the dicatorship killed thousands of Catholics and persecuted the Church.

Refusing to abandon his parish, he was murdered in the sacristy…..not crying out so as not to put any of his flock in danger of execution as well.

His body was returned to Oklahoma City (minus his heart, which stayed in Guatemala) and is buried here in Oklahoma City.  Among the 14,000 people attending his Beatification were members of his family as well as some from the mission in Guatemala that he served and loved.

You can find out more about his life and his tomb in Oklahoma City by going to our page here.

Death of Noted Mariologist Father Rene Laurentin

 

Fr. Rene Laurentin
Fr. Rene Laurentin

Fr. Rene Laurentin was a leading Mariologist and author of over 150 books and thousands of articles regarding Marian apparitions, such as Lourdes,  Lisieux and many others.  He died on September 10, 2017 at the age of 99.

He wrote about many modern mystics such as St. Therese of Liseux, Maria Valtorta (“poem of the Man God”), Saint Bernadette and many, many more.

More recent works include his 1995 book “An Appeal from Mary in Argentina”, about the approved apparitions in San Nicolas, Argentina.

Thinking of a Destination Wedding? Here is some great advice for you.

Thinking of a destination wedding?

According to some statistics, destination weddings are approaching 25% of all weddings.  Great news for wedding planners no doubt, but how about you?

With all the drama that goes in to arranging a wedding in your home town, how much more complicated ( and stressful! ) is it to plan one in another city, or even another country?  And, of course the requirements for a Catholic wedding go well beyond just a quick trip to the nearest church.

Well fortunately, it can be done, but you need to be sure you know the pluses and minuses of destination weddings.

We have added a series of pages to help you plan a Catholic destination wedding. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

 

 

Headed for Rome? You don’t need tickets to attend Papal Audience in August

Normally, you need to have tickets (free) to attend the weekly Papal Audience held almost every Wednesday in Rome.  There is an exception for the entire month of August every year, when no tickets are issued. Therefore you DO NOT NEED a ticket to attend the audience.

It is suggested that you just go to the audience early. It will probably be in the Paul VI Audience Hall at 9.30 or 10 AM. But you should plan to get there by 7 AM and stand in line. You will have free access.

For this year, tickets will be issued beginning in September, with the exception of Sept 13, 2017, when the Pope will be visiting Colombia.  

To get tickets for the weekly Papal audience click here.  Tickets can also be arranged through Saint Patrick’s Church in Rome ( the American Community parish in Rome) by clicking here.

 

Catholic American Parish in Rome has a New Home

For many years, Americans visiting or living in Rome, have attended Mass in English at the Church of Santa Susanna. The church has served as the national parish for U.S. residents of Rome since 1921, when the church was assigned to the care of the Paulist Fathers.

Due to problems discovered in June 2013 (wood items falling from the ceiling, among other things), the Church regrettably had to be closed to the public; however, alternative arrangements for Mass were made at two Roman Churches nearby.

Saint Patrick's will be the new home
Saint Patrick’s will be the new home

Now, it has been announced by the Rector, Rev. Gregory S. Apparcel, that the parish has found a new permanent home.  It will be located in Saint Patrick’s Church in Rome, not far from the U.S. Embassy. Daily Mass in English will begin on August 1, 2017.  There is also a vigil Mass on Saturdays and two Masses on Sundays, all in English.

Check our web page for more details concerning the new home for the American parish in Rome, including Mass times, special events, and more.

 

 

Exciting new Danube River Cruise for Catholics

Exciting new Danube River Cruise for Catholics

 

A rapidly growing segment of the cruise industry has been river cruises, especially in Europe. They offer much smaller ships, dock right in the heart of town, almost everything is included in the price including shore excursions, drinks, gourmet meals and many other items that have become extra cost on most ocean cruises.

Unfortunately, there were hardly any that offered a priest on board….until now.

Select International Tours, an award-winning tour operator, is offering a Danube River cruise in June 2018, with Father Leo Patalinghug (Host of EWTN “Grace before Meals”) as spiritual director and Gus and Michelle Lloyd (radio hosts of “Seize the Day” on Sirius XM).

You can get a $100 discount when you register using code CTguide.  This cruise will fill up fast, the ship only hold 180 passengers, so don’t wait too long to sign up.

Click here for details.

You can get a $100 discount when you register using code CTguide.  This cruise will fill up fast, the ship only hold 180 passengers, so don’t wait too long to sign up.

Click here for details.