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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 takeit 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 nearby, a 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.
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.
Hello, Hi, Good morning, Good evening (We miss dzein dobry)
Well, we’re home and the trip to get here was just long and depressing. Did we ever tell you we love Poland? The hotel we stayed at in Paris worked out and we got out the door before 6:30 A.M. …, 12:30 AM our time. We took the 6:30 shuttle to the airport and were alone in the van. The driver took us right to our gate door entry, he was a really nice kid, and we checked in and were in the Admirals Lounge before 7:30. It was great and we relaxed, sent a trip report out and had a lovely breakfast.
Our flight left on time, but we were 13th in line and when we finally took off there were 25 other planes behind us. Charles de Gaulle Airport … UGH. They changed the plane we were supposed to fly on, and it was not as comfortable as the 777 that it was supposed to be, but it was fine. We made New York on time and transferred our luggage and had about and 1 ½ hours before our flight to Miami. Again, we left on time and we were only 11th in line this time … I love small airports.
We arrived in Miami at 8:30 PM and it took over an hour to get our rental car, but we tried to remain calm and finally we got on the road to Palm Beaches and got home round 11:30 PM, a 24 hour day anyway you look at it. No unpacking … only a glass of wine and into bed and that’s all I remember.
We woke up around 7:00 AM, had coffee and went to Mass at Miracle House Chapel. After Mass, it was home and Susan started to unpack and I went to the store for some groceries and sticker shock ($$$$$$) after being in Poland.
We couldn’t make 8:00 PM that night and we were up on Sunday at 6:00 Am and went the 8:45 Mass at the Cathedral, since we were Eucharistic Ministers this week. It was so nice to see so many of our Cathedral “Family” and we spent a lot of time after Mass with them.
We went home and Susan continued to re-organize us. I went to pick up a few more things (we are taking this easy). Bed time came again early around 7:30 PM but we did sleep until 7 AM and jet lag has finally gone away.
We hope that you all have enjoyed this Pilgrimage. It was our 9th and, by far the best. It was the least aggressive we have done, as the old bodies become less resilient.
Editor’s note: Their idea of “less aggressive” is pretty aggressive by our standards…they are an inspiration to us.
Our family in Spain are always a must to be with and we never seem to have enough time with them. They are loving and wonderful. Poland, especially Krakow, has become another home for us and it’s because of our beloved Saint John Paul II, the Divine Mercy Shrine, Fr. Tomasz, the Cardinal and all the Sisters we have become so fond of. Everywhere we have gone over the years have been experiences we will never forget.
Although we have, unfortunately, returned to reality, we have made a decision to continue our daily lives “on Pilgrimage” as we have for the past month and we will continue to pray for all the intentions we were blessed to be entrusted with by all of you. We already look forward to our next adventure in “2018” – “Si Dios Quiere”!
Susan & Tom
Exaltation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, in this tragic hour of the world’s history, we entrust and consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart, our only refuge, our hope, our salvation. Have pity on this world, torn by the most terrible conflicts, burning with the fires of hate, victim of its own sins. May your heart be moved at the sight of so much ruin, pain and sorrow.
We consecrate to your maternal heart our persons, our families, our country and the whole of humanity. Protect and save us!
O Heart of Mary, source of true love, fill our selfish hearts with divine charity and with that true brotherly love without which there can never be peace. Grant that men and nations may understand and fulfill the precept of your Divine Son, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, in order that true peace may be firmly established in the Justice and Truth of Christ. Amen.
Yes we are in Paris, well almost, I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would catch up on our final day in Krakow. By the way Susan is sleeping and I envy her. 5 AM came early again and today it wasn’t easy getting out of bed, less than 5 hours sleep doesn’t cut it but we had to see our friend once more before we leave and what better way than at his morning mass for the Sisters.
We met and walked about 15 minutes to a non descript building and Fr. Tomasz rang the bell and we were buzzed in, we put our jackets in another room and met the Mother Superior of the order. She was so sweet and young for such an important position.
They directed us into the chapel and Fr. Tomasz said, “I think you will fit in the pew” and he was right, I almost fit. I did manage to sit and stand but I had to get out to kneel in the aisle. The Sisters were all behind us and I’m sure they found it amusing seeing this big man trying to navigate this tiny pew…..Susan and I did, and so did Father. We had the precious blood again today and the Sisters sang in Latin, I think Fr. Tomasz told them we didn’t understand Polish but some Latin, yes. At the prayers of the faithful Father finished with a prayer for our safety on our travels home and told us in English when they finished.
Before we left Sister gave us prayer cards of their founder who was beautified in 2013. We thanked them and left and we both felt great……being around holy people will do that to you. We walked with our friend to his office and it was hard to say goodbye, but we know we will him again….Si Dios Kyrie.
We stopped for an extra large cappuccino on the way back to the apartment and between that and the 2 espressos I had this morning, I was flying. Susan did the final packing and I finished the Day 6 report and got it out, I made breakfast, an omelet with all the stuff left in the fridge, it turned out really good. We planned to go back to Divine Mercy on our way out but it was after 12 and I had to get Jag back by 1 PM. I did enjoy the car the gas mileage was super and the pickup and speed, well, you know. But did I ever tell you I really loved that Mercedes 2 years ago?
We checked in for our flight and went outside to enjoy a little more sun and the cool breeze before going thru security. We had a beer and a glass of wine before we got on the plane, since I had a few Zolty left and we left Poland with 50 cents left. We got stopped at security because I had our water pick in the carry-on and he asked what it was, I wanted to say a gun, but knew better so I tried to explain and he went to the computer and checked it out. We still have the pick, so I guess he found it on-line, maybe he ordered one from Wal-Mart.
We will be in Paris around 5:30 this evening and our flight is at 11 AM tomorrow morning. We had to fly to JFK because we left from Paris and one of our business class seats I got with mileage (and they don’t make it easy to use the miles your way). We have a nice hotel and a room for 3 with large double and a single…..we will see, every large double we have had could only sleep one, that’s why I booked larger rooms with extra beds.
Well back to reality, did I ever tell you I hate Charles de Gaulle……not the guy, the airport. Their hotel shuttle system leaves something to be desired and we waited over an hour for the shuttle because the first one that came people were pushing and shoving to get in and we were in line first. The first shall be last, we are trying to keep our pilgrimage peacefulness.
This hotel was the biggest miss I have made in a long time, this place is away from it all, food,wine or even a grocery.
It’s only an overnight so we are roughing it with a pizza……we hope it gets here before we fall asleep. The beds are comfy and I hope to be in bed soon.
It’s been a long day and even longer with the joys of traveling. That’s all I care to remember for today.
PS their vending machines are broken, but the pizza just arrived. Good night
God bless you all
Susan & Tom
Dear God, today, I offer to you all the suffering I experience, in union with the sufferings of Jesus. May Your Light and goodness mollify the pain in my being, soothe the sorrow in my heart, and lift the darkness from my mind and weakness from my will. Amen.
I got up early this morning, 7, this was going to be a tough day, our last full day in Krakow and it was jammed packed. I didn’t wake Susan until 8 and we had coffee together and tried to figure out how to stay for another month or so. Ha Ha.
We had planned to go to the JP II Center for noon mass and meet Fr Paul after to purchase our ex-voto and we wanted to visit some Basilicas and Shrines first, plus we needed to get chocolate chip cookies for Cardinal Dziwisz, who had invited us thru Fr. Tomasz for a visit at his residence tonight at 6. Jane from EWTN told us a story about how St. John Paul II loved chocolate chip cookies and the Cardinal would help him eat them. The last time she was here the first thing he asked her was “where are the cookies?”. We found out from the Cardinal later that she made them.
We headed around 9 for cookies and to go to St. Francis Church and pray our Rosary in the JP II’s pew and to our surprise, when we entered the Basilica, an English Mass had started on the main altar. We were in and it was great to attend mass again and know every word that was said although we do love the Polish Masses and can even sing along with certain songs. We found out after that these pilgrims were from Philly and were headed for Warsaw today.
Susan and I went to the rosary pew of St. John Paul II and began our rosary until a group of children came in and we moved so they could all sit in the pew. We continued our prayers a few pews up and it seemed we were surrounded by all these young and beautiful children and we smiled knowing that the youth we so very important to our Saint. They noticed that we were praying and we had a Rosary in our hands and we hope we set an example for them.
Not in a rush now to go to mass, we went to St. Mary’s Basilica and to get a closer look at the depiction of the life of Mary at the main altar. We have seen this before and it is always roped off so you can only get so close and I have photos of it but they had a notice that at 11:30 at the pilgrim entrance you could get up close. It was early, so we went on the cookie hunt to no avail, and stopped for a cappuccino.
It was time to go back to St. Mary’s and we got in this small line and then realized you had to pay to get in, ok 20 pln later we had our tickets and stood back in line. Behind us a large tour group came and then more people behind them and the door finally opened late. We went in and the closest we could get was in the back where I had taken my pictures before. Then came some pushing and shoving and loud talking and I had a camera around my neck and a employee came up and told me 5 pln if I wanted to take pictures. I was done, I hate tours and this one hadn’t even begun and we didn’t know what language they would talk in. We made our way out and I snapped a couple of shots so you could see this masterpiece, since my other photos are at home.
We went cookie hunting again and found a store on our way to St. Joseph’s church and the miraculous painting of him with Jesus. We had been there before twice, but never knew about the Painting. Every time we had gone in the big Iron Gate was locked but Eucharistic Adoration was always available from the back. Today was the same but the Bernadine Sisters were praying and singing from a side room near the altar and that made the visit even more special.
After we went to another favorite restaurant, Corleone’s, right up the street and shared a small meatless pizza……it’s Wednesday. It was back to the apt. to get all the things we needed to get blessed and to head to The St. John Paul II center to meet with Fr. Paul. We decided not to carry the large bag with us to the Cardinals’ apartment and then have to drag it to dinner, so we asked Fr. Paul to do it at our meeting. We sat with him and gave him all the information he needed and we gave him all our intentions, since they wouldn’t fit in the box at the altar. He look nervous and asked if had to read them all when they pray after mass and offer them up to Saint John Paul II’s intercession and I told him just the intention I put in the box that would cover everyone, He was relieved.
We finished our business ordering a plaque for the shrine and we were very happy that it would be right outside the door to his original Tomb stone from Rome which also is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. I then asked him to bless our things and he said wait, ran out, and when he returned he had a large framed photo of Saint John Paul II and an in-scripted and signed acknowledgment of gratitude from the Cardinal for our ex-voto donation. I am going to have to re=pack when we get back.
We said our goodbyes and headed for the St. Faustina Shrine and the chapel of Divine Mercy. We prayed our chaplet and again reverenced the relic and we left for home. It was after three and we had things to do before we met with Fr. Thomaz at 6 PM.
We repacked the large suitcase and tried to figure out what we needed for the next 2 days. Before we knew it was time to get ready and at 5:45 we were out the door. Fr. Tomasz was right on time, at the Palace and we walked thru the park to the Cardinal’s residence and the street he lives on now is the most beautiful in Krakow.
When we got there we were greeted by his private aide who was Italian and Buona Sera worked. He spoke a little English and was very nice. The Cardinal came out of his living room and greeted us with 3 Polish kisses each. Susan tried to kiss his ring but he wasn’t going to allow that. We went in and sat and he looked so good. Retirement even though he is busy suits him well. I told him that and he laughed. We started to talk and he said I do speak English so we spoke in English, but Fr. Tomasz did have to interpret at times because the Cardinal shared a lot of private things about St. John Paul II and we could feel the love he has for him as he spoke.
He told a little about the Saints’ spiritual life and relationship with God and the Blessed Mother. We talked about the day the Saint was shot and that the bullet that went thru the Pope should have hit him but just dropped on the floor of the car between him and the Pope.
Editor’s note: Cardinal Dziwisz was formerly Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary. Click here to read a great article he wrote titled “The Day the Pope was shot” from the National Catholic Register, June 2001.
He told us that many reports of Miracles thru the intercession of Saint John Paul II come in every day and we promised to send him ours.
Editor’s note: Tom credits his cancer recovery to the intercession of Saint John Paul II. If you have not read his story, click here.
We discussed America and the spirituality of the American people and we talked about so many things, before we knew it, it was 7 and we were late for our dinner reservation just down the street. Fr. Thomasz took a couple photos as the Cardinal gave some us 4 special Rosaries with Saint John Paul II’s crest as well as his crest plus re-supplying our relic cards.
It was time to go and we each got 3 Polish kisses again and a special blessing from him and said good-bye for now.
We were at the restaurant in 3 minutes and they gave us a great table in this lovely setting outside in the courtyard. We ordered a bottle of wine and dinner and the fun began, we laughed all night, I was my usual stupid self with the wait staff and some of the guests and we had a great time.
Dinner was delicious and we even had another bottle of wine and dessert.
When we left, Fr. Tomasz laughingly said this was another place he couldn’t go back to because of his very crazy American friends, but he did say he was learning from me. I don’t know if that is good or bad.
Before we said goodnight, he invited us to mass in the morning at a private chapel with the same order of Sisters that we saw on Tuesday. We then hugged and kissed and we went our separate ways to home. Now it was dark, so this was unusual for us and I was afraid to look at the time. I didn’t care it was a great night and we can sleep on the plane tomorrow on our way to Paris.
Susan and I laughed for almost another hour about the day and finally at 12:30 AM we got in to bed and that’s really all I remember.
God bless all of you
Susan & Tom
Spiritual Mother of Mercy, True Queen of Angels, Pray for me, Pray for all people on Earth that we bend our wills to your loving guidance now. Please Pray with me now. Show me God’s Perfect Will for me today.