Tom & Sue Final day of their 33 day pilgrimage to Spain & Poland

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.

The long flight home
The long flight home

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”!

God Bless

Love

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.

Tom & Sue Day 6 in Krakow Cardinal Dziwisz, Stories of St John Paul II & More

Diezn Dobry:

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.

Lots of young children at the Masses here in Poland
Lots of young children at the Masses here in Poland

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.

Meatless pizza for lunch
Meatless pizza for lunch

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.

The original marble slab that covered the tomb of St. John Paul II in Saint Peter's
Touching he original marble slab that covered the tomb of St. John Paul II in Saint Peter’s

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. 

Dinner with Father Tomasz
Dinner with Father Tomasz

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

Love

Susan & Tom

Prayer

 

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.

Tom & Sue Day 5 in Krakow Divine Mercy Shrine & St John Paul II Centre

I was very refreshed and ready for another day.  I let Susan sleep for another hour and when she got up we had breakfast and showered and watched a little news and as we finished downloading photos and picking out ones we will send.  At 11:00 we left for the St. John Paul II Center where we were going to mass at noon.

Fr Paul quzzing the First Holy Communion class
Fr Paul quzzing the First Holy Communion class here in the John Paul II Centre

After our traditional cappuccino, we went into the shrine and walked thru some of the special chapels and said a few prayers until it was time for mass.  There wasn’t a First Holy Communion today but there were quite a few children in training for theirs and Father Paul quizzed them at the homily and they did pretty good.  Now, you are probably wondering how we knew the priests’ name….we didn’t, but we did meet him after, as Fr. Tomasz told us to go to the Sacristy and ask for him. 

We wanted to purchase an ex-voto in gratitude for the miracles St John Paul has given us over the years, including Katrina who couldn’t speak but now does and in answering Susan’s prayers for me.  The first priest we met was him and after we explained everything to him he took us to where the ex-voto would be and we went up to his office and planned to meet him Wednesday at 1 to 2 PM, we needed money.

Perpetual Adoration at the Shrine of Divine Mercy
Perpetual Adoration at the Shrine of Divine Mercy

We left the shrine and went to the Divine Mercy Shrine, another of our favorite places in Krakow; it is very close to the JP II Center.  We went directly to the chapel where there is 24 hour adoration all the time and one of the Sisters are always present.  This is very holy place and we love to pray Our Divine Mercy Chaplet here as we have done so many times.

 

 

Praying at the Shrine of Divine Mercy
Praying at the Shrine of Divine Mercy

There was a sister behind us during our stay and she smiled at Susan and me as we left as if to say thank you, since this wasn’t a photo op our tourist stop for us, she knew what we were doing. 

Before leaving we went to the altar where the remains of Saint Faustina lie and where she had encounters with Jesus many times.  We reverenced her relic and thanked her and our Lord for this wonderful devotion that St. John Paul II made into a worldwide phenomena and is practiced by so many people.

Editors’ Note:  The painting of Divine Mercy you see here is a copy, the original painting of Divine Mercy is actually in Vilnius, Lithuania (click here for that story).

 

The family plot of Pope John Paul II
The family plot of Pope John Paul II

From here we went to the military cemetery where the mother, father and brother of St. John Paul were buried, we had to thank them for our Saint. When we left we were only 6.8 kilometers from our hotel and it was the looooooooooongist drive we have had.  It took almost an hour with traffic, but who was in a hurry.  Today the temperature was 94, the hottest day we had, and the day we arrived it was in the 40’s one of the coldest days of our trip. That’s Krakow!

 

Back at the apartment we started to pack and that was a bummer, but we read some e-mails and one from our cousins Joan and Lou made us laugh so hard.  She innocently said we may need weight watchers when we get back because of the 5 meals on Sunday and all the food on the trip and little did she know she was right, since we were laughing about the weight gain in the morning.

Pew at St. Francis Church where John Paul II prayed
Pew at St. Francis Church where John Paul II prayed

We had tomorrow and Thursday morning, but the time has been flying by. 

We were going tonight to St Francis church to pray our Rosary in the pew that is clearly marked; where Saint John Paul II did every day he was in Krakow as a priest and in the Palace as the Archbishop.  

From there we had planned to try a new restaurant that had an interesting menu. 

New restaurant we wanted to try
New restaurant we wanted to try

The restaurant had a courtyard dining area and it was cool and inviting.  There was only one waitress and she got swamped right after we got our wine and had ordered.  The oriental family next to us had said hello but that was all they knew.  We won the heart of their son and he became a real pest, I think he was a little spoiled but he was fun.  We met another couple from Chicago and had a nice conversation with them.  Our food arrived and we were done talking, time for eating and was it good and was it large. We took some home. 

Back at the apt. we continued to pack and I started this trip report.  I got 2 lines done, Susan got the large suitcase done, and I sneaked in part of a movie on TV. Time for bed, and so we did, and that’s all I remember.

 God Bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

 

Tom & Sue in Krakow Day 4 Mass with Fr. Tomasz

From Tension To Tranquility

 

God added:  “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the Covenant between Me and you and every living creature with you:  I set My bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the Covenant between Me and the Earth … as the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting Covenant that I have established between God and All Living Beings … all Mortal Creatures that are on Earth.”

 

— Genesis 9:12-16

 

Deizn Dobry:

It was tough getting up this morning, 5 AM came very early.  A couple cups of coffee and we could at least find the shower and the cold water revived us. Today was special, were are going to mass at the Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and our dear friend Fr. Tomasz is presiding.  All the time we have known him, we have never been able to attend mass where he was the celebrant. 

This 6:30 AM mass he does every day for the Sisters of the Presentation, and today they invited us, and they were treating us to breakfast after mass.  This is where the second box of candy gets dropped off.  We have been to mass with the Sisters at the Archbishop’s Palace last year at the chapel where St. John Paul II was ordained and Cardinal Dziwisz had invited us and presided.  That was 6:30 AM too, they get going early here.

Walking the Old Town of Krakow at 6 AM is very peaceful and it took about 15 minutes to get to the church.  This beautiful little church holds the treasure of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Grace. The first miracle was in 1633 when She freed a prisoner from his chains after he prayed to Her and numerous others have happened thru the years by Our Lady’s intercession, so we offered up mass for all the intentions we carry.

Mass was beautiful
Mass was beautiful

When we arrived the Sisters were praying and singing hymns and their morning prayers so we knelt and prayed and at the beginning of mass, Fr. Tomasz and a con-celebrant knelt before the altar and we all knelt as they led a series of prayers as the Madonna was slowly unveiled.  It was very reverent and a beautiful way to begin your day with Mary, Our Mother.

 

Today at communion we were blessed with being able to receive the Precious Blood of Jesus as Fr. Tomasz tinctured the Host in to a small chalice and we all received.  This is the first time in Poland and our entire trip that we have received Jesus in both species and we do miss it.

Box of candy for the sisters and breakfast for us
Box of candy for the sisters and breakfast for us

Breakfast was in a private dining and one of the Sisters took care of everything.  They had a wide assortment of food so after Father said grace we all chowed down and talked and laughed as we caught up on many things.  There will be no eating until tonight as we were pleasantly full and so happy to be together with our friend.

We walked back together to the Palace were Fr. Tomasz works in his new role as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Krakow. We made plans for Wednesday’s night dinner and after lots of hugs and kisses he went to work and we talked about going back to bed.

We decided that today would be hamburger day and we would cook here and spend the day and night in doing laundry, catching up on trip reports and maybe even a nap, but that didn’t happen….we needed to go shopping in order to pull this off, so we did, and getting back into town was slow, so it took over an hour for the trip.  We were now completely exhausted, but still managed to type, cook and do laundry… Susan was around somewhere.

We accomplished what we had to and even watched a little TV.  I called the maintenance man because the TV in the bedroom wasn’t working and he came around 7:30. I half laid on the bed as he did something and got it working.  I thanked him and went in to check it out so I laid down and that’s all I remember until the morning, almost 12 hours later.

May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)

E-Mail: TSMelillo13@aol.com

Dear God, You are my source, my goal.  I surrender all that transpires in my life to Your Loving Providence.  Thank You for allowing Your Blessed Mother to take me by the hand into your Divine will.  Remember me kindly when I stumble, for You are kindness.  Place me, gently, into the caldron of incense that perfumes Your Divine Love.  You, alone, are Holy.  Blessed be God Forever.

Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage Day 2 in Krakow (Day 28 overall)

From Insecurity To Confidence

 

Only the person who renounces Self-Importance, who no longer struggles to defend or assert himself, can be large enough for God’s Boundless action.

 

— St. Edith Stein

 

Dzien Dobry:

Slept until 8 today (Susan 8:15) and realized that our plans had changed when we opened our e-mail. Our friend Fr. Pat, whom we were supposed to meet today in Krakow, had a family funeral today so we probably wouldn’t get to see him. We didn’t realize until Sunday that he and his sister didn’t go to the funeral, but his cousin who drove him had to go and they were held hostage because the family didn’t want them to take the train to Krakow.  Maybe they aren’t old enough.

If we had known that we would have driven to them for lunch and long time coming reunion. We were supposed to go there anyway today for his nephew’s First Holy Communion, which is why he is in Poland, but when he got here they gave him the wrong day and it was on Thurs and we were 150 miles away.

We even thought we could go to the airport on Mon. morning to say hi and get a warm hug, but we have plans and don’t know if we will finish in time. We haven’t seen Fr. Pat in years and so we all decided now he has to come back to Palm Beach after such a valiant effort.

We lounged around and I took all the files out, all 3 of them…………we started with 36 and one of the 3 was just full of credit card receipts, lovely, we have to come home soon and then we have to pay for the trip.  Totally depressed we decided to go back to the St. John Paul Center for noon mass.  It was cold and rainy out and taking the car seemed like a better idea than walking.  Afterwards we planned to come back to the Apartment and do some more lounging.  Before we got out the door Susan had pulled out the holy water we had acquired.  The holy water from Ludzmierz water a beautiful rust color and the legend of the well was suspect to begin with, needless to say it won’t be going into our mixture of healing spring waters from Our Blessed Mother from 7 countries and 23 shrines. We have had some of these waters for 11 years and they are all still crystal clear.

Another first Holy Communion
Another first Holy Communion

We realized it was almost 11:15 so we had to hurry and had time to spare for a cappuccino. 

There was another First Holy Communion group coming in and we had to laugh, since we always handle and love this at the Cathedral every year and this year we couldn’t, because I was radioactive after the Y-90 treatment. 

We made up for the miss by attending 20+ here in Poland.

Editor’s note:  Click here to read about Tom’s battle with cancer and his successful treatment

After mass we went upstairs to pray the Rosary in front of the Our Lady of Fatima statue at the main altar.  She has been present in every church we have been into in honor of the 100th anniversary.  I’m sure we have one at the Cathedral??? 

Lighting a candle for your intentions
Lighting a candle for your intentions

We got thru the first decade and a large group came in for a presentation and we moved to Our Lady of Czestochowa chapel to finish, where we lit candles for all the intentions we carry.  We actually lit 4 today, since we missed yesterday.  We then went to the chapel of Our Lady of Piekary Salaskie and prayed our morning prayers. 

After 2 hours we were on our way back to the apartment since the weather hadn’t changed and we were cold but first we needed a car wash since we were picking up Sister Angela and Joe, the brother of our friend Sister Maria from St. Vincent in Delray Beach, Fl.  She was here to celebrate her 50 Anniversary with the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and invited us to the ceremony on Sunday.  We were honored and offered to pick up guest or family in Krakow.

Washing the car in the rain is great because there is no one ahead of you and vacuuming after in the rain is really stupid, but Jag needed some attention and the rain had stopped, so she was beautiful and spotless when we got back to the garage. Susan ended up in the wash alone in the car and I’m sure I heard a couple of ooh’s and aah’s.   Back now it was 3 PM and Divine Mercy hour so we prayed and then had a drink and relaxed until we forgot we had to go buy some chocolates at the best chocolate store in Krakow, so off we went  and got 2 nice big boxes of assorted chocolate delights, one for tomorrow and one for Monday.

By time we got back our drink was warm so we threw it out and had a glass of wine before going to dinner.  We were not venturing far from home, just across the street was a Sushi Place and it is meatless Saturday` so it was perfect…….well, almost perfect.

Getting fresh and a variety of sushi in any foreign country is hard, except for Japan, and Poland was no exception.  What they had was very good but the favorite things Susan likes, forget it, octopus, giant clam, fresh squid, all the chewy stuff, they don’t carry.  Look, we didn’t starve…..a nice order of shrimp and calamari teriyaki, some tuna rolls and I had an assortment of sushi, things Susan doesn’t eat.  We had beer because they didn’t have saki….oops.  Oh well, our waitress was very nice and we left her a big egg roll when we left.

Back to the apartment to layout our clothes and get set up for Sunday, since we will voluntarily begin ground hog day for the next 2 days.  I set the alarm for 5 AM and that’s all I remember.

God Bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

 

Tom & Sue Melillo in Poland Day 18 Krakow Mass at John Paul II Center

Dzien Dobry:

We were out of bed at 7, together (no coffee in the room) and went down for a cup of coffee.  The waiter from the night before was on duty again and we laughed and asked what room he was in.  He was a very educated young man in his early 20 and was studying chemistry with dreams of going to America.

Over coffee we made our plan for the day, check-in was 2 and we wanted to go to Mass so why not the St. John Paul II shrine in Krakow.  I figured it was about 1 ½ hours away so went to shower and pack our 2 grocery bags we used for luggage.  I think we are done lugging all these bags in and out. It actually worked out pretty good except we looked like homeless people. 

We went back in for breakfast and forgot the camera again, I think it’s tired too.  They made us eggs to go along with the nice buffet they had and refreshed and ready we paid the bill and got into Jag.  Susan set the GPS and it said we would arrive at 12:10, late for the noon mass. Have no fear Jag is here, we arrived at 11:40 and time for a cup of coffee.

We went into Mass downstairs where it usually is and to our surprise we heard beautiful music from the main church upstairs.  We were excited, for in the 3 times we have been here we never attended a Mass in the upper church.

Click here for more information about the John Paul II Center in Krakow, with some great photos from Tom & Sue’s previous trip.

Today they were celebrating a high Mass and there had to be 20 priest and 2 Deacons.  Mass was beautiful and when the homily started I took a walk to the little boys room, the long way and slowly climbed the stairs back figuring it had to be close to the end.  Wrong, it was another 20 minutes and we really get disappointed………we can’t understand, especially when the voice of the priest is so inviting.

 

After the Mass ended we got in the car and headed for our Apartment.  There will be plenty of time at the shrine and I have to clean this stick I just changed in the camera because all the photos are from last year in Krakow and we have different clothes, well at least Susan does!

The apartment is only 10 minutes away with traffic and when we got there the girl meeting us hadn’t arrived so Susan got out and I went around the block. They we talking and she didn’t realize I booked parking and I passed the entrance so around the block I went again and we were finally in.  This is the hardest part of booking apartments but we are used to it and it is worth it, as was with this place, pretty nice and big.  For the next week we will be very comfortable and the Old Town is just around the block, trust me I know.

Susan unpacked, as usual, all the suitcases for the last time and I went to the market hopefully for the last time.  We don’t know where the time went and every day has been a spiritual adventure like we have never had before.  We didn’t know if it would be difficult traveling the country, especially into small villages and where we knew people hardly or ever see Americans but we made out fine. It has been truly a marvelous adventure we will never forget.    

Krakow is like home and we know our way around the Old Town pretty well, so we have our favorite places to go and that’s what we did around 6 PM for dinner.  We left the apartment and after 4 minutes when we got to 3 Franciszkanska, where we have met with Cardinal Dziwisz 3 times and where our friend Fr. Tomasz still lives, it started to rain and it was cold so I did the noble thing and bought an umbrella  (like we needed one, we had 2 of our own in Jag and 3 in the apartment). It stopped raining right after I opened it.  I tried to sell it for 1/3 of the price but I didn’t get any takers.  Hopefully it will rain again before we get home so I don’t feel so stupid.

We got the last table at this Hungarian restaurant that has the best goulash we have ever had, plus a mixed sausage and kelbasa casserole full of wild mushrooms.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so that’s what we ordered, the same as the last time we were here.  The owner recognized us after we started laughing and joking with our waitresses.  The owner said hello and waited on us the rest of the evening.  We all laughed and laughed, as everyone else in the place was reserved and somber.

I tried to sell her the umbrella when the bill came and I was going to throw in the plastic handle wrap and sheath for free.  More laughter and down right stupidity and then we all hugged and they were still laughing as we went out the door.

Still no rain so I lowered the price and as we passed the stand where I bought it I thought she might buy it back and sell it again for a tidy profit but Susan wouldn’t let me.  We were home in less than 10 minutes and it started raining as soon as we got in the door. We had BBC on the TV and watched some news and checked e-mails, we had a bunch and it was great.  One of our friends sister, whom he had been forwarding our reports to, sent him an e-mail to thank us so he forwarded this beautiful response to us and we thought we would share it with all of you.  Things like this make these pilgrimages all worth while.

I got ready for bed and Susan wanted to watch TV so I laid down to say my prayers and that’s all I remember.

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

Tom & Sue in Poland Day 17: From Zakopane to Our Lady of Lezajsk

Dzien Dobry:

I don’t remember where I ended up with the last report so if I repeat myself, pardon me.

I woke up at 5:30 A.M. … Susan came around the corner at 6AM when the coffee was ready. I showered and shaved last night (in the bathtub) so that we could get an early start. I got into the tub okay … I almost couldn’t get out! This bathtub/shower combination is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.

We had our coffee, our bags were packed and we were out the door before 7:00 A.M. Our plan was to try to miss the morning traffic in Zakopane. We did a good job with our planning. There was hardly anyone driving out of Zakopane today … but lots of people were driving in the opposite direction to the mountains.

Filling up at the well
Filling up at the well

We had decided to drive back to Ludzmierz because Susan had figured out on her Internet search where the Miraculous Water Font was. The day we had left there, we thought we had seen it but we never thought to stop to find out if that was the location. Once we saw the photo online last night, we realized that we should have stopped. We found it right away. I had to pump the water from the well and I pumped and pumped and pumped and finally some water came out. I filled the bottle, dumped it and filled it again to try to get some fresh miraculous water.

Mission accomplished, we got right back on the road. There was no one in front of us on the roads on the way out but, once again, the cars in the opposite direction were backed up for miles and miles with no one moving. We had to head to the outskirts of Krakow to pick up “A-4” … the “Super Highway” and Jag had a super time … as did I! The speed limit was 140 Kilometers per hour. If you were driving that speed, everyone would pass you. Well, only two cars passed Jag during our entire journey on A-4. We made the 150 KM trip in just about one hour. Before we exited and got back on to normal roads, it felt like we were crawling.

As we were traveling, we noticed that every Church we passed, there were large numbers of people standing outside on the terraces and there were cars parked everywhere. Susan was checking her emails on the cell phone and we received two … one from our friend Wojtek and the other from our new friend “John” (where we spent three wonderful nights at their apartment outside of Wadowice). Both informed us that today in Poland was “Corpus Christi” … both a Catholic and National Holiday here. They both told us that the locals only attend their Churches with large processions throughout the towns and then they stay home (as if Sunday) because all of the businesses, restaurants, shops, etc. are closed down for the day. So the two of us realized … THAT’S WHY TRAFFIC WAS SO LIGHT and we saw no real signs if life on the streets.

We stopped during our drive for a 2nd pit stop and had breakfast (or lunch … whatever you would consider it). I had prepared some sandwiches last night and they were GOOOOOOD! Having refreshed ourselves, we drove the last 15 miles to our destination … The Basilica of Our Lady of Lezajsk.

This Shrine’s history began in 1578 when the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph appeared to a woodcutter named “Tomasz/Thomas”. She told him that she had chosen this place to be “Where Her Son will be loved and respected and, whoever shall call on my Intercession here will receive my Blessing”. Thomas didn’t listen and report her requests at first … so click here to read the story for the rest of the story. It’s a bit confusing but you will understand.

We arrived and the Basilica was absolutely mobbed. As we pulled up, there was a very small parking lot right in front of the Church and another large parking lot on the opposite side of the street. Both were packed with cars as well as the street going up the hill. There were parked cars everywhere and people walking everywhere. I notice a car pulling out of the parking lot in front of the Basilica so I decided to “take a chance”. There, lo and behold, there was one parking place right there in front of the Church … Thank you Blessed Mother! I didn’t think I was going to find a place anywhere.

I parked and opened my car door to get out. All of a sudden this “large man” ran up to the car door and started speaking very, very quickly and excited to me IN POLISH! I thought he was trying to tell me to move but we had a language barrier. I finally said “AMERICAN” and he laughed, smiled and quickly walked away from the car (what was that all about?).

We hadn’t walked 50 feet from the car and we were directly in front of the Basilica. This guy walked up to me and, in English, he said “Where are you from?”. I said “Florida” (What? Do I have a big “T” on my forehead?). He told me (with a Polish accent) that he was from Philadelphia. He then introduced us to two of his other friends who were both also Polish but live in Philly as well. Then the man who had come running up to our car when I parked came into the group … he was a friend of the guy who was talking to us. That man was the POLICE CHIEF of the town. They were all childhood friends who had been born and lived here until leaving for the States around 10 years old.

The “police chief” had gone to tell the three Americans that we were there … he thought that we were all friends. They don’t get many Jags in Poland that have Warsaw license plates. We all shared a laugh and the police chief kept talking to me with great excitement … but in Polish.

There was a lot of activity as they began to form for the procession around the town with lots of Banners, statues, a band, altar servers and of course First holy Communion children. Mass had been celebrated at 9 and the procession was next. (See photos) We couldn’t believe the amount of people that poured out of the basilica to follow the priest with the Monstrance with Jesus. Our friends followed and we hung behind for this was a 2 hour walk. We planned to go to the 12 noon mass but I guess the schedule changed and as we entered the Basilica the 11 AM Mass began.

 

The Basilica is amazingly beautiful and the place was packed to the outside. We were wondering where they all came from for this Shrine is in the sticks in this small village. The priest gave a verrrrrrry looooooong sermon but he was so vibrant we had to laugh a few times almost knowing the point he was trying to get across. He looked like Fr. Della Russo, our new chancellor at the diocese. (We are going to have to have a chat about the length of his homilies).

 

Communion was very different here and you just went to the end of your pew if you had one and knelt on the stone floor and the priest walked back and forth up and down the aisle and gave you the Eucharist. Susan and I had a bench some family vacated and there was only one spot to kneel and I couldn’t turn around or move to let her go so I knelt and Susan climbed over two benches to get a spot, good thing for she was the last to receive and the priest were gone. When we knelt on the kneelers in front of us, they were so tilted that we had to hang on so we didn’t slide off. During the whole mass a small little girl was roaming on the large altar behind the priest and God didn’t seem to mind, so neither did anyone else. Even though we chuckled at times it was beautiful.

Close-up view of the image of Our Lady of
Close-up view of the image of Our Lady of Lezajak

What I loved so much was after the priest gave the final blessing they started a song to Mary and everyone sang and no one left even after the priest did. Not a single person leaves a service early at every mass we have been to here in Poland. When the song was done some sat for a few minutes and the others left so Susan and I went to explore the Basilica and we found a Miraculous Cross of Christ behind the altar that you could venerate by touching the glass enclosure. Many people came in to do so and say a short prayer.

Praying before the image
Praying before the image

We then found the Miraculous Painting of Our Mother in a small chapel on the right and many people were on their knees praying for just a few seconds. When most had left we went into the chapel and sat with a few others whom quickly left and then it was just Susan and I here with this magnificent painting, it was magical. What better place than to pray our Rosary as it seemed Our Mother and Our Lord were here with us and blessing us as we did so.

We began to wonder when the procession would get back so we went out to the parking area we came in and I had a chance to move the car to a better spot so it would be easier to get out and as I did so it seemed that buses just dropped off 100’s of people. Susan and I sat on a bench and just watched as the kept coming and coming. We kept saying where is the procession and then I heard the music and excitedly said to Susan I hear them they are coming. She laughed and laughed for she had just re-player a phone camera video she had taken earlier and that’s what I heard. DUH!

We couldn’t take it anymore as a large van pulled in and backed into the outer entrance of the Basilica so we went up to see what was going on as people outside the walls stood and faced the Church. They had all the statues and banners and the Coppola in the truck and I said to Susan, where is Jesus?  We still don’t know, since mass had started and people were standing outside and everywhere, a whole new group for this great day of celebration in Poland. We got out of the way and headed for our hotel.

About 40 minutes later we were checking into this very nice hotel and they had a restaurant so we wouldn’t go to bed hungry since everything else was closed. We met a lot of people there including some teen age kids that sat with us and we talked for a long time about the problems of Poland with the young. That’s another story.

Dinner was excellent and very elegant and we forgot the camera so I won’t bore you to death. We went to our room and typed part of this report but got tired so into bed we went and that’s all I remember.

God Bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

Prayer

Stay with them, Dear Mother of God. Keep them in your Heart of Love, for You, alone, are the true daughter of God the Father, Eternal Mother of God the Son, and cherished spouse of God the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Mother, Most Powerful, keep them centered in God’s Plan for their life forever. Amen.

Tom & Sue in Poland Day 13 Piekary Slaskie: Our Lady of Social Justice and Love

Dzien Dobry:

Another morning in bed until almost 8, how good is that! Susan slept in one bed and I in the other so we would have plenty of room and not wake each other during the night. I just combed my sleeping hair and we went for coffee and breakfast in our jammies, nice and relaxed.

Our Shrine for today was about 1 mile away so we took our time showering and packing our 1 small bag, thru on the same clothes from the day before and left. Our next stop after the Shrine would be in the first floor of a house that looked extremely nice when I booked it.

Mary has a long title here in Piekary Slaskie, Our Lady of Social Justice and Love, and is one of the largest Sanctuaries in the Silesia provence. It is primarily known for organizing May Pilgrimages for men and August ones for women, and each of them numbers around 100,000 people.

Click here to see the story of Our Lady of Social Justice and Love

We again parked right in front of the Basilica, we have been very blessed with parking our whole trip and today it was greatly appreciated since my back was still a problem. Not a pain in my knee since I put water on it at Mary’s well so when we get to the house I will find that bottle of holy water and rub my back with it. I don’t want to run out of favors, but Our Mother is wonderful and generous.

As we approach the Basilica from the back (no stairs), there were 50 or so kids all dressed up for their first Holy Communion with their parents. We got to talk to a couple of them and even prayed with one little girl in the small shrine to Our Lady of Fatima that was right there.

We went into the Basilica because we heard music and a funeral was in progress so we stayed since it was almost over and paid our respect and prayed for the family and soul of whomever died.  

We had a little time after they left to explore and take photos of this basic but beautiful Basilica and the Miraculous Image of Our Lady. We knew mass would begin soon when hoards of people came in the Basilica taking all the seats and the kids had not come in yet. When they did some people moved and the rest sat on chairs around the altar. The church was packed. We again stood in the back.

This was the first place we had been to where they had an usher. Most places the clergy or a volunteer would take up the collection. It still took him until communion to finish. We Prayed for all of you during mass.

When mass ended, so did the weather…..it was sunny and warm when we arrived and now we needed our jackets and umbrellas. It became a 3 shirt day in a hurry, so we left after buying a small statue for home and a polish anniversary card for Sister Maria Liber as we will be attending her jubilee mass next Sunday outside of Krakow.

It was about an hour to our next apartment and it rained most of the way. We were a little early but the owner was outside and gave us a very warm welcome. He showed us the 2 bedroom apartment very nicely re-modeled and how to work everything. The radio in the shower was my favorite. It also had some other goodies in there which I will explore tomorrow. The house is great and the grounds beautiful and peaceful

Susan unpacked and I went to the market for supplies since we had 3 nights here. We are beat and can’t wait to sit back and relax. As a matter of fact tomorrow is Sunday and we decided to go to the local church and spend the rest of the day in this comfortable home.

SO WE ARE ALSO GIVING YOU THE DAY OFF AND WILL RESUME OUR REPORTS ON TUESDAY. HAVE A BLESSED SUNDAY.

We enjoyed a light non-meat pizza and snacks at the dining room table and tried to watch TV. But that didn’t last. 8:30 came and we went to bed. I hope groundhog day doesn’t rear it’s ugly head… That’s all I remember.

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

Prayer

Dear God, You are my source, my goal. I surrender all that transpires in my life to Your Loving Providence. Thank You for allowing Your Blessed Mother to take me by the hand into your Divine will. Remember me kindly when I stumble, for You are kindness. Place me, gently, into the caldron of incense that perfumes Your Divine Love. You, alone, are Holy. Blessed be God Forever.

 

Tom & Sue Poland Day 12 Gor sw Anny: Saint Anne’s Mountain

Dzien Dobry:

Ground Hog Day “officially ended” this morning in this very, very tiny hotel room (with great black-out curtains).  We actually slept in until 8:00 A.M.  It was a great nights’ sleep, but both of us were still really sore and aching from yesterdays’ strenuous activities (who is complaining!).

We both got up around the same time and wanted to grab a cup of coffee.  Just outside and down the hall from our room was the dining room.  We grabbed a cup each and headed to the patio area … it was a beautiful, warm and quiet morning. We fueled up on a lot of coffee and had a very good breakfast … Polish Kielbasa included on the buffet, which Susan went for. 

Returning to our room and packing up this very small hotel room was quite funny.  We kept bumping into each other to try to be sure we packed everything.  I finally decided that as soon as Susan had a bag packed, I immediately toted it off to the car to get it out of the room

Our only Sacred Shrine we had scheduled for today was Gora Swietej Anny – Saint Anne’s Mountain … a Shrine specifically dedicated to St. Anne, the Mother of Our Blessed Virgin Mary and the Grandmother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  The Statue is considered “Miraculous”.  It is claimed to be from the 1600″s.

It took us about 1-1/2 hours to drive from our hotel to this Shrine and the drive, for me, was typical … go fast … go slow … go fast, etc.  When we arrived, there was a parking place right in front of the entrance to the Basilica so I took it.  There were about 50-60 stairs ascending up to the Basilica so I told Susan that we would walk around and we found a roadway that took us up without the stairs.  Starting to feel like I miscalculated my plans once again … I realized that I did.  As soon as we walked up to the top of the roadway … there was a large parking lot right there almost in front of the doorway into the Shrine.  Ugh!

We went into the Shrine as a Mass was ending.  We weren’t sure if there would be another one.  As soon as the Mass ended, the Basilica lights were immediately turned off.  The Congregation left and no one was around to even ask about the possibility of another Mass.  I took some photos, we Prayed and headed off to the Religious Gift Store.  The batteries on the camera had gone dead and when I went into my stash … I had 3 … instead of 4 batteries in the case.  So much for any more photos.  The Gift Store did not sell batteries but Susan and I selected a beautiful memento of St. Anne for our Curio at home.

The Miraculous statue of Saint Anne

View of the statue in Basilica of Saint Anne Poland
View of the statue

The sculpture shows three figures. In the middle in the standing position it is shown an elderly woman who holds in her arms two children. St. Anna, who on her left arm is holding her daughter – the Virgin Mary and on the right shoulder her grandson – the Lord Jesus.

Her hands are shown in a manner typical of the medieval conventions: to show the next degree of kinship. The figure of Mary is lower than the figure of Jesus. Sometimes it is often used to highlight the differences in the importance of the role of Jesus and His Mother.

Mary gives the Baby a golden apple – the symbol of procreation. Using expressions Biblical Mary is the “new Eve”, Christ – “new Adam”. As the apple was given by Eve to Adam in paradise, and the sin and death were born. The apple of the new Eve – Mary, is given to the new Adam – Jesus who brougth into the world grace and life.

 

This beautiful Shrine is on gorgeous large property.  There were Stations of the Cross (Kalwaria/Calvary) and Chapels one can walk and Pray at for miles.  Not today for the two of us … we did ourselves in on our last Calvary Walk and are still recuperating with aches and pains.

As we were getting ready to leave this Shrine and disappointed that we had not been able to attend Mass, I suggested to Susan that we return to the Basilica and at least Pray Our Rosary in front of the Miraculous Image.  No one was in the Basilica when we returned so we took a spot in the front pew and began our Rosary.  We were almost finished when a great amount of people began coming into the Church.  We continued on and quietly completed our Rosary.

We were about to leave, figuring that it was another Pilgrim Group who would be receiving a presentation.  Right about then, a young Priest began to walk by us and I asked him in “perfect English” when the next Mass was.  He answered “At The First Hour”!!!!!  HUH?  I realized that he meant at 1:00 P.M. which was about 5 minutes from then.

I didn’t want to try to sit in that front pew throughout Mass for fear my back wouldn’t make it.  So we moved to the rear of the Basilica and I chose a bench that we could sit on and I would be able to use the kneeler close by if my back cooperated with me.

Interior of the Basilica
Interior of the Basilica

It was a beautiful and reverent Mass, as usual and it was filled with the group of Pilgrims.  After Mass, there was not much left that we would be able to do so we got into the car and began our way to our next destination … Piekary Salaskie where both our hotel for the night and our next Sacred Shrine are located.

After a drive of about 1 1/2 hours through the normal and beautiful Poland roadsides, we arrived at our overnight hotel.  As we drove by the front of the hotel which looked very, very old, I realized there was no where to park.  I drove down the street, around the corner and finally made our way to the rear of the hotel.  I found a hotel parking space in the rear just as another vehicle was leaving … good luck, huh?

I had booked a “Deluxe Room” for tonight to give us more room to roam.  As I checked in, I found that our “Deluxe Room” was on the Second Floor … with NO ELEVATOR.  By the way … in these hotels, the Main Floor is “Ground Floor 0” … Then the First Floor followed by the Second, etc.  I silently begged my back to cooperate with me on our ascent.

Editor’s note:  for Europeans this is not a surprise, but for Americans and others, it might be:  the ground floor is 0 and then the next floor is 1.

We decided to take the very bare minimum up to the room.  No luggage/suitcases tonight.  We were going to rough it.  So we filled a large bag with grocery items we might need, our “jammies, toiletries, a bottle of vino (of course) and my computer bag … it still seemed to be a lot to carry up the flights of stairs but we got there.

The Deluxe Room was great … it had 2 separate rooms and 2 baths.  The rooms had recently been completely renovated and were very nice.  We had a full bedroom and a living room/den type of area with a sleeper sofa.  Everything was very comfortable … AND THEY EVEN HAD BLACK OUT SHADES.

There wasn’t much for us to organize.  Around 5:00 P.M., we went down to the hotel restaurant for a bite to eat.  I left Susan outside while I went in to place our order … the staff had to call on the hotel check-in guy to come to help me with ordering our dinner since everything was in Polish and no one spoke English.

I managed to order a fantastic Cabbage Soup, a Mix of Salads, Goulash for Susan and a very tasty Chicken/Broccoli Dish (I thought I had ordered Pork … oh well!).  The two of us shared everything, as usual, and it was all fantastic.  The restaurant did not carry a wine selection so we accompanied our Polish Dinner with a couple of very good and cold Polish Beers.

I went to pay our tab for dinner and I almost fell over … our entire dinner bill was $10.  Did I tell you how much we love Poland?

Back in our room, we did another update on the real estate closing we have been working on.  It was not supposed to close until a couple of days after our return, but “In God’s Time”, all went well for our client and our dear friend, Johna, now has her new home as of this writing — 2-1/2 weeks early with plenty of time for her renovations to be completed before her final move into her new home. Congratulations, Johna!

We spent a little more time while I completed the day’s Trip Report and Susan answered some emails, Facebook & WhatsApp Chats.  I tried to make a couple of MagicJack phone calls to some friends … it was 2:00 P.M. Florida time and no one was answering their phones … except Corinne and we woke her from a afternoon nap, since she was sick, but rallied and we laughed through most of the conversation.  We then watched a small bit of TV before we retired.

Susan ended up sleeping on the fold out sofa bed in the living room.  I slept in the “not quite a Queen” bed.  We both needed a good night sleep with all of the aches and pains so having two beds tonight was a special treat for us.

We retired around 8:30 P.M. with nothing left to do and nothing …

AND THAT’S ALL I REMEMBER!

God Bless you all;

Love

Susan & Tom

Tom & Sue Day 11 in Poland: Bardo, Our Lady Guardian of the Faith and Mary’s Well

Dzien Dobry:

It turned into Ground Hog Day again but I’m starting to like that movie better and better because of what happened by getting up so early this morning.  Not only did the daylight coming into the room wake us up, but some annoying, light and constant thumping noise that seemed like it was directly in our room. 

I went to the front desk after I had gone down to the Spa to see if someone was down there making the noise but found the door locked.  I dragged the front desk girl to our room so that she could hear the loud and irritating thumping.  She didn’t know what it was either.  It was 5:30 A.M. when the thumping and light woke us up.  I walked outside to listen because Susan thought that they might be doing some road work.  But I didn’t hear anything.  As I turned to come back into the room off of the patio deck, I noticed that all of the hotel rooms HAD THEIR SHUTTERS DOWN … I didn’t  say anything to Susan as I went back into the room.  But I found and hit our “shutter button” as our room darkened and the two of us cracked up with laughter.  Last night, we both felt with our “see-thru” drapes, we were in a fish bowl.  But, this morning and even without realizing we had shutters, the thumping would have awoken us.    Susan and I sat in the room and talked about a couple of things and she worked a bit on our real estate closing for Friday.

I said to Susan … “There is a 7AM Mass at the Basilica … there is no coffee here yet and the thumping continued” so we decided to go to Mass which was less than 5 minutes away. 

At Mass, right before Communion, this man came and sat in the pew in front of us in panic.  He started talking to me very quickly in Polish and he was frantic.  I kept telling him that I did not understand … that I spoke English.  Susan and I got up to go to Communion and disregarded the man because we had no idea what he was saying.

After Communion and the Final Blessing, the Presider proceeded behind the Altar and the small Congregation of Pilgrims began to approach the Altar so we got up to follow them.  The “frantic man” carrying a bag of fresh bread, approached me again and it appeared he was trying to get me to follow him to the back of the Basilica … we had not even seen him go to Communion.   So we decided to “ignore” him and proceeded up to the Altar.

What a blessing as the priest brought the statue out for veneration
What a blessing as the priest brought the statue out for veneration

The Blessing of all Blessings … as we followed the pilgrims to the Altar Area, we saw as the Priest removed the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady from her place above the Altar and he brought it down into the Sanctuary so that we could all proceed … one by one … to venerate Her. 

It was “amazing and wonderful”.

 

 

When the veneration was completed, Susan and I headed toward the Side Chapel in front of Our Lady with the Special Intention Book & Candles.  All of a sudden, the “Man with the Bread” sort of leaped out from behind one of the pillars and frantically tried to talk to us in Polish once again.  We had no clue.  He finally made a gesture as if he were driving a car.  Susan and I immediately thought something must have happened to our car so we followed him out of the Church.  When we turned the corner to where we were parked directly in front of the Basilica. There, sitting on top of the car, was my CAMERA CASE … I had our camera around my neck.  I laughed, turned around to thank him and shook the man’s hand as I went to retrieve the camera case from atop Jag.  In the meantime, Susan was standing on the Church steps with him and was trying to tell him we did not understand Polish.  She said “American”, “English”, and finally “Statov” (States).  The man shook his head, smacked himself with the palm of his hand on his forehead and he finally understood we were “Americans”.  This “man with the bread” was truly our “Angel of the Day” for he waited for us inside and outside the Church for over ½ hour to be certain that we did not lose our camera case that I had left on top of Jag.   What a great Samaratan! I hope his bread was still fresh.

After stopping our laughter, we returned to the Basilica and Susan wrote in the Special Intention Book, I lit a candle for all of you and we offered all of Your Special Intentions, as well as ours, to Our Lady!

Breakfast...and finally a cup of coffee
Breakfast…and finally a cup of coffee

After this chain of early morning events and without a drop of coffee beforehand, I quickly drove back to our hotel and we went immediately to the Dining Room for our first cup of coffee (and others to follow) and a delicious breakfast buffet.  We took a couple of cups of coffee back to our room and sat and relaxed on our patio for a while since it was a beautiful morning and we had planned a couple extra hours here.

As we were sitting there, the pilgrimage bus driver that was there last night was walking down to his bus and he was carrying a small bag over his shoulder and his overnight bag.  He was a “very large man” and it hit us, all of a sudden, that the bag over his shoulder was probably a sleep apnea machine that he must have placed on the floor of his hotel room last night (right above us) which had caused the constant and aggravating thumping that woke us up this morning.  We had to laugh because someone really wanted us up and awake to attend Mass this morning between no window drapes and the thumping noise which got us to early Mass … and we were very grateful for the “interventions”.

We spent a couple of leisurely hours in our hotel room just catching up on work, our closing, emails and, of course, my trip reports.  I went down to the concierge to pay our bill and the girl at the front desk was on the new shift but she knew about the early morning “thumping” and she apologized, telling me that it might have been noise from their pool.  She was concerned but I told her it was okay and that I explained that we figured out it had been one of the guest’s “breathing machines”.  How could anyone be upset after the incredible experiences we had this morning?

We returned to the Basilica on our way out of town, because we wanted to see their Museum of Historical Miracles, the Apparition and the very ancient votives of thanks (ex votos) to Our Blessed Mother for cures which, back then, were presented in paintings.  There was also an animated Scene of Bethlehem that we had learned about and wanted to see.  We stopped at the Museum Gift Shop and asked the woman if it was open (in our limited Polish, of course).  She motioned that she was the Guide to the Nativity Scene.  It was very expensive for the tickets … 25 cents per person!

The animated nativity scene
The animated nativity scene

She took us to the basement of the Kapilica (Chapel) and turned on this tremendously detailed animation featuring the Birth of Christ.  It took you through pre-historical times … to Adam and Eve … to the Birth of Christ … and to Present Day.  There were thousands of illustrations and moving figures and sounds … it was great and so well done.  What a fabulous idea! 

Having accomplished all that we had planned to at the Basilica here (and more), it was time for us to drive across the river and over to the Mountain Walk with the Stations of the Cross where, half way up the mountain, Mary’s Well was to be found.  It is known as a Miraculous Water Spring of Our Blessed Mother.  With only two layers of clothes on today because it was so nice and with jackets in hand just in case the weather changed, we began our ascent.  We prayed our Rosary instead of the stations since we were not going all the way.  It was only half way up the mountain to the Well which was only around a  ½ mile so how hard could it be?  

Three times we almost quit our ascent.  It was so rocky and steep at points.  My knee was giving out, my hip was hurting and Susan’s feet were starting to bark … as were mine (I really should have worn my sneakers again today). Feeling the rocks hard on my feet through my soft shoes truly helped me understand some of the suffering Jesus went thru for us.

The last time we were about to turn around  the “Second Angel of the Day” appeared … and Susan asked a man on a bike about the Well.  He was of German accent and he communicated that it was not too far up the mountain. 

Susan suggested that we continue to go up a bit further and she said “they need walking sticks here”.  As I started to walk up again after her comment, there on the ground in the bush was a large stick … I kicked it and it looked pretty good but I couldn’t bend down to get it.  So Susan walked back down the path from where she was and picked it up for me to use … it was perfect!  Walking got so much easier but the pain was still there.

We proceeded once again up the mountain not knowing what the man on the bike meant by “not too far” and we saw, from a distance, the Cross of Jesus and the top of a small building.  I knew, then, that we were almost there.

We arrived at “Mary’s Well” and we were both in pretty bad pain.  When I entered the Shrine of the Well, I got water to put on my knee and even over my head to cover my entire body.  The water was cool and crisp.  We both drank from the Well, refreshed ourselves and filled the bottle with some Holy Water to bring home with us.

Before we departed, Susan went over to look at the map that was there and, on it, it showed two different colored pathways … the “Medium Difficult” and the “Very Difficult” … we realized we had just done the “Very Difficult”.  We had noticed on the way up, a fork in the road not too far from where we were at the Well.  We had heard several children running down that road on our climb and we had laughed that possibly there had been an easier way up.  The sign confirmed it and that’s the way we headed on the way down.

So much easier was this path but also so much longer, maybe a 1 ½ miles.  This was only the second time I sweated in Poland this trip, the second shirt wasn’t necessary.  We were going on 3 hours in the mountains.  Almost all the way down we met 2 Ursuline Sisters and had a wonderful conversation with them.  They walk to the Basilica to their monastery every day which is up the path we just came from. God Bless them.

When we got to the bottom we needed a beer so we went to the outdoor rest there that serves all the rafters that come here and there are many.  Getting up after we finished our beer was another story, the pain was intense for both of us, you name it hurt except for my knee which hasn’t hurt since, but we wouldn’t change it for anything.  Even though we act like kids at times, today made us realize our limitations.  This gets a little harder every year and we are not getting any younger.

Getting into the car was no picnic but we managed and headed out for our overnight hotel in Prudnick about an 1 ½ hours away.  It wasn’t bad except for the bumps in the road and we arrived around 4.  We had stopped for food so we didn’t have to go out and could just chill in our room.

The room was on the 1st floor but we still had to drag the luggage upstairs. It took 3 trips just to get the necessities.  The room was small because our room was bigger on the 2nd floor but we were not going there. This was a nice facility but Susan had to crawl over the bed if I was at the desk.  We dined on a large sandwich we put together and it was delicious.  We finished what we needed to and popped some heavy duty pills for pain and went to bed.  There were black out curtains and it was almost 9:30 so we will see what happens tomorrow. That’s all I remember.

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

Prayer

 

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.