What is YOUR “Benedict Option” ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We highly recommend it.

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

 

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

 †    Turn off the TV and read a book.  

 †     Start a prayer group

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

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

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

There are many opportunities…a retreat center 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.

 

 

Tom & Sue Final Day in Krakow then on to Paris

Bon jour:

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.

Sue with Mother Superior
Sue with Mother Superior

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.

Made an omlett turned out pretty good
Made an omelet turned out pretty good

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.

At least the bed was a decent size
At least the bed was a decent size

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

Love

 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.

Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage 50th Jubilee Mass for Sister Maria

Power To Be God’s Prayer

 The Holy Spirit shall come upon you. 

— Luke 1:35 

Mary is called the Temple of the Lord and the Sacred Resting Place of the Holy Spirit:  For by the operation of the Holy Spirit, She became the Mother of the Incarnate Word. 

—  St. Thomas Aquinas

 

Dizen Dobry:

Sunday morning 5 AM and I’m up, and the café wasn’t even ready, and Susan crawled out of bed.  You can’t be late for a Nun or it could be arthritis on the other hand. We were early, so we stopped for a cappuccino and water  for our guest.

We arrived at Sisters Maria’s sister’s house right on schedule and there were a lot of hugs and kisses as they welcomed us. All that were there were going to Nowy Sacz for the festivities.  We loaded Sister and Joe into the car and now we had baggage in the back seat again.  The Angels had to move a little.

GreetingsWe headed out at 7:30 and Sister Angela leads us in a short few prayers to protect us on our journey before Jag woke up and we made the 1 ¾ hour drive laughing, talking and getting to know each other in 1 ¼ hours.    Sister Angela has been in Africa as a missionary sister for a loooong time and that is where she met Sister Maria and they have been friends ever since. Joe moved to Italy over 30 years ago and little did we know that the United Nations were going to be represented. Sister has family in Italy, Germany and Poland and friends coming from The USA, (the two of us and her friend Delores), Africa and somewhere else, that’s all we remember, we met so many people.

Meal #1
Meal #1

We were given a warm greeting when we arrived with lots of you know what.  Sister Maria’s family was great and we felt right at home. 

They had food and coffee for us and not having breakfast we indulged and it was great.  (Meal 1)   We met many of the family now and we all headed for the church that we could see from the house.

 

We met the pastor before mass and then we all went in to pray and they had a seat of honor ready for Sister for the mass. The celebration began before the mass when 7 young girls came out and honored Sister in Polish with a tribute and we forgot to ask what they said, but it was beautiful.  They presented her with roses and the mass began with a full procession and a beautiful choir. 

The church was packed and Sister was acknowledged all through the service, at the beginning, the homily and before the final blessing.  Another group of the pastoral committee came out and they lovingly paid a tribute to her and gave her a large basket of roses and she placed on the altar and left them there.  She did take the red roses. 

The pastor invited Sister to speak and her speech was vibrant and we could tell from her heart and when she had finished and returned to her place of honor the pastor stood up and she stood ,”wait I forgot something”.  She then proceeded to thank all of us in English that had traveled from abroad, just as she had in Polish, she received her second standing ovation, and it was really beautiful.

The pastor then as a special tribute and led a procession of the Eucharist as the churches all did on Thursday for Corpus Christi and had Sister follow the procession right behind Jesus as they processed around the church.  Not a single soul left. After the final blessing we hung back and took a few photos and headed for the reception. 

They had the reception at this lovely hotel and the banquet room was perfect for the size of the group of about 60-70 people.  She had us at the head table, much to our embarrassment.  Sister said she had the different languages sitting with each other so they would have a good time. 

Sister Marie at the banquet
Sister Marie at the banquet

Then the feast began in Polish tradition.  (Meal 2) Chicken soup was served and on the tables there 4 different salads and then they served platters of breaded pork cutlets, stuffed breast of chicken, pork tenderloin in a mushroom sauce and platters with 3 kinds of potatoes. There were 3 different juices and sodas and gas water.  We all took what we wanted and if the platter got low more came, an insane amount of very good food. 

 

Beautiful cake for Sister Marie
Beautiful cake for Sister Marie

After that was over they cut the cake made by her niece and served cappuccino, café and tea.We were full and enjoyed every bit of it.  It was almost 2, and I thought it was a little early to begin to say goodbye, until Susan informed me Sister told her to have some desserts before the next course comes out.  Oh boy, I was ready for a nap because we had just eaten a huge piece of this five layer cake that was delicious and I don’t eat dessert.

Meal 3 then arrived and there were new salads with beef and chicken and dressing, Greek salad, Caesar salad, tomato and mozzarella, platters of cold sliced stuffed roulades, five different kinds of hearing in sauces and an aspic of I think chicken and veggies and topped with vodka and since we arrived there were trays of pastries and fruit that they kept refilling.

It looked so good we had to try it.  I almost OD’d on the herring…..it was terrific. Susan picked a little we were all so full.  So it was time for a walk led by sister Maria and her niece, Katia, there were 6 of us and we visited the church where sister received her First Holy Communion, her childhood church, and then we went to the Basilica to see the famous statue depicting the Pieta. We walked maybe 1-2 kilometers and headed back to the reception.  When we got back sister brought her nephew Wojtek over to our table and he sat with us until we left.  His English was perfect and we had a great time with him.  He invited us to stay with him the next time we come to Poland.  His wife was lovely, although we didn’t get to talk to her very much; she organized the day for the family and was very busy for most of the day. We did accept his invitation.

Meal 4 came at 5 on the dot.  This was the hot meal and remember they eat small at night so they served a very large croquette that we still don’t know what it was filled with but it was good.  We did best we could. 

Around 6 people started to leave and so did we, Joe and Sister Angela were both tired as were we. More hugs and kisses from everyone, including people we had not met. On the road it was little tedious getting back since it was the end of a long weekend but we finally got to Joe’s sister’s house and dropped him.  We were taking Sister Angela to her Sister’s house not too far away. Finding it was a different story.  Her sister lives in a complex that is so huge with 70 large buildings and one street name so navigating is difficult. After 10 minutes we asked for help and the woman Sister didn’t even understand all that she said but we got enough out of the hand language and 5 minutes later we were at her building.

Sister insisted we come up to meet her family and even though we were tired we parked and went with her.  She is so sweet we couldn’t say no until we met her sister and she had just made pizza for us.  Sister Angela called her after we had been gone an hour and the fresh pizza was made but as good as it smelled, we couldn’t pick up food…….let alone, eat it.

We made it a short visit and departed for home, exhausted and ready for a glass of wine and our jammies which we did as soon as we got in.  Tomorrow we had to be up 5 again so we talked for awhile and I went into bed and that’s all I remember.

God bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

 

Prayer for the Sisters

 

My Spiritual Mother, please remain in their conscious awareness always.  Inspire them when they are weak, gently speak to them when they are stressed, sing them lullabies of the wonders of God’s Providence when they fall into fear, graciously cover them in the warmth of Jesus’ Divine Love for you and for them forever.  Spiritual Mother, please Pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit of Love upon them.  Bring anew the Holy Spirit of Courage to their days and nights on Earth.  Pray fervently that they may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

 

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: Days 15 & 16 Ludzmierz and Zakopane

Dzien Dobry:

Day 15

I had a marvelous sleep until 7:30, Susan 7:50, the coffee was ready.  We were not in a hurry to leave our beautiful home as we called it and we enjoyed a casual breakfast around 10.  John, our host didn’t want us to leave either…..and said we could stay until much later, and he would even give us drinks and feed us.  It was tempting but we had a schedule to keep and said our goodbye’s around noon. We even said goodbye to Max since he created a new mound just for us.

Editor’s note:  Just in case you did not read the previous post, the owner of the house they are staying in has a problem with groundhogs digging up his land.  One of the, Tom & Sue named “Max”.

Our home, on wheels, was loaded and the back seat looked a little more organized.  It was on to Zakopane, a very popular ski resort, in the Tatra Mountains with a stop on the way to Our Lady of Ludzmierz.  Of course it is another miraculous statue of our Mother thought to be at least 600 years old.  St. John Paul II had a special affection for this Sanctuary from 1963. (Click here to see the Story)

We didn’t know what to expect, but with all the stops we have made we were never disappointed and this Shrine was no exception.  The Minor Basilica is out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, and on the only major road in the area. We came in the back way and parked near the religious monastery and pilgrim center.  It was a good thing since they were painting the parking lot and it was closed.

We couldn’t get a feel for the Shrine until we walked 100 ft and this expansive field with the way of the cross came into view.  There weren’t many people around so we went to the Sanctuary of Our Mother to explore and pray.  The Basilica was smaller than most but didn’t lessen the spirituality we have experienced in the sacred places we have been blessed to visit.

The Statue of Our Lady in Ludzmierz
The Statue of Our Lady

The statue of Our Lady is Beautiful and on the Scepter you can see the Papal ring of St. JPII and the relic that was placed there after his death given by our friend Cardinal Dziwisz.  

We took some photos and sat and prayed our Rosary for all the intentions we have with us and then we lit candles and Susan wrote in the intention book. 

We needed a cafe latte and a WC so we went to the cafeteria on the grounds next to the gift shop which we had to go into.(we are throwing out clothes, so we have room for all the mementos we have bought, it’s either that or another suitcase). 

From there we went to the Rosary path and the place was more active than when we arrived. We prayed Divine Mercy in front of the statue of St. John Paul II amidst the chaos of all the families around, but we didn’t hear a thing.

We were looking for the holy water spring and walked the all the grounds but came up empty. There was a pond and we thought that was it but I saw a hose feeding the waterfall into the pond.  No one could understand us, so we left disappointed but still elated from our visit and headed for Zakopane about 20 minutes away without traffic. (Do they have traffic?)

We pulled down our street and missed our hidden turn and came up to this large building and it didn’t look like the picture of our hotel so I asked Susan to go to reception and see if they had our room ready or get directions.  I was laughing as she walked away because I saw the sign for sanatorium, maybe this was a sign.

We finally asked a woman for help and she explained how to go in Polish and I left shaking my head, I didn’t understand a thing but Susan knew exactly where to go and we found our resort and spa.  This one was nothing like Hotel Bardo, but it would be fine for our 2-night stay.

Look at the size of that cutlet
Look at the size of that cutlet

Hungry, we went out for a bite and not far from the apartment we pulled into a nice looking restaurant and had dinner. Susan ordered a pork cutlet Milanese and we laughed so hard when it came out.(see photos) I have never seen one so big and never thought she could eat it all, but she did.(I helped a little) The food was great and we departed for the grocery store for milk for our morning coffee. 

Back at the apt Susan worked on her e-mails and I tried to watch TV because I was too tired to do anything else. I went to bed at 9 and Susan some time later because that’s all I remember.

Day 16

I slept until 7:30, except for one major cramp and a trip to the little boy’s room. Coffee was ready at 7:52 and so was Susan. We planned our day and dressed warm, so we thought. We wanted to take a cable car up the mountain (I brought an extra xanax for Susan) but our first stop was the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Zakopane,  dedicated by St. John Paul II to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 7, 1997.  We arrived 7 days late for the 20th Anniversary celebration.  

Click here for background information about the Shrine.

This minor Basilica was another surprise as we pulled into the parking area full with tour buses.  It was much bigger than we expected and the grounds went into the woods with the Way of Calvary.  Mass was going on with another First Holy Communion group and this was the most organized one I had seen of the 20 others we attended.  You could actually see the children receiving from the priest as everyone stayed seated.  There was another one scheduled in 20 minutes so we went out to explore. 

There are two foundation stones in the Basilica, one from St. Peters in Rome and one from Fatima.  Also under each foundation stone in the Basilica there is a Miraculous Medal of Our Lady which originated from Shrine of Our Lady in Rue du Bac, Paris

We found the chapel of the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady where 50 people had just left. We were alone and decided to pray Our Rosary and go to the 12 noon Mass.  It was so peaceful and spiritual praying in there together, especially for so many in need.  The statue of Our Lady was beautiful and neither of us took our eyes off Her.  When we finished the Rosary we decided to say our morning prayers and did so until some people came in so we left and finished later so we wouldn’t disturb them.

We got to Mass just before 12 and we sat in the front pew.  These were the largest pews we have seen here and I was almost comfortable and I could actually kneel. The priest thru a couple curves at us since he started with some prayers we couldn’t figure out and he used Eucharistic prayer 4 instead of 1 which we have had the whole time we were here.  We managed as always and had our readings to follow the lector and gospel.

When mass ended we took a few photos and went to the back and placed a copy in the box of all the intentions we have received and carried with us to be offered up, thru the intercession of St. JPII to Our Lady at Saturdays 7 PM Mass. 

We left and headed for the shrine dedicated to St. John Paul (Ksiezowka) that our dear friend Fr. Tomasz(Little Tom) told us we must see.  It was closed and locked down tight. No problem, this was on the way to the cable car that we had planned to go up the mountain on. On the way I took a picture that reminded me of Susan eating last night. (Ouch, I just got wacked)  When we got there I realized I forgot to give Susan the Xanax, but she got out of the car anyway and we didn’t last long for it was still cold and this was a 3 shirt and jacket day so we decided not to go and take a chance of getting sick.

We passed this Italian Restaurant on the way and we were both starving so that’s where we headed.  It was very lovely and warm inside and the food was outstanding, grilled octopus and baked gnocchi’s with porcini mushrooms and spinach.(I getting hungry again) Needless to say, we ate it all.

Before going back to the apartment we went to the market and picked up a few things to pick on tonight  and to have for our long drive tomorrow to Lezjac. It took almost an hour there were so many people in line, it made Costco look good.

We took a wrong turn and ended up at another ski lift.  The sun had come out finally but when Susan saw their feet dangling off the chairs there was no way I was going to get her on it. We are in for the night Susan has been packing and I have been typing for 2 hours so I quit for now because there is nothing else to remember. 

God Bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

 

 

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

Dzien Dobry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Monday Day 14 Kalwaria & Sanctuary of the Weeping Madonna

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

We Lit candles there for all of you.  

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

God Bless you all;

Love

Susan & Tom

Tom & Sue Day 10 in Poland: Basilica of Wambierzychkie & Calvary of Poland

 

Cure For Exhaustion (Burn-Out)

 

You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more important than they?

 

— Matthew 6:24-26

 

Dzien Dobry:

Ground hog day again, I’m starting to hate that movie.

 We were up, showered, packed, had breakfast and were on the road at 7:30 off to our next shrine…… a little over 2 hours away and it’s in the mountains. Yeah!  Even though they are small, it’s a change from farm land and rolling valleys.

The drive was only 55 miles and 15 miles of that was on a super highway and Jag purred all that way at 140 KPH.  I understood why it would take over 2 hours to get there half way thru the drive.  There mountain roads leave something to be desired.  Actually going up and over and down a small peak of about 7 miles Susan didn’t speak, she only groaned, grunted and did several ooh’s and ahh’s. I did a few grunts myself as it took almost a half an hour and we only saw 4 cars the whole time. 

We arrived at the Basilica of Wambierzychkie (say that fast 3 times) after several detours around road construction that seems to be everywhere in Poland.  We had a ½ hour to spare to make the Pilgrims mass at 11.  We explored a little before and were seated. There were only five of us in the when the priest arrived.  I felt sorry for him since there were so few of us in the main sanctuary and he answered the first few response himself not knowing if anyone would respond, so the 5 of us spoke louder, us in English, and he looked relieved.

After the mass, before the final blessing, he stopped and asked where we were from; we didn’t understand a word he said. He then managed some English and we said Stanow (states) and Florida and he responded Stanow! WOW! Welcome!

After the final blessing we then went to the main altar behind the one were Mass was offered and knelt and prayed before the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady.  It’s small and reminded us of the one in Saragozza, Spain where The Mother of God went to help St. James and to tell him to come back to Jerusalem to be martyred, that was in 42 A.D. and was Her first apparition.

There is the story of the Shrine here as well as a FEW pictures so I won’t bore you with all the things we saw and did except for the way of Kalwaria(Stations of the Cross) which was across the street and up the mountain. It was cold and the wind made it colder so both of us put on another layer of clothing (we had 4 shirts on and a jacket) and I put on my sneakers before going and that was trip.

We made our way across the street and Kidron River, as it is called, and found the entrance to the stations.  It was a little confusing and after the first station we got lost and started to climb some stairs and found the 6th station so we backtracked and found the other 4 we missed.  We stood at crest of the hill and prayed those stations.  After the 7th station we made another wrong turn and ended climbing up this steep path with lots of rugged stairs.  By time we got to the hill of Calvary we were exhausted, so we sat on a bench and prayed the rest of the stations we missed before attempting to make our way down.

We took the station path but going down was harder than going up.  Baby steps all the way and helping each other down steep drops.  At one point Susan cracked up and started laughing because we seemed so old and feeble and we felt it. When we finally got to town I had to get my sneakers off because my feet were pounding.   We rewarded ourselves with a cold beer and met a few people from Australia and Germany at the restaurant.  They were really nice and could speak English.

 It was 2 and we decided to get going to our hotel about a ½ hour away.  We would spend the night here in Bardo Slaskie, Poland, the home to another Miraculous Statue of Our Mother.  Finding our hotel was no picnic since the roads in this very small town were torn up and the one to the hotel looked washed out and was all stones.  We turned around and ended going back up the same way because we asked someone and they said it was ok.  This is a nice hotel and spa and we look forward to some relaxing time in the pool, hot tub and steam room.  We will see.

It was early so we went down to the town and the basilica and looked for more information since there is another Calvary across the street up the mountain, which has the spring of Mary, known for its healing power and footprints of Our Lady imbedded in a rock.  We will see how we feel in the AM.

The statue here in Bardo
The statue here in Bardo

We went into the Basilica to pray our rosary and did some exploring and prayed before Her Miraculous Statue, another small figure of Mother and Child. 

 

The mass began with a procession with Our Lady and the Ave Maria.  We left when mass began.

 

When we got back to the hotel, there was no electricity and we found out it was out all over the mountain.  The lights came on at 8 and we went to dinner at the hotel.  Another non-meat day (Wed) so we ordered soup and potato & cheese pierogies and a salad.  I liked the soup–Susan didn’t–but the rest was good.

Back in the room we caught up on the things we needed to since there was no internet with the electric off and watched TV for a few minutes.  Tomorrow we planned to sleep in, but there were no blackout shades and the parking lot light was shining in……I thought, how stupid in a luxury hotel. 

That’s all I remember.

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

Tom & Sue Day 9 in Poland: Swieta Gora (Holy Mountain) & Legnica (Eucharistic Miracle)

Dzien Dobry:

Well it was ground hog day again.  Bed around 8:30, woke up at 4:30 with the light of day, covers over head and slept until 6, Susan a little later.  I think she waits for the smell of coffee.

We were packed and on the road by 8 AM.  We had 2 stops today and weren’t sure what to expect. Our first was in Gostyn, about 1 ½ hours away to Swieta Gora or the Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin also known as the ” The Holy Mountain” ( and also known as “The Rosa Mystica of Poland”) where there is a Miraculous Image of Our Lady known for many reported miracles.  The local Bishop, in 1512, wrote that he found that he found the following in this location:  the dead were brought back to life, the sick and the crippled regained their health and strength and many other miracles occurred which would be hard to count …” 

He issued a decree that allowed for the building of the Church and for the spread of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Click here to read the story of Swieta Gora.

The central element of the Sanctuary is the Image of the Virgin Mary with Child, a rose in her hand.  The Mother and Child are sitting in a place resembling a balcony with a view towards two different landscapes … the colors are of the rising sun.

Pope John XXIII recognized Swieta Gora to be the second most important site for the Marian devotion in Poland, preceded only by Czestochowa.  Pope Paul VI granted the Sanctuary the status of “Basilica Minor”.

When we arrived there were 5 buses and we at first thought they were tour buses, but they were from different parishes in the region and full of children receiving their First Holy Communion.  There had to be at least 100.  The parents of most were with them and a much younger group of children, who I assume were studying for theirs.

We were very happy since we didn’t know where we would go to mass today; our only hope had been to go to Mass in the town where our hotel was, and if they had a church with a 5 or 6 PM mass.  Our Mother never fails us. 

They were organizing the children outside so Susan and I went into the Basilica to say a prayer before Our Lady’s Miraculous Image and to explore some.  The Basilica is under renovations but the pictures I took show a depiction of what is to be.

In a few moments the children came in and we stood in the back to let the parents get a good seat before sitting down.  We ended up behind a pillar.  We couldn’t see anything but we could hear the children answering the Priest questions during the looooong homily. As communion started we went to the back to see the children, but over here no one waits, and everyone was in line to receive. After the mass ended we left, since the priest had everyone sit and began to talk.

We were going to wait until all had left and would go back to pray. We were hungry so we went to the car and had a picnic on the hood of the trunk.  A hardboiled egg and tomato and some left over dumplings with ham and sauerkraut.  Not exactly the breakfast of champions but when you are in the sticks and hungry everything taste good.

We finished this mighty good breakfast and went back to the Sanctuary as everyone was leaving and we ended up alone in front of Our Mother praying the Rosary.  One of the priests came out to put back the benches he moved earlier and when we finished praying and got up he came over to say hello.(Not in English).  He did understand that we were from the States and Florida and asked in universal language if we were alone.  He was amazed since they don’t see many Americans, not only here, but in many of the shrines we have been to this week.

Editors note: Poland is one of the most Catholic countries in Europe, especially since so many other countries have seem to abandon the faith.  Perhaps this is due to the persecution the Church endured under Communism that made it stronger here than in many other European countries.  In fact, the son of Poland’s Prime Minister is a Catholic priest.  We encourage Americans…or anyone else….to visit these great shrines.

 

Tomb of the Blessed….not sure who

He took us past the cordoned off area behind the barrier to show us a part of the new façade and it was stunning.  It will take one more year to finish. We thanked him in Polish and bid farewell as we went down to the crypt below.  It was full of dead people, lots of them.  Of the many beatified Blessed, there was one separate crypt with a more well known saint-to-be. Sorry the picture with his name didn’t come out.  

Editor’s note:  We believe this to be Fr. Lawrence Kuśniaka (1788-1866), but would love to hear from someone if that is…or is not…. correct.

 

We headed for our hotel in Legnica and there in the city is the church of St. Jack which holds the most recent Eucharistic Miracle in the world, I think.  We decided to go there first since it was close to 3 Pm and the Divine Mercy Hour.  We parked right in front of the Church and went in, not knowing what to expect.  The church is lovely, but pales in comparison to the Shrine of the Miracle (Click here to read the story of the Eucharistic Miracle).

We knelt before Our Lord and there was no question in our minds that this was real. We have seen the Miracle in Lanciano, Italy and Santarem, Portugal and always have the same thought: “It is You“.  The Lord continues to give signs to the world and so many ignore Him…….how sad. (You must look at the photos).

We were again overwhelmed to be here alone just the 3 of us, Susan and I and Jesus.  We knelt on the closest kneelers and began The Divine Mercy chaplet and the church bells rang just after we started.  After we finished we placed another copy of our intentions in the box close to our Lord and prayed that they would all be answered. 

Editor’s Note:  There is still time to send your prayer intentions to Tom & Sue…they will be visiting many more shrines between now and the end of their pilgrimage on June 22nd.  Send them to:  tsmelillo13@aol.com

We went into the adoration chapel for a few moments to pray as some woman showed us the room.  She was kind and knew we were not from Poland.  We prayed for awhile and bought some things at the book store as we left.

Our next stop was the hotel about a mile away and we checked in.  We had a great view of the Town and Cathedral from our oversized balcony (it was bigger than the room).  We worked a little and then ventured out for dinner.  We had to pass the Cathedral so we decided to go in.  The offertory was going on and we went into a pew and prayed until mass was over. We had time to light candles for all the intentions we carry and actually lit 3, one for each Shrine, since they didn’t have candles to light, and one for a special intention we just received from a special friend.  I took one close up photo of the main altar and the lights went out.  They move quick here.

It was raining lightly and we had our umbrellas but we were tired so we went back to the hotel and ate in their restaurant and it was very good.  Polish potato pancakes, one with goulash and I had pork tender with mine in a mushroom sauce.  We ate it all and went to the room to take care of some real estate at home.  That’s all I remember.

God Bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

 

Prayer

 

Here I am, Spiritual Mother and queen of Angels.  I place my hand in yours now.  Please present me to Jesus as His Loving Disciple forever.

 

Here I am, Lord.  I come to do Your Holy Will.  You, alone, are the Lord.  You, alone, are the Most High.  I am all Yours.  Please accept my heart, Lord, offered to You in the pure hands of Your Blessed Mother, Queen of my Heart.  Lord, Jesus, I believe You, I Trust In You, I adore You and I Love You Forever.  Keep me always as Your own.

 

Thank you, Queen of Angels, for bringing me to Jesus in this most treasured familial intimacy.  Thank you, Jesus, my Brother, for Your Mother and Mine.

Tom & Sue Day 8 in Poland: Poznan

Dzien Dobry:

8:30 PM to bed, and it was lights out until the sun started to come up at 4:30. Pulled the covers over my head and we slept to 6:30. We had coffee but forgot to get milk so the instant wasn’t so good but it worked and we were out the door by 7:30.

It looked beautiful as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and seemed warm until we went outside……and returned to the room to get our jackets. (Mine gets retired this year, after 10 years of unfailing service, any one need a jacket? Jim)

Today was going to be different, since we had mapped out the old city and the historic and Miraculous Shrines, Churches and Basilicas we were walking to. Our last stop became our first stop, the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul (on an island) and the Sanctuary of the Miraculous Cross of Christ, since we were in time for mass.

Mass in one of the side chapels
Mass in one of the side chapels

Mass was in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the only chapel with a tabernacle. After the mass, with no homily and what we call a drive-thru mass, we sat in the main area of the Basilica and prayed our morning prayers as we waited for the opportunity to go in the basement and reverence the Miraculous Cross.

 

 

We could not get past the iron gate, but at least we could look
We could not get past the iron gate, but at least we could look

The basement was an historic trip for this 900+ year old Cathedral. It was interesting but we hungered to reverence Jesus and His Cross. That didn’t happen since an Iron Gate kept us out of this sacred room, which was also a burial place for many of Poland’s great spiritual leaders. We could see it but couldn’t touch it but we did pray before it for all of you.

 

On to the next stop……..we got a little confused with our direction and Susan asked this gentleman on the street if he knew this place. We had everything typed out in Polish so we figured this was a slam dunk. Wrong, as he took Susan’s hand and arm he began to lead her to the corner and point in the direction we should go. Then the fumes of alcohol whiffed thru the air and we weren’t sure if he was coherent enough to guide us. There was a Church right there and Susan said we are going there and he said no and pointed in the direction he wanted us to go. So we shook hands, thanked him and departed and went in that direction and found the next stop. He could have been an Angel for all we know………..for after 10 years of doing this, nothing surprises us.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus known for miraculous healings was right where he told us to go. Hmmmm! The Sanctuary is under renovation and the chapel with the Miraculous image of Our Lady had the usual Iron Gate so we couldn’t get in. Paintings of St. Dominic and St. Catherine were prevalent on the side altars and the frescoes on the wall were being redone. Disappointed we didn’t get to Our Lady, we headed for our next stop, but hunger took over and we stopped in the Old Town Market Square for a bite to eat. The waiter spoke perfect English and not only served us a great breakfast but guided us to the next 2 stops on the list.

The first was the Sanctuary of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus and is the place of Poland’s oldest Eucharist Miracle and there is a Sacred Well in the basement where the story tells that someone tried to drown 3 Sacred Host but they survived. The well is known for its Miraculous powers and especially for the healing of eye ailments. We know  of a you few who need help and are praying for you. Unfortunately we couldn’t get down to the well and we went back an hour later with the same results but have no fear we will try again tonight at 6 on our way to dinner.

Editors note:  Tom and Sue will be visiting many shrines between now and the end of their pilgrimage on June 22, so feel free to send them your prayer petitions and they will place at the various stops along the way.  email tsmelillo13@aol.com

We then found the Minor Basilica of Saint Stanislaus of Poland, the most famous Old Saint in Poland…..they now have St. John Paul II, but there is plenty of room and pride here for both. This is an old and beautiful Baroque style Basilica, so see the photos. There were many tourists here and it was noisy so we went to the Adoration Chapel and spent some quite time with Our Lord and after taking a few more pictures we left. This concluded our tour for now and just in time since the leg cramps we in full bloom.

On the way back to our Apt. we stopped again at the Sanctuary of the most Precious Blood hoping to get in but that didn’t happen so we continued on, and as we passed the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, something compelled us to go in again (If you are all confused don’t worry so were we). We went right to the Iron Gate and it was still there but some people came down from the stairwell on the other side and a priest with a key in hand. Were we going to get lucky, no, not till later, as he told us to come back at 3 or 6. We both said let’s pray our rosary here and we did right in front of a statue of Our Lady and the Iron Gates.

How we made it back to the apt. we don’t know how after walking for at least 6 hours. We went up to the apt to get on our shorts to relax and then to the parking garage to get our pain pills from the just in case bag. (Don’t leave home without it!!!!) We planned to have a drink and nap but here I am typing and Susan is running the business and answering e-mails (are we crazy?).

We went out for dinner and stopped on the way as we passed Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and the gate was open but mass had just started and we decided not to wait. I took a couple pic’s and we headed for the Market Square. We knew there was a mass at the Sanctuary of the Most Precious Blood and it was right near the square so we went in and prayed until mass was over. Susan went into the Sacristy to ask if we could go down to the well and the priest said no.

So we left and ended up back at the restaurant we ate at last night. We had returned the blankets and we craved some good food. We tried so different polishes and ordered 3 entrees. We were really hungry and nuts , we had trouble finishing 2 so we took a doggie bag, you never know when you will need something to eat!!

After dinner it was back to the apt. and I don’t know how we made it we were so tired. we stayed up to around 8:30 and that’s all I remember.

God Bless you

Love

Susan & Tom

Prayer

Spiritual Mother, today I seek the kindness of your hand in mine. Today, I desire the quiet firmness of your Faith, of your Trust in Resurrection that makes new creation. Comfort me in my doubts. Console me with awareness of the presence of Your Divine Child, who is the Word made Flesh, the Light of the World, the Object of my Desires, the Lord of My Life. Spiritual Mother, Bless His Holy Name for me forever. Jesus, please shine the light of Your Love into every inconvenience I ever encounter. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, You are the Source of Peace, Jesus. You are my peace.

Poznań – Sanctuary of the Holy Cross in the Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Poznań for a few centuries was a place of veneration of the Holy Cross. Ac­cording to the visitation decrees by Bishop Wojciech Tolibowski dating from 1600 it was a wooden late-Gothic cross which from 1522 had been located on the Wrocławska city gate in Poznań. It was greatly revered by the population bestowed with numerous graces. Because it was exposed to insults, Bishop Florian Czartoryski had it removed to the cathedral – that took place on 7 May 1652. A legend says that on an occasion when a prisoner was led through the Wrocławska Gate, Jesus said from the crucifix: “Let him go, he is innocent”.
The cross was placed in the chapel of the Górka family (currently: Chapel of the Holy Cross), in an altar built of black artifi­cial marble. On its sides we can see figures of the Holy Mother and St. John.
Bishop Czartoryski recognized the crucifix for its miraculous powers. The present crucifix was made of gold-plated sil­ver, but the wooden figure of Christ is un­changed

Poznań – Sanctuary of the Most
Precious Blood of Jesus
The Church of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus is merged within the row of tenement houses at Żydowska Street. In fact it does resemble a regular tenement building. Its history goes back to the 1500s – when in­formation on an act of sacrilege, which had happened in the house of the Świda–Szamo­tulski family at Żydowska Street, spread around town.
The church has two floors. Dur­ing repair work, in its vaults a well was dis­covered – it was believed that communion bread had been drowned in it. To this day the water drawn from the well is considered to have miraculous powers. The upper part of the church represents the Régence style. Particularly noteworthy is the main altar­piece with representations of all persons of the Holy Trinity.

Poznań – Sanctuary of Our Lady of
Miracles

The altarpiece was made of ebony, which highlights the image of the Holy Mother in a silver frame, placed in the altar niche. The image was painted with tempera on lime wood board. The figure of Madonna clad in blue robes is placed against a green background. The Child wearing a red dress is holding a book in his left hand; his right hand is raised in the gesture of blessing. Both faces glow with goodness. The painting is a copy of the image of Virgin Mary from Borek Wielkopolski. Painted in the 1600s, it has distinguishing features of artistic work­shops in Poznań.
According to a notice made by a monk who in his signature used the name Peccator, Friar Tomasz Dybowski, a Fran­ciscan, purchased the image in accordance with the will of his superiors, in 1666 from a burgher from Śródka. It was him who noticed tears on the painting, and soon af­terwards the news spread around the town that some people praying in the Franciscan church were miraculously healed.

May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

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

E-Mail: TSMelillo13@aol.com

Tom & Sue Day 4 in Poland: Our Lady of Skepe (Virgin Mary Expectant)

Jane Dobry;

It’s hard to sleep here if you don’t have black out shades and you have to go (you know where). The light came in my room at 5:30, Susan had black out shades.(sort of).  I quickly did my thing and Susan stirred so I told her to get into the little bed with me and we could hug and may sleep to a reasonable hour.  That was about 6:30.  I got up and sent out a trip report and before I was finished Susan crawled out of bed.  We forgot we had bought instant coffee so we showered and packed and left.  TOD almost  8.

It was almost 9 by the time we found a place to stop for café and it was needed. We had made a cheese sandwhich (no meat today, we are abstaining) from the leftovers from our dinner and were  finally were fully awake and refreshed. We continued on our 2 ½ hour ride to Our Lady of Skepe.  Our friends here in Poland, including Fr. Tomasz, don’t even know about this shrine.  It’s a beautiful story so click here to read it.

We arrived around 10:45 and there were 3 cars in the huge parking area and we figured that they worked there, because we were the only ones in the shrine except for the maintenance man. The Miraculous Statue dates back to the 1400’s and has been the source of many miracles as they are listed on the wall outside the main church.  Miracles still continue to this day so we prayed very hard for all of you.

Editors note: You can still send prayer intentions to Tom & Sue for them to leave at the various shrines they will be visiting on their pilgrimage, which does not end until June 22.  Send them to tsmelillo13@aol.com

The old church is being restored and the outcome so far is beautiful.  We felt a great warmth and comfort here and spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection.  The Statue of Our Lady is very beautiful and mesmerizing.  We spent a lot of time here and when we took a break before praying our Rosary we took a walk.  They were kind enough to open the gift shop which was closed and the monk sitting in there was very sick with flu like symptoms.  We purchased a few things and tried to communicate with him but he didn’t understand or didn’t care.  We said thank you in Polish reading from our big cheat sheet and he smiled and Susan handed it to him.  He gave it back and said something and we said God Bless in English and left.

We walked the grounds and there are some very old frescos and paintings to enjoy as well as the grounds.  Back to the church we sat and prayed the Rosary and we disturbed by 6 people who came in so un-reverant and loud.  We realized they were the group doing the restorations. They finally left and we finished our Rosary and went back to the altar for one last prayer before Our Lady.  This Statue of Her is very special as is this place. 

Another special day in Poland….it doesn’t get any better than this.  Each day has had something special to offer and we just started.

Our hotel was only 20 minutes away and we talked all the way about this beautiful experience.  When we arrived it was just after 2 and our room was not quite ready so we unloaded the car with our overnight bags and by time we got in she gave us the key.

There was no elevator here so we had to take everything up to the 1st floor (which is really the second floor at home).  I booked a room for the first floor only, they must have laughed when they got it.  This was the earliest time we ever got to a stop and had time to relax and get caught up on things again.  Day-to-day moving is a little grueling but that is how we do our pilgrimages.  Tomorrow we spend 2 nights and Susan gets to do laundry again.

We had dinner at the hotel and it was great.  Bedtime was at 8:30 PM and it was still light out but we had black out shades. That’s all I remember.

 May God bless all or you always and Blessed Mother hear our prayers.

Love Susan & Tom