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Notre Dame Cathedral in Flames

On March 15, 2019 a fire broke out in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  From early reports, it was feared it might be a total loss, but reports are that the Treasury was saved, which included priceless relics such as The Crown of Thorns.

Still….for the French it is the loss of a national treasure, and for Catholics everywhere it is sad to see a Cathedral that has survived wars and resurrections now in ruins.

The Cathedral has been under construction and could easily have been started by workmen….so before the rumor mill starts flying (and, yes there have been Catholic Church desecrations if France this year) let’s just pray for the firefighters and then wait for a conclusion as to the cause of the fire.

 

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Air France Returns to Dallas/Fort Worth

Air France flights from DFWAlthough a major hub, the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has not had any non-stop flights to Paris via the country’s carrier, Air France (other than a brief period right before 9/11).

American Airlines offers non-stop service to Paris, and has for several years.  With their connections from many other U.S. cities in the Southwest, they are a good choice for travel to Paris.

However, if you were connecting to other French cities it was often thought more convenient to fly on Air France. Unfortunately you either had to connect through Atlanta (using Delta, Air France’s partner) or drive south to Houston to take Air France non-stop to Paris.

Beginning March 31, 2019, Air France began offering three flights a week (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) until June 30, when they will expand to five flights per week (daily except Tuesday and Thursday). Then after the summer, they will go back to three flights weekly from September 4 through October 25. The airline will drop back to thrice-weekly service from Sept. 4 through Oct. 25.

After that, we don’t know if they will continue service from DFW….it will naturally depend upon the traffic they get during what is apparently a trial period.

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Special Pilgrimage for Priests to the Holy Land Led by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Despite all the troubling news out there, we know that the vast majority of our priests are caring, and faithful to the Magisterium, but also……overworked.  We forget how much is demanded of them daily, and that they–perhaps more than anyone–need a break from time to time.

Well, we have found an incredible solution…a pilgrimage to the Holy Land…….. especially designed for priests!  And what makes it even more special, it’s led by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.

The cost is around $2800 per person…a bit expensive on a priest’s salary (if he even gets one) but a few parishioners ( or just one) could easily pay for their priest to travel on this meaningful and rewarding pilgrimage.  This would make a great thank-you gift for all that they do.

For more details on this pilgrimage for priests to the Holy Land click here.

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What do you mean no refund? How do I get home?

It doesn’t happen often, but if it happens to you then once is enough to cost you hundreds…or even thousands of dollars. Not to mention the possible loss of time….either on vacation when you can’t get back home on schedule or prior to departing while you look for another option.

On March 27, 2019 discount carrier WOW Air suddenly discontinued operations.

WOW Air offered flights to Europe, North America and Tel Aviv through its hub in Reykjavik, Iceland.

No warning, no notice whatsoever.  People waiting in line for flights suddenly found that their flight status went from “delayed” to ” cancelled”.

Bad enough if they were heading out of town…a trip back to the house would be necessary.  But for those already out of town…and in most cases out of their home country….this meant finding a hotel room, then booking a flight on another airline (last-minute tickets are very expensive) and hoping you can get a seat.

Some airlines are offering “rescue fares” reduced prices for tickets….but you still probably aren’t getting money back from WOW Air, and even rescue fares are not cheap.  You might, however, get your money back it you happened to take out travel insurance.

It is not the first time this has happened…..and probably won’t be the last (there have been six already this year).  Most of these were either small carriers or discount carriers…but if you lose money it won’t matter what size the airline was.

That is one of the reasons that we recommend travel insurance and urge you to read our page all about travel insurance. It can help you protect you and save you money.

If you are currently booked on WOW Air, here are your options.


We worry so you don't have to.

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Holy Stairs in Rome to re-open on April 11

Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in RomeThe Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs….housing the marble steps that Jesus climbed, leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on His way to trial.

The frescoes and paintings on the walls had been dirtied through centuries of use, and were in need of restoration.

Beginning early last year, the Sanctuary was closed to allow the restoration to take place.

 

They are now restored to their formal glory, and the Sanctuary will be open starting April 11, 2019.

The steps themselves were covered with wood with slots in them so that pilgrims could view the steps as they climbed to the top (usually on their knees).

They are now un-covered…and for the next month pilgrims can climb up the actual steps without the wood covering.

You can read more at Catholic News Service (CNS)

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The Oberammergau Passion Play is only a year away, better sign up now

 

If you are planning to attend the world-famous Oberammergau Passion Play, you had better make your arrangements sooner rather than later.  Tickets went on sale beginning March 6, 2019 (Ash Wednesday) and they sell out quickly.

Crucifixion scene from the Oberammergau Passion PlayEvery 10 years, the small town of Oberammergau, in Bavaria, is transformed as the village performs the scene of the Passion of Our Lord. Almost all the residents of the town (about 2200) are involved in the production and performance of this play, and roles are often handed down from generation to generation.  And, starting on Ash Wednesday 2019, as established by tradition, the men have begun growing their beards and letting their hair grow longer in preparation (only those playing Roman soldiers and stage hands are exempt from this requirement).

The Oberammergau Passion Play next occurs May 16th thru October 4th of 2020. There are only so many performances available, and tickets are selling out quickly.

If you wish to attend, you can make your own arrangements and buy your own tickets, or book with many of the tour companies offering pilgrimages to the play.  Some of these tours are just a few days long, but many others combine various locations as well as Oberammergau.  If you book with a group we suggest it be a Catholic group since they will have a different perspective than a Protestant or secular group.

One itinerary we find particularly interesting is combining the Holy Land with Oberammergau.  You will travel to the Holy Land and see where it all began, from the Annunciation to the Crucifixion, and then on to Germany to visit the Ettal Monastery, the healing shrine of Altotting, Munich and then the highlight of the trip:  witnessing the passion Play.  This itinerary, offered by Select International Tours, has eleven departures scheduled in 2020…..and, in addition to the itinerary we mentioned,  some of them include a Danube River cruise or other extensions as well.

But it is very important to sign up right away.  There are a limited number of seats and a limited number of performances, so once they are gone, they are gone until 2030.

You can check out the Official Oberammergau Passion Play website here.

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Fake News: U.S. & Canadian citizens traveling to Europe do not need a visa

Recently some new reports stated that, starting in 2021, U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to Europe would require a visa.  Before you panic, please note that this is not the case:

For U.S. citizens traveling to Europe in 2021 and beyond, the will simply have to complete an online application and pay a small fee through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a pre-screening program that aims to protect European Union (EU) borders.  Americans and other non-EU travelers can still travel to Europe without a visa for up to 90 days as long as they complete their form in the ETIAS before travel

ETIAS costs about $9.00 U.S. and you can do it in less than ten minutes, according to a fact sheet issued by the European Commission in July.  It calls  the ETIAS “a necessary and small procedural step for all visa-exempt travelers” that would help them “avoid bureaucracy and delays when presenting themselves at the border.”

The ETIAS will be required for any of the territories in the Schengen area of Europe — 26 countries that are part of the E.U. It is valid for three years, (or less if a passport expires before then).  Do not confuse the Schengen countries with the European Union…not all countries are in the E.U.

The Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland,  Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,  Switzerland.

This is a far less difficult and certainly less expensive than applying for a visa.

You can find out more information on their official website here (external link).  You will also find a list of the 61 countries whose residents will need to get the ETIAS authorization.

 

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Free streaming of fantastic new series this lent “Genesis to Jesus”

Want to deepen your faith this Lent?

Instead of “giving up something for Lent”, why not add something to your spiritual life?  Millions of viewers around the world have watched the Journey Through Scripture video Bible studies. The St. Paul Center’s latest video Bible study, “Genesis to Jesus” is the perfect way to do that.

Based on the covenantal theology of world-renowned scholar Scott Hahn and produced to the highest quality by Matthew Leonard, Genesis to Jesus makes the story of the Bible brilliantly clear and vibrantly alive.

Genesis to Jesus presents the whole sweep of salvation history, and helps you make sense of the Bible, literally, from Genesis to Jesus. By the end of Lent, you’ll understand the importance of Easter as the eighth day of creation in light of God’s unified plan for our salvation.

And, beginning Ash Wednesday (March 6), you can watch Genesis to Jesus for free!

Over the course of twelve episodes, discover the people and places that are most central to salvation history and point us to Jesus Christ.

You can find a preview of the series here.

Sign up to stream this new study free!!

You can also order the  complete Genesis to Jesus pack for individuals includes the participant workbook, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, and the Genesis to Jesus DVD set.

Sign up now to make the most of this Lent! Make sure to order your participant workbook as well to get it in time.

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Update on the body of computer geek Venerable Carlo Acutis

 

For those who are unfamiliar with him, Carlo Acutis was a young man who loved working with computers and loved the Eucharist…so much so that he compiled a list of all the Eucharistic Miracles in the world.

He died at the young age of 15, and having been declared Venerable, is now on the path to sainthood.

His body was dis-interred as part of the Canonization process, and taken to a secure location for identification.  There are no reports at this time as to it being incorrupt as was reported by some.

Once the medical exams have been completed on his body, on April 5-6, 2019, it will be moved to the Santuario della Spogliazione, which is located in the The Church of Saint Mary Major in Assisi.

We assume his tomb will be open to the public, but do not have confirmation of that yet.

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Heart of Saint John Vianney on tour in U.S. 2019

Saint John Vianney is the Patron Saint of Priests.  Spending up 10 16 hours a day in the confessional and accomplishing what seemed impossible in a town that had long ago fallen away from the faith, he was an inspiration for all and known for his holiness.

After his death his heart was found incorrupt and kept on display at his shrine in Ars, France.

The Shrine of Ars has entrusted to the Knights of Columbus the major relic of St. Jean Vianney’s incorrupt heart for a national tour in the U.S., from November 2018 through early June 2019.

We have the schedule of dates and locations posted on our calendar through December of 2018; however, there are many more locations to be posted later, so we encourage you to check the Knights of Columbus website here.

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