That was my plea, but my dad said: “We don’t take a vacation from God”
Growing up in western New York State back in the 60’s, our family always went to church on Sundays, even when on vacation. Having to wake up and get dressed seemed out of place. Wasn’t a vacation was supposed to mean a break from all the rules of every day life? But my dad was serious about his religion and so we went to church on Sunday no matter where we were.
We were “low-church” Episcopalians (no “smells & bells” for us…we left that up to those who were “high church” Episcopalians….good grief, they might just as well have been Catholics).
In our church there was just a plain cross over the altar (which faced East, against the wall….we did have an altar rail and took communion kneeling, but the similarity ended there).
(Now that I am Catholic, I miss the sense of reverence that came with kneeling at the altar rail, since they no longer exist in many Catholic churches).
We recited the Nicene Creed…but when we got to the part about one holy, catholic and apostolic church my big sister leaned over to me and said “don’t worry, that doesn’t mean we’re Catholic“….whew…what a relief…..apparently being Catholic was something to avoid at all costs, although I had no idea why!
Well, back to my point about going to church while on vacation:
It was pretty easy to find an Episcopal church in many towns…you could often find a sign like this one hanging as you entered the town.
We didn’t necessarily fit in….if it was a summer vacation town near a lake, then maybe, but otherwise we felt a bit out of place in our casual clothes among all those people in their “Sunday Best”. Today, of course, vacationers might fit right in to those who trot off to their local Mass in shorts and flip-flops…but don’t get me started on that!
If you’re not lucky enough to spot a sign….yes, some Catholic churches still have them, but not many…..then be sure to plan ahead.
You might find a New York Cop…or a Nun… to help with directions, but that is pretty unlikely (kinda like the photo, though, so I thought I would add to this article).
In the U.S. & Canada there is a website called Masstimes.org that is useful.
Otherwise, dads…Sunday Mass attendance is an obligation under the Catechism of the Catholic Church….so spend as much effort planning to attend Mass as you do to getting to your destination! Some day in the future, your kids will appreciate it.
When Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, the foundress of The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles, died on May 29, 2019 at age 95, her body was not embalmed and was placed in a simple wooden coffin to be buried in the convent where she lived.
Recently, it was decided to move her body into the chapel of the convent. When the body was exhumed and the coffin opened, it was discovered that there was a crack in the wooden casket that had allowed dirt and moisture into the coffin, which would have accelerated any decomposition. Despite this, her body had not decayed as expected and appeared to be relatively intact. In addition, her habit, which she so zealously fought for, was completely preserved, while the lining of the coffin had deteriorated and was gone.
The nuns created a wax mask for Sister Wilhelmina’s face and also coated her hands with wax, the story said. Her body will be displayed in the chapel at the Abbey of Ephesus in Gower, Missouri until May 29, when there will be a rosary procession. After that, her body will be encased in glass in the chapel.
We are not in a position to say that the body is incorrupt….nor are the Sisters. The local ordinary, Bishop Vann Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, visited the monastery to see Sister Wilhelmina’s remains. Johnston issued a statement the same day, saying that a “thorough investigation” was needed to answer “important questions” raised by the state of her body More investigation will be required before that can be decided. You can read the statement here.
You can find an email that was recently sent out by the Sisters of The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles explaining the recent events here.
Here is a video with Reverand Mother of the Order describing the unearthing of the body.
Huge crowds came to see her body while it was still open for visitors to see and touch. Now, her body has been placed in a glass case but can still be viewed.
As you can imagine, this has created an influx of visitors to the Abbey….and, in fact, the Sisters are no longer taking phone calls since it interferes with their spiritual life.
If you do plan a visit to view the body of Sister Wilhelmin in Gower, Missouri, please be aware of the following;
1. There is a dress code in their chapel; Marian modesty: Women must wear sleeves, a veil, and a dress below the knees or lose fitting pants when they visit. Veils, skirts, and shawls can be borrowed. Men also need sleeves.
2. DO NOT TALK. Not at all.
3. You are in their home. Be aware of that. They are VERY hospitable, and won’t complain if you violate things, but please be respectful.
4. Her body will be encased in a glass case on May 29, so you need to visit before that if you wish to touch her.
Most of us are getting sick of the controveries over the push to make LGBTQ+ a normal lifestyle. Budweiser Bud Light and Target are only two high-profile promoters of the LGBTQ lifestyle; but there are hundreds more. If you are a Catholic Christian working for a major corporation, there is a good chance there will be someone responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)….to very admirable sounding terms until you realize what they mean to those in power. Often times it means you need to promote others based on race or sexual preference rather than ability. And to push the envelope further, you must celebrate lifestyles that directly in opposition to Church teaching.
It all began with “we just want to be left alone” then “we just want to be able to get married” then “you will endorse our life style“. Fight back, and they will do everything in their power (with most of the media on their side) to crush you. Get you fired from your job, put you out of business, ruin your life. And make no mistake, they are after your children and grand-children. Accepting pedophilia is on the horizon….just check back with us in a decade or so. Don’t want to bend to their will? They will get you fired or put you out of business.
Well-meaning people say “we have to be compassionate”. This is not to say that there are not good people in some of these communities, but encouraging in their sinful behavior is not compassionate…it is enabling.
Founded by Catholics in the 1500, this event is a far cry from what those early missionaries could have imagined.
What harm could it do to watch? Well, you are encouraging a lifestyle that is ultimately a dead end. God created male and female for procreation….not going to happen between to people of the same sex…unless they start creating babies in a test tube, which still violates God’s law.
Then you have the push (and we do mean push) to convince young people in their teens and even younger to “choose their sex” would have been laughed at only a few years ago….but suddenly it is all over the place.
There will be families here celebrating “diversity” or “exclusion” and bringing their kids along. How sad it will be (as a friend of ours discovered) when their daughter comes to visit and announces that she is about to get married to another woman! Well….where do she get the idea in the first place?
We are sad to see one of our favorite cities, San Antonio, Texas hosting a pride parade.
On June 24, 2023 there will be families here celebrating “diversity” or “exclusion” and bringing their kids along. It seems harmless enough…just watching a parade…..but those kids are watching, and getting the idea that this is all normal. How sad it will be if, as a friend of ours recently discovered, their daughter comes to visit and announces that she has fallen in love and is about to get married to another woman! Well….where do think she got the idea in the first place?
And, as if the parade is not enough, there is the Bud Light Pride River Parade & Celebration. Gee, have they not learned their lesson?
We have known a few homosexuals who really born that way, but many have chosen to bear this cross. And even among those who have not, it is only a small militant minority who push this on everyone. But they are a strong minority, and have infiltrated our governments and our businesses.
We don’t know how many Catholic Christians will attend this event…..sad to say, we think there will be many. “What harm can it do?” is the popular expresssion. “After all, we want to be ‘inclusive’..’non-judgmental’..’welcoming’ “. And we certainly don’t want to be accused of being “homophobic” or “transphobic”.
“Middle ranking civil servant, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking with a view to marriage as soon as possible.”In today’s world, of course, such an ad would be accused of being “sexist” and the man attacked viciously (verbally, at least).
Wow, this is quite an ad . From a dating website?No, this ad dates from the 1920’s and was placed in the German Newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) by Joseph Ratzzinger, Sr. It was the second of two ads…the first being earlier with no mention of being a mid-level civil servant. The newspaper ad was answered by a young womand named Maria, who had to postphone marriage for some time due to family considerations. Both married late in life for those times. As you might have already guessed, of the three children that resulted from this holy couple, one of them went on to become Pope Benedict XVI.
This book covers many courtships, from early saints in the both the old and new Testaments of the Bible (Saints Anne and Joachim, or Saints Joseph and Mary, for example) up through Emperors such as Karl of Austria and his wife Zita, who are now Blesseds, the pathway to sainthood. Some of these couples you will have heard of, and some may surprise you, since their story is not well known. We won’t spoil it for you, but their stories are compelling as well as inspirational.
The term courtship may seem out of date today, but it still
My only criticism of the book is the title, since “courtship of the Saints” is not applicable to all those mentioned in the book. No doubt all these couples were saintly in many ways, but not all have been given that title. Still, that is a minor thing….the fact is, this book gives us a fascinating way in which God works to bring couples together….and on the path to sainthood. As pointed out by the author, marriage is a form of martyrdom: a denial of self for another. Not easy…and perhaps it was never meant to be.
About the Author:
Patrick O’Hearn is an acquisitions editor at TAN Books. He has writen several books in addition to “Courtship of the Saints”, including ‘The Shepherd at the Crib and the Cross’.
One of the over-reactions (in our opinion) to Vatican II in the 1970’s was a desire to minimize the architectural beauty of many new churches being built. Liturgical experts were brought in to explain why things needed to change….although Vatican II never said anything to that effect. Suddenly we had bland, ugly buildings with a plain table and two candles for an altar. It was simplistic taken to extremes. The tabernacle may….or may not…have been visible to the congregation. In other words, tradition was to be despised and we all needed to “get with the times”. Of course, we know where that led….but that is another story for another time.
Priests and lay people hoping to build more traditional buildings often had to fight their own diocese to accomplish it……making quite a few compromises along the way. Fighting the architectural commitees of their diocese was often an uphill battle. Keeping the tabernacle in a prominent position was certainly one of those battles…in some cases it was practically in the broom closet.
But the pendulum has begun to swing back, and there is a growing appreciation (you might even say a hunger) for greater beauty in the sanctuary. Utilitarian is beginning to be replaced by Gothic or Baroque styles of buildings. Many of the churches being built today have a more traditional look….and some older churches are being remodeled to look traditional.
While many parishes in the Northeast and Midwest have found it necessary to close, the “sun belt” states have seen tremendous growth over the last few decades. The South was formerly called “the Bible Belt” due to its heavy Protestant influence…just don’t tell them that Catholics wrote the Bible!. Along with that growth came the need to build new churches to accommodate the many Catholics moving into these states.
It is always sad to see some of these beautiful old churches close, especially those with such features as marble altars, old stained glass windows, hand-carved statuary, etc. But as many cities aged, and people moved out of the area, these churches had such low attendance that they were forced to close and either torn down or turned into something else. The magnificent features that made them so beautiful were sold off.
Fortunately, in some cases, the contents of these churches were purchased and used in new church construction elsewhere.
One example of this is the new sanctuary building for Saint Clare of Assisi Catholic Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The building committee had found out that the Sisters of Saint Joseph Convent in Pittsburgh, built in 1897, was designated to be sold and the chapel furnishings auctioned off.
It said that some things are not coincidences, they are God-incidences. And this is certainly one of them. The new building here in Charleston was designed so that the windows would be fitted with clear glass until a future time when the parish could afford stained glass windows. They needed 12 windows.
The chapel in the Sisters of Saint Joseph Chapel had 12 stained-glass windows designed by renowned German window maker Franz Mayer of Munich! And they fit their architects’ design for the new church by a matter of inches (the 120 year-old windows were 18 feet tall by 8 feet wide). Not only that, two of them depicted Saint Clare of Assisi! Coincidence? We think not.
According to the pastor, Rev. Gregory West of St. Clare of Assisi, the church paid about $450,000 for the windows and their removal. New ones would have cost many times more than that, he said.
In addition, they have also purchased the Stations of the Cross, the high altar (reredos), the main altar, statues of Saint Joseph, the Blessed Mother, Saint Clare of Assisi, and a baptismal font. They will all have a new home here at Saint Clare of Assisi Parish in Charleston.
Here in South Carolina you will find a church that inspires you with its architecture. The address might confuse you, but Daniel Island is a planned community within the city of Charleston.
Address: 990 Etiwan Park Street, Daniel Island. (by the way, Etiwan, also spelled Ittiwan is the native American tribe that lived here). They were located approximately 30 miles northeast of Charleston, South Carolina.
Click here for the official website of Saint Clare of Assisi Parish in Charleston. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.
Photos courtesy Saint Clare Catholic Church, Charleston, SC
Catholics are Invited To Participate In Coast-To-Coast 2024 National Eucharistic Pilgrimage
The executive team for the National Eucharistic Congress is excited to announce an unprecedented multi-route nationwide pilgrimage across the country as part of the historic movement to set hearts ablaze.
Rooted in daily celebration of the Mass and modeled after the Gospel account of Jesus’ journey to Emmaus two millennia ago, the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will involve four different routes starting from four different cities. Depending upon the route, they will begin onMay 17, 18 or 19, 2024 during the Feast of Pentecost.
Each route will be a walk with our Eucharistic Lord across the country for approximately two months. Four dozen young adults will make the entire journey, traveling full-time from May 2024 until July of 2024. They will be led by clergy and followed by a support van and travel 10-15 miles each day while taking part in a minor Eucharistic procession. Along the routes, parishes will host Mass, Adoration, 40 Hours devotions, praise and worship services, lectures on the Eucharist, pilgrim testimonies, meals, and fellowship.
The Perpetual Pilgrims will rely on the biblical hospitality of local hosts, including lay families, parishes, religious orders, schools, and shrines along the way.
Jesus will be the focus of the entire pilgrimage! Join them for segments of this massive expedition across the nation, physically walking side-by-side with our Risen Lord. You can find additional information on their website here.
Four routes for the 2024 National Eucharistic pilgrimage:
The routes, named for saintly significance corresponding to the geographical starting point, will pass through many major U.S cities. The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will cover four different routes:
As we look at the culture around us, we see what would seem to be a steady downhill slide…. some governments and businesses pushing the LGBTQ agenda; abortion as a “right”; gender identity (apparently there are up to six genders!); politicians who openly sow racial discord; sports leagues that have gone “woke” and so many other things in opposition to what we, as Catholics, hold dear.
Much of what follows is directed toward U.S. residents, but in general it also applies to Canada and a host of other countries as well.
Abortion in a Post-Roe World:
Here in the U.S., some states have banned abortion completely; some after a certain number of weeks; but other states have offered to become “abortion sanctuaries” for those who cannot procure a legal abortion in their own state.
The U.S. military will grant up to three weeks of administrative leave and reimburse service members who travel to other states where abortions are legal.
So, although Roe vs Wade has been over-turned, it is only one battle in the war against abortion. It merely sent the abortion issue back to the states.
The Transgender Movement:
As Catholic Christians, we believe as the Book of Genesis states: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”.
Not content with being left alone (that’s what they used to say) the proponents of the transgender movement now want to become mainstream…..and force you to accept their beliefs. And yet, we are said to be the intolerant ones!
Some public schools and libraries proudly host “drag queen story hours” for children….and parents pat themselves on the back for being so open-minded.
Believe it or not, the people hosting these events are not open-minded…they are after your children!
TV cartoons feature gay characters; game shows seem to almost require at least one participant to be gay or trans-sexual; everything is in your face, and it is put out there as normal.
Likewise, we see free speech (not liberal speech, of course…just conservative speech) being limited on college campuses.
“Separation of Church and State”
Try to bring religion in to the public square and people will shout “separation of church and state” without having the slightest idea what that means. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution does not say that, it merely states that the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.
But, of course, that does not stop those who are determined to push God out of everything. Many news anchors ignore (or are ignorant of) the First Amendment and prattle on about “threats to our democracy” with absolutely no idea of what they are talking about….but they all got the same memo, so they keep repeating the phrase.
Did you ever think you would be talking about lack of religious tolerance in your own country?
Of course tolerance of other religions is highly encouraged, it is only Christianity that is held up as a threat. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center (which, ironically, once championed civil rights) has said “right-wing extremism exploits Christianity and the Bible to radicalize and mobilize its violent adherents toward criminality and terrorism“. So, if you speak out against abortion, or gay rights, or a host of other Christian principles, you are a terrorist.
Christians are sometimes called “transphobic” or “homophobic” which of course is not the case. To be phobic is to be fearful…we do not fear transvestites or homosexuals, we merely deem their actions to be contrary to Christian beliefs. But that doesn’ fit their narrative.
So what do families do? Well, some choose to stay and fight against these attacks on religious freedom, while others choose to flee to other locales that seem a bit more Christian family-friendly. Faced with the hostile environment in some cities or states, many families have decided to put that behind them and move to locations where they feel they can better raise their families in the Catholic Christian tradition.
Here is a great article written by Johnathan Liedl for the National Catholic Register that tells the stories of some of those who have pulled up stakes and moved to more family friendly communities where their faith can be nurtured rather than attacked.
Of course not everyone wants to re-locate nor are they in a position to do so. In the case of re-location, there are jobs to consider (fortunately work-from-home has helped make this easier for some), elderly parents nearby, etc. Some are not in a position to move to a more Catholic-friendly area and others prefer “fight the good fight” where they are, perhaps by home-schooling their children through an online program such as Tan Academy; being active in the pro-life community; or a host of other opportunities.
Regardless, whatever the situation, we must fight back….“it can’t happen here” has been said by many over the course of history….and then it happened “here”. Most recently in Rwanda, Bosnia, and currently in Nigeria, among other countries where Christians are attacked.
The old saying “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing”.
Unfortunately, the way many Catholics have given in to the Covid hysteria and given up rights we thought were inalienable, concerns us. We’re not there yet, and at The Catholic Travel Guide we remain optimistic as we see people start to realize that we are in a war with certain elements of the society around us.
Have a story to tell? Please contact us and let us know.
The Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage occurs every year on the Feast of Pentecost in early summer, and is a multi-generational, multi-national gathering of Catholics who draw closer to God through the centuries-old act of pilgrimage.
The walk is roughly 62 miles over 3 days—beginning at daybreak on the Saturday before Pentecost, and ending with an afternoon mass on the Monday after Pentecost.
Ruining Your Trip: Passport & Visa Issues, Taking Children out of the Country & Other Possible Mishaps
How often do we say, “what could possibly go wrong?”
Few things are simpler to remember than your passport when you are preparing for your trip
Well that is pretty obvious, right? Wrong!
It happens more than you would think, and can absolutely ruin your travel plans. One of the worst trip-killers is when someone forgets or mis-places their passport and their vacation becomes a stay-cation because they are denied boarding at an airport or cruise terminal. Or, they fail to get permission to take their minor children or grandchildren with them and the trip ends before it begins. And there are some other pitfalls to avoid as well.
Of course, the first thing is to apply for a passport in time to receive it….we suggest you get one now even if you don’t have any travel plans in the near future. Depending upon the country, they are good for quite a few years, and if you have a sudden opportunity to travel out of your home country, then that is one less thing you have to worry about.
Here are just a few examples of passport problems submitted to us:
Example #1 Grabbed the wrong passport.
In my hurry to leave the house I reached in the desk drawer, grabbed my passport and headed to the airport. Unfortunately I grabbed my old (expired) passport and not my new one. Got to the airport and was not allowed to take my flight. Had to run home, get the new passport and by now I had missed my flight. Since I was traveling with a group I had to buy a new ticket and catch up to them at the hotel in Lourdes. This meant getting from the airport to the hotel in Lourdes on my own as well, so it added a lot to the cost of my trip…..not to mention the stress!
Example #2 Forgot to get parent’s permission
Ok, so you brought your current passport and also that of your kids or grand-kids. You’re not off the hook yet. If you are the grandparents taking your grand-kids, then you must have a letter from the parents authorizing you to take them out of the country. And if you are a parent traveling alone with the kids (eg, married but without your spouse, widowed, divorced, etc.) and taking your kids then you will need a letter from the other parent. Obviously if you are widowed this is not possible, so you may even want to bring a copy of your spouse’s death certificate. All this sounds like a lot of work and not very pleasant but it really is best to be prepared. This is taken very seriously by airlines and cruise lines so don’t even think about trying to avoid it. It won’t work.
One person reported:Our cruise almost ended before it began because I forgot to get my ex-husband’s permission for my new husband and I to take the kids on the cruise. Fortunately my ex was available (and cooperative) so we were able to contact him and he faxed a letter of permission—fifteen minutes before they closed off the boarding process!
Example #3 Packed my passport in my suitcase
We try to stress the importance of keeping your passport in your possession (see #5 below as well). Here is why:
After checking in our luggage and getting our boarding passes for the cruise, I thought everything was fine. Then, when we got ready to board they asked for my passport. I realized that when checking our luggage I had mistakenly stuck my passport in my bags. The cruise line had to manually search through maybe 5,000 bags to find my suitcase and retrieve my passport. They found it just in the nick of time—cruise ships don’t wait for you! Needless to say, it was an anxious way to start our cruise.
Example #4 Passenger could not get back to the U.S…no green card
A passenger from the U.S. was a Mexican national but was a legal resident of the U.S. As a legal resident of the U.S. she had a “green card” that showed that she was, indeed, a legal resident So she did not need a U.S. passport and brought her Mexican passport, which was fine, but not her green card.
The tour operator had told her to be sure to bring her green card with her, some well-meaning friends convinced her not to, fearing she might lose it. All went well entering France (all she needed was her Mexican passport) but when it came time to return to the U.S. the airline would not allow her to board. Without that green card she would have been denied entrance to the U.S. and the airline would be fined for allowing her to board.
She had to stay behind in Paris at her own expense while her son went to her house, got the green card, sent it Federal Express to her in Paris and then she had to re-book her flight (and pay a hefty change fee to boot).
Moral…..take an expert’s advice over your well-meaning friends’ advice.
Example #5 Let her spouse keep her passport
We always recommend you to keep your passport on your person and not let others carry it for you. I am sure if you are going with an organized group they will tell you the same thing. But, in the hustle and bustle of traveling, these instructions don’t seem very important. After all, if you are traveling together, what could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, that is OK probably 98% of the time, but you don’t want to be in that 2%. Here is what one agent shared with us:
A lady was traveling from the U.S. to Split, Croatia on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. The group was flying on Air France from the U.S. and would change planes in Paris for the Croatia Airlines flight to Split. On the overnight flight the woman got confused as to time and accidentally took too much of her medication. Not fatally, then goodness, but enough to knock her out. When she landed at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, they could not wake her up, so the paramedics came and took her to the infirmary at the airport. She finally recovered after a few hours (by now the rest of the group had gone on, and since her husband only had a transit visa he had to go on ahead as well). So now that she had recovered the real problem arose……….she had no passport!
She would not be allowed to travel without it, so she had to spend the night until it could be arranged for her husband to send the passport back to her from Medjugorje (not an easy task, either). Then she had to make her own flight arrangements to Split and take a taxi to her final destination. Not only did she have the extra expense but she lost part of her time in Medjugorje. Not a good way to start her pilgrimage.
Boker tov again … the same day…….. I am trying to catch up to our trip!
We got up and were out of our apartment and “on the street” at 5:50 A.M.! We were hoping to find a cab and to reach the Holy Sepulchre for the 6:30 A.M. Mass we had learned of online. No eggs, no peanut butter, Nada … my culinary expertise did not have time to create a “masterpiece” … LOL.
It took a while to hail a cab and it took even longer to get the cab driver to the Lion’s Gate. He kept wanting to drop us off at each gate he came to (I just got here and I think I knew more than him …or maybe he just wanted to get rid of us!).
We had planned to begin our day Walking and Praying the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross) to the Holy Sepulchre where the last of the Five Stations of the Cross are. Running short of time, and because most of the Shrines of the Stations were not open yet, we did walk the “Way of the Cross” inour own silent Prayers as we tried to figure it out.
Entering the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, we had no idea at all of what to expect, even after researching. We immediately found ourselves just inside the Holy Doors, kneeling and venerating the Stone of Unction where they prepared the Body of Jesus Christ, after his death, for theBurial in the Tomb. This was an incredible beginning to our day and nothing we had ever expected.
editor’s note: Often, when on pilgrimage, the unexpected turns out to better than what you had planned, thanks be to God.
Because it was early, there were no crowds and each of us had time to spend and Pray and venerate at this most Sacred Stone …it was overwhelming to say the least. We then went left, as if we knew what we were doing. I guess that we did, because it took us to the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre and the Tomb of Our Lord … it was not open yet. We could hear that Mass was just finishing inside as people waited outside the closed doors. We followed the signs to continue to the Chapel of Mary Magdalene , which is directly next to the Sacristy for the Holy Sepulchre. There was a Priest approaching the Sacristy so I stopped to ask him for advice. He looked very Irish (and it turned out thathe was). I asked about the Mass Schedule and he told us to go to the Latin Calvary Shrine and explained to us how to get there (as he was Vesting). He told me that the Mass was going to be in Italian and I told him that it didn’t matter. He also told me that the Mass scheduled at the Holy Sepulchre was reserved for that morning and that we would have to stand outside the Shrine. Once again, he told me and said “You must go to the Mass at Calvary” … walk up the stairs”.
We did so, and we never would have found this area of the Holy Sepulchre on our own, as we climbed the steep stairs to what we found to be “GOLGATHA” … “CALVARY” … the spot where Our Lord, Jesus Christ, died on the Cross for each and every one of us … we never expected this (why would anyone?).
As we reached the top of the steep staircase, we realized that we were standing at THE FOOT OF CALVARY! Mass was still ongoing there, so we quietly waited on the Greek side and, after the Final Blessing, we went up to the Foot of the Cross and Venerated the Stone at the actual Foot of the Crosswhere our Lord, Jesus Christ, died!
It was a unique and emotional moment for each of us, individually, as we took our turn in this most Sacred of Sacred Places. I was last, and, when I stood up, a new Priest (the one I had met) was already prepared to begin Mass on the Latin Side. In the beginning, there were very few in theCongregation and we were able to sit on the bench near the spot where Jesus was Nailed to the Cross … directly beside the Altar. I tried to concentrate on Mass as my mind raced and I tried to comprehend where we were at the moment and what, exactly, was going on. At Communion, it all hit me, and I broke down crying as I never have in my life … fully aware of my surroundings and the Sacrifice that Our Lord, Our God, made to give each and every one of us Eternal Life! The experience and the emotions I felt ….. I don’t know that I can ever explain as I am certain that Susan, Johna & Sam feel the same.
Gathering our wits together, we exited down the long and steep staircase, knowing that we still had a little time before the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre would open so that we would be able to enter and venerate the actual Tomb of our Lord. So we began (with our Holy Sepulchre Map) to explore the remainder of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
We decided to grab a quick capuccino first and Sam bought a loaf of fresh bread and we all enjoyed our breakfast!!
We then went to the Church of Saint Helena and the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross. Both were deep down below the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. The story of Saint Helena finding the Holy Cross of Jesus is a good one and you are able to find it all on the internet.
Next, we went to the Prison of Christ, where they kept him before His Crucifixion. It was closed, so we made our way back to the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. We got in line behind about only 12 pilgrims and waited for the Chapel and Sacred Site to open as Mass had just finished. We let three Religious Sisters from another Order in front of us. Of course, they would or could not talk to us “as different”, but we respected them. Again, waiting for the unknown, our inner excitement grew as they opened the door to the Sacred Site and the Orthodox allowed no more than 6 people to enter.
The first Chapel is the Chapel of the Angel. This is where the Rock that the Angel moved away from the Tomb of Our Lord at the time of his Resurrection. This is where Mass is celebrated and it is very, very small. We could see from outside, through a small opening window and into the actual Tomb where three or four small people could get in and kneel before Our Lord to Venerate the Place where they Laid Our Savior to rest. It worked out well, so that Susan and I were able to enter the Tomb together, along with one other Religious Sister. We were able to venerate the Tomb of Our Lord … words cannot explain … nor were Susan and I talking about it together at the moment. Susan and I later talked that, while sad, it was not as sad as the site at Calvary … because this was also the place of Our Lord’s resurrection. Johna and Sam also were able to experience this after Susan and me. They each have expressed (and have kept private thoughts) of the experience but both were affected by the experience.
I can’t imagine the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem and Bethlehem during the High Season, with the multitude of crowds who push, shove, yell and jockey for position at these Sacred Places. We all feel Blessed to have been here “off season” and early so that we missed having to stand in long lines and to have had the time we did in these Sacred Places this day.
We decided to go to the Wailing (Western) Wall in the Jewish quarter. It was hot and there was a long line at the wall, so we skipped it, and headed for the birthplace of the Blessed Virgin near the exit, the Church of Saint Anne.
We walked by a bakery that had fresh bread and a takeout fafalel store. I said let’s get it now, but I was vetoed by the others, who said that we could get it later.
The Chapel was very near the exit and the Bakery was the other way so Sam said he would go back and get the bread and fafalel. It was hot and I was hurting, so Sam went alone and we waited… and waited…..and waited. I figured he was talking to everyone he passed, so we all went back for him. We met him just at the next gate out, so off we went and found ourselves in the Muslim quarter. They looked at us a little funny so we quickly got a cab and were back to the apartment in 20 minutes. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and organising our next day and went to bed after we got back from dinner.
Another early day tomorrow.
God Bless all of you
Love Susan, Tom and the Kids
Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows
O Most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming
grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and
the death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion and
awaken in my heart a tender compassion for those suffering, as well as a
sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged from all undue
affections for the passing joys of this earth, I may long for the eternal
Jerusalem, and that henceforth all my thoughts and all my actions may be
directed toward this one most desirable object.
Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and
immaculate Mother of God.
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