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Canonization of John Paul II

For many, the only Pope they knew for many years was Pope John Paul II.  Having served as our Holy Father from 1978 until 2005, he was one of the longest reigning Popes in history.  Remembering his frail state of health at the end of his earthly life it is easy to forget how young and dynamic he was back when he first became Pope. A man who like to hike, ski and even clown around a bit, he was a bit of a change from Popes of the past.

Certainly his role on the world stage was unique:  helping to bring down the fall of Communism in his native Poland and traveling to over 124 countries set him apart from is predecessors.

With such a popular Pope it became obvious that there would be pressure to elevate him to Sainthood as early as possible.  One obstacle was removed by Pope Benedict XVI, that of the five year waiting period before the process could begin.

JP II Mexico CityCertainly he elevated many to Sainthood himself.  Here is a photo we took in 2005 when he Canonized Saint Juan Diego in Mexico City.  Although his health had obviously begun to fail he still traveled half-way across the world for this event.

The pathway to Sainthood is obviously well under way, and that means lots of speculation as to when it will take place. Many people are hoping for October, while others say it just can’t be before December since that takes too much time to prepare for such an event and still others say it won’t be until next year.  We know Pope Francis is a man of unexpected surprises, so I would not bet on any of these dates.  He does what he wants, when he wants, and that will be the case here as well.

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Summer Organ Recitals at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

During the months of July and August the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. will be offering their Summer Organ Recital Series. Performances are  Sundays, July through August, at 6:00 p.m. in the Crypt Church. Admission is free although there is a goodwill offering taken.  Here are the details of each performance at the Basilica and those who are performing.

July 7            Michael Lodico        St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square

July 14         Peter Latona   Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

July 21        Timothy Duhr     Holy Trinity Parish, Georgetown

July 28       Benjamin Straley     Washington National Cathedral

August 4  Russell Weismann  Basilica of the Nat’l Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

August 11  Josh Stattford   Saint Paul Parish, K Street & Saint John the Beloved, McLean

August 18        Adam Detzner     Stanford University

 August 25  Benjamin LaPrairie    Basilica of the Nat’l Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

 

 

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Egypt in the News

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As we watch the events unfold in Egypt, it might be interesting to consider the reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Zeitoun  Here is a video concerning the apparitions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMEWxRB-1dc

Obviously we don’t encourage anyone to travel there right now, but it will be interesting to look back some day and ponder the significance of her appearance in this predominantly Muslim nation, with an ancient Coptic Christian minority..

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Pope Francis’ Summer Schedule Update

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We announced previously that there would be no Wednesday Public Public audiences in July but that is now extended through the month of August.   Nevertheless, Pope Francis will be busy.

On Monday July 8th he will travel to the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily.  It is to this island that many refugees from north Africa (only about 90 miles away) flee and often die in the attempt.   Those who do survive the trip then are held in temporary quarters which are filled beyond capacity and this naturally places a strain on local facilities. Recently some 10 immigrants drowned trying to reach the island.  On this trip  Pope Francis will be dropping a ceremonial wreath in the waters off the coast in memory of all who lost their lives on this perilous journey through the years. 

Plans were previously announced for him to travel to Castel Gandolfo on Sunday, July 14th to lead the Angelus.  Normally the public attends the Angelus when the Pope says it, either in Rome or Castel Gandolfo.  However, we are trying to confirm that this is still on his schedule.  Also, we’ve heard that Pope Francis will be in Castel Gondolfo, as previous popes  have, for the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), but are still trying to verify that.  If you have any information please let us know.

He will travel to World Youth Day in Rio from July 21st through July 30th.

So if you had planned to see Pope Francis in Rome this summer we think you will probably be disappointed.  We don’t expect the weekly Papal audiences to begin before September.

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Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome

This is one of the Church’s most popular feast days, especially in Rome.  The feast is on June 29th and will be celebrated with fireworks at Castel Sant Angelo beginning at 9:30 p.m.  The feast is also celebrated with the ancient tradition of floral designs laid out in the Piazza Pio XII in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica made of salt crystals and colored sawdust.  The two displays will depict the Sistine Chapel and the other one will show Saints Peter and Paul. A third picture, made up entirely of flowers, will be to honor the Pope and Saint Francis of Assisi.

For more information on the flower festival and its origins click here (in Italian, use the Google Translate button)

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Inspirational New Catholic Documentary

Be part of this exciting event!  A new film is set to be released this fall outlining the life of Brother Joseph Zoetti, a humble servant of the Lord and his creation of  over 125 life-like models of various shrines and holy sites throughout the world. This is nothing short of miraculous considering that some of the materials used came from a train derailment that “just happened” to be nearby and provided him with a source of crushed marble. And he did all this in his spare time during a tumultuous era in the deep South of the U.S. which had a tiny Catholic population.

Owen Reid who plays a young Brother Joseph
Here you see Owen Reid, who plays a young Brother Joseph, practicing horse back riding before shooting a scene in Franklin, Tenn.

The documentary entitled “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” tells his story from the time his mother died, he emigrated to the U.S., served in many humble ways and created on the country’s most unique attractions.  It includes voluminous archival materials, key interviews, stylized re-enactments and storybook illustrations.  

A truly uplifting movie for our times,   it is a powerful testament to this humble little hunchback who did so much with so little up until the time of his death in 1961.

Head Abbot Cletus Meagher and Producer Carol Ann Vaughan
Producer Carol Ann Vaughn Cross and Abbot Cletus Meagher of Saint Bernard Abbey review archival materials

The film makers are looking for supporters to help make its release an even greater success by contributing in small or large amounts.  Funds will help pay for rare archival footage (like the only known motion-picture footage of Brother Joseph, captured in a Paramount Pictures newsreel and unseen for 70 years) and post-production services (like color grading) to deliver as polished a final product as possible.  Their goals are modest, only $10,000, of which almost one third has already been raised.  By contributing you can become a part of the New Evangelization and possibly even get your name mentioned in the film credits!

We encourage you to visit the following link to find out about their efforts and to help in any way possible.  

Click here to learn how you can be involved.

Check out the press release for more information about the film.

If you ever have the opportunity we encourage you to visit the Grotto.  You can learn more about the Grotto by clicking this link on our main website.

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Lourdes Grotto to remain closed for several weeks

The flooding at the Shrine at Lourdes, France has proven to be much more devastating than the floods of 2012.  Mathias Terrier, the sanctuary’s communications director, has indicated that it will be several weeks, if not longer, before the Shrine will be open to pilgrims.  

Click here for a video showing the damage.

Naturally this is a huge disappointment to those who already had trips planned here.  Those going with an organized group should contact their tour operator or group organizer to find out what changes have been made to their itinerary.

Most tour operators probably cannot cancel their tours at such short notice and we are not sure if trip cancellation/interruption insurance will come in to play in this case. Of course there are a few “cancel for any reason” policies that probably will cover this if you cancel. We invite any tour operators or insurance providers to comment on our blog.  

It is also an economic disaster for the hotels in Lourdes, many of which have suffered flood damage; and even those that have not will undoubtedly be hurt by the lack of visitors over the peak summer season.  

We will keep you updated with all the latest news from the shrine.

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Lourdes Shrine remains partially closed due to flooding

The latest news is that the Shrine is officially closed at the moment.  As of Tuesday most activities, including Masses at the Grotto, had been cancelled due to the the flooding that has taken place this week.  The only Masses were in the upper Basilica of the Shrine.  

The situation has worsened since then and now the Shrine is temporarily closed to pilgrims.

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World Youth Day phone lines now Open

World Youth Day 2013 Logo
World Youth Day 2013

A new phone line is now open for information on World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil.  The phone line is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., but is not toll-free so you will have to pay international phone charges.  Of course if you are attending WYD 2013 and are in Brazil it will not be an international call.    The number to call is (country code 55) + (21) 2122-8050.  Those answering the phones will be able to communicate in Portuguese (the language spoken in Brazil), English and Spanish.

  Click here for all the details.

You can also email them at: [email protected]  Emails are answered in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Polish.  Please note that many of the answers you are looking for are on the official World Youth Day website, so they ask that you go there first.

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Catholics need permission to do this on the beach!

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We’re talking about getting married on the beach, of course.

What bride-to-be hasn’t secretly imagined the incredibly romantic image of herself and her loved one on the beach standing in the sand, waves gently lapping, seagulls soaring overhead and loving family and friends looking on as they become man and wife. 

OK, let’s get back to reality.  You know that weddings on the beach are subject to sudden tropical showers, sand crabs, and  grandma’s walker getting stuck in the sand. And most importantly, as pointed out in a previous blog post, Catholic weddings must be performed on consecrated ground, so that pretty much rules out a beach wedding, right?  Not necessarily!  In the last few years some wise resort owners have decided that they are missing out on the Catholic wedding market.  One of these is the Gran Caribe Resort in Cancun, Mexico shown in the photos below.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel Gran Caribe Real
Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel Gran Caribe Resort
Altar at Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel Gran Caribe Resort
The Altar at Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at Gran Caribe Resort

To take much of the stress out of the wedding there are wedding planners who help to coordinate everything at your destination and also put you in touch with a local  Roman Catholic priest in good standing.  And, the prices seem to be a bargain compared to many other countries.

 

 

If you are thinking of an exotic setting you might also consider staying at a resort and getting married in a Catholic church nearby.  Some of these are either overlooking—or on—the ocean.   An example is Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  Their website clearly spells out the requirements,  and has contact information for those interested.  

Also, there are wedding destination firms that arrange Catholic weddings in Antigua, Barbados, Curacao, St Kitts & Nevis and St Lucia, with packages starting around $2.000. U.S. that include most everything for a small party. 

Here are the steps you need to prepare for your Catholic destination wedding:

Read moreCatholics need permission to do this on the beach!