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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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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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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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Budget airline Primera Air goes under leaving passengers stranded

 
 
Primera AirAs of October 1, they have ceased operations.  Primera air offered discount airfares from Stanstead, England to several cities including New York (Newark’s Liberty Airport), Boston, Washington DC and Toronto starting at a little under $200 each way.

Those already in their booked locations will have to arrange their own transportation back home.

The discount airline offered fares under $200 for Newark to U.K. flights but was unable to compete with several other discount carriers.

Those who purchased using credit cards should contact their credit card issuers for possible refunds.

If you purchased travel insurance (we always recommend that you do)……you may be able to get a refund from the issuer.  Squaremouth is what we recommend to compare policies.

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August 1st & 2nd The Great Pardon of Assisi

From the evening of August 1st until sundown on August 2nd each year, you may take part in the Great Pardon of Assisi.  When Jesus and the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Francis in the year 1216 in the tiny Portuincula (the chapel he built) Jesus asked Francis what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis humbly replied that he would like to obtain an indulgence for all those who entered the church, who were truly contrite and had confessed their sins.  Jesus granted him this wish but stipulated he should first present his request to the Pope.  He obtained approval from Pope Honorius III and this came to be known as the Portuincula Indulgence, or the Pardon of Assisi.

If you happen to be in Assisi today and tomorrow it is a great opportunity; however,  you can earn this pardon for yourself or for any departed soul at your local Parish church.  

The conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi, as it is properly called, are as follows:  

1.  Sacramental Confession within 8 days either before or after.  

2.  Participation in Holy Mass and Eucharist.  

3.  Recitation of the Apostles Creed, Our Father, and a prayer for the Holy Father’s intention.

The Portiuncula or Tiny Portion inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels AssisiThe Portuincula is now inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels at the foot of the town of Assisi.  

Almost all tours stop here either on the way to Assisi or upon leaving.  The Basilica is immense and the Portuincula is dwarfed by its surroundings.  As you can see here, it is quite small but open to visitors.

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Hurricane Lane threatens Hawaii..will your travel insurance cover you? Is it too late to buy?

Hurricane symbolHurricane Lane was first named a tropical storm on August 15, 2018, and has developed into a hurricane in the Central Pacific. The storm is tracking through the Pacific and is heading toward Hawaii.  Most beaches and tourist attractions have begun to close as of Wednesday August 22.  The danger is not so much the wind as it is the torrential rainfall that is expected.

Many travel insurance policies include coverage for hurricanes that impact travel, as long as the policy was purchased before the storm was named.

Travelers who had a policy in place prior to August 15, 2018 may have coverage for Hurricane Lane, including Trip Cancellation and Travel Delay.

If it was purchased after that point, it won’t cover hurricane-related travel changes, said Steven Benna, a marketing specialist with travel insurance comparison website Squaremouth.

The Hurricane Lane Travel Insurance Information Center explains coverage related to the storm.

This database is regularly updated by Squaremouth’s travel insurance experts with answers frequently asked questions, official provider position statements, travel alerts and notices, and other information as the storm develops. Information is subject to change at any time.

Many airlines are offering to waive change fees, etc. so if you have booked air it is best to check with the airline.  Only one cruise line is expected to be in Hawaii at this time:  Norwegian’s Pride of America, which bases the ship in Hawaii year-round and cruises the islands.  Their schedule has been modified.

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