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2021 proclaimed a Holy Year in Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, site of the tomb of Saint James (often referred to as Saint Jacob in Spain). has proclaimed the year 2021 a Holy Year at the shrine.   The last time the Holy Year was celebrated here was in 2010……it will not occur here again  until 2027.

A Holy Year is proclaimed when the 25th of July (Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Saint James) falls on a Sunday, which happens to occur in 2021.  This originated in 1122 with Pope Callixtus II, and was later confirmed by Pope Alexander III through the Bull “Regis aeterni” from 1179, granting it perpetuity.

On December 31, 2020, according to the rite…after the reading of the pope’s message… Archbishop Julián Barrio knocked on the door three times with a hammer and the door was opened.

According to tradition, pilgrims who walk to Santiago de Compostela during a Holy Year and Pass through the Holy Door of the Santiago Cathedral are granted a plenary indulgence.  To gain this indulgence you must not only walk through the Holy Door in Santiago de Compostela’s cathedral to the Apostle’s tomb, but also confess your sins, pray for the Pope, attend Mass, and take communion.

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Free Eye-Opening conference Sunday to support Christians in the Holy Land

You know how passionate we are about supporting Christian families in the Holy Land, who suffer persecution and are, sad to say, a minority in the land of Jesus’ birth.

Please join a FREE 90-minute online conference called Renew Hope for the Holy Land on Sunday, November 15, 2020, at 7 PM EST to learn about our Christian brothers and sister living in the Holy Land.

Registration for this event is FREE and during it, you will hear from Christians who are living in the Holy Land right now as well as Jeff Cavins, Gus Lloyd, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio and many other prominent speakers, evangelists, and authors.

This will be an eye-opening introduction to the situation our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land face every day and will end with a time to ask questions. Learn more at https://selecttogive.org/hope/

Again, registration is free, visit https://selecttogive.org/hope/ to learn more and register for FREE.

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Hopeless? Turn to Saint Philomena

One of the most popular saints among Catholics is Saint Philomena, patroness of impossible causes.  As Saint John Vianney said: “To Saint Philomena God refuses nothing.”   Or as Pope Gregory XVI said:  “Whatever you ask from her, she will obtain for you”.

Her shrine in Italy at Mugnano de Cardinale, Avellino, is a short distance from Naples.  Churches around the world will honor her on her Feast Day August 11th.

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Ban on cruising in U.S. waters extended

The Centers for Disease Control had banned cruising in U.S. waters through July 24, 2020. For those cruise ports that are in U.S.waters, that meant no cruises departing from the U.S. whatsoever.  That would also apply, of course, to Transatlantic crossings docking in the U.S.

Under the new extension, cruising will not resume until October 1 at the earliest.  We suspect that even this date is highly likely to change.

The Canadian government has also come down hard:  it is banning all large cruise ships that carry more than 100 people until Oct 31, 2020.  Again we suspect that will not be the last we hear.

The Miami Herald reports that since June 23, some 1,000 cruise ship crew members have developed either confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus while living aboard mostly empty ships waiting off the U.S. coast.  Click here for the video from the Miami Herald  (external link).

Although this is a disappointment for passengers, it is an absolute tragedy for many crew members.  These men and women are often from impoverished countries and rely on earnings to help support their families back home.  While quarantined  in port, they are not receiving any pay…and in many cases they are not able to return to their home countries.  It is a nightmare scenario.

We would hope there might be some way to help these crew members….and we would like to hear from you if you have any information or are aware of any organized efforts to help them financially.  We’d be happy to post it on our site.  Of course, your prayers should come first.

Find out about cruises for Catholics on our cruise page.

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A virtual pilgrimage on the Way of St. James (Santiago de Compostela)

Walking The Way of Saint James is a wonderful experience for those who are able to make it.  It has been closed during the Coronavirus pandemic, but is now back open.

But for those who cannot make it, The Camino de Santiago Virtual Challenge is the next best thing.

Here is how it works:

♦ You set up your own deadline (up to 78 weeks) and you can do it solo or as a team. Cross the finish line and you will receive a “finishers” medal (if you walk the physical Way, you normally have a passport stamped at various places along the way and get “finished” when you reach Santiago de Compostela.

♦  Each time you complete a distance based exercise activity such as running, walking, cycling etc you advance along the map from France to Spain.

It is a great way to stay fit during these strange times of partial shut-downs.

The catch is, it’s not free.  It costs to participate (includes the medal)  You can find out more and sign up here.

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Are there really Catholic Masses on Holland America cruises?

We know that many of you cruisers appreciate the fact that you are able to attend daily Mass when sailing on Holland America Cruise Lines.We recently received the following email from a prospective Holland America passenger:

” Hi there,

I’m looking at cruise options and would like to make sure a priest is available for Sunday mass. A number of reviews I have seen say that the Holland America Line offer mass on all cruises however when I phoned them they said it’s not always the case. Can anyone confirm for sure?

Many thanks,
Elise “

Since Holland America does claim to have a Catholic priest on board all of its cruises (to our knowledge, they are the only U.S.-based cruise line to do so), we wrote to Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America to verify this infomation…..not really sure if or when we would get a response.  To our pleasant surprise, we received a reply within a few hours, and here it is:

” Thank you for your recent correspondence with Holland America Line regarding the clergy onboard our ships. I am reaching out to you on behalf of Mr. Ashford.  

We sincerely apologize about any confusion regarding the religious services held onboard our ships. We are pleased to inform you that a Catholic priest is on board each ship at all times and a Catholic mass is held daily. The only reason we would not have a Catholic priest onboard is due to an illness or possible travel delay. The Daily Program provided onboard will list the times and locations.

We thank you for giving us this opportunity to review your concerns, and assisting us in our efforts to meet our goal of consistent excellence. ”  

For more information on how to find a cruise with a Catholic priest on board click here.

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My loving tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

I am a person who does not like crowds, so you would think that attending the Feast Day celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on December 12 would be something I would avoid at all costs.  After all, well over one million (some estimates say 5 million) people pack the shrine on the Feast Day.  And yet I have always relished the times that I have been blessed to attend.

Join me as I reminisce about my first visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. On the evening prior to the Feast Day, those of us in our tour group who were more adventuresome decided to taxi to the Basilica. Traditionally many famous Mexican singers, performers and high ranking politicians show up for the festivities that start around 10:00 p.m. This lovely tribute goes on deep into the night and the love songs (Las Mananitas”) sung to Our Lady and the devotion the locals show for her is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  These are memories I’ll hold deep in my heart forever.

On the Feast Day itself (December 12th) we excitedly boarded our tour bus to take us to the Basilica.   But what a surprise was waiting for us!  Buses were restricted from getting too close to the shrine and we had to be dropped off quite a few blocks from there.  At this point we walked the rest of the way….something that turned out to be a blessing.  As usual, God’s plans are better than ours.

The Feast Day is a family event..here a man brings his young child to the Basilica.
The Feast Day is a family event..here a man brings his young child to the Basilica.

As we walked along with throngs of others all headed in the same direction, we experienced a real feeling of pilgrimage; unity with our fellow Catholics.  Those alongside us were mostly Mexican pilgrims, both individuals and whole families, carrying placards of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many had walked for miles, and sometimes for days, to get here.  We passed young people rousing themselves from sleep as they had camped out overnight.  These heartwarming images help you to appreciate how universal and vibrant our Catholic Faith is.

There is more to the Shrine than just the Basilica that contains the miraculous Tilma of Juan Diego, although that is certainly the high point.  I think many of us were surprised that the grounds encompass both the new and old Basilica (now leaning as if it will fall any moment).

You can also see the room where Saint Juan Diego lived out the rest of his life after the apparitions and his simple grave.

Upon entering the grounds where the Basilica is located, we were presented with a kaleidoscope of sights.  We were greeted by descendants of those original Aztecs dancing in the ancient dress as would have been worn at the pagan festivals prior to the apparitions to Juan Diego. The dancers reverently process in to the Basilica symbolizing the shift from the old pagan religion to the new religion of Christianity that they now so enthusiastically embrace.  The colorful dancers add a festive atmosphere to the Celebration of the feast day.

Mount Tepeyac overlooks the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mount Tepeyac overlooks the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

But what moved me the most was that in the midst of it all was the Monastery built atop the Hill of Tepeyac.  This is where Juan Diego first encountered Our Lady!  The climb is steep, but unlike the time of the apparitions, there are now stairs to make the climb relatively easy (remember you are at a high altitude, so go easy if you have breathing problems).

Even the youngest get to join in the dances.
Even the youngest get to join in the dances.

It might seem more like a carnival than a religious event….. because the Mexican people do not pigeon-hole their faith in to just one hour on Sundays.  It is a part of their daily life.

One of the native dancers
One of the native dancers outside the Basilica.

Faith, culture and daily life all come together in this magical land, and nowhere is that more evident than here on December 12th each year.

If you can’t make it to the Shrine on that date, try to find some of the many festivals nearby celebrating this Patroness of the Americas.  Or maybe you can catch some of the action on one of the Spanish-language TV networks (don’t even need to speak Spanish to enjoy the celebration)  or perhaps one of the Catholic TV networks such as EWTN.

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Do you know the tradition of the “Christmas Nail”?

One of the best things about Advent and Christmas is discovering the many varied traditions that families have passed down through the generations.  When you travel….whether locally or abroad….you will often find traditions that have endured for centuries.

SAtory of the Christmas NailOne of these traditions is the “Christmas nail”.   Supposedly resembling the nails used to attach Jesus to the cross, it is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas….that the birth of Christ was subsequently followed by His crucifixion and then His resurrection.

It is fitting that the nail is placed on a tree….since He was crucified by hanging Him on a tree.

Many families put the Christmas nail near the center of the tree, to remind them that Christ should be at the center of their lives.  It is a great way to bring Christ back in to Christmas.

Get one for your family and start a new tradition.

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Did you watch “The Chaperone” on PBS?

Shown primarily in the U.S., this P.B.S. show deals with a young girl..and her adult chaperone…traveling from Wichita, Kansas to New York City.  It has a dual plot….it turns out that the chaperone was an orphan raised in a Catholic orphanage in New York, and wants to find out who her birth mother was.  Reverend Mother dissuaded her…..but we won’t spoil the rest of the story for you.

The fact that the chaperone was an orphan in a Catholic orphanage immediately caught our interest….but we often fear the worst, as the media these days does not always reflect Catholic institutions in a positive light.  This was not the case here, though.

The show briefly touched on the fact that the chaperone was sent off by train to live with a family across the country at a young age….but few details were given.  That is understandable, since that was not central to the plot.

But you might be interested to know about the “Orphan Trains” and their connection with the New York Foundling Hospital, run by the Sisters of Charity.  These sisters helped re-locate thousands of orphans and abandoned children to Catholic families throughout the U.S. in the late 1800’s.

You can read more about the “Orphan Trains” here.

 

Spoiler alert!  Reverend Mother was right in the advice that she gave to the chaperone!

 

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New movie about Saint Faustina: Love and Mercy

In 1931, Jesus appeared to Faustina Kowalska as the King of Mercy. Clothed in a white robe and emanating two large rays from his side, one white and one red, He asked Faustina to paint this image of Himself along with the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in You” and to spread the message of mercy around the world. He promised that anyone who venerated this image would not perish. The gripping new docudrama LOVE AND MERCY presents unknown facts and recently disclosed documents that shed new light on the vision of Faustina.

Aided by scientific analysis, the film reveals how the Divine Mercy image and the Shroud of Turin were compared to one another to stunning conclusions. Dramatically recreated scenes between Saint Faustina and her confessor Father Michał Sopoćko traces the story of the origins of the image and how the devotion to Divine Mercy was born and spread throughout the world despite a ban of the devotion by the Catholic Church.

Shot in the U.S., Poland and Lithuania, the film is a compelling hybrid of dramatization and documentary-style storytelling that will leave viewers in awe of this spectacular account of divine friendship.

This great movie will appear in theaters in the U.S. beginning October 28, 2019.

You can find tickets and showtimes here at Fathom Events.