Want to help the Christians in the Holy Land?

Select to Give is a not for profit foundation, founded by Select International Tours.

Select is an award winning, thirty year old, faith based tour operator specializing in group trips to Europe, the Holy Land, Canada, Mexico, South America and the USA.

The Faith Travel Association awarded the “Impact Award” to Select International Tours for innovation and quality in travel.

Select to Give Foundation exists to help the Christians of the Holy Land and the Middle East!  Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, we support innovative community efforts to help Christians achieve a safer and more prosperous existence.

Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land
Palestinian Christian children in the Holy Land

Their organization’s goal is to recognize and maximize human potential in Christian communities by offering assistance in establishing programs that provide opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, social justice and community building.

For more information check out their website.

Exciting News from Rhoda Wise Home & Grotto

One of the modern day mystics we do not hear enough about is Servant of God Rhoda Wise.  Her story is amazing (including an early encounter with a young girl who was healed after visiting here and  would later become Mother Angelica).

As her path to Sainthood continues, we want to update you on some of the improvements being made to her home & Grotto in Canton, Ohio, which is now a shrine.

Because of a generous donor, they have been able to purchase the three city parcels between the Rhoda Wise property and First Tee.

If you have visited there, perhaps you remember the blue house and garage on that property.  Thanks to a second generous donor they were able to demolish both buildings.   They will use the extra space for additional parking this year.  Thank you, generous donors!!!

SAVE THE DATE!  July 7, 2018 is the 70th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Rhoda Wise.   There will be a 10:00 am Mass at St. Peter’s in Canton, an update on the Cause, and more.  Possibly much more!!!

Watch rhodawise.com for updates especially as July 7th approaches.  Be sure to sign up for EMAIL NEWS on the website so you won’t be out of the loop.  News will be posted on their Facebook page RHODAWISEHOME as well.

Servant of God, Rhoda Wise, pray for us!!!

It happened again!

Well it happened again:  Every so often we get an email like this one that we just received:

“Hi there
Are the Holy land tours still operating?

The news reports and government travel sites are warning people not to travel there.”

Here is a reply to that question from Edita, president of Select International Tours:

Edita, owner of Select International Tours, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
Edita, president of Select International Tours, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

 

” I am in Holy Land now with a group from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of 87 people.

We have over 40 groups traveling this year.

It’s safer than streets of any major US city.”

Thank you, Edita

This has been going on for many, many years….and as you can see by the reply above, you are probably safer in the Holy Land  than most countries in the world.

 

It saddens us when we think of how many people have been robbed of the joy of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land because of media reports, government travel advisories….or just well-meaning friends and relatives.
In fact, the number of visitors in 2017 increased to a record number…over 3 1/2 million visitors.
So we encourage you to find out for yourself….ignore the doubters and scare-mongers.  Go to the Holy Land!

 

New Retreat Centers coming to the U.S.A.

In this era it is very hard to avoid the noise and distractions of everyday life.  Cell phones, 24 hours a day media, and just getting by can leave us feeling empty….whether single, married raising a family, or “empty-nesters” we all need to re-charge our spiritual batteries.  And getting away from all the noise can be a great way to do that.

There are many opportunities for retreats in most countries, including the U.S.  Now there are three more retreat centers, all run by Communities of Prayer, a non-profit organization.

Their story is a great one, and we encourage you to read it here.

Been to the Holy Land? Ever thought of going back?

For most, a trip to the Holy Land can be one of the most memorable experiences of their lifetime.  If you have traveled there, and seen where Jesus was born, lived, preached, died and was resurrected, no doubt the pilgrimage brought the Bible to life and was a most memorable experience.

But, as is often the case in most pilgrimages, there are some sites where you wish you had more time to stay, other sites perhaps that just were not included in the itinerary due to time constraints, or other reasons you wish you could have done more.

Well, here is an opportunity for those of you who have already visited the Holy Land to go back.…and do just that.  See some places you did not get to see on that first trip, or spend more time at some of those that you did see.  And, some places that have been just recently discovered, such as the town of Mary Magdalene

We have found a pilgrimage just for you……led by Stephen J. Binz along with your spiritual director, Father Michael Alello.

Stephen Binz is a biblical scholar and author of over 50 books. 

Father Michael is Pastor of St. Louis King of France Church in Baton Rouge, LA.  Check out some of his homilies.

The pilgrimage will take place in October, 2018.  You can find details about the pilgrimage here.  It also includes an optional extension to Jordan (we highly recommend it).

Fire at Sacre di San Michele, Italy

Fire at Sacra di San Michele fratelli-italia.it
Photo fratelli-italia.it

One of Italy’s oldest and most revered, the Sacre di San Michelle has drawn visitors from the world over. Unfortunately,  according to reports in Italian Media, in January 2018, a fire that started in a construction site on the roof of the monastery spread to parts of the Abbey, but due to the efforts of the local fire brigade they were able to prevent them extending to the church and the remaining part of the monastery.

We do not know when the monastery might again be open for visitors.

Theology of Beauty Pilgrimage to Italy through Faith, Fashion & Food with Father Leo Patalinghug and Leah Darrow

 

July 7-16, 2018 (with optional extension to Rome July 16-20)

You might call this a Catholic pilgrimage for foodies and fashion buffs.  You will see Milan, the “Fashion Capital of the World” see the original painting of the Last Supper, travel to Turin, then Bologna (some of the best food in all of Italy), enjoy a cooking lesson (you will eat what you cook!), on to Verona, ending in Venice ( a full day in Venice) and much more.

With Mass every day and inspiring talks, this will be one of the best experiences of your life.

For those who wish, there is an optional extension to Rome:  the group will travel by train from Venice to Rome where they will spend three days in “The Eternal City” visiting Saint Peter’s Basilica, Saint Mary Major, attend the weekly Papal Audience, Tre Fontane and more.

Father Leo Patalinghug, host of "Grace before Meals"
Father Leo Patalinghug, host of “Grace before Meals”

 

Your group leaders:

                    Fr. Leo Patalinghug

TV Show Host on EWTN
Author of “Epic Food Fight”
Host of GraceBeforeMeals.com

 

                  Leah Darrow

Leah DarrowAuthor of “The Other side of Beauty”

LeahDarrow.com

 

 

We expect this trip to sell out quickly.  You can get a $100 discount when you register….be sure to mention code CTguideClick here for all the details of this exciting pilgrimage.

 

Save Money & Time with Nightjet overnight trains

We have always advocated train travel over air within Europe:  it is spacious, more relaxed, you get to see things at ground level….and you may even meet some Europeans!  There is much more to discover down here rather than at 30,000 feet above the earth.

Another recommendation we also have….if it fits your itinerary, consider an overnight train.  No long waits at the airport check-in counter…..and, you can cover a pretty good distance while at the same time saving the cost of a hotel room.  Not to mention you arrive in the city center….no costly taxi from the airport into town.

One of the best of these services is Nightjet……offered by Austrian Rail, and has service in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.  They offer a variety of options from couchettes to sleepers.  And they even offer wheelchair compartments.

Even the couchettes are comfortable, although we recommend compartments if you can afford to spend a little extra.

If you are using a Eurail Pass, you will need to pay an additional reservation fee, much as you do with many high-speed trains.  Still the costs are quite reasonable, and you don’t have a hotel bill to worry about!  And, if you have ever slept on a train, you know there is nothing like it.  Could be one of the best nights’ sleep you ever get!

Compartments come with complimentary breakfast.

Click here for the official website of Nightjet.

Here is an in-depth review of Nightjet from “The Man in Seat 61”, an expert on European train travel.

Photos courtesy Nightjet

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 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.

The colorful dancers add a festive atmosphere to the Celebration of the feast day.
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 embraced.

There is more to the Shrine than just the Basilica holding the miraculous Tilma of Juan Diego.  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.

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,

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

The atmosphere of this feast day celebration is so joyful that it might give the appearance to some that it is more carnival than religious event…..because the Mexican people do not pigeon-hole their faith into just one hour on Sundays.

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, 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 or Catholic TV networks.

The Need for travel guides when traveling to new places

THE NEED FOR TRAVEL GUIDES WHILE TRAVELING TO NEW PLACES

When traveling to a new place, you want to be sure to get the most from your experience.  This is where a travel guide becomes essential. Travel guides are available in various options. Traditionally, travel guides were available as guidebooks. They may include information regarding geographical location of sights, accommodation, transportation, maps, restaurants and activities. There are different kinds of guidebooks available focusing on various aspects according to the visitor’s personal needs, for example, from relaxation to adventure travel, or focusing on travelers with different incomes, or types of diet. Some guides also include information about economy, currency or historical and culture knowledge.

The traditional Frommer's travel guide
The traditional Frommer’s travel guide

In recent times, it was revealed that Google purchased the venerable “Frommer’s” travel guides, and soon thereafter it was announced that the book form publication of travel guide would be discontinued. The purchase was undoubtedly aimed at gaining the large numbers of social media followers that Frommer’s had amassed over the years, because later the rights to the travel guides were sold back to Arthur Frommer and are now published once again.  In this modern era of digitalization, the main source of information is internet and sites such as TheCatholicTravelGuide.com.

For starters, relying on websites alone is not enough…..and also time consuming. Therefore carrying a hand book is much easier comparatively then searching the internet for scattered information. It is therefore suggested that a traveler use a handbook and internet side by side.

A private tour guide is also another option for travel guidance, where a person provides assistance and information instead of a traveler having to use a book.

Benefits of a Local Travel Guide

  1. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Generally tour guides are recruited from within the local community. They have an excellent knowledge of the area’s history, traditions and culture, and offer up-to-date factual information while also answering any queries about the site/attraction. They make sure that the foreigner doesn’t feel out of place

  1. ACCESS TO THINGS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED OTHERWISE

It is very likely when travelling with a travel guide or tour guide, you can have access to things you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. For example, if you are traveling in Rome and desire to see the Vatican, you will have to wait for hours in a queue but with a guide you can save plenty of time. A local tour guide will also best understand the quickest ways to get around the area……just like you know how best to get around in your home town.

  1. THE FLEXIBILITY ACCORDING TO YOUR NEED
Local guides help tailor the experience to your requirements
Local guides help tailor the experience to your requirements

When thinking of tour guides a thought might pop up to one’s mind that a tour guide will offer standard tour packages. But what one might not know is that there are many private tour guides who will tailor the experience to include the sights and attraction according to your requirements instead of taking the standard tourist route. Hiring a private tour guide gives a traveler an individual experience adding a personalized touch while also avoiding the crowds. In addition, in most instances, the tour price includes discounted admission into the attractions as well as subway, bus, taxi and even boat fares – a fact that can counteract the cost of hiring a private travel guide to the budget traveler.

  1. Dealing with Problems

Travelers often have to deal with the problems of bureaucracy, such as obtaining permits for activities like fishing, climbing or camping. The language barrier is one of the biggest issues that can arise making this even more problematic. This is where a tour guide can be really helpful, as he can speak the language, has a better understanding of operation of local systems and is less likely to be cheated. The tour guide also can help to ensure that you are not conned by shopkeepers and taxi drivers, and acts as a deterrent to people who might otherwise hassle you, such as street vendors and beggars. Travelers might even have to think of visa problems, for example, the Dubai business visa has changed over the years and there is some confusion about how to go about applying for the visa. These problems can be overcome by Dubai Visa Services, as they simplify the procedure.

  1. SAFETY

Professional tour guide are trained in first aid. They also have knowledge of weather conditions, terrain and aware of danger zones. These guides will help keep you safe when undertaking adventure activities such as mountain climbing, safari trips, scuba diving, trekking and whitewater rafting.

 

  1. UNWANTED SERVICES

In developing countries like Egypt (and even some developed countries), many tour guides earn extra income through commission from other businesses, such as shops and restaurants. They might pursue the clients to purchase goods or services they do not really want. To avoid this it is also recommended to read a guidebook before the start of travel or access to the internet while you are on your tour.

  1. COST

Private tour guides can be expensive, particularly if yours is only a small group, as the cost usually is per day or trip, not per person. If you are traveling alone, it is more economical to purchase a good-quality guidebook and read as much information as possible about the site you are visiting beforehand.

CONCLUSION

In a nutshell, tour guides or travel guides can be really helpful while traveling to a new place, offering benefits and being cost effective. Keeping the above factors in mind, it is essential use internet, Smartphone, travel guide booklet and hiring a private tour guide side by side and not relying on any of these individually as each and every option has its own merits and demerits.

 

Editor’s note:  There are two things of which your should be aware when arranging for a local guide: 

1.  Be sure they are licensed, if that is a requirement.  For example, a tour guide in Rome who may be licensed for Italy, but not for the city of Rome, is can be shut down in the middle of your tour, and you will lose the tour and your money!

2.  It is important to find out if the guide is going to present things from a Catholic perspective.  For example, a visit to the Garden Tomb in Israel is interesting, but the Catholic Church recognizes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the actual burial place of Jesus.

Author Bio: Brenda Cagara

 

Brenda CagaraWhile Brenda Cagara got experience in setting up a business in Dubai with the top business consultants, she managed to flourish her writing career as well. In the past five years, she has emerged as a brilliant writer and writes on nearly every niche. Her office job expertise lies in business consultancy (Riz & Mona), visa processing, trade license, trade mark, local sponsoring, product registration and bank account opening. The reflection of her success in this field is often is witnessed in her writing pieces written on business, visa and finance.

 

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