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Who says they don’t build beautiful churches any more?

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.

St Clare of Assisi Catholic Church in Charleston, SC
Saint Clare of Assisi Catholic Church

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

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Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster….do we have a new “incorruptable”?

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster
Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster

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.

And here is a great video concerning Sister Wilhelmina by Father Mark Goring.

Visitors viewing the body of Sister Wilhelmina (photo courtesy Alex Simone | News-Press NOW)

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.

Fortunately, volunteers and local law enforcement have been helping to keep the crowds under control…..but expect to wait in line quite a while.


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.

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U.S. Coast-to-Coast Eucharistic Pilgrimage 2024

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 on May 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:

Marian Route (North) Starting in Bemidji, Minnesota

Seton Route (East) Starting in New Haven, Connecticut

Juan Diego Route (South) Starting in Brownsville, Texas

Serra Route (West) Starting in San Francisco, California

The routes will all converge in Indianapolis on July 16 for the National Eucharistic conference scheduled for July 17-21.





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Faithful Catholic families….do we fight or flee?

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”.

Drag Queen Story Hours in Public Schools
(Photo: Twitter/@RealOmarNavarro)

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.

Families are moving to places where there are strong orthodox Catholic religious communities nearby, such as the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Clear Creek in Hulbert, Oklahoma; the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA; Little Portion Hermitage, in Berry, ARSubiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas and others.  Then, there is the growing Catholic Land Movement…a loose connection of those wishing to practice a simpler way of life.

And there are entire Catholic communities being formed, such as Veritatis Splendor in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas.

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.

It calls to mind “First They Came – by Pastor Martin Niemöller“.

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.

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FRANCE (Paris) Annual Paris to Chartres Pilgrimage

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.

Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral

The trek takes 8,000-10,000 pilgrims from the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, through the French countryside to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres. Participants brave the weather, blisters, and humble food and accommodations as an act of faith and an act of reparation in these modern times.

The theme for the 2019 Pilgrimage is “THE PEACE OF CHRIST THROUGH THE REIGN OF CHRIST”.

Pilgrims will meet in front of Notre-Dame de Paris at 6:00 am on June 22, 2023 where the journey of faith on foot begins.

Click here for the official Chartres Pilgrimage  website.

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Passport & Visa Problems and how to avoid them

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.

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Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage Jerusalem

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.

Layla tov
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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Latest News on the Baths at Lourdes Sanctuary

One of the most desired activities when visiting Lourdes is, of course, the baths.  Being immersed in the baths is something most pilgrims look forward to. However, as of late December 2022, the baths remain closed for actual immersion, but they have developed an alternative plan.

Here is what they say on their official site:

Getting water from the spring at Lourdes, FranceFor health reasons and to respect physical and social distancing, bathing is not possible at the moment.  Accompanied by the Hospitallers of Our Lady of Lourdes, the spiritual approach of the gesture of water consists of drinking Lourdes water and washing your face, in this symbolic place of swimming pools, full of stories, prayers and of thanks.


Furthermore, there is this information about the water from the taps at Lourdes:

The Taps

The Water taps at Lourdes
The water taps at Lourdes

Located at the bridge next to the arches, these taps have sufficient pressure to allow you to fill any containers that you might want to take back for yourself or your loved ones.  Be aware, for those traveling by air, most airlines and countries will not allow you to carry liquids on board.  Rules vary, and in many cases a small bottle inside a secure plastic bag may be allowed.

For U.S.A. travelers, 3.4-ounce containers (or smaller) and then placed in one clear, quart-sized bag.
Check with your airline first.

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Valuable Resources for Traveling with a Special Needs Child

Guest post by Rebecca Moore

Five Valuable Resources to Make Traveling with a Special Needs Child Less Stressful

kids-playing-863613_960_720Traveling is stressful regardless of circumstances, but traveling with children can be even more so. When your child has special needs, you may feel that traveling is overwhelming. Fortunately, programs and resources are available to make traveling with your child easier and more enjoyable for the whole family.

1. Kids Fly Safe: Reassure Yourself of Your Child’s Safety

Worrying about whether or not air travel is safe for your child is a concern many parents share, particularly with very young children. CARES is a company that produces a special aviation harness, not unlike the buckles found on a child’s car seat.

With children between 22 and 44 pounds, typical airplane seatbelts do not offer the range of protection they offer adults. This can be nerve wracking and may add to your stress. With CARES’s line of products, flight can feel much more secure for both you and your child.

2. SpecialGlobe: A Travel Site with Your Needs in Mind

SpecialGlobe is a site that allows you to book custom tickets and hotel rooms with special needs children in mind. Their custom itineraries include such things as nearby hospitals, suitable activities, where to find trained aides, or even what destinations provide special equipment you may need. Furthermore, the site allows parents to share experiences and tips so you can get a firsthand account of a destination from a parent like yourself.

3. Special Needs Travel Mom: Bloggers with Experience to Share

The most reassuring type of resource is one written by someone in your position. A vast number of parents write blogs about life with special needs children and, often, there will be a section on travel. One such blog is Special Needs Travel Mom, which offers tips, experiences, and links to further resources. Reading someone else’s successful experience can often be the best way to reduce the anxiety and stress of an upcoming trip.

4. Family Vacation Critic: Find the Best Vacation

Websites like Family Vacation Critic can provide lists of ideal travel destinations for children with special needs. With the research already done for you, the only stressful thing left is to pick a place. These lists often include places that host specific organizations. Splore, for example, is an organization in Moab, Utah that aims to provide outdoor fun for people of all ages and abilities. It is not the only one of its kind. Groups like this are cropping up everywhere with a goal to make the world a more fun and accessible place.

5. Basic Planning Sites: Don’t Forget the Basics

When caring for a special needs child, those needs are likely your top priority. While those are extremely important to consider when traveling, the basics shouldn’t be overlooked. Find the website of your airline; learn what useful features it has for you to ease your journey. Look at a seat map and be sure you are seated with your child, as some flights may not book seats together. Find a site withpacking tips so you can feel confident that you haven’t forgotten anything. And lastly, research your destination. Knowing all there is to know about where you are going will resolve much of your travel anxiety. Arriving in a location armed with a mental map of the nearest hospital or ASL travel guide is guaranteed to diminish your anxiety.


Traveling is both stressful and exciting. With the rapidly advancing world of special needs accommodations, travel with your child can be fun and rewarding rather than nerve-wracking.  With the right resources and preparation, you can focus more on the excitement.


About the author:

Rebecca Moore fractured her ankle in a bike accident in March 2015. Temporarily disabled, she soon felt isolated from her peers and was crushed to realize this is a common problem for people with disabilities. She went on to create AbleRise.net with a friend in an effort to provide more disability resources and make the world a more caring place.


Image via Pixabay by marianaviolante950


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Staying in a Chateau in France…a unique experience

Our stay in a Chateau in France:

Like many independent Catholic travelers, we like to experience the local culture of the places we visit.  For some reason, we don’t always seem that keen on B&B’s.  Perhaps it is because we feel less privacy when staying in someone else’s house rather than a hotel. Or maybe it’s because our main goal is to check out various shrines or churches so where we sleep is not that important.  We are not there to relax, which is a shame, but then that’s our purpose in visiting so many places:  to give you an idea of what they are like.

But in this case, when planning a trip to Normandy, we did want some free time to just relax and not constantly be on the go.  So, we decided to try a chateau just to see what it was like. We landed in Paris and  hopped a train (our favorite way to travel in Europe) to Rennes in Normandy, where we picked up our rental car.  From there it was a short drive to the Chateau de Bouceel, our choice for this trip.

Chateau-BouceelAs you can see, the setting was like something out of Downton Abbey (minus the staff & the British accent). The chateau itself was beautifully maintained and definitely had atmosphere.  We were told that for a few months during World War II (the summer of 1940), the chateau was briefly occupied by German army officers.  But they later moved elsewhere as the chateau did not have electricity at that time.

Our host, Count Régis de Roquefeuil, pointed out the front steps where his father, as a member of the French Resistance in World War II, was arrested by the Gestapo.  He was due to be shipped off to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he would no doubt be executed. However, the rail lines had been bombed, and since by now the Allies had landed on the Normandy beaches, he eventually was freed by the Allies. With all this history, and the beautiful surroundings, staying here was a unique experience.

Chateau de Bouceel book coverOur host had a book of cartoons (in French) detailing his father’s experiences during the war.   His father had dedicated the book as follows:

“To the brave young heroes from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia….who gave their life and without whom my dad wouldn’t have come back, this book wouldn’t exist….I wouldn’t be here to sign it.”

Let’s never forget!

We bought the book and brought it home as a memory of our stay here…..even though we don’t speak much French…you could get the meaning of the cartoons.


Since we had a car, we made day trips to nearby Mont St. Michel, the D-Day Beaches and Pontmain, among other sites.  That was after breakfast at the Chateau, of course……can you get better croissants anywhere other than in France? Definitely not, in our opinion.  These were the melt-in-your mouth, fresh-from-the oven croissants that just don’t seem to exist anywhere else.


People who prefer a chateau or B&B cite advantages to staying in them, such as individually decorated rooms, direct contact with the owners or the chance to mingle with other independent travelers.

Those who prefer hotels cite the advantages of more flexible hours (with a B&B, the doors are often locked after a certain hour in the evening), more anonymity, usually a restaurant on the premises. So I guess it is just a matter of taste.

Certainly, in our case, the chateau fulfilled all our expectations and then some.

You can read more about the history of Chateau de Bouceel here.

How about you? Do you have any experiences you would like to share with everyone?