Tag Archives: CatholicTravel

Into the desert

It’s summer in Arizona and what that means is from June to September, you can count on it being 105 or higher. This is the reverse of those who live in the Midwest or East when snow keeps you inside. Well, at least for me it does. I’ve gotten better over the years, as far as, not limiting my time if I’m out doing errands. But somehow, this last few days, I’m feeling a bit depressed.

I’ve always done good about not paying attention to it. Like keeping busy whatever that might mean. Either with things I have to do or not. I don’t work, so much of my time is either caring for my mom or doing something productive when she’s with my sister.

But I’m yearning for more.

In the past month, my husband and I were able to take two trips to beach cities. It was a great getaway! The weather and beach, as many of my family and friends know, gives me such energy. But I also feel like I’m connected to people more too. And I think that’s part of what I’m sensing.

Where we live it takes a car to get somewhere. We don’t live in the city center or near it. Because of the heat, I can’t just walk to a grocery store. There are no common parks or beautified parks at all except in central Phoenix. Can’t just hop onto a metro link and get to another town. And don’t get me wrong, if it’s fall/winter/spring everything is rosy for those eight months. I’m outside taking it all in! These thoughts don’t run in my mind of abandoning the desert during these luscious months.

So it was interesting to me that a conversation was brought up between my husband and I about where our future residence would be. Where would we retire?

I asked my husband if we would ever live anywhere else? Would we ever do that experience of living somewhere far from family? We do not have children that would keep us from taking on a big transition like this. My husband has a super career now. What if he was asked to move? The thought of moving to Newport Beach, CA, or Denver, CO, or Connecticut sounds tempting.

A part of me sees that I would be involved in more things if we lived in cities or places that are closer knit. Doing more exercise, church activities, volunteering, education, and art events.

I often feel like I’m meant to be somewhere else, but I know it’s not something that is going to happen. And I thankfully say that because in no way am I not grateful for the huge blessings my husband and I have, which now comes to the Catholic tie into these thoughts.

In my thoughts or actions that come in a away that does not bring joy, is a time to always self examine.  Well, not just for me, but for anyone. Because we know when joy is present, Christ is present.

In my restlessness of this, I know my call is to go to God with it. I cannot change our environment.  We cannot get up and move somewhere.  In fact, it may never happen.

Prayer becomes very important during these “down times”.  If I don’t include or pay attention to prayer in my day to day, I can very well let go of myself and turn the negative emotions into negative actions towards my husband, family, friends, etc.  When you pray, Our Lord gives you clarity, direction on what He wants you to focus on, which in most cases, is completely not your thoughts.

The challenge outside of prayer is to be active in things where you come second. Paying attention to helping someone in need. Putting others first. Soon you’ll realize more purpose.

Who knows what God’s plan for us will be in the next ten years. But in the meantime, my life, our life, our happiness, our home, is here today in this desert landscape.


John 15:10-11

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

Rome…veramente!

For the past couple of years, I’ve been bugging my husband about returning to Rome for a vacation.  However, lately, it’s really been aching me.

 

Thankfully, we have been to Italy twice – 2006 and 2008.  Both experiences helped us to see a little bit more of Italy.  Stops in Venice, Orvieto, Assisi, San Gimignano, Pisa, Siena, Chianti, Florence, Castel Gandolfo, and of course, Rome.

Since I was little, I have had a love for all things Italian. My favorite food has always been Italian and to clarify I’m American-Mexican.  My family still to this day likes to joke with me on how this makes no sense.  I can’t deny what it is I have passion for.  How do you fake it?

When we traveled to Rome in 2006 for a pilgrimage, everything catapult to whole new level of love.  I felt a strong connection to the culture, food, art, and spirit.  Needless to say, my Catholic faith grew because it was visibly all around.  Not like back home!

When we went back to Italy in 2008, I went with deeper appreciation, although I was still recovering from CDiff, so I couldn’t fully embrace due to stomach issues.

It’s now been 9 years and lately, I feel like I have some restlessness these days about traveling back.

As we know, the political times are not good.  Talks of war between the U.S. and North Korea are heightened everyday.  My husband feels now isn’t the time to go and when I share about that with others, some say, is it ever the right time?

It makes me sad.  How beautiful and diverse our world is created by our Father God to seek and learn from.   To grow with our neighbor, to share in prosperity of brotherhood, and to reap joy in our differences.  But yet, North Korea has a different outlook and now all the world waits to see what will happen next.  I know I’m not the only one who is praying for this threat to end.

But aside from this, my love for Italy is going a bit bonkers these days.  I live in an area where there isn’t much culture.  There isn’t much variety.  For whatever reason, it just isn’t here.  I would love more self owned bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants that serve more than bar food, gelato shops instead of yogurt (please I’m so done with yogurt spots around here), and entertainment spots.  I try not to get me down, but when you want your heart to be filled with something, 2nd place doesn’t fill the void.

I always say, “if I ever win the lottery”… I would open up a bakery that provides international treats and best Italian coffee.   Name I won’t share. However, I would make sure to hire the appropriate pastry chef who can bake pastries from all over the world.

Question: What do you do when your heart yearns so much for something, but can’t be fulfilled?

     

I think I need to start praying to our Lord more intently and asking Him to replace this because it’s a bit consuming sometimes.

Until we can get to Rome, I’ll continue listening to my favorite Italian Radio http://studiodelta.radio.it/ , buy cappuccinos pretending they taste like Rome, dine at Italian restaurants who somewhat serve like Italy, view images off of Instagram,  and try new recipes.

Viva Roma!

 

This song is by Mario Venuti – Veramente

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Westminster Cathedral – London, United Kingdom

Just learned that my cousins will be traveling to Europe this August.  One of their stops will be Paris, France.  When my husband blessed me to London and Paris in 2011 for my 40th birthday, the talk of Euro trip made me want to run through our pics of our trip.

We visited London and Paris in the month of April. Most perfect time. Spring time!

It was also Holy Week.  Some may think why would we travel during the most holiest time of the year.  I used to think the same way until we experienced it in different places other than our home town.  And now, I want to do it more often.

We attended Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion at Westminster Cathedral.  Of course before we left, I researched parishes so that we wouldn’t miss Holy Week activities.  Westminster was closest to our hotel.

I love the fact that wherever we are, I feel right in tune with the rest of the parishioners. Not missing a beat! Westminster was grand and beautiful. I really wasn’t expecting that type of facade, but then again we had just toured St Paul’s Cathedral. Really enjoyed it’s old history worn look.

Sacré-Cœur – Paris, France

My cousin is currently touring Paris and her experiences she’s been sharing, made me think of our time there.

Before going to Paris, I of course, checked off the places I wanted to visit.  My husband only had one desire and that was the Latin District because of their food.  We for sure went there…twice!

On the day we visited Galleries Lafayette, we headed out of this magnificent shopping center to find a place to eat.  We walked, walked, slow walked, fumbled, and began finding ourselves frustrated.  From leaving the Galleries, we thought for sure we would run into a nice bistro, but for some reason we kept making turns into more buildings that didn’t provide any food or drink.  We were lost!!!

So as my husband said “let’s just go down this way and if we don’t find anything, we’ll find a cab and go back to an area we know”.  Fine.  I agreed as I was dizzy and hungry.

So we walked and found some passers-by.  Shops started to appear here and there. Next thing we see, is a cafe.  Meats and cheeses. Breads. Olives. Jams. And of course, wine!!  We had no idea that we were now in Montmarte.

We felt like we died and gone to heaven. Right away, the waiter provides us a table facing outward to the street. Sets us up and gives us full attention. The bites were delicious!!! My husband and I couldn’t believe how delighted and joyful we were at what we stumbled upon.  And while we were almost done, I remember peeking out towards the right and looking up in between some high trees and noticed a steeple.  I couldn’t believe what my eyes were showing me.  So I focused again. Then I asked the waiter, “is that Sacre-Coeur?????”  He said, “Yes!”

I jumped out of my seat and told my husband, we got to go! It’s not that far and we are already so close. We can’t let go of this opportunity.  Good thing the food refueled us. We were now on our way to this historic church that I only read about and had marked down on my planner to see, but due to time and it appearing that it was not going to be in our radius to visit, I had scratched it off and figured, we wouldn’t see it.

We arrived in about 10 minutes.

It was everything I thought it would be.  We stood there at the bottom of the steps and admired it.  My husband was ready to move on and I said…”we have to go inside.”  He said, “the only way in is by these steps.”  I said, “let’s go!”  To reach top, it took 270 steps.  The views were amazing.   There were many visitors around just enjoying this spot.  You could see the city clearly on this late afternoon.

We get to the line where people are forming to go inside the church.  And as we get closer, there’s a big sign stating “NO CAMERAS, NO VIDEO, NO PICTURES PLEASE!”  I wish I could’ve taken pictures inside.  Even now, it’s hard for me to remember what I saw and wished I would’ve written it down.  But I do recall it’s design and thinking it didn’t look like most cathedrals from that time.  The altars made me wonder who had come to pray at them.  The main altar glistened in gold. The candles flickered  in every direction. The respect inside was evident.  You were in a sacred space.  My husband and I prayed and thanked God for bringing us here.

How is it that we ended up in this spot?  All the wrong ways we thought we were taking and yet they were not.  The recognition was fully there that Our Gracious God had led us to Sacre-Coeur.   To experience not only this basilica, but to embrace its name as well.  This basilica is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  What it is, what it stands for, speaks to our visit there more than just taking in its views.  But from what my husband and I experienced in our time of marriage, what I experienced in my 40 years of life (trip was a birthday and anniversary celebration) was hallmarked in this adventure.

How I ask in my prayers that our marriage be consecrated in His Most Sacred Heart.

Thank you Jesus for the glories, the graces, the adventures you have given us to not only experience for travel sake, but for the soul and our relationship to You in them all. +++

 

 

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington, D.C.

My family and I were blessed to visit Washington, D.C. several times. Due to an event that honored my Dad’s rehabilitation story.  During these trips we were able to see a couple of their parishes.

This one is the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The exterior is grand. I think this is the first basilica I’ve been to in the States where it reminded me of cathedrals in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They had just completed a renovation.  This ceiling was redone in mosaic tiles.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a pieta located in their crypt of former bishops I believe.

This chapel is located on the same floor of the crypt.  I was able to attend Mass here with my family. Just beautiful.  I actually loved this design more than the main floor.

 

 

 

 

 

During our walks in D.C., my sister and I found this parish.  It was during an off time/week day but always happy when the front doors are open.

From the outside which seemed dark was nothing compared to the inside.  Was delighted to see the stained glass and organ pipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time in D.C. is always fun. To find old parishes like this one along walks to dinner or ice cream are always my favorite finds.

 

Notre Dame – Paris, France

Whenever I get the opportunity to visit another city or town, I always try to visit one of their parishes.  Whether my husband and I attend Mass or just stopping in, my point is to always take pictures of the beauty it holds.

I remember being told that in early Christianity, many of the parishes were designed in a way that the bible was displayed in the architecture due to not having written material to distribute to the congregation. Therefore, the mosaics, stained glass, sculptures, etc. carried the stories of the bible.

Not only do I appreciate the architecture but the way each parish celebrates the Holy Mass. From traditional to contemporary. Yet no matter the approach, our Mass is the same spoken word in any area of the world. That I love!

To start, here are pics of Notre Dame in Paris. My husband and I were blessed and very fortunate to celebrate Easter Mass in 2011 at Notre Dame.  Despite the fact that I about passed out inside the packed church, due to no air circulation, I did not want to miss out receiving the Eucharist. The Mass was spoken in French, of course, but if you carry a Magnificat there is never any problem.  Sitting in Notre Dame, made me think of those parishioners from long ago and how they received Mass in this ancient church.

I’m glad we hadn’t entered the church yet because there was a procession that I was able to take pictures of from outside and then followed them in.  What an awesome touch!  I wondered how many times this had been done on Easter here at Notre Dame.

My only regret is that my husband and I didn’t go back to further examine this historic place.  After this Easter Mass, we carried on with the rest of our tour.

How blessed we are in the Catholic Church to have these sacred places.+++