Tag Archives: Pilgrimage

Who am I?

A while back I wrote a post that I very much wanted to get off my chest.  However, because I was rushing and not paying attention, I deleted it by accident.  I still had the subject line “Who am I?” But since then, this post content has changed.

It also has been a while since I’ve written.  Lately, my mind has been busy and I just can’t get myself to settle to write.

Whether it’s making sure home life is right and somewhat in order for my Husband and my Mom or tending to opportunities I want to be a part of.  For example, I want to do this formation or that formation, listen to this podcast, or read this book. But also, because my mind has been overloaded with news.

For whatever reason, I’ve been home alone these past two days to just “think”.  I used to have this quite a bit before my mom moved in with us. I now appreciate it so much more, but I wouldn’t give up taking care of my mom to have it all again.  These opportunities that come from time to time are embraced.

So what is it?  Why do I feel a bit anxious, a bit emotionally weak?  Pretty sure I am not the only one.  Social media has so many thoughts about the current world.  Sometimes you see one breaking down in tears and another is baking a cake.

But, with the  news continually showing what is happening in one country recovering from natural disaster – hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, there is also added threat to this all from a dictator who is pushing his agenda to cause more suffering.

I don’t work, so I don’t have an 8 hour part of my day where I could invest my thoughts into something.  So these last two days, I have been praying while doing whatever needs to be taken care of.  Praying for those who died, who are waiting to be rescued, who are suffering, grieving, worrying, fearing.

It’s so strange the paradox that is going on.  Here in Arizona, these days have been beautiful.  Such ease – being able to drink my morning coffee in comfort. Grocery shop with many options.  Take a shower. Lay comfortably in my bed at night.  Read a book. It feels both guilty and very grateful at the same time.

How are we to keep joy when so much around seems grim?

You know what came to mind?  I think of Saint Paul singing in prison.

ACTS 16:17-25

She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.”She did this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Then it came out at that moment.

When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the public square before the local authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These people are Jews and are disturbing our city and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack on them, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.
Deliverance from Prison. About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened…

This passage always blows my mind.  Paul didn’t fear what was about to happen to him.  He continued to stand up for belief in Jesus and even after they tortured him, he still carried on giving thanks and glorifying God.  Making sure all around him witnessed his true example.

Who am I these days? It’s been somewhat challenging with family and friends around me these past weeks, where I suited up the Armor of God to help them in their weaknesses even though I too have felt challenged.  Reminding them to pray, not to lose hope, keep reading the scriptures, get to Church.

Who do you say that I AM?  Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Whether time is near for Jesus to return, whether there will be much more suffering ahead, I hope our faith becomes stronger and love pours out from our souls. To know Jesus has conquered the world. To continue living each day directing our lives to Him.

Lord God, I want only for the appearance of my face and the depth of my soul to show your presence in my life.   Make me an instrument of your peace and use me for your will during these trying days and for what’s ahead so that you find us ready. +++

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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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. +++

 

 

St Peter’s Basilica – Rome, Italy

I have been blessed to see St. Peter’s twice. I wish I had taken better pictures or knew how to work my camera, but I think you can still receive what I captured. I like to take pictures of areas of the church that are not typically photographed. Well, at least what I’ve come across.

They said on the tour, the lettering that is in the gold trim is about 7 feet in height.

We were told the altar weighs 9 tons. All in bronze.

Altar of the Holy Spirit made out of alabaster

Inside St. Peter’s there are “mini” altars where Mass is given on each side leading to the main altar.

Pieta. Protected by thick glass due to someone who tried to destroy it. This was the closest I could get to it.

Outside the basilica walls…

My reaction to St. Peter’s was I can’t get enough. There is so much to take in and I know even though I have seen it twice, I know I missed so much. Really, St. Peter’s is what you would expect to represent our faith. Grandeur, peace (even among thousands squirming around you), profundity, and such thoughts that make you think of all the years the Church has had. How many people/pilgrims have visited this holy place??? I hope to see it again!

Please check the ‘Church Beauty’ tab for other parishes visited.

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.+++