Monthly Archives: July 2015

Above and Beyond

alps Funny little story…during our recent Italy pilgrimage, on the second day, we were in Turin to see the Holy Shroud and then explore the town on our own for two hours. Of course seeing the Shroud of Turin in person was very moving in and of itself. But as I have a propensity to see and do as much as possible, I had bought tickets to go to the top of the Mole Antonelliana, Italy’s tallest building. It didn’t work out in the time allotted (we wouldn’t have even been able to eat lunch, which the two of us enjoyed at a cute outdoor cafe). As we boarded the bus that afternoon (I thought for our hotel) I felt disappointed – and scolded myself at the same time (“you just saw the Shroud and had a nice lunch with your husband, and saw some cool sights – that should be enough!”) Then our bus started climbing one of the mountains that surround Turin…as a surprise visit to the top of the Alps where the Basilica di Superga is perched, with breathtaking views of the city and surrounding mountain ranges all around. I kept gasping as we climbed higher and higher and kept getting views of the alps…and felt a little ashamed (I confessed to my husband and then laughed at myself)…here we were thousands of feet higher than we would have been in the Mole building – and to think we might have missed our romantic lunch, the bus, and these views if we had stuck to my little plan! It reminded me that I need to have more faith in God’s plan (and the pilgrimage leaders!). I recalled the saying, “Life is not measured in the breaths we take, but in the moments that take our breath away.” Or as it says in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Our God can truly amaze us if we stay open to his wonders!  

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On Pilgrimage…Going Deeper

Holy Stairs 2  My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Italy. We signed up for the trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was called “A Taste of Italy” pilgrimage. I had heard about it on “Seize the Day” with Gus Lloyd, a radio show I listen to on Sirius XM, the Catholic Channel. Gus and Fr. Leo Patalinghug, also a radio host, were leading the pilgrimage. At first I thought it sounded a little too religious – I wanted to experience all of the sights and tastes of Italy! Well, we did just that – and so much more. We saw Turin, Milan (and the World Expo!), Tuscany, Modena, Florence, Orvieto, Rome and the Amalfi Coast. We tasted fresh meats, breads, cheeses, vegetables, pizza, gelato – even truffles! We made new friends in our fellow pilgrims. But more importantly, our hearts were changed…we witnessed the Holy Shroud of Turin, Jesus’ burial cloth. We celebrated Mass almost every day together in a different, historic church where often saints lay beneath our feet. We even had Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome where the Apostle Peter is buried – and saw Pope Francis live from his window at the Vatican and received his Papal Blessing! But one of the most moving experiences of the trip – of my life- was climbing the Holy Stairs in Rome. These are the steps Jesus climbed to be sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate (moved to Rome from Jerusalem by Saint Helena). You climb on your knees – these hard, old wooden steps – one person behind the next, crowded and hot – 26 steps in all. I have somewhat bad knees, but I thought I could make it with no problem. By the top step, my knees were burning – but all I could think was Jesus made it, broken and bleeding, so I can make it too. And the most powerful thing of all was that Fr. Leo read the stations of the cross as we climbed, meditating on how we all fall short in life – with our kids, friends, coworkers, ourselves, how we get tired, anxious, depressed – and how we must go on like Jesus did. When I reached the top I was weeping, tears and sweat running down my face…I felt truly repentant – and also forgiven. The word pilgrimage means “a journey or search of spiritual significance.” It was that and more. I now feel re-committed not only to my Catholic faith but to reach out to others, to spread the Good News, to help build the Kingdom – to be like Christ and to do God’s Will…and more in love with my husband than ever! 

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