Big digression to say, in the end, I'm glad we didn't see the pope. The 3 hour security lines (we didn't even make it for 25 minutes in a museum on Sunday) and the general "bigness" of the event just said "no" to me. I'm struggling a lot right now with how being Catholic is the best choice, especially when the pope and many of the priests I encounter seem to be saying, "just be a good person and God is happy." Nothing that is unique and right about the Catholic faith seems to be highlighted any more. Are we still the one true Church?
When I say I'm struggling, it's the devil speaking. There are sooo many days when I am over-tired, ill, struggling with my vocation, whatever...I would so like to just cruise along and be a "good person". Catholic at those moments is too much work. Yet, I know I'm a Catholic. I could never truly walk away. I know because I wear shirts like this and don't think twice:
|New gift from the Shrine...yes, it does spark joy for me ;0p|
I get up in the middle of the night to adore Christ in the Eucharist. Thanks to God for the example of my good friend that, when difficulties come, I am usually present enough to think for whom my struggle might be offered to ease their day. Redemptive suffering, the Blessed Mother, the Real Presence...this is why I am a Catholic. (and the Saints. Happy fest of the Guardian Angels, BTW).
Since the pope visit was out and DH already took the vacation, we headed to Massachusetts (picked up three new states as well. Score.). Stockbridge, specifically, to The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. This is run by the Marian fathers and, as you may know, I have a deep devotion to Mary in Her Immaculate Conception which happens to be their credo (the full name is the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception).
Well, if I was struggling (and continue somewhat now), it was not evident while we were in Stockbridge. It felt like home to me. Everywhere you looked was either the Divine Mercy, the Holy Souls in Purgatory or the Immaculate Conception. To say it was Catholic immersion is an understatement. It filled my grace tanks to bursting. To share it with DH and the kids was a blessing.
Saturday we arrived in time for the afternoon Mass, followed by the blessing of the families and the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena. We were on Day 6:
I promise you I had no idea but, wow, was that a huge hug from the Holy Spirit..."yes, you are in the right place on the right day doing the right thing" I love when that happens. Confession after was so amazing that I walked out of the confessional, leaned over to DH and said, you have to go...he said the same thing after he finished. A confession that ends with a personalized prayer over you, calling on Our Lady's help or that directly calls out the spiritual warfare that you are enduring? What a blessing that we were there with that priest on that day.Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children,and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.
Sunday was a beautiful tour of the life-sized Stations of the Cross before Mass then visiting the Shrine of the Holy Innocents (DH got all weepy...I love him so much) and the Outdoor Shrine that is full to capacity on Divine Mercy Sunday.
|It is said that roses are often given to you or in some other way show up while you are praying the Novena to St. Therese.|
|When we arrived at the Shrine we were on Day 4. It was bursting with dozens of red and white roses...#1's eyes were bulging out of her head ;0)|
|St Therese outside with more roses!|
|The grounds are breathtaking|
|Shrine of the Holy Innocents. So many names on the walls.|
|Truly a blessed day|
I believe the grace carried me through the return trip and the last few days which have been an immersion into self-denial, prayer and praise for the unborn and these fine men
|Look at all the new deacons!!! Please pray for them!!!|
Turns out the kids got to "meet" the pope anyway...