Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Day Two: Weather, Wilderness and Charity

Saturday morning dawned cool (44 degrees) and rainy. I was grateful to not have 8 hours of driving ahead of me like I did the day prior. This morning, we were headed to Stockbridge, a mere 60 minute hop to the East.

If you've never been, The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy is another must-see. I didn't think we would make it back in this Jubilee Year of Mercy so I was extra grateful for the opportunity. First stop, the gift shop (because there is a bathroom across the hall but also because we had some gifts to choose...birthday, ordination, thank you, farewell). We made our selections and headed back down the hill in search of lunch.

We found it in the form of The Stockbridge General Store which houses the Main Street Cafe. It is as quaint as it sounds and had some really good food. I chose the grilled pear and brie sandwich. Yum.

They chose split pea soup and oatmeal respectively. It was the perfect day for a belly full of warm. (The boys were here, just crabby, so they don't get a picture)

While we were lunching we heard a crack and saw lightning at exactly the same moment. It was then that the heavens opened (well, if heaven is full of rainwater, I guess).

We sat in the general store for about 10 minutes after finishing our lunch but eventually, despite the rivers flowing down the sidewalk, we had to head out. God is good, we made it to the car with only wet hems and shoes and no one fell! Back up the hill we went. (The Shrine sits on "Eden Hill" which cracks up #1 every.single.time)

A shout out to our favorite deacon on his fifth anniversary :0)

We went back up the hill because Confession was going to begin in about 25 minutes. Let's remember that it's been a downpour for almost an hour and there is a 5+ minute walk from the car to the Shrine. Somehow it didn't matter because we made the walk, entered the Holy Door, and were amazed...
the place was full. There was no tour bus, it was just full of individuals driving cars, coming to Confession/Adoration/Mass. There were four priests hearing confessions and the lines were still 10-15 people deep. It is an amazing, holy place.

After Exposition, as I was waiting in line for confession, a man came in with six kids. The oldest may have been 10 or 11 but the baby was about 3. He left them in the front pew and proceeded to stand in line with us. After about 10 minutes (this was no drive-thru sacrament...plenty of time spent per penitent) the baby and his next older brother started getting a little rowdy. The man went back up to sit with them, corrected them quietly, then knelt to pray while he waited for the line to move.

I had been offering prayers to Our Lady to help the kids find some peace but, when I moved in line beside the father, I felt so strongly, I leaned over and said, "I'm praying for you. I have five about their ages and I do know it's so hard sometimes."

The Holy Spirit, as you know, is not going to waste a moment like this. He's either going to use it to teach me humility or to make some fantastic connection. Since I was standing in a soaked dress and soggy shoes, He chose the latter. Thank you, Lord :0)

It turns out that this man has sole custody of his six children and, in the last year or two, returned to the Church and had them all baptized. He told me, when they were all little he went to a Christian church, thinking it was better than nothing, because he just couldn't keep them quiet. He heard a strong call and returned, all Thanks to God! He also just finished his two-year degree (which took him 7 because he was working, fathering, and schooling, all at one time). Please pray for him and all those like him who take on so much difficulty to lead their kids to heaven. Wow, I was so blessed to meet this man!

Finally, it was our turn. I say "our" because my "baby" wouldn't sit quietly either (all thanks to God again for allowing the blonde to pass out in the pew, closely guarded by her wonder twin ;0) ). Both times I have sought Confession at this shrine, it has clearly been Jesus sitting across from me. The priest had empathy, reality and mercy all rolled into one. He also kept chuckling because tiny decided he'd use the kneeler to say some prayers while he was waiting. It happened to be this kneeler.

How blessed we were by this experience. I know, 20 years ago, I would have eaten my lunch and headed back to the hotel to get out of the rain. How wonderful that we have a God so full of rewards for us making the smallest effort to seek Him and His Mercy! Having just renewed my Consecration to Jesus through Mary, I am doubly pleased that Our Lady will use all of this Mercy to shower those who are in greatest need. I am certain she will pay special attention to the family in the front pew.

After we were all again assembled outside (it took #1 and #2 a full 45 minutes to get through their line) #2 said, "Father told me I should spend time praying to St. Maximilian Kolbe for you to have more patience." Hmmm...it's like he knew where we were headed :0)

Since I'm still catching up with laundry and sleep, I'll leave you with another cliff hanger.

We are blessed.

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