Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lent continued...

I've decided to try to give up my will for Lent (in deference to His will, since that's always the better route). I have to say there have been moments of great grace and inspiration so far. Unfortunately, there are many times that I just can't say to my ridiculous schedule...all good things, promise, but still too much. So, here is our first week of pre- and Lenten activities in a quick burst, because I have to take kids to choir and deliver a meal, and drop off snacks for the homeless. (you can do too many good things, you know...I'm working on it).

Mardi Gras
It's always a fun day around here...burying the "A.....", making Lenten crafts (I like this year - short and memorable), eating and having fun. This year we were blessed by my amazing friend (who does too many good things) who packed up a load of fun Mardi Gras things and sent it off just in time to insure a good evening. So grateful that God has given me such an incredible friend.
pixie sticks...sugar in pure form ;0)

Singing one last time
 Part of the Halleluia chorus ;0)

Goodbye until Easter!  

We didn't do a lot of props this year but I really liked this activity - it even sorts them into categories.


A few days before Ash Wednesday I was still pondering what to do for these 40 days when, in a moment of solitude and prayer, Our Lady gave me a person for whom I should dedicate an increased amount of prayer time. It has been working well so far so I figured I would try to listen for those stirrings more during this time (along with prayer, fasting and almsgiving of course). 

Over the weekend, dh headed South to help with the cleanup of his mom's apartment and I felt very called to leave here on a specific pilgrimage. It would end up encompassing five different shrines but, ultimately, it was to visit Great Uncle Frank, my husband's 91-year-old uncle, and the last surviving sibling. He is in a home in New Jersey and I know he misses his baby sister a great deal. So, off we went to spread some Lenten love :0)

First stop...the shrine of St. John Neumann. What a beautiful space!

The crypt church. You can't see the altar well (I was trying to take a pic during a nuns' retreat...I know!) but this is what's there...

Yep, it's him! Incorrupt. So cool! (although Mr. G leaned over and said, "that kind of freaks me out.") lol.
One of many St. Michael statues...all the devils look different.

Stunning church

Next stop, the shrine of St. Rita of Casica. There were lots of Saint statues there, including our patron!

Bone relic and the pillow on which she rested her hands...see the picture above. Another Incorrupt Saint, btw.

Beautiful statue of St. Rita, holding the thorn - she bore the stigmata on her head.

Not St. Rita (her body is in Cascia), but the habit she wore

Because Saints are fun but so is lunch! A cheesesteak from the #1 (or #2, depending on who you ask) place in South Philly. Sadly it was freezing so we had to eat it in the car. Still tasted yummy!
Finally! We made it to Uncle Frank! The boys entertained with balloon animals

and puppet shows

We sat and talked and had fun. We went back the next day for more fun and distributed our not-Valentines-Day-but-still-love-and-prayer-cards. They didn't say that...they said, "We're praying for you" and "God loves you" and all sorts of nice things. The best part was spending time with the people. They love telling the kids all their tales.

How blessed we are to have this link to the past. How good it is when we can spend time.

 We headed out for home but there is always time for a few more shrines!
First up, St. Katharine Drexel. Another extremely wealthy person who dedicated her life to God and used her money to help the poor.

She lived so simply...amazing to think she was a child of privilege.

Her body rests in the lower part of the chapel. Sadly, the shrine will close at the end of the year (the last few Sisters are dying) and she will move to the Cathedral.

Amazing to me. We are so wasteful.

The family altar. G said, "Mama, can we have one like this?" I'm guessing the Drexel home was slightly bigger than ours.

The banner that hung in the Vatican during her canonization.

Simple, beautiful church.
Saint JP II welcomes us to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa!

Beautiful, beautiful tribute to Our Blessed Mother

The Stations were mosaic

Also mosaic - beautiful

The crests contained boxes of soil from all the major Marian shrines
Lourdes and Fatima

A rosary from a tree hanging in the grotto

Sweet Bernadette
Rosary garden/walk

The Nativity
probably a mile if you prayed all the decades!

St. Anne's chapel

The candle room...dh and I were here a year or so before #1 was born :0)

Last but not least...the Shrine of St. Padre Pio! (and our third Incorruptible of the trip!)

different colors but always ugly...go St. Michael!

One of the real confessional that St. Pio used in San Giovanni

Our Lady is prominent in his life...hmmm, I sense a theme :0)

A Nativity presepe...the entire village surrounding the manger. Like "where's Waldo, but with Jesus!"

Ahem...didn't we just see these two? God is good :0)
Whew, I guess we saw a lot in a few days. Don't worry, we also had dessert and watched Food Network every night before bed. Making these trips part of our lives is making them our "normal". We are blessed.

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