Sunday, September 18, 2016

Day 14 - Paris to USA

We celebrated Mass early this morning and then made our way to the airport. We were all blessed to be part of a wonderful experience--both in learning about the Church's eldest daughter, France, and also in meeting and getting to know our fellow pilgrims better. Thank you to all that followed our journey over the past 14 days and we ask for your continued prayers as we make our final journey back home. Our prayers of thanksgiving to Jesus for a safe pilgrimage and for letting us get to know and love His Mother more. What a wonderful example of love and devotion to her Son.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Day 13 - Nevers, Vezelay, and Paris

We began our last full day in France by visiting the Shrine of St. Bernadette, located in Nevers.  The shrine is at the convent where St. Bernadette spent the last years of her life.  We celebrated Mass in Chapel where St. Bernadette's incorrupt body lies.  What an inspiration for us to be so close to one who was so close to Jesus and His Mother, Mary. After visiting the convent and other buildings on the grounds, we made our way to Vezelay to visit the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Saint Mary Magdalene), another church designated as a Holy Door in this Year of Mercy.  Altogether, we have walked through about 13 Holy Doors on this journey.  Several of our group were blessed to receive the Annointing of the Sick as they ask for healing of their illness and/or the grace to accept the cross of illness.  It was also interesting to learn that Vezelay stands at the beginning of one of the four major routes through France for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the north-western corner of Spain.  We saw several sea shells in the pavement indicating the Way of St. James and also saw two pilgrims on their journey.  For some of us, that marks a future goal--another way to deepen our faith in prayer and fellowship with others.

Finally, we made our way back to Paris and settled in for our last night in France.  We enjoyed a traditional French meal, basked in the new friendships we have made and those that have been strengthened, and know that we have learned a great deal about our Catholic faith and have grown in that faith over the last 14 days.  We have learned from each of the saints that we have come to know better and strive to emulate their examples of undying love and faith to Jesus Christ and His Mother, Mary.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Day 12 - Arse, Paray Le Monial, and Nevers

This morning, we departed Lyon and traveled to Ars.  Our first stop was at the Basilica of St. Jean Vianney (St John Baptist Marie Vianney), who was canonized in 1925.  St. John Vianney, whose feast day is August 4, is the patron saint of parish priests.  The Basilica is one of 8 permanent holy doors designated by the Holy See.  St. John Vianney was 3 years old when the French Revolution, especially aimed against the Church, began.  His parents were also very pious.  As we have traveled around France and come to know several of these saints, there is one thing that they all have had in common.  Each was blessed with parents and families who were faithful and passed that faith onto their children.  This is a reminder to all of us to continue to pass our faith onto our children, grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, nephews, and all that we have influence on.  

At the basilica, we saw several relics of St. John Vianney, including his incorrupt body.  We celebrated Mass at the Basilica and reflected on the blessings that all of us receive from our parish Priests.  Today we especially remember and pray for Father John, Father Glen, Father Eric, Father Charles, Father Leo, and all the parish priests that nourish our souls and help us along our journey with Christ.  We cherish you and the role you play in our lives.

After Mass, we visited the rest of the Basilica sites, including the house where St. John lived and died and then headed back to the bus for our journey to Paray Le Monial  where we visited the shrine that is home to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It is here that Christ appeared to Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque, choosing her to be the instrument by which God would lead the world back to Christ through His Sacred Heart.  Jesus appeared to Sr. Margaret Mary a number of times between 1673 and 1675.  After exploring this beautiful little town and the shrine and associated chapels and other churches, we got back on the bus and headed to Nevers, where we are spending the night.  Many in the group were also able to do a quick walking tour of Nevers with our guide Gerard this evening.