Day 9 – Prayer Changes YOU!

After getting home from Auschwitz at 3am, we made the decision to sleep until 10am so we could actually function for the rest of the day! However, our families were only available to help transport us before 8am, and since we didn’t know Polish very well, it was quite uncertain how we were supposed to get to our parish that morning. Poor Michael just shut down, and Fermin and I were left speechless about how to overcome yet another confusing experience. Were we supposed to walk? Take a bus? Call a taxi? Wait for someone to pick us up? Google translate IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS! Continue reading “Day 9 – Prayer Changes YOU!”

Day 8, Part 2 – The Red Crown

The morning we left for Auschwitz was perfect divine providence, everything working in our favor. We had to make a mad dash to the bus stops and the train…barely making it in time too, but that was because thankfully Michael and I had been able to work pretty extensively with our new host family, the Gorkas, on coming up with a plan of action. Once we knew we were on the way to Auschwitz, we just walked in without registering or anything, and even were blessed with getting into those walls of testimony without anything more than an intense security detail on my pilgrim vest (Mary got a picture of the occasion!)–We just didn’t really think things through beyond that,. And we paid the price later that evening on the journey home to the nth degree. Continue reading “Day 8, Part 2 – The Red Crown”

Day 8, Part 1 – The Red Crown

Jesus Christ suffered and died. He really did, physically and horribly. And we are called to enter FULLY into His death by uniting our sufferings to His.

There is indeed a difference between staying fixated on His death like its the only reality and by allowing death to overcome us for the sake of our beloved. It’s just, we don’t always have a clear enough sense of our identity or self worth in order to make a sincere gift of ourselves! Continue reading “Day 8, Part 1 – The Red Crown”

Day 7 – Travel Prayers!

The shift button is broken on this keyboard, and I think it’s God’s humor in the midst of all this chaos. As I grew up, Mom and Dad had us say our travel prayers every morning before school, and eventually we came to love and appreciate the shift we undergo in the midst of deliberate time set aside for prayer and thanksgiving. Continue reading “Day 7 – Travel Prayers!”

Day 6 – Purity of Desire

The White Crown of Purity and the Red Crown of Martyrdom.

I believe we know the latter pretty well, concerning our Franciscan patron, but what will help us delve more deeply into our final days in Warsaw can best be framed through the lens of Mary’s great FIAT and what that meant in terms of how we are called to interpret our desires and act accordingly. Sr. Caryn Crush’s story has intersected our small pilgrimage contingency in a manner akin to sheer Divine Providence, and today has proven to follow that model quite nicely. Continue reading “Day 6 – Purity of Desire”

Day 5, Part 2 – Blessed Are the Merciful

Saying goodbye to Niepekelanow was very difficult, for we knew we could have stayed there for days, weeks, or months longer. In truth, I know in my heart that God will call me back to this place one day, and so I wasn’t worried about our early departure. As I said before, these experiences have awakened desires and callings within me that have lain dormant and hidden within my own soul in ways I can’t even begin to articulate. Spiritual Direction will help me through that though, NOT this blog, so God will eventually reveal His Plans for me and all of us on this pilgrimage…just as He reveals them in each of us: through the slow passage of time, even if it’s long after our deaths. Continue reading “Day 5, Part 2 – Blessed Are the Merciful”

Day 5, Part 1 – Niepokalanow

We are pilgrims, not tourists!

That’s what I wanted to express as I shaved and chose the most low-key shirt I brought from home. Yet, the jokes still came, good-natured as they were. Morning prayer with our wonderful contingency began what would become one of the most powerful days in our lives! I chose the old “St. Luke’s Unity in the Community” t-shirt from 1995 when the parish was petitioning the Archdiocese of Louisville to remain open as a viable parish in the region. Those were difficult days for that small Kentucky parish in Okolona, but the unity they encountered was enough to bring about the redemption that has blessed us on this pilgrim journey. Continue reading “Day 5, Part 1 – Niepokalanow”

Day 4 – WWII & The Victory of the Cross

Raymond Kolbe was playing around as a normal five-year-old little boy one day when his mother scolded him saying, “Raymond, what will ever become of you?!” Later in life, that same man recounted how deeply this experience affected him. He described taking this question to the Blessed Mother, most likely Our Lady of Czestochowa, in great distress. Immediately, she appeared to him holding two crowns, a white crown symbolic of purity, and a red crown for martyrdom. She asked him which crown he wanted, and as a typical young boy would say, he wanted them BOTH! Continue reading “Day 4 – WWII & The Victory of the Cross”

Day 3 – Mercy is Family

Welcome back everyone! Today has been full and blessed in ways we could have never prepared to receive. And that’s what it has been about, receiving these beautiful people and their hospitality. Tonight’s reflection then calls to mind all the many moments we encountered along the way.  Continue reading “Day 3 – Mercy is Family”

Day 1 & 2 – Our Long Awaited Arrival

This morning feels like ages ago. Packing for the trip of a lifetime being as exhausting as it is, we were finally ready to sit down together and breathe it all in as we awaited Fr. Joe’s procession to begin our first Mass together as a group. The silence was deafening as we listened to the word of God, anticipating the glorious signs that lay before us.  Continue reading “Day 1 & 2 – Our Long Awaited Arrival”