Sorry. I have been back over a week. I’ve been meaning to post an update. I am finally, a week after getting back, back on Central Standard time. When I first got back I was waking up at 2 AM.
Our last full day in Madrid was spent going to Montserrat. The Basilica of the Virgin of Monserrat stands some 4000 feet above sea level. It is a breath taking view. In the Basilica we got to touch and pray in front of the Black Madonna. It is believed to have been carved in Jerusalem in the early days of the Church. The legend is that the monks, when they built their monastery, could not move the statue so they had to build around it instead. It is here that St. Ignatius of Loyola laid down his knightly armor before the image of our Blessed Mother. It was his way of giving up his old dreams, desires, and way of life and turning his life over completely to God. St. Ignatius would go on to found the Society of Jesus, or more commonly known as the Jesuits. They had adoration in a chapel behind the altar. Such a grace filled place to pray. We had Mass in the crypt at about noon.
We took a bus ride back to Barcelona and went to the Basilica of the Holy Family. OH MY GOSH!! It is not yet finished, but when it is, it will be the tallest church in the world. We were very blessed to be able to have our Sunday vigil Mass in the crypt. There were windows at the top of the crypt to the church up above. People would pear in and stare or take pictures. I felt like a fish in a fish bowl. But aside from that, Mass was again a great gift. Bishop Harrington and Bishop Quinn were with us the whole week. Look this church up on the internet. You will be impressed by the sheer size and height of this church. They are planning to expand the front entrance. They are not planning on it being finished for another 20-30 years. And that brings up an interesting point. A lot of the churches we saw on our pilgrimage took hundreds of years to build. Here in the US, we think about tearing something down after 30 or 40 years and starting over. I’m not saying one is right or wrong, but there is something awesome about realizing that people have been in that church for hundreds of years before you, praying and seeking God, just as you are doing. There is something humbling about that. And yet at the same time, it empowers you and inspires you to realize you are part of something much bigger than yourself; something that expands not just space, but time. We truly are heirs to a faith that came down to us from the faithful ones before us, many of whom have long been forgotten. We are truly blessed to be part of the Catholic (Universal) Church.
It is 4 AM here in Spain. We are about to depart the hotel. Yesterday was another great day. I will tell about it later. God bless.
Today was an awesome day. We traveled a short distance to the Barcelona area. We checked into our hotel and then we went to the Manresa area. We celebrated Mass in the cave where Saint Ignatius write his Spiritual Exercises. What a gift to say Mass surrounded by the very surroundings where God shared so much with his servant Saint Ignatius. I got to give the the homily to my brother priests and seminarians. What a blessing!! We then drove down the street to see the local cathedral. Simple but awesome old Gothic church. All so inspiring. What a great day. Still remembering you all in prayer. What a blessed pilgrimage, but looking forward to being back home in Owatonna soon. God is so good to me. God bless.
Since Monday we have been on a whirl-wind tour of Spain. Tuesday we were in Santiago-Compostela. There we tomb of St. James, the Apostle. I got to pray for a couple of moments in front of his tomb. What a blessing!! Wednesday we saw the cathedral in Leon. Today we saw the beautiful cathedral in Salamanca. Then we traveled most of the day. Finally we got to Zaragoza and visited the #1 Marian shrine in Spain, the Pilar Cathedral. The greatest blessing has been the gift if saying Mass every day at these beautiful ancient churches. So much history. So much faith and love for Christ and his Church.
The web interface I’m using doesn’t allow me to add pictures so I will have to do when I get back in the States.
I will attempt to share the blessings I have received with all of you sometime in the near future. I have carried your prayers all over Spain. Please keep me in yours. God bless.
Unfortunately it’s Sunday morning and I’m already back at the Starbucks across from our hotel. Yesterday we walked our 6 miles singing with, yelling, and meeting other pilgrims from all over the world. What an awesome experience!! When we arrived at the field, the place for the vigil and final Mass, we found out that they had only planned for 700,000 pilgrims. Some estimates were as high as 2 million. So we just turned around and went back to our hotel. So at least I got a good night’s sleep in a real bed instead of sleeping on the ground. So it was disappointing that we can’t be there and experience the final Mass with all those people. Oh well. Whatever God wants. Still praying for everyone. Tomorrow we begin our tour of Spain. First up is Santiago Compostela. Take care and God bless.
So much to say. Being here with hundreds of thousands of Catholics is awesome. Two days ago I got to see the Pope drive by as he came into Madrid. Tuesday through Friday we had Catechesis. Yesterday’s was the best. Archbishop Dolan gave the talk and said Mass. Great stuff. The day before Jason and Christalina Evert spoke at the Catechesis. (The Catechesis we went was just for English speaking pilgrims.)
Yesterday I heard a very informative talk called “Biology and the Theology of the Body.” The talk was given by Vicki Thorn, the founder of Project Rachel. She talked about many things. One thing she mentioned is how pheromones help us find someone who is going to be faithful. However, one effect of the pill is that it changes what pheromones the body considers good. This is just one example. I encourage you to Google her and see her stuff for yourself.
Today Pope Benedict had Mass at the cathedral here in Madrid for all the priests and seminarians.
In about an hour we leave on a six mile (one way) hike to the field for an overnight vigil and then the closing Mass in the morning. I’m not expecting to get much sleep.
There are too many blessings to enumerate here. Hearing confessions though have been one of the most powerful. It has also been a great gift to be reminded and to see in action the universality of the Catholic Church.
God is so good. You are all in my prayers. Keep me in yours.
Happy Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We arrived safely. Thank you for all the travel prayers. We arrived late on Saturday. Thanks to the change in time zones stealing seven hours, it took over a day to get here. So far so good.
Yesterday (Sunday) we went to the Museo del Prado (art) here in Madrid. They had El Greco, Caravagio, Goya, Tieplo, Raphael, and others.
Today we spent the day in Toledo. I got to concelebrate Mass with a group from Orange county, CA in the Cathedral there in Toledo. It is so awesome being part of a world-wide Church.
My Internet time is running out and I’m posting this from my phone. WYD activities officially start tomorrow. Hopefully as things get underway, I can post some pictures of our bishop and pope.
Sending prayers. Feel free to comment a prayer request. Or if it is a more private matter, you can email me. God bless.