Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Msgr. Brenner Dies

On Sunday, August 28, Msgr. Thomas Brenner, the former long-time pastor of Corpus Christi in Chambersburg, died at Misericordia Nursing Home in York after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

Visitation will take place on Thursday, September 1 from 7-9pm with a Vigil service celebrated at 8pm at Saint Patrick Church, 231 South Beaver Street, York.

Visitation will also take place on Friday, September 2, from 9am until 10:30am followed by a Funeral Mass at 11:00am, also at Saint Patrick Church.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, September 7 at 7pm at Corpus Christi Church in Chambersburg, 320 Philadelphia Street.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene Couldn't Dampen Spirits at Annual Parish Picnic

Despite forecasts of terrible rain and winds (although we moved to the parish hall for safety), members of our parish gathered for our annual parish picnic.  It's always a great day - with games for the kids, bingo for the big kids (sponsored by our parish Knights of Columbus Chapter), ice cream and of course the most delicious food brought from every home in the parish.  It was, once again, a really great day!  Many thanks to Elizabeth Jobes and her crew who always do such a great job.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ceremonial Commissioning

Major Clement & Captain Bateman during swearing in
This morning at 9:30am, Major David Clement was on hand to ceremonially swear in Father Bateman as a Captain in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.  So many parishioners were present to lend their support.  Thank you!  After the swearing in, Chaplain (Captain) Bateman noted how, for most people who serve in the military, their families are present for the commissioning - because military families make many sacrifices.  This is why it was so important for me to have this ceremonial commissioning here in the parish - because YOU are my family, and our parish family is going to have to, and already is, making great sacrifices while I serve our airmen of the 193rd.  Thanks to all our parishioners for making this possible. 
Father Bateman & Nik Wieskiewski of our parish (who is part of the Navy Sea Cadets Program

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

World Youth Day Video of Vigil

Saint Andrew Softball Teams Win Brackets during Tournament

Last Saturday our two parish softball teams took part in the annual year-end tournament of the Church Softball League.  Each team was in a separate bracket and each team WON their respective bracket.  Congratulations to our teams!

Home Safely

Our parish pilgrims leaving Plaza de Colon, Madrid
After lots more tiring travel, all of our pilgrims finally arrived back home - filled with experiences of Faith and friendship that will last a lifetime.  The theme of this World Youth Day, "Firm in the Faith," is certainly something that all of our pilgrims have experienced - we've all grown stronger in our Faith as a result of our time in Lourdes and Madrid.  Thanks to all of you for your prayers and for following along with us.  Know that we held you in our prayers as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pilgrimages require Adjustments to Plans

As I write, the Holy Father is distributing Holy Communion to the deacons at the Mass at Quatro Vientos - the site for the vigil last night and the closing Mass this morning.  You may be wondering how I can blog from the Mass.  Well, I´m not at the Mass - nor is anyong from the Harrisburg Group.  Let me explain.

Stories from different parish groups continue to come in, but the simple explanation is (not necessarily in order of importance):
  1. Space.  Some members of our group arrived at the site by 1pm - and our section was already too full.  Those of us who left the hotel later to avoid the extrme heat arrived to find a sea of humanity and no room even to stand, much less spread out and sit or sleep.  At 5pm I heard them announce that there were already 1 million people - and more to come.
  2. Heat.  Yesterday was a record setting day here in Madrid: 44 degrees centigrade (about 112 farenheit).  HOT!  I´ve often seen them ¨hosing down a crowd.¨  Now I´ve been in one of them.  On top of the heat, in an old air field, no shade anywhere.  Which led to the next issue...
  3. Water.  Water stations had been set up, but many were not working - so people would stand in line for 40 minutes or more only to discover that there was no water there.  With that extreme heat and sun, water was a necessity that we could not find.
  4. Bathrooms.  Not enough.  Enough said.
  5. Security.  People were not sufficiently screened and assigned to their sections.  When the authorities realized the situation they began turning pilgrims away at the gate.  Well, that didn´t go over very well.  A group of pilgrims, angry at being turned away, joined hands and stormed the gate - totally overwhelming volunteers and police alike.  So for a time, this gate was totally unprotected and vulnerable.
When we arrived at the site about 5pm, we could not find any place to be in our assigned section - we literally stepped over, and on, people trying to walk through the section.  We tried to find another place to go to spread out and spend the night, but there was nothing to be found.  I shared with our pilgrims my disappointment and how much I wanted to celebrate Mass with the Holy Father today, but I was concerened for our safety in those conditions.  I made the call that we were going back to the hotel - a call which was later confirmed by Bishop McFadden who, when he came onto the stage and saw the situation, ORDERED everyone from Harrisburg back to the hotels out of concern for our safety.
Some members of our group did stay behind until after the vigil service and they spoke of the tremendous storm that pounded the area: lighting and rain and WIND.  Bishop McFadden said that the wind was so strong that it blew over the World Youth Day Cross - right onto a bishop´s head (who had to be taken away for medical treatment).  In fact one of the adoration chapels (a tent) completely collapsed with pilgrims inside.  Bennet Smith, from our group, assisted in pulling people out from under the collapsed tent.

I´ve got to prepare to get my luggage packed, so I´ll continue with some more stories of last night a bit later today.  But let me just say we are disappointed to not be at Quatro Vientes right now with the Pope, but Peter has none-the-less gathered us together here in Spain for a wonderful, spiritual experience that strengthens us and has made us ¨Firm in the Faith.¨

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One Post before our Vigil

This morning we celebrated Mass with all the American pilgrims to this World Youth Day in Madrid.  We gathered at the ¨Palacio de Deportes¨ with Cardinal George, all the US Bishops (including our own Bishop McFadden) and there celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Then it was back to our hotel (where I am now) to prepare for our hike and overnight vigil with Pope Benedict XVI.

We are still waiting for our seminarians to return from the Holy Father´s Mass with seminarians.  We are excited to hear their experiences and see their photos.  We´re all hoping they got really close.

We´ll be leaving very soon for our vigil and overnight before Mass with the Holy Father tomorrow (Sunday) morning.  Then, after the Mass, we rush back to the hotel for a very quick shower, then get to the busses by 4pm for our flight from Madrid to Barcelona and an overnight there.  Hopefully I´ll have some time to blog from Barcelona before returning home.

Watch us on TV!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

World Youth Day 4

Today´s schedule was very much like the previous: breakfast, catechesis and Mass.  Today we had Cardinal George from Chicago as our presentor at catechesis (a brief summary of his talk follows shortly).

It´s clear that our pilgrims are getting tired.  HEAT, HEAT, HEAT, sore feet, lack of sleep, long hours waiting for the pope to pass by, large crowds... it is all taking its toll, but our Saint Andrew group is doing GREAT!  Today at the Mass Steven Arena and Joey Barvir both served.  Our priests have been concelebrating each day.  It´s really been great!

After Mass our little group split up a bit.  I went with several other priests to have a ¨civilized lunch¨ rather than a pligrim pack (sandwich, pasta salad, water and an apple) then we priests went down to Plaza del Sol to look at some religous stores for vestments and black clerical shirts.  Some of us found some goodies.  The rest of the group made a trip to a local store whose name I cannot reveal right now - as it would ruin the surprise for the recipient of the gift - so you´ll have to ask me about it next week.

This evening was the Stations of the Cross presided over by the Holy Father.  We again stood along the street where the Holy Father would be passing by in the popemobile - and we got some really good pictures (but I don´t have my camera handy right now, so no pictures to post tonight... sorry).  Then we gathered in the Plaza de Colón and watched the Stations on the jumbotron.  We all commented on how policially charged we thought the stations were - making direct references to governments that oppress Christians and their expression of the faith.  How fortunate we are in the United States - although we certainly have aspects of our own government that refuse to acknowledge the Truth and the conscience rights of Catholics when it comes to some areas of public policy - but that´s a discussion for another day.
James read at our catechetical Mass

Tonight our seminarians went to bed VERY early, as they will be privileged to attend Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in the Cathedral of Madrid - only 5000 seminarians will be in attandance and they are very excited to get there early and get some good seats.  They have cameras - don´t worry!  I pray they have an AWESOME experience with Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow.

I on the other hand needed to walk to one of the other hotels where other members of our group are staying (Fr. Wayne had left some things in my room and I needed to get them back to him).  So I walked to their hotel then decided that I really wanted to go to Retiro park to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for a while - I needed some quiet prayer time with the Lord.  So I walked to the gate which, for security reasons, was closed.  So I walked to another gate and entered.  I walked and walked and walked searching for the adoration tent, but I felt much like the women on the Day of the Resurrection, ¨They have taken my Lord and I don´t know where they have put Him.¨  I never found it.  So, noticing that it was nearly 10:30pm, I turned around and headed back to the hotel, telling the Lord in my prayer as I walked, ¨Lord, I tried to find you.¨  So I just prayed a Rosary as I walked back to the hotel.

Tomorrow is going to be the beginning of our big days: our overnight vigil with and Sunday Mass with the Pope.  We´ll be eating breakfast early (7am) and going to a Mass arranged by the US Bishops for only American pilgrims.  then we´ll come back to the hotel.  They are telling everyone NOT to rush out to the vigil site because of the extreme heat - so our Saint Andrew group is planning to begin our 2 mile hike in at about 4pm.

This will have to be my last post until after the Sunday Mass - as I´ll not have computer and internet access until we get to Barcelona on Sunday night.  So, know we are all well and praying for you all.  Thanks so much for following us on our journey.  I´ll post what I can on Sunday night before our return flight to the States on Monday morning.  God bless you all.  Know of our prayers!  Please continue to hold us all in your prayers as well.

Now, a summary of today´s catechesis with Cardinal George:
Today´s theme: Witnesses to Christ in the World.
When you were baptized, before you made any choices of your own, you were brought into a relationship with Christ and the Church.  You are now not just godś creature, but His child!  In baptism you are brought into a real realtionship with God.  You can walk away from it, but the relationship will alway remain.
Confirmation seals your baptism and relates you to the world in a different way.  You are anointed with Chrism on your forehead rather than the crown of your head signifying that you are now given gifts to help you relate to the world more than to yourself.  You become a disciple, a missionary of Christ to the whole world.  People should look at you and see Christ!  The mission of the Church is to introduce the Savior to the world.  What changes over the course of time and centuries is not the message or the mission, but the circumstances in which that message must be proclaimed.  to announce Christ you must first know Him personnally and belive and trust (although that may not always be a full understanding).
The 2nd task of a missionary is to know the world around us.  Jesus used parables to tell us about the world and how the message would be received (for example, the parable of the wheat and the tares that we heard just a few weeks ago at Sunday Mass).  Many today believe that this world should not be open to Faith and to Christ.  The tragedy of this is that we then closee in on ourselves and are never able to know who God is and the freedom He offers us.  After a while, searching only for things of this world, despair sets in.  Our mission must be to bring hope to this despair - hope in something more!  In this world we must be messengers of hope - messengers of Christ.
Know Christ.  Know the world.  Bring the two together.  This is the task and the obligation of all the baptized.
How?  The Lord trust you to know who and when and what to speak (of course the Spirit helps us - thus the Sacrament of Confirmation). 
Here in Spain in the 1930´s seminarians were taken from the seminary out into the street and shot simply for being Catholic seminarians.  There are many people today who are killed for Christ - in fact there have been more martyrs in the 20th century than all the previous combined.  Think of that!!!  The age of the martyrs is not over!  Usually this opposition is not overt, but subtle.  So we must speak and be authentic witnesses to Christ.  We must strengthen and support one another (one of the goals of these World Youth Days) in our mission.  Remember that our goal is to have everyone live explicitly their faith in the Catholic Church.
The Lord gives us gifts to use in this mission.  Sometimes when you are unsure of what the Lord is asking ask Him just after you´ve received Holy Communion.  The external marks of the Church help us experience the inner urges of Christ to witness to Him.
 Know Christ.  Know the world.  Know and share your inner gifts so that they and be used to help the world know Christ.
 Good night!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

World Youth Day 3

First thing to say is: WE ARE ALL FINE!!!  There seems to have been some very bad press coverage of some confrontations here in Plaza Mayor between some of the young people and some local protestors.  None of our group was there (number one) and (number two) the news stories seem greatly exagerated.  Yes, there was a confrontation, but it was handled fairly quickly without any harm to youth attending World Youth Day.

Second thing is, today is Bishop McFadden´s first anniversary as our Bishop - so we made sure to sing ¨Happy Anniversary¨ to him in front of all the people at our catechetical session.

That said, we had another great day today, including the arrival of the Pope!  But first things first.  Today at our catechetical session Cardinal O´Brien from St. Andrew, Scotland.  Here are some brief notes summarizing his teaching:
Today´s theme was ¨Established in Jesus Christ.¨  Think about the vine and the branches - it is through baptism that we are connected to Christ.  We are here not just to meet the pope, but above all to meet Jesus Christ - in catechesis, in the streets, singing in the Metro and in the Sacraments of the Church.  Benedict XVI said recently, ¨Being a Christian is not just a lofty idea but an encounter with a person.¨
Fr. B, Joey with Cardinal O´Brien
Think today of love: in matrimony and in Holy Orders.  In Marriage the couple is to serve one another until death do them part.  Our vocational lives need to be established in Jesus Christ.  In celibacy we priests promise to serve the Church with all our lives.  Remember John Paul II that last Easter, basically dying on the job - giving his entire life in service to God´s people?
I ask each of you if you are firmly rooted in Christ.  Go to confession.  Remember your vocation to service, rooted in your baptism.  Remember that in whatever vocation you are called, remember that commitment of love.
After our catechetical session we again had Mass then went to a wonderful little place for paella then back to the hotel for a little rest before going to stand in the HOT sun awaiting Pope Benedict XVI.

We left the hotel about 3:30 for the expected 7:30 ceremony - we knew we´d have to ¨steak out a spot¨ along the fencing if we were going to see the Holy Father close up.  There seemed to be a lot of confusion as to the exact route that Pope Benedict would take in the Popemobile - so our original plan fizzeled and we moved to another spot in the SHADE and waited, and waited, and waited.  But not without making LOTS of new friends!

As we waited we sang and chanted and prayed.  Groups from various countries chanted to one another - even chanting one another´s countries (who says that world peace isn´t possible?  They should come here!).  We also carried along the 150 t-shirts we and our parish youth group made to give away (each one says ¨I pray the Rosary - Rezo el Rosario.¨  At first we had some trouble giving them away - people seemed to think there was a ¨catch.¨  But soon we were throwing them to people on the other side of the street - and the chaos began!  We were SURROUNDED by people asking for a shirt and within seconds they were all gone.  James and Joey actually gave the ¨shirts off their backs¨ - fortunately they had other shirts along.

Periodically our chanting of countries and our singing was interrupted by chants of ¨Ben-e-dict-o¨ or ¨Esta es la juventud del Papa¨ (this is the youth of the Pope).  Wonderful expressions of faith and fraternity and unity all stemming from our belief in Jesus Christ.  Then, the moment drew near!  Police officers lined the street, helecopters began circling overhead, and very soon, we saw the flashing lights of the police escourt and then... there it was... the Popemobile... AND BENEDICT XVI... right there in front of us!  It was all so exciting - and so quick that I only got this one, lowsy picture as he rode past...

Since the Holy Father was not going to pass this way again, we quickly moved to a different spot where we could see one of the many ¨jumbo trons¨ set up around the area.  There we watched the rest of the motorcade and the opening prayer service.  As it ended, to try and get ahead of the crowd, we rushed to a local restaurant for dinner (yes, about 9pm) and there, from the restaurant window, we again saw the Holy Father go by as he returned to the nunciature after the prayer service.
Photo of the ¨jumbotron¨ with Pope at Welcome Ceremony

Now we are all safely back in the hotel, getting some rest to begin another day at World Youth Day refreshed and ready to encounter Christ once more!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

World Youth Day 2

Having officially opened World Youth Day last evening at the Mass, today we began what will be our daily routine through Saturday - morning catechetical sessions at 10am, lunch, then the rest of the day whatever activites of the day are.  So, this morning we attended our first catechetical session, led by Archbishop Smith from Alberta, Canada.  We gathered in San Francisco de Borga church and listened to a teaching based on the World Youth Day theme: ¨Firm in the Faith.¨  This is a very brief summary of Archbishop Smith´s reflection:

World Youth Day is all about an encounter with Christ.  When Blessed John Paul II was in Baltimore in 1995 he said, ¨Jesus is the answer to every human life.¨  Saint Andrew, having encountered Jesus and learned who He was, went to search out his brother, Simon (Peter) and brought him to Christ saying, ¨We have found the Lord.¨  THIS is World Youth Day - to encounter Christ and, by our response, bring others TO Christ.
Joey serves Mass for Archbishop Smith
Every World Youth Day the local media is very critical of the Church and her teachings prior to the event - then these 100,s of thousands of young people show up and, by their witness, their faith, their devotion, their love, their respect, witness to Christ.  Suddenly the media ¨changes its tune¨ and begins to praise the Church because of the witness of the young people.
We are all familiar with the Scriptural passage, ¨What God has joined men must not separate." We think of this in terms of marriage - and so we should.  But there may be another way to think of this passage: it pertains to the Church!  You cannot separate our belief in Christ from our belief in the Church.  The Church is the will, the creation of God - part of the plan of God for the salvation of the world.  Thus, we put our lives in the hands of God by living our lives within the Church which He gave us.
 One of the awesome things about World Youth Day is how it helps our young people to realize that they are not alone in their faith and belief and in the joy they find in Christ.  This is especially true in the world today which is truly anti-Christian.
These would be ways to be sure that you are ¨Firm in Faith.¨
  1. Renew regularly your commitment to your baptismal promises.
  2. Examine your life regularlyl in view of the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes.
  3. Love and trust the Church - praying always for her unity and her faithful witness to the world.
  4. Remember Whose we are!  We are made for Jesus.  Do we live as His children?
  5. Remember the Original Sin: to reach out in disobedience to pluck the fruit from the tree - a symbol of human limitations and trusting in God - NOT the lies of the devil.
  6. Pay attention to your diet - your spiritual diet.  How are you nourishing your soul?  There is much out there which is toxic and bombards us without end.  Always ask, ¨Dos what I´m doing bring me closer to Christ and the Church - or away from them?¨
  7. Stay firm in the Faith by staying close to the Pope and remaining in union with him.  He is the one who, by Christ´s institution, guarentees that the Truth of the Faith is preserved.  Second, remain in union with your local bishop who is himself in union with the Pope.  
  8. As we daily examine our lives, always do so without fear if you find that you have drifted away.  ¨Have no fear¨ (Blessed John Paul II)!  The Lord awaits our return.  We are all redeemed sinners. 
 Jesus is humanity´s ¨yes¨ to the Father.  In Him we remain ¨Firm in the Faith¨ which is God´s gift to us.

Following the catechesis we celebrated Mass then headed out for the days activities.  We intended to visit the Prago museum, but the line was very long and it is VERY hot.  So, we instead returned to the hotel for some rest.  Tonight we´ll be going to Retiro Parque for Eucharistic Adoration and a visit to the vocation tent (this is also where the ¨feast of forgiveness¨ is taking place) before we meet for dinner at 7pm.  Then some more exploring for the evening.
Tomorrow, THE POPE ARRIVES!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World Youth Day Begins!

Today we entered fully into all the World Youth Day activities.  After breakfast in the hotel our parish group and some other seminarians journeyed to the seminary in the southwestern part of Madrid.  We jumped onto the Metro and arrived at the proper station, but didn´t know quite where to go, so we asked around and got directions.  Arriving at the seminary Joey Barvir received his credential to attned the Papal Mass on Saturday morning ONLY for seminarians - by the way, he´ll probably get closer to the Holy Father than anyone else - so we´ll have to have him take some pictures - if they let him take his camera...

After getting credentials we headed a bit north to the Cathedral of Madrid where we, and 1000´s of our closest Catholic friends walked through and stopped to pray momentarily in the Reservation Chapel.  As I walked in, someone in the crowd reached out and tapped my shoulder - turned out to be Annie and Mike, Mary Moyer´s sister and brother-in-law.  As we walked outside the Cathedral James Clement met a good friend from Catholic University who is from California - and Joey Barvir met some friends from the Mount - the Church really is a small world!

We then decided to head back to the hotel for some rest before the evening opening Mass for WYD - but wanted to get some lunch first with our lunch coupons.  Took some time to find a place but after wandering about for a bit and a Metro ride to get a bit closer to our hotel, we had a nice sit down lunch and then got about an hour´s rest before heading out for the Mass.

The jumbotron (on the left), rows of priests and LOTs of kids!
Father Bateman had to leave first - as all the priests of the Diocese were traveling together - leaving our parish group to get there on their own.  And they did GREAT!  They were in the very front section very near to the altar!  They got some great photos that I´ll have to get off their phones and post.  We priests, on the other hand, were off to the left, around the corner and down the street - but at least we had a ¨jumbotron¨ in front of us so that we could see what was going on.  The Mass, which I heard from Brother John Paul, was on EWTN live - so be sure to be tuning in to see what we are seeing!

After Mass we headed back to the hotel - where Bishop McFadden met all of us priests and took us out for ¨tapas¨ - some snacks.  Then back to the hotel for some rest and to begin the first full day of WYD activities.

PS - I did have the opportunity to meet Archbishop Broglio of the Military Archdiocese and tell him that I was one of his new priests - unfortunately I didn´t think about getting a photo.  Next time...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Burgos Cathedral

WOW!  That's really all we can say after our morning Mass at the Burgos Cathedral with Bishop Rhoades.  WOW!  After Mass, we left for our final destination - Madrid.  After arriving and having lunch we took some time to get settled in and had a wonderful dinner as a Diocesan group.  Time to get ready for WYD!

Burgos Cathedral, an outstanding example of an integral Gothic cathedral, with church, cloister and annexes. has exerted, at different times, a considerable influence on the evolution of architecture and the plastic arts. It bears witness to the creative genius of many architects, sculptors, and craftsmen. It is sufficient to call to mind its role in the diffusion in Spain of the forms of French Gothic art of the 13th century, and the international importance of the workshop in the 15th and 16th centuries where artists from the Rhineland, Burgundy and Flanders trained Spanish architects and sculptors, thus creating one of the most flourishing schools of the end of the Middle Ages.

Begun in 1221 and completed in 1567, Santa María de Burgos is a striking summary of the evolution of Gothic architecture. The body of the work, undertaken through the initiative of Bishop Mauricio in the reign of Ferdinand III 'the Holy', was rapidly carried out: a first campaign, the most important, was completed in 1293. The plan of the cathedral is based on a Latin cross of pleasing proportions. The three-storey elevation, the vaulting, and the tracery of the windows are closely related to contemporary models of the north of France. The portals of the transept (the Puerta del Sarmental to the south and the Puerta de la Coronería to the north) may also be compared with the great sculpted ensembles of the French royal domain, while the enamelled brass tomb of Bishop Mauricio resembles the so-called Limoges goldsmith work. Undertaken after the cathedral, the two-storeyed cloister that was completed towards 1280 still fits within the framework of 'French' High Gothic.

After a hiatus of some 200 years, work was resumed on the Cathedral of Burgos in the mid-15th century and continued over more than 100 years. These were embellishments of a profuse splendour which have, ever since, assured the world renown of this edifice. The workshop was composed of an international team. Among the most famous architects were Juan de Colonia, soon relieved by his son Simon (towers and open spires of the facade, the Constable's chapel, the Chapel of Santa Ana) and Felipe de Borgoña, assisted by numerous collaborators (choir, cupola and lantern tower over the transept crossing).

When in 1567 two of these architects, Juan de Vallejo and Juan de Castaneda, completed the prodigious cupola with its starred vaulting, the cathedral of Burgos incorporated one of the greatest concentrations of masterpieces of this last phase of the Gothic: the Puerta della Pellejería (1516) of Francesco de Colonia, the ornamental grill and choir stalls, the grill of the chapel of the Presentation (1519), the retablo of Gil de Siloé in the Constable's chapel, the retablo of Gil de Siloé and Diego de La Cruz in the chapen of Santa Ana, the staircase of Diego de Siloé in the north transept arm, the tombs of Bishop Alonso de Cartagena, of Bishop Acuña, of Abbot Juan Ortega de Velasco, of the Condestable Pedro Hernández de Velasco and of his wife Doña Mencia de Mendoza, etc. Thereafter, the cathedral continued to be a monument favoured by the arts - the Renaissance retablo of the Capilla Mayor by Rodrigo and Martín de la Haya, Domingo de Berríz and Juan de Anchieta, the tomb of Enrique de Peralta y Cardenas in the chapel of San Enrique, the chapel of Santa Tecla and the trascoro of the 18th century.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

WYD Pilgrams head to Burgos

Today our group had breakfast fairly late – 8am – before preparing to load the busses for our journey to Loyola – the birthplace of Saint Ignatius.  But, our departure was not without a little bit of drama provided, naturally, by Joey Barvir.  As we prepared to load our luggage onto the bus for the 3+ hour trip to Loyola, Joey realized that his passport was…missing.  Joey swore that the last place he had it was in his pocket on the day we arrived in Lourdes and that it had not been out of that pocket or room since.  None-the-less, it was simply gone.  We TORE his luggage and room apart searching for nearly ½ hour as the rest of the pilgrims prayed to Saint Anthony.  Finally, near exasperation, the travel agent traveling with us informed us that she had it.  Only thing we could figure was that it had somehow fallen out of his pocket onto the floor, it was found by the maid when she was cleaning the room and had turned it in to the reception desk.  Tragedy averted, we started our journey to Loyola. 

Arriving in Loyola we went to a local restaurant – both the group from Harrisburg and Fort Wayne – South Bend – where we enjoyed a very nice lunch (comida) of roasted chicken, French fries (we seem to get those a lot), and ice cream for dessert.  Following lunch we walked across the street to the “Holy House” – the place where Saint Ignatius was born (1491), and where he experienced his first turning toward the Lord.

Saint Ignatius was born to a rich family and served in the military.  During the battle to defend the city of Pamplona, he was struck by a cannonball which shattered his right leg and badly injured his right.  He was taken home (to Loyola – to the “Holy House”) for his long recuperation.  During months of bed rest, he read many books – so many that they ran out of things for him to read.  He asked if there was anything else at all.  All they could find was a book on the life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints.  When he thought about all the glorious things he could do as a soldier, he felt momentarily happy.  When he stopped thinking about these things, he felt let down and discontented.  However, when he thought about the great and holy deeds of the saints, especially Saints Dominic and Francis of Assisi, he experienced exhilaration and joy.  He came to realize that only doing God’s will would bring him to true peace.  From then on, he redirected all his efforts and work “All for the Greater Glory of God” (ad majorum Dei Gloria – the motto of the Jesuits, which he founded).

It wasn’t long until Saint Ignatius, drawing upon his own experience while recuperating, that he wrote what we know as the “Spiritual Exercises” of Saint Ignatius – a 30-day retreat which helps the retreatant to learn themselves, interact with the Lord in prayer, and discern God’s voice in their lives (called the discernment of spirits).  Gathering a group of men around him, the Jesuits became a major force in the Church and in the missions.  It was, in fact, the Jesuits who brought the faith to far away places such as China (St. Francis Xavier) and North America (Sts. Isaac Jogues and John deBerubuff (not sure of spelling) – whom we commonly call the North American Martyrs – feastday in October).

Following our visit to the “Holy House” our combined pilgrim group celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St. Ignatius, right there in Loyola – a beautiful church with wonderful acoustics.  Following Mass we got back on the busses and headed toward Burgos – where we had a late dinner and got some rest for tomorrow’s journey to Madrid – the site of World Youth Day.

P.S. Then tonight we went down to the Cathedral in Burgos - a BIG youth festival was going on... what a GREAT time!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Internet working - photos posted in old blog posts

If you are following along with us, please check posts from the last few days for some photos!

Retreat Day in Lourdes

Bernadette in the Grotto in 1862
Today was our "retreat day" at Lourdes.  This morning we awoke early to go to the baths. Although several of us didn't feel a huge calling to enter the baths of Lourdes, none-the-less, we all felt that if we didn't do it - tomorrow we'd be sorry. So, James, Joey, Mary, Jane & myself (Fr. Bateman) all went and bathed in the healing waters of Lourdes. 

It really is a wonderful, exhilarating experience.  After waiting for about 40 minutes in a cue (line) we finally got to the pools themselves.  After a preparing ourselves to enter the baths, each person is individually led down into the waters and given a moment of prayer... when that prayer is completed, the assistants sit you back in the water and, literally, dunk you - into the COLD water.  As you are stood back up, you ask St. Bernadette to pray for you and the Blessed Mother to pray for you - that whatever request you had made would be granted and you be healed in whatever way is necessary.  It really was awesome and I'm very glad I did it.

After the baths I ran back to the hotel to put on some other clothes and we gathered for the procession to the Grotto of Lourdes, where, with 1000's of other pilgrims from around the world on their way to World Youth Day, we celebrated Mass (where our new seminarian, Joey Barvir, had the opportunity to serve Mass) and spent some time there at the grotto where the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette in 1958.  (to read about the apparitions at Lourdes, click here)  

After Mass we prayed the Stations of the Cross as small groups - and it is really up a BIG hill toward "Calvary."  Our pilgrims were together with Bishop McFadden for the Stations.  After lunch we headed off to the nearby town of Saint Piere (Peter - I think) where we had the opportunity to reflect, in silence and in groups, on our pilgrimage experience thus far. 

After dinner, several of us walked back to the Grotto to fill up our water bottles with water from the Grotto - which flows freely from faucets around the Grotto area.  Then we went back to the hotel for some rest.  

Tomorrow, we begin moving toward Madrid - with a few stops along the way.  I hope you continue to follow along with us - and pray with and for us - as we are praying for you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

WYD Pilgrims visit Lourdes

Today our pilgrims all gathered in Lourdes - together with Bishop Rhoades and the pilgrims from Fort Wayne - South Bend.  The day began with Mass at Saint Cosmas & Damian Chapel.  Then we watched a video telling us the story of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes.  After some free time, opportunities for confession and lunch, we gathered to begin discovering the sanctuaries of this world famous Marian Shrine.  At 5pm a Eucharistic Procession began leading us to the Basilica of St. Pius X and Eucharistic Adoration.  Then dinner at the hotel and the Torchlight Procession ended our day.  We are all struck by the beauty of all the candles and the faith of the 1000's who had come - many on their way to World Youth Day - to first make a stop to visit Our Lady here in Lourdes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Late but beautiful arrival in Lourdes

Well we arrived VERY tired (as you can see from the photo) but safe in Lourdes. After checking in at the hotel and eating dinner we had some free time. The St. Andrew group went looking for the Grotto and eventually found it. We saw the end of the candlelight procession then ran into Kyle Saad - a seminarian from Harrisburg studying in Rome - who showed us around the sanctuary. Not having had the opportunity for Mass because of travel, we learned that there was a Mass at 11:00 pm and so we stuck around. 

Several things struck me during the Mass.  During Holy Communion people kept coming, and coming, and coming - and I was really struck by how so MANY people were coming to the Lord in the Eucharist with such faith and devotion - and how the Lord gives Himself so freely to all who come to Him.  Then, following Mass, they placed the Blessed Sacrament in the Monstrance - and from where we were, there was a candle reflecting in the luna (the round glass piece that holds the Sacred Host) - and so as I looked at the monstrance, I saw the Eucharist and a flame - the love of Jesus poured out for us sinner.  

Finally got the computer issues resolved - so here are some pictures.