The Big (Spiritual) Getaway

07-03-2016From Our PastorFr. Brian Jazdzewski

There are several readers of my bulletin article last weekend who commented on the content of the article in one way oranother. Those remarks reinforced the reality that some of you do read the article and pay attention to the points made. So, allow this article to be a sequel to last weekend. Let me begin by mentioning that spiritual getaways were not part of myfamily history, though I think members of my family would be different today if we added a spiritual element to our familytime together. Be that as it may, I have taken some journeys to spiritual sights and can continue to encourage and inviteyou, whatever age you may be, to consider a spiritual site as a vacation destination.

First off, if you'd like to go some distance, namely to our nation's capital, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is worthwhile. Add a visit there into the other museums and monuments and time spent in D.C. is really worthwhile. During my graduate studies in Baltimore, I became acquainted with the Metro (subway/train) system in D.C.; the Metro was really user friendly and convenient. Though a trip to D.C. may be a stretch for some of us. By the way, our U.S. Bishops are planning a collection within the next year for some major work on our National Shrine, stay tuned for more details.

So, more locally, we look first to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. The La Crosse tourism department informs us that the Shrine is one of the most visited sites in La Crosse. You might consider spending some time exploring and praying at this holy site, inviting the special intercession of the Patroness of the New Evangelization. A good day trip, indeed.

Extending a bit further, there is great grace to be discovered at Holy Hill in Hubertus, WI, near Milwaukee. The holy sites there are truly remarkable. Further, I think there is special witness from the accomplishments at Holy Hill, namely in an economic framework. In other words, funds for the church and other buildings were attained in the 1930's. During those years, the Great Depression, people of faith sacrificed so much for the Lord and His Blessed Mother. Those donor and benefactors believed that giving to God would never be outdone in generosity. Holy Hill can be quite inspiring since we face somewhat similar economic risks. Though we can allow those donors to remind us that generosity to God ought to remain, or become, a great priority in our lives.

Now a bit of a brag about our state. In Champion, WI, near Green Bay, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States of America. Located in our sister Diocese of Green Bay, visitors to the shrine become reminded about God's power and filled with His graces. Most especially, visitors are reminded about the great presence of our Blessed Mother and the power of her intercession for each and every one of us. Read and pray through these words which Our Lady spoke to Adele Brise in October 1859 and are part of Bishop Ricken's Decree on the Authenticity of the Apparitions:

I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.

You may quickly conclude that the theme of these holy destinations is Saint Mary; and that conclusion is valid. Her presence is a constant reminder to us that Jesus entrusted us to her care while he hung on the cross. She truly is our mother. With that reality in mind, we also remember that Mary will always lead us closer to Jesus. When we honor her, we honor Him. Catholic Mariology constantly reminds us, "To Jesus, through Mary." Whatever your getaway plans may be this summer, remember to keep Jesus and Mary in your hearts. Invite her intercession, follow her example, listen to her words and allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to help you be like her, always leading people to Jesus through your thoughts, words and actions.