Saturday, June 30, 2012

Italy Pilgrimage - Register Now

Today's post is all about a pilgrimage that I am leading to Italy. We depart Chicago November 7, 2012 and return November 17, 2012 on an 11 day spiritual journey through Italy. We begin in Venice continue to Florence and Assisi and end up at Rome - the city of eternal love. 

If you click the link above it  will display a file that explains the pilgrimage in detail - the costs and most of what you need to know. I will be traveling with Father Michael Callea, MIC who will be celebrating Holy Mass daily. This promises to be a great pilgrimage. There is also a fair amount of free time for pilgrims to wander on their own - so you are not "tied" to the group the entire time.  I have been to Italy three times previously and each time I enjoy it more and more. This is a great place to travel as a couple if married - there is so much romance, history, culture and spirituality to share. Even individuals enjoy and appreciate all that Italy holds. Our pilgrimage is very well priced and a great value. Registrations are due now - reserve your place for $400.  Please look at the PDF file above and if you have any questions send me an email at:  deacondale@deacontravel.org

Deacon Dale 






Friday, June 29, 2012

Back To The Future

What a great feeling - my blog has finally been updated and back looking the way I wanted. For some reason it would not accept some recent updates and was not displaying as I designed it to look - but all things come to he who waits.  I hope it is a little more readable for my readers and the side bar information easier to locate. Hopefully now I will be able to also post the current pilgrimage to Italy that I have been working on - if anyone is interested to learn more - please hang in there and I will see if I can upload the pdf file.  Thanks for your patience.


Deacon Dale 



Your Wait Time Will Be.....

That dreaded message when you call a business or organization - "Your wait time will be..." then they state the time - anywhere from a few seconds to unbelievably long wait times. I realize that everybody has peak periods when they have to put your phone call on hold - but waiting fifteen minutes or longer is really unacceptable - and yet - if important enough - we wait. The real reason for such protracted wait times is not because of the volume of calls but rather the lack of staff to handle the calls.  In an effort to streamline operations and to reduce the expense of payroll - all too many organizations have made the decision to sacrifice customer service in an effort to beef up their bottom line - as a way to stay financially solvent or to increase personal profits. While you can understand and sympathize with the organization that is struggling financially - it becomes very irritating when it is done by a mega-billion operation that is not struggling.  The cutbacks in staffing when not justified - but fueled by corporate greed are unacceptable.
Thankfully when dealing with God - there are no cutbacks or layoffs. God does not short change anyone. When you need God's attention - He is there. When you call to Jesus in prayer - He is there. When you are hurting and lonely - He is there. Whenever you need Him - whatever the situation - no matter how serious or minor - He is always there.  Jesus - the One who Loves You - always has time for you - immediately!


Deacon Dale 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Men In Black

When you mention Men In Black most people might think of MIB3 the newest movie in the Men In Black  series with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. If you have seen the movies - they depict a group of primarily men - although there are some women - who dress in completely black suits and wear dark black sunglasses - a pseudo FBI or CIA group whose objective is to protect the Earth from alien creatures who want to harm the Earth. Part of the premises is that alien creatures freely roam the Earth disguised as normal humans - on occasion the Earth comes under attack by aliens and it is the job of MIB to bring a halt to those plans.
The actual Men In Black that I really wish to focus on is the priests and deacons who tirelessly give of their lives to help people on their spiritual journeys. It is this group of men who help protect the faith of the men and women of their parishes. It is their leadership - their listening skills - their guidance - that helps people avoid alien thoughts contrary to the Truth. The priest and deacons - who through the Grace of ordination - are empowered by God to cope with issues that are literally not of this world. To these men - my fellow clergy - I offer my prayers for constant blessings from God. The next time you see your priest or deacon - let them know how much you appreciate them and the time they devote to you.


Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For Greater Glory

The movie For Greater Glory which is currently in theaters - is about the Cristeros War of 1926-1929 in Mexico. It is the story of religious oppression and the response of the people to that oppression. It is a sad story - not only because of certain events portrayed - but also because no government should ever feel it has the right to suppress religious freedom. Unfortunately that has happened more than once in more than one country. Currently our own government is trying to do that very thing with the current HHS Mandate - an action which if successful sets the stage for the government making regulations about other facets of American Life. The argument is not really about health care - it is about liberty of all Americans. You do not have to be Catholic to stand up and speak out against liberties taken away from yourself and your neighbors. 
Struggles such as this can only be won through the intervention of God. It is up to you and me to storm the gates of heaven with our prayers. Jesus can and will change the hearts of men and women so that all liberties may be protected. We need to pray for ourselves, our families and each other. Through prayer - through constant ardent prayer - God will reign supreme - for His Greater Glory.


Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Growing Old

You hear it all the time - somebody in your life has a birthday rapidly approaching and the next thing you hear is something about growing old.  If we are to continue our life on this Earth - there is no way to avoid the ageing process.  When you are a child you just can't wait until you are older and when you are a teen being twenty-one seems like the ultimate goal.  Approaching thirty or forty or sixty brings feelings of wishing you were younger once again. Throughout life we all age physically and intellectually - hopefully in the process we take care of our bodies and minds so that over time we get better with age - like fine wine!  But I say there is a difference between getting older and getting old.  Being older means you have lived another year - being old means you have stopped the living process and have resigned yourself to the end of your life. Personally I hope to never get old no matter how much older I become. Although the numbers of years tallied in my own life have become quite numerous - mentally I still think and act like someone half my age. 
Spiritually I am at an older stage in my life - but I have not yet become old to the point that I do not need to continue my spiritual development. Seeking God's presence in my life - in the lives of the people around me - in the lives of people that I influence - is a quest that hopefully will continue for many many years to come. None of us can ever really know God - that is not a reason to stop trying.  Knowledge of God - of His Will - of His desire for us to achieve spiritual maturity - all comes with age and the amount of time we invest in spiritual inquiry. The Bible and the Catechism contain pages and pages of information on how to live a good and spiritual life - the best way is to make a personal commitment to Jesus - to get to know Him on a personal level - but to do  that you must be spiritually older!


Deacon Dale 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Defending the Faith

As you would expect - Roman Catholics are often called upon to defend their practice of Catholicism - as I am sure many other people of other faiths have done. Although I am a fairly staunch Catholic - I personally prefer to leave decisions about faith up to God's Hand.   Rather than try to force feed my beliefs upon another person - I like to sit back - smile - and watch God do His Work. And - amazingly enough- He does! When given the opportunity to add my own voice in another's faith journey - I very willing jump right in.  It is always rewarding to see how God works in people's lives and the results. As a Catholic when you are called to defend your faith - you need to arm yourself with good resources.  I recently came across two of these - blogs written by recent converts to Catholicism. One blog is by a young lady who I knew as a teen and was Catholic at the time - but then wandered - and recently came home to the Catholic Church. I encourage you to check out her blog at The Recovered Catholic.  The second blog is one I just came across that reads just as well as the first at St Paul's Center for Biblical Theology. 
Jesus calls each of us to personal conversion again and again.  At first He calls us to make a personal commitment to Him and then He calls us to continually turn our lives back to him day after day. Being a committed Catholic Christian is a task that never ends. There is so much that exists in the world today that tries to turn our vision away from Jesus - that we have to constantly turn back - to experience conversion over and over again. Best news - Jesus is holding our hands the entire time!


Deacon Dale 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Outrageous!

Outrageous - i.e. wildly exaggerated or improbable - going beyond all standards of what is right. So what is outrageous you ask - lately it seems like so many things qualify for being outrageous. The way people walk all over each other and then ask "why?" - the promises made to get elected but never get honored - people who commit a crime and end up being rewarded damages because they injured themselevs in the act of committing the crime and more. So today my wife and I took a break from our other commitments and decided to "take a drive" with the new puppy so he can get adjusted to riding in the car. While driving around Lake Michigan we happened on a private road that we wandered down and stumbled upon some very nice looking beachfront houses. Being curious - I stopped our car and flagged down a police car that was slowly patrolling the area - the first sign that this was a special neighborhood. I introduced myself and asked him to tell me about the area.  As I thought - it was a very special area - with the "big" house up the road valued at ten million dollars! The outrageous part - he pointed out a vacant lot that was for sale - approximately one acre in size - bare land - priced at $ 2.8 million dollars - and the kicker - they will get it he said.
Maybe you don't think that is outrageous or perhaps you are one of those skeptics that believe that outrageous things don't exist. As a person of faith I only have to point my finger at Jesus - just as His cousin John the Baptizer did. There - with finger extended - "there is the Lamb of God,  who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29-30) Jesus was considered outrageous by many who listened to His words and experienced His presence in their lives. From those who sat on damp ground listening to His "Sermon on the Mount" to those healed by His touch - all of them would state - outrageous! To those of us today who know Him as Lord - as Teacher - as God Incarnate - we too make such a claim. You can experience Jesus in this way - you simply have to ask Him into your heart - to take control of your life - to give yourself up to Him. That - would be outrageous!

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Va Bene

Va Bene is Italian for "it is good".  And so it is for those who cooperate with each other and get along. When people put aside their differences and work together for the common good - then good works are accomplished - communities are strengthened - neighborhoods become better places to live.  It could be a project to help out a senior citizen or a family who are having financial problems or perhaps a neighborhood beautification project. It really doesn't matter what the project is - as it benefits everyone involved.  All it takes is people making a commitment to join and become involved.
Jesus made that commitment to each of us - no matter what the cost. He wanted people to connect with each other - to experience life - to celebrate living - to enjoy all that His Father provided for us.  Following on that thought - I have made arrangements to host a pilgrimage to Italy this November.  We will be traveling 11 days from Venice to Florence to Assisi and Rome. We will participate in a Papal Audience and visit many spiritual sites in Italy. Father Michael Callea MIC has accepted my invitation to be our Spiritual Director and offer Holy Mass daily. This pilgrimage promises to be very special. More information is available at DeaconTravel or for more particulars you may email Deacon Dale   I will see if I can post the pilgrimage brochure on a follow up post.  God calls us to be His disciples - He calls us to experience Him daily - God calls us to celebrate life!

Deacon Dale 


Friday, June 22, 2012

Full Coverage

When it comes to buying insurance it is like any other purchase - you have options - often too many - and confusing. Do you need only basic coverage - or extended - earthquake - or flood - umbrella - or other add ons?  What any person really wants is enough coverage to cope with whatever surprise arises - an illness - an accident - an act of Nature. That is all - enough to make sure that you do not end up with a financial nightmare because of an incident.- no frills - just full coverage - to limit your liability and out of pocket expenses.
Jesus offers each of us exactly that - Full Coverage. He came and died on the cross for you and me - to make an atoning offering for our sins - so that we can be guaranteed a place in Heaven.  He died that we might live - and enjoy an eternity in the presence of His Heavenly Father. He is our insurance that our debt to God has been paid in full. Rejoice in the fact that God loves you so much that He sent His Son to pay the price to be your insurance policy for eternal life.


Deacon Dale 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Garage Sale

Garage Sale! What excitement that sign brings - unbelievable deals - low prices - extra money in the pocket - hours of hauling old things you no longer want or need - giving it all away at the end just to be rid of it!  I, myself, am not a fan of garage sales. It bothers me that so many people who hold garage sales - end up giving away items for far less than they are worth. A twenty-five dollar pair of slacks - worn once or twice - out the door at fifty cents!  A fifty dollar light fixture - replaced because you remodeled - carried away for five dollars. I find it very difficult understanding why the purchaser feels they have the right - are entitled - to buy a slightly used item at a mere pittance - and the homeowner feels that their possessions basically - have unbelievably little value.
God does not do garage sales - everything He created is beyond value! From the smallest insect to the tallest mountains - all have value beyond compare! Each of us is worth much more than  we would believe. When God created us He broke the mold - each of us is a one of a kind creation. You will never find God offering you up to anyone - you are His and His alone - your value is beyond compare!


Deacon Dale 



Silence is Golden..

Maybe it is just me but I do not understand the phrase - "people of color". Is that suppose to be a nice way to indicate that somebody's skin color is different from your own? What is it with people who have to focus on the obvious - which has no bearing on anything of value? Pretty ridiculous is it not? What do we say when we notice the seriously over or under weight - or the extremely short or tall - or those who limp or are missing extremities - why is it that we feel that we have to make any comment at all? Would it not be better to avoid saying anything at all -focusing instead on the positive - rather than the negative. .

The phrase "silence is golden"  is reported to date back to ancient Egypt and meant about the same that it means today - better to keep silent rather than speak stupidly. Jesus calls each of us to speak the Truth - openly and freely. He calls us to proclaim love - not observations of no value. He calls us to build up - not tear down - to create not destroy.  When we lack the proper words - then we are called to silence.


Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Insert Foot..

Almost everyone I know has said something that they later regretted.  You know when someone says to you about putting your foot in your mouth - or put brain into gear before opening your mouth. Most often the misspeak is not intentional nor meant to harm or offend anyone. Recently the President of the United States misspoke when talking about the death camps in Poland. Anyone with any common sense knows that what was said by the President was read off a teleprompter or from a script that he did not write himself - but never the less he did say what he said. You would hope that if placed in a similar situation you would catch the error before committing to spoken word. It is a completely different thing when a video clip is edited and reported to intentionally make anyone look like they are completely clueless as did MSNBC recently with a clip of Mitt Romney. If you watched the complete clip of what actually was said and the edited one shown on the news - you can clearly see what was done. At the least - it is shameful what they did - not because he is a candidate for the Presidency - but because he is a fellow human being.
Jesus had to contend with similar misspeak and misrepresentation. The people who feared Him could not verbalize true statements that would convict Him - so they invented ones. Like those whose intention was to make a presidential candidate appear uninformed - so too did those in opposition with Jesus. They feared Him because He spoke the Truth and the Truth that He spoke was God - God's Love - God's Forgiveness - God's compassion. Anything they could speak against that - was no better than putting their feet in their mouths! 


Deacon Dale 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Earth Movers

When my oldest was a little guy he used to creatively name many different things. Often he would ask what an item was called - but on many occasions he just named them himself.  One day as we were driving he exclaimed "look at the dig!". As soon as I could - I looked at what he was trying to point out.  What he called a "dig" was an excavator or an earth mover. I thought about it for a bit and then I told him that yes - it should be called a "dig" because that is exactly what it was doing - digging dirt and moving it elsewhere.  Earth movers come in many different sizes but they all accomplish the same task - moving earth or dirt to make a change in the land that is being worked. It might be for a landscaping project or a housing development - whatever the project - it makes a dramatic change in what had existed previously.
Jesus was an "Earth Mover" - in the fact that He came to make changes. The only difference is that He was attempting to make drastic changes in the landscape of the heart.  He came to move boulders and stony hearts - to change them into new creations. He wanted to take what previously existed and change it into a new creation - formed by His Father's hand. Today He still seeks to change the hearts of men and women - He seeks to eliminate the evil that grows in many hearts and to change the landscape of their hearts and plant new seeds of faith and hope. If you need help in your life ask Jesus - He is the ultimate landscaper - He really"digs" YOU!


Deacon Dale 




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wash me - Scrub me...

Cleanse me - that is what we do with water. We drink it - we cook it - we wash with it. It is so awesome that water which is so plentiful has so many ordinary uses. We bathe and shower in it we wash our clothes and cars - we cook many different foods in it - we swim and play in it - we even drink it. It has been said that we can go for very long times without food but only a short time without water. So common - everybody (almost) has access to water. It is so plentiful and such an ordinary part of our lives that we even take it for granted. We just assume that turning a faucet will bring us water. When we cannot find anything better to drink we turn to - water. What a great gift from our Creator!
It is interesting that a very common and ordinary resource is used by many religious communities in their various rituals. In the Hebrew Scriptures we can read all the rules and regulations about using ordinary water to purify things and people. John the Baptist used water to cleanse people - He used that same water to baptize his cousin - Jesus. And Jesus who tuned water into wine to provide nourishment for people instructed His disciples to go out and use water and baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. What a gift it was to me today as I was privileged to baptize babies on this Father's Day. What some saw as an inconvenience to me - keeping me away from my own children - was in fact - a blessing that can only happen once a year. I can only say - thank you Jesus for allowing me to perform baptisms in Your Name on this Father's Day. To all my male readers - may the Lord of Mercies bless each and every one of you and your children this Father's Day!


Deacon Dale 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

In Defense

Why is it that so many people have to defend and justify their actions?  If someone makes a decision to support an opposing sports team what gives you the right to demean and defame them just because they chose not to support your team?  Friendly chiding aside - when did it become acceptable to escalate to verbal threats and actual violence?  Just because somebody you know becomes involved in a business  that competes with your own does not give you the right to threaten them - if the market can bear or needs another provider - then sharpen your skills to maintain your market share.  Competition is healthy and is looked forward to by many individuals as they are smart enough to know that through competition and changes in how things are accomplished is the way we grow and develop - rather than shrink and stagnate.
When Jesus appeared preaching the Love of God - the Pharisees and Sadducees not only attacked Jesus' preaching but also each others. Under Hasmonean rule there developed factions of which three of particular interest were the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. Each group developed their own philosophy and so went their own way - while openly criticizing each other. The fact that they participated in the same thing that we experience today just shows that for whatever reason certain people just cannot accept the fact that we do not all think and act the same - the result is unjust criticism and threats. Jesus came to correct that - He came to change people's hearts and minds. He came to call each of us to be accepting - not judging - loving - not hating. If you feel persecuted - bring your cares to Jesus - to His Sacred Heart - He will give you comfort and peace.


Deacon Dale 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sounds of Silence

Have you noticed how loud it is around you? If you think you have a quiet work environment - try turning off all the computers, fax machines etc and see how different it sounds.  When you go to a restaurant stop talking yourself and listen to all the clatter and discussions going on around your.  Maybe I am just getting old but it seems to me that it is getting almost impossible to find a quiet place to relax anymore. Even in your own home - at a minimum - you will hear the air blowing through your heating-cooling system.  Have you ever experienced a power outage at home when everything turns off at the same time and you are left in the quiet and dark?  If you have - then you know that period of silence that follows - nothing but your own breathing and heartbeat. And when the power comes back on and everything turns on at the same time you hear the end of silence with a loud bang!
There is so much background noise in our lives it is no wonder that people have a hard time  finding a quiet place to listen to God. The one almost quiet place that I can think of is the adoration chapel at church. As long as no one is saying prayers aloud - it is almost completely silent - a silence that comforts and soothes - a silence that relaxes and heals. That is because - in that silence - Jesus can come to you.The next time your life is over loaded with sound - try the silence of Jesus' presence.


Deacon Dale 

Your View

My nephew sent me a link today and asked my opinion about this video. Watch it and reply in comments please.

I would have to agree - Jesus came to establish Church - not religion. Religion as defined by Wikipedia existed long before Jesus did. To quote Wikipedia:

 "Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.  The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect"

To be "religious" means to do anything scrupulously and to be conscientiously faithful. The best example I can give is an ardent Cub baseball fan. Following their statistics and win - lose record - they have no reason for the following that they have.  Even when they are at their worst - they attract a fan base that other professional ball teams could only hope for. Why when they are so bad - do they do so well with attendance at their games - even the away games? The only reason is because Cub fans are "religious" in their commitment to their team.

When we say "religion" we commonly think "Church" - but there is a difference between religion or the practice of a given belief and Church or the people who gather to worship in a common way.  As I stated in the beginning of this post Jesus came to establish Church - to gather people into His Father's house. We - the people - established Religion - in an attempt to accomplish Jesus' goals. We may not have always done it right - but at least we have made an attempt. There is always room for improvement - in ourselves - in our church. With God's blessing both can and will be accomplished - in His time. Praise God!

Deacon Dale  



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Heart & Soul..

When you woke up this morning did you even have a clue what you were suppose to accomplish this day? Sure you knew you had to shower and clean up and go to your job or meet up with a friend or help out with some charitable activity - but aside from all your commitments - what were you suppose to accomplish in this one day? If you are like most people - you don't have a clue. I cannot profess to know what I am suppose to accomplish on any given day either - so does that make you and I failures? I don't think so. We exist to love and serve our God and how we live our daily lives either does or does not accomplish that goal. In our work - in our play - in our interactions with each other - how we communicate - in anger - in compassion - in love - has affects that we can barely imagine. We live our lives honestly - each day - doing what we believe is right and just - and in the hidden spaces between the lines of our lives - God works miracles - all without our knowledge.
When we look at the life of Jesus - do we only see the external? Do we only see what is visible? If we do - we are missing what He is all about. To truly see Him - to truly see God - we need to look with the eyes of our hearts and listen with the ears of our souls.


Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stone Cold

On our recent trip to Washington, D.C. we visited the "mall" and a number of its monuments to the great people of this country. One of the newest monuments was of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.The monument which is carved in his memory is a "mountain" that is split into three sections -the left side of the mountain - the right side of the mountain and finally the third section which is suppose to be the center of the mountain. It is on this third section that an image of Dr. King is carved and the entire section is situated out of line from the left and right halves and moved forward. Inscribed on the side of that third section are the words "Out of a Mountain of despair - a Stone of Hope." Dr. King was that stone of hope who offered the people of the United States another way to embrace cultural differences - without the sin of discrimination.
For all people - of all cultures - all races - all religious beliefs - Jesus is the backbone and the original Stone of Hope - who brought God's message of love - acceptance - forgiveness - brotherhood - to all nations. His message 2000 years ago was the same message that Dr. King professed. And today that message remains unchanged. God loves all of us - not just one group - not just one color - not just one culture. He made us the same and different at the same time - not to discriminate against one another - but to celebrate the vastness and the greatness of His awesome Love. One nation - one peoples cannot contain all that God has to share with His people - so He made many - different and the same - that we could experience through each other - the Fullness of God.


Deacon Dale  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DC

To most people when you mention DC you get the comment Washington DC? And yes I was just in Washington DC with my wife so she could attend a conference on bioethics for the hospital. While there we took advantage and spent some time with our oldest son who took us to the "mall" to visit the World War II Memorial and the new Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. Both were very impressive - honoring an individual on the one hand for trying to bring peace to the Nation's peoples - and a group of individuals who fought for the exact same thing in a different theater. It is heartwarming and sad at the same time that people are willing to give their lives for peace and unfortunately some actually lose their lives in the process. 
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
World War II Memorial

DC has also been used to denote another group of people who have fought for peace - disciples of Christ. Many men and women have fought and shed blood to bring the Gospel message to others. Fear - bigotry - ignorance - fan the flames of distrust - and so - although on a peaceful mission - seeking to serve Christ - even in today's enlightened world - modern day disciples are treated poorly. In spite of this - those who truly believe - keep on with the task of spreading God's message - it is only the right thing to do - honoring the call to true discipleship with Jesus at our side.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Life - Poland Pilgrimage 8b

This photo shows the baptism font in which George - the husband of our friend Dona from Gdansk - was baptized as an infant. It is very ornate and reflects the importance that Catholics around the world place on baptism. Some Christian faiths wait to baptize their members until they are old enough  - or at the age of "reason". However in the Roman Rite - baptism is conferred upon all who ask - or upon those too young to ask for themselves. Baptism is one of the seven sacraments celebrated in the Roman Church - in each sacrament Grace is received from God. It is through the Grace of God that Catholics are able to live and function in the World around them. Some scripture verses hint at but do not specifically mention infant baptism - but a few references are given that mention entire families or the young. In the Roman Rite baptism is often referred to as the "gateway" sacrament since none of the other six sacraments can be cellebrated without first being baptized.
There are many ways that Jesus comes to us - both sacramentaly and otherwise. He comes in both Word and Sacrament - in Sacred Scripture and In Holy Eucharist. For each of us we pray Come Lord Jesus - fill my life today.

Deacon Dale 

Pentecost - Poland Pilgrimage 8a

As we were coming to the end of our self directed pilgrimage in Poland - it was only fitting that we were able to celebrate Pentecost Mass in our last church we visited in Gdansk. It was in this church that our friend's husband was baptized and therefore a special church to visit. As we celebrated Holy Mass on this last day of pilgrimage we prayed "Come Holy Spirit Come" 
Throughout our pilgrimage we had so many special experiences that surprised us and caught us off guard. Although we had planned what places to visit and the religious sites to see - so often we were side tracked and exposed to blessings that we could have never imagined. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours in the presence of Religious Sisters and Monks, "accidentally" meeting up with the English speaking Polish priest from Krakow, being allowed to celebrate Holy Mass in the Chapel of the Black Madonna at Jasna Gora - and so much more. God truly was with us as we  wandered from the southern part of Poland to its northern tip. The next time we visit we hope to lead a group on a pilgrimage perhaps in 2013. With God - all things are possible!

Deacon Dale 

Three Generations - Poland Pilgrimage 7b

While at Malbork Castle we visited numerous displays available to the public. We viewed a collection of Amber and Amber jewelry - many hand carvings - collections of swords and battle vestments worn by the knights. One unique piece caught our attention and is shown below. It is a statue of Saint Mary - her mother Saint Anne - and Jesus. Never before had we ever seen Holy Mother - Grandmother and Jesus depicted in a statute or painting. It immediately made me think of all the multi-generational pictures that are printed in newspapers celebrating the longevity of families. Here in this piece of carved wood is a three generation depiction of Jesus' maternal family - very unique indeed.
Jesus came to us as an infant and grew into the most important man ever to walk the earth. In His own life and in ours He blesses and holds close to His heart the model of family. Today you are invited to bring your family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus - to be Loved by Him - to experience His closeness. He wants only the best for all of us - Trust Jesus - Trust His Most Sacred Heart.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Malbork - Poland Pilgrimage 7a

In the town of Malbork is the Marienburg Castle which is the largest castle in the world by surface area and the largest brick building in Europe. It was built by the Teutonic Knights - a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders. The order named this structure Marienburg - Mary's Castle. In the course of its development and expansion which spanned some 230 years  - it became three castles in one - the High - the Middle - and the Lower castles surrounded by three defensive walls. The first time we visited in 2000 there was no provision for English speaking guides - this year we were provided with English language audio guides that explained the castle in depth and we learned much more not only about the knights but also their prayer lives. Malbork Castle at one time housed about 3000 "brothers" - over the many years it has been occupied by many different groups. Today it is undergoing renovation and reconstruction as more  than fifty percent was destroyed in World War II. It is now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is something special about castles that peaks my interest. It is not necessarily the size of the structure but the idea that so many people lived and worked in complexes like this is very interesting.  In a way it reminds me of our parish when we do certain events on a large scale. Today - June 10th - is Corpus Christi and at Holy Mass we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ as given to us by Jesus in Holy Eucharist. As in previous years we acknowledge this awesome moment in the Liturgical Year by participating in an Eucharistic procession that will lead us from the church to the town square and back - all the while with our priests carrying our Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in procession as a visible sign of God's blessing upon the people of the parish and the world in general. 
As we worship the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist - as we reverence His presence in our lives - as we walk the streets of our town - we pray "Come Lord Jesus Come".

Deacon Dale 


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Royal Castle - Poland Pilgrimage 6b

The Royal Castle or Zamek in Warsaw is located in Castle Square and at the entrance to the Stare Miasto - the Old Town area. At one time the royal court of Poland resided here - today it is a museum and the office of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. About 500,000 people visit the Royal Castle each year. Inside,  the rooms have been restored to their original grandeur. The amount of gold in most of the rooms is almost unbelievable - especially in The Great Hall. It is apparent that Zamek is not a castle in the normal sense of a structure for defense - rather it is a palace of great beauty to be lived in and enjoyed.
In John 14:2 we read "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." Jesus - the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords has prepared a room for us? Shouldn't it be the other way around? You would think that it is you and I who should build a palace for Him - but not so. Jesus loves us so much that He wants us to spend eternity with Him and His Father. The rooms may or not not be painted with gold - but they are lined with the great love of God. Accept Jesus' invitation today - enter into His presence - He stands at the door - waiting.

Deacon Dale 

Warsaw - Royal Route - Poland Pilgrimage 6a

In Warsaw, Poland, what is known as the "Royal Route" begins at Warsaw's Castle Square by the Royal Palace and runs south down a street that changes its name four times until you arrive at Wilanów - King Jan III Sobieski's personal residence. Along the Royal Route you will see the Royal Palace, St. Anne's Church, Holy Cross Church, St. Joseph the Guardian's Church, the University of Warsaw, The Presidential Palace, Łazienki Palace  and more. It is a street filled with awesome buildings of special significance.  As you head north towards the Royal Palace the street has been narrowed to allow for an enlarged pedestrian walkway on each side and is restricted to pedestrian traffic only once you enter the Castle Square area. 
Shown above is Holy Cross Church where Frederic Chopin's heart is entombed in one of the pillars. To worship in this space was a pleasure and a surprise when my wife pointed out the pillar at our side with Chopin's heart in it.
Walking up the street from Holy Cross you first pass St Anne's Church then close by the  seemingly non-descript church of St. Joseph the Guardian's. Upon entering this church - we actually entered and prayed in every church we came across - we noticed that all the altars were adorned with an unbelievable number of relics. As seen in this photo there appear approximately 100 relics! Each of the six or eight altars in this church were also adorned with as many. We did not have time to research as the church was actually closed and under renovation.  Although the Royal Route is quite long and would take hours to walk from beginning to end - the true "Royal Route" - the distance from your mind to your heart is only about twelve inches - and the journey from unbelief to belief can be made in an instant!  Jesus is waiting to walk this route with you!

Deacon Dale 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stations at Jasna Gora - Poland Pilgrimage 5c

Walking and praying the Stations of the Cross is always a special spiritual devotion observed by many. Typically done during Lent - it is also observed on many retreats. While visiting the Jasna Góra  Monastery at Częstochowa with our friends in the Irish - Scot group we were invited to join them as they walked and prayed the Stations located there. Because construction was going on at the time the only safe way to accomplish this was from the roof of the Shrine. It is interesting that as part of the re-construction a walkway has been built into the roof to safely allow pilgrims the ability to walk around while looking at each Station. The Station shown in the pircture is actually some four stories tall. Many pilgrims have been known to pray the Stations at ground level - while progressing from one station to another on their knees
When you come to God and ask Him to become a part of your life you do not have to drop to your knees - unless you feel that is the thing to do. God is less interested in the position of your legs and feet than He is in the position of your heart. Is your heart cold and stony - have you stoned yourself against life and the love offered you by God? Or - is your heart fleshy and loving - seeking all that is good and wholesome in your life? Only you can answer that question - only God can change your heart from a stone cold one to a loving warm one. Ask Him today - ask Him in humility - He will make it new!

Deacon Dale 

Irish & Scots & Poles - Poland Pilgrimage 5b

While traveling throughout Poland - on our self directed pilgrimage - we had the opportunity  to meet and speak with many Poles. Although our Polish was limited we were able to communicate with no difficulty. At the Jasna Gora Monastery - which was discussed in the previous post - we did have some difficulty with the personnel at the information desk. We were persistent and on our third attempt - God surprised us with an English speaking Polish priest from Krakow who was spiritual director for an English speaking group from Ireland and Scotland. He invited us to join his group which we immediately accepted. Shown in the photo below is that group and the Polish priest.
When traveling on pilgrimages in a group - as on our scheduled trip to Israel later this summer - we will have the benefit of a professional guide who will translate for the group when and if needed. When traveling on your own - as we were doing - you have only yourself to rely upon. To some this may be enough to scare them away from attempting foreign travel - but to my wife and I - we jump in with both feet - we study the culture and learn enough "survival language" that we have never had a problem. Because of this we have witnessed many local events and customs that a tour group might miss as not being a "major event" or "site worthy". Shown below is a group of Poles celebrating their pilgrimage to Jasna Gora. We were blessed to also view many first communicants who wear their white garments for an entire week and spend the week traveling to religious sites in celebration of their first communion.
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When making a pilgrimage to any location - we look for God's presence - not only in the places and buildings that we visit - but also in His people. He has never disappointed us!

Deacon Dale 


Czestochowa - Poland Pilgrimage 5a

Częstochowa is a small southern Polish town known for its Pauline Monastery - Jasna Gora - the site of the Black Madonna.  It is about a two hour drive northwest of Krakow and is the focus of annual pilgrimages in which thousands of students and young adults will walk from Warsaw and Krakow - taking the better part of a full week to accomplish the journey. Many stories are told of conversion experiences and multiple blessing received on these pilgrimages. One young fellow we talked with told us about a couple that met on a previous pilgrimage and the following year were married by their priest who joined the pilgrimage and performed their ceremony while on the 7 day journey. 
We are told that the  image of the Blessed Mother with Jesus was painted by Saint Luke on a cypress table top taken from the home of the Holy Family. In 1430 the image was damaged by Hussite raiders who made two slashes on the face of St. Mary. According to legend - efforts to cover the scars were unable to be accomplished as the scars would re-appear - thus the decision was made to leave the scars as is - as if God wanted them to remain. Today the scars are clearly visible to pilgrims. We looked for an English speaking tour to join when we arrived at the monastery but none was available. On our third attempt an English speaking Polish priest overheard our request and invited us to join his group of English speaking pilgrims from Ireland and Scotland. As part of their group we were given access to the chapel area immediately in front of the icon where we celebrated Holy Mass with six priests and a bishop. On previous visits, we were only able to stand outside the immediate shrine area - but on this visit we were blessed to actually enter the immediate shrine area. It only goes to prove - it is in His time that He answers our prayers.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

FALL ITALY PILGRIMAGE ANNOUNCED!

GREAT NEWS!  
The fall pilgrimage to Italy has just been announced.  DeaconTravel - a Pilgrimage Apostolate of Deacon Dale Metcalfe and Deacon Jerry Heitschmidt - has made arrangements to travel to Italy this fall. Departing November 7, 2012 for an 11-day spiritual journey through Italy - this group will visit Venice - Florence - Padua - Assisi and Rome - one special highlight of this pilgrimage will be a Papal Audience with the Pope! Registrations are now being accepted. The group is limited to the first 36 persons to sign up. Cost is #3092.00* per person - double occupancy. 
I have traveled to Italy three times in November and the weather has always been great. Father Michael Callea, MIC will be traveling with us and offering daily Mass. We expect this trip to fill up quickly so please register early to guarantee your spot on this exciting trip! You may register at www.deacontravel.com or send an email to deacontravel@comcast.net


Deacon Dale 

Wawel - Poland Pilgrimage 4b

Wawel is a complex of numerous buildings built atop a limestone outcrop on the Vistula River in Krakow, Poland. The Polish people hold Wawel in high regard as the complex contains not only Wawel Castle but also Wawel Cathedral. The first royal family lived at Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral is the site of the remains of St. Stanisław.  More than 900 years old - Blessed John Paul II held his first Mass as a priest in the Crypt in the cathedral. The Crypt holds the remains of Polish kings, royalty and other dignitaries. At one time John Paul II considered the Crypt as his final resting place - but was buried at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome instead.
When you first view Wawel as you enter Krakow - you immediately sense that this was and is a place of great importance. The same feeling is experienced when one enters the great Cathedrals and Basilicas of the world. At home - in our own churches - that same feeling may be experienced  - if you are open to experiencing the Real Presence of God in your life. The only thing you need to do is to approach with an open mind and heart. Jesus is there - waiting at the door.

Deacon Dale 

Catholic Education

Have you ever wondered who is qualified to teach matters of faith? We can only assume that Catholic priests and deacons would all be more than qualified because of their training and ordination. Does the list of qualified teachers end there - of course not. Many lay people are more than qualified - the difference is in the manner and depth of belief attained by them. I have known many such teachers of both kinds. Some dedicated people teach from their heads and knowledge base  - others teach from their hearts but lacking in knowledge. I personally prefer a third type - those who teach from their hearts and a great love of Jesus - and - with true knowledge of what they teach. Teaching is best accomplished by those who are able to teach with passion - in teaching religion - especially Christianity - the teacher must be passionate about the "Passion" of Christ - His awesome act of sacrifice - His love for you and me.
Jesus taught with "Passion" and that is why the Jewish leaders feared Him - His passion - His love - His declaration that Heaven was available for everyone. Anyone who is seeking God's presence in their life only has to pray the "sinners" prayer - ask God for mercy and accept Him as their Lord and Savour. He is available - right now - go ahead - He is listening!


 Deacon Dale

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wola Wielka & Straszecin - Poland Pilgrimage 4a


Wola Wielka by Debica - you must specify "by Debica" as there are four or five towns in Poland called Wola Wielka. This small town is where Arlene's cousins live. It is small, non descrip, and very rural. I like it - quiet and peaceful - a place where you can be alone with your thoughts - your family - yourself. The family is warm and - as much as we could understand - very content in this little space in Poland. They are very welcoming - greeting us with the traditional "three kisses on each cheek" and big hugs. It is very special when greeting and talking with relatives who do not speak the same language. Body language and sign language take an active part in your attempt to communicate. Through it all - we do communicate - we share stories. - answer questions and leave knowing just a little bit more about our common interests - our history - ourselves.

When we come to God - He knows us better than any family member ever could. He listens to our stories - our hopes - our dreams - our expectations. Always He smiles - hugs - and gives us His three kisses - Father - Son - Holy spirit. Take time today to visit God's family.

Deacon Dale

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Birkenau - Poland Pilgrimage 3b


Also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau - Birkenau was the largest Nazi death camp located in Poland. When Nazi forces took over control of Poland and the Polish people, they forced the Poles into slave labor with the promise that if they would cooperate, they would be saved - one of many lies told by the Nazi. The Poles were forced to dismantle their own brick homes in order to supply the bricks needed to construct the "dormitories" in the death camp. Once the buildings were constructed - these very people became the first inhabitants. When viewing the entrance to the camp - one immediately recoginizes it from all the World War II movies. The first time I saw that entrance, I was shocked that it really existed - I had always thought it was a Hollywood invention - yet, here it was in real life! If I had ever doubted the reality of the death camps - this was more proof than I needed. As we walked around this war memorial - you could sense the pain - the grief - the sufferings - that happened here.



The only thing anyone can say once here - is "Oh, my God!" Anyone of faith who enters here has to say a silent prayer for all those who lost their lives here - the Jews - the Poles - the Italians - and all the others - and even the Germans (yes even Germans who disagreed with Hitler) - were all killed here. The fact that anyone could have survived here and lived to tell about it is a miracle - proof that God never abandons us - rather it is we who abandon Him. If you have been distant from God lately - if you have never made a personal commitment to Jesus - today would be a good day to do just that.

Deacon Dale