Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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Everybody else in Paris was lined up to see Lady Gaga. But we were gaga for another Lady.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 10: Lourdes to ParisWe left Lourdes early on a Sunday morning, bidding our bus drivers farewell and gathering at the Gare de Lourdes to catch the high-speed train to Paris. We were clustered in little groups throughout several train cars---our guides Guida and Francoise later confessed to putting some time into choosing who would be compatible with whom on the 5-hour … [Read more...]

Let My Prayers Rise Like Incense

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We burned prayer cards last night at my friend Michael's house, on a truly cold evening under a last-quarter moon.It's an annual ritual, one that Michael---Director of the Stewardship Office of the Cincinnati Archdiocese---started a few years ago. As part of our annual archdiocesan appeal, we send donors a prayer card with their thank you letter from the Archbishop. We invite them to list their intentions on the cards and return them, to be prayed for at the three regional Appeal … [Read more...]

The Village of St Bernadette: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

People wondered why there is no statue of Bernadette in the Grotto. But at Lourdes, we are all Bernadette.

"There was everything hostile to my peace---an incalculable crowd, an oppressive heat, dust, noise, weariness; there was the disappointment of the churches and the image; there was the sour unfamiliarity of the place and the experience; and yet I was neither troubled nor depressed nor irritated nor disappointed. . . . To leave Lourdes at the end was like leaving home."Msgr Robert Hugh Benson, a convert from Anglicanism, wrote these words in his memoir of a visit to Lourdes in 1908. I … [Read more...]

Climb Ev’ry Mountain: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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An hour in the Pyrenees, and you suddenly understand the deep ties between geography and belief. And you get a clue about why we're always fighting over territory. Gerald O'Hara was partly right: "It's land, Katie Scarlett! . . . Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts." Of course it doesn't, really. But since Eden was foreclosed on, that's the story we tell ourselves.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 8: … [Read more...]

Bilocation, Chocolate, and the Patron Saint of Pilgrims: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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Pilgrim Pop Quiz: What's the oldest Christian pilgrimage shrine in Europe? Hint: It's associated with St James (Santiago, as they call him in Spain), but it's not the one from that movie with Charlie Sheen's dad. It's in Zaragoza, where the ancient and the thoroughly post-modern meet for tapas, and neither one blinks.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 7: Madrid to ZaragozaWhen you say Spain, Santiago, and pilgrimage, everybody thinks Compostela, the purported resting place of St James the Greater, … [Read more...]

Playing Dress-up: The NYT Womanpriests Fashion Spread

 I used to advocate for women's ordination in the Catholic Church---but never because I thought we needed more supermodels on the vestment runway. A curious slideshow featured in yesterday's New York Times Review section (H/T to Katrina Fernandez) makes me saddened and bemused enough to break off from the pilgrimage posts for a minute.Entitled Women as Priests, the slideshow by photographer Judith Levitt profiles 10 women---all white, all of a certain age---who profess to be … [Read more...]

Castles in Spain: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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To build castles in Spain is an 800-year-old idiom meaning to daydream, to indulge in idle fancies. But we spent a day with Teresa of Avila, who built an interior castle in Spain as solid and lasting a fortification as the walls that circle the city of her birth.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 5: Salamanca to Madrid, via Alba de Tormes, Avila, and SegoviaSpain's an odd place. It looks golden and sunny, with yellow plains stretching out under bright blue skies as far as the eye can see, but the soul … [Read more...]

Finding the Frog: Egregious Twaddle on Pilgrimage

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In which we learn that pilgrimage cultivates a different way of seeing: We come to honor visionaries, and are expected to come away visionaries ourselves.Pilgrimage 2012, Day 4: Fatima to Salamanca, Spain, by way of Coimbra, PortugalI've gotten behind in posting, due to a combination of the exhaustion that accompanies cramming so many powerful experiences into each day and the instability of network connections. The downside is that you're probably wondering whether, like that Italian … [Read more...]


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