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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leaves of Life

Leaves float in and in between,
Some may stick, some may drift,
Some may rise and some may even fall.
Leaves can turn many a color, may not turn or even be dull.
They may be carried away in the rustling wind,
They may dignifiedly color the meadow in a rainbow.
Or be trodden underfoot.
People drift like leaves,
They branch off from security.
They are strong despite the wiles of life.
Or they are shredded when the 'cards turn.'
They can mature, be stagnant or even revert.
The world may carry them away,
Forever lost to the beauty of life.
Or they gracefully add appeal to my life,
if only for a short while.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Novelties

My Phoenix henna.
So it has definitely been awhile since I posted and I just wanted to update everyone on what I've been doing so far this summer. Work is the same at Crater Lake NP. Whenever I am not working I try to hike as much as possible. So far, I have hiked Watchman Peak, Garfield Peak, Mt. Scott, Lao Rock, Annie Creek, Cleetwood. My favorite hikes are Garfield and Watchman. I plan on hiking Mt. McLoughlin and Mt. Thielsen soon.
Other times are spent in the Hall in the Lodge relaxing with friends, and et cetera.

My friends and I have done some exciting things such as, just last weekend actually, we all went to Lake of the Woods for a few hours to enjoy some kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming.
I did get a Henna tattoo of a Phoenix when I went to the Jackson County Fair. It's nearly all gone now.
From jaunts to town to peaceful hikes in the wilderness, life is never boring up here.

Atop of Lao Rock
Conquest!!!! The climb was so steep.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Pilgrim's Musings Part 2

View of the square, via the 2nd story of the Lourdes Basilica.

Adjusting to the world after a pilgrimage is difficult. I am finally able to complete this story of my journey.

Chez Nous Soyez Reine hymn- This Christian hymn is a beautiful one, indeed.

Before I left to go on this Pilgrimage, I had no idea what to expect, seeing that it was the first time I had ever been on a pilgrimage and more so the first time being out of the country. I believe that it was a very good thing I should not have known what to expect, because if I did, I would not feel or think as I do now.

It has been over a month since the beginning and end of this journey for me and an unexpected adventure it has been and it still is. It had taken a little while for me to readjust to drudgeries of life, and more importantly dealing with the world in general.
 As my Pilgrimage initially ended when I arrived home, I wondered if I’ll ever get to travel like this again? I have learned so much from this Pilgrimage/tour, that I am still learning and figuring out what I have learned. I saw so many sites. I did so many things I never thought I could and experienced things I have never experienced before. I saw and venerated Saints I had only heard and read about. I had seen churches, cathedrals, and shrines I had only studied of. 

Chartres remains as my favorite cathedral, not only because of the Pilgrimage but because I had studied about it while in high school and for me, it was a dream come true to actually visit it, touch it, and relish in the shadow of this great cathedral. I had the great opportunity to assist at the Latin Mass, that was held in one of the chapels in the Cathedral’s Crypt and to this day, it remains a very powerful experience and fond memory of mine. Imagine that these stone walls and floors have heard and seen many a believer, ever since it was built since the Middle Ages. Off in the distance, there was another Mass going on. The chanting of the Credo, was echoing throughout the Crypt halls and the joyous singing of the French Marian hymn, “Chez nous”, was a moving experience for me. At that moment, the batteries of my precious Catholic Faith was rejuvenated, so to speak.

Up till that moment, I was just a tourist of my Catholic Religion, observing the teachings of the Church and doing everything a Catholic ought to do. Day in, day out and year in and year out, I just practicing the Catholic Religion not out of habit or anything special, but because I knew I had to and nothing more. I had no real appreciation or not even feeling a sense of mystery about it, as I feel now.  My Faith was not strong before. I knew I loved God and wished that someday I could go to my eternal Home, but I had no real love or fervor to back it up. By visiting this ornate and historical place of worship, as well as experiencing and seeing other Catholic sites and shrines, my Catholic Faith became alive in me. 
At the summit of one of the Hautes-Pyrenees
 in Lourdes, France, via the Funicular.

The highlight of this Pilgrimage/tour, for me, is the actual Pilgrimage from Notre Dame de Paris to 
Notre Dame de Chartres. Before I left to go on this excursion, I had no idea what to expect, given that it was my first time being in Europe as well as my first time ever on a pilgrimage. Having the Latin Mass said on the first day of the Pilgrimage in Notre Dame de Paris, as a way of send-off for the pilgrims was the beginning of my surreal experience-really.
Having walked nearly 75 miles in 2.5-3 days, participating along with thousands of other Catholics who had come from all over the world was a great display of Catholicism for me. Seeing the priests, seminarians and other various religious in their habits, walking alongside with us pilgrims and helping us spiritually by prayers, sacraments, mediations, songs or hymns, reminded me of what life is really about:
*We go through life, marching along and at times, stumbling along. We occasionally cross and briefly intertwine with the paths of other people, who for a short time impress something of themselves on us and then suddenly, they leave us as quickly as they came. We become hardened and strengthened by life’s ups and downs and the experiences it teaches and yet, we are still feeling the pain of some of these woes, we become helpless, disillusioned, depressed and impatient.

We, the pilgrims, will inevitably become tired, weak, overwhelmed, and daunted by how many
life-miles we have walked, the personal blisters which formed, the inward aches and pains that never seem to go away. All this and more may slow us down or even knock us out of the track of life. We may have many crosses to bear. We may wish to forsake the Faith and give up because it is difficult to continue.

Just as a pilgrimage is physically strenuous, so must be the pilgrimage of our lives. We have covered many miles thus far, but we have many, many more to go. The priests and religious are with us to encourage us on, prodding us to continue our earthly trek until we reach our eternal camp in that celestial city. The clergy and religious have and are no exceptions while on this earthly pilgrimage.
They are not special people where they are immune to the whims of the Devil. They are human and subjected to the same temptations, hurts, feelings and woes of this life.
By their exemplary example, the laity can continue on with a hope that we will enter that everlasting camp with a joyous expectation of a beautiful and peaceful rest.
This earthly Chartres Pilgrimage only demonstrated what we need to do with our spiritual lives and it is so very hard to put and keep into practice.

There were many times during the 3-day walk that I simply wanted to give up and hitch a ride. I never did fail in walking the entire 75 miles. Physically, it was very difficult for me, but I am glad I stuck it out and never gave up. There is no small amount of courage, soul-sweat or soul-searching and even anguish to complete this Pilgrimage. If we stay true to the Cross and carry on, the reward will be sweet and good.
Col. Bogle-UK, gives a presentation
about the Lourdes Castle.
Those moments before I arrived at the Chartres Cathedral were the most challenging. Everything was hurting. My spirits were severely low. I kept thinking  how could this continue with no end in sight. I was fatigued, my right knee was giving out by this point. I had worn the same clothes since we started. I was tired of eating energy bars and drinking that mystery broth. I was walking up a hill in the countryside, then voila! In the distance, the magnificent Cathedral was towering over the town of Chartres. It was looming in the distance and yet we had some more miles to go. Seeing it as it was, gave me much morale and energy to continue on, despite the pains I was having.

The moment I saw the Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral in the distance, I was in awe! Similarly, we know God and Heaven is our ultimate reward if we stay to true to Him and to His teachings. We know the end result, but we still have a lot of miles to cover. The way is no doubtedly tough, but if we stay true and remain on this course of the spiritual life, despite the wiles of the devil that will come our way and which may hamper us, will ultimately be in our favor.

The memories and experiences, the photos, my fellow pilgrims, Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, St. Bernadette, The Miraculous Medal, etc.. will remain with me as I am in the world once again. I wonder if I’ll ever return to this Land of my Spiritual Forefathers? Someday, I hope and pray- God willing of course! I hope I never lose these blessings bestowed upon me at Lourdes and elsewhere.

Oh how I wish I was still in the Chartres Cathedral, relishing those moments of assisting at the Latin Mass officiated as a sign of the end of the trek. The organ sounding, the people joyously singing and the many processions! These memories and experiences hopefully will never be forgotten in the annals of my mind.

There were some moments on this Pilgrimage as well as the tour itself, that were frustrating, annoying and grueling but they were all for the benefit of my myself in some way or another. When life doesn’t go to plan or when something thwarts your ambitions, the key is to keep going, hold that head held high and go with the flow of things- much how a tree has deep, strong roots that dig deep in the earth, but it also bends with the wind.

Overlooking Lourdes, France via the summit of the Hautes-Pyrenees.
 As with all things that are temporal in nature, there are also spiritual elements in all temporal dealings that teach us something, whether we know the answer now or later. As we travel throughout the world, we are also travelers of life, walking along this narrow and hard road. Keep traveling, stay true to God and you will be fine on this earthly pilgrimage.

I hope that by sharing my experiences and thoughts, it will help others to understand the immensity of this Chartres Pilgrimage.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Pilgrim's Musings Part 1

St. Vincent de Paul

 Pictures of my Pilgrimage/tour will be posted here. Check back frequently for new postings of pictures. All in all, I had taken about 1000 or so. They are available for download.

I am home from my Chartres Pilgrimage. I arrived late Tuesday afternoon after being delayed at Lisboa for nearly 7 hours on Monday. When people inquire about a trip they commonly think of what you did, what you saw, etc...
I will narrate the usual trip elements in this post and the spiritual elements I will talk about in my second post titled, A Pilgrim's Musings Part 2.

Boarding the Metro in Paris.
I met my tour group, Remnant Tours at Newark Intl. After everyone rendezvoused at the Gate, the pilgrimage commenced with a flight from Newark to Lisboa then Lisboa to Paris. All in all, there was about 55-60 people in our American Chapter. There was a good mixture of young and old pilgrims. After landing in Paris, we took a bus ride to our hotel, where we stayed in the heart of the city for a day or so before leaving on our Chartres walk. After getting situated with our hotel, we immediately had Mass in St. Sulpice cathedral. The Mass (in fact all of our Masses) was officiated by our tour chaplain, Fr. Gregory Pendergraft FSSP. 
Since, we had a day or so before our actual Pilgrimage, the Group visited and venerated the shrines and the incorruptibles of the Miraculous Medal at Rue de Bac, and St. Vincent de Paul.
Then we stopped at a missionary museum. Next, we walked to Notre Dame de Paris, where we had some free time and so I spent an hour or so inside the Cathedral, praying and taking pictures. By a stroke of luck and perhaps Divine Providence, the exposition of the Crown of Thorns was taking place.

Notre Dame de Paris
We saw some other sites such as Conciergerie, one of the prisons used during the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette was jailed here, until her death by Madame Guillotine. After visiting the prison, we rode the Metro back to our hotel. The metro was fun!

The next day was the first leg of the Chartres Pilgrimage. The staging area was Notre Dame de Paris where thousands upon thousands of Catholics from all over the world, mainly France, came and assisted at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral before the Pilgrimage started. It was a grand moment. More of my experiences will be told in the followup post.

After Mass, the Pilgrimage walk really began. Our group, Our Lady of Guadalupe chapter quickly fell into line with the other pilgrimage chapters. 

I kept a journal of my thoughts and experiences of the entire pilgrimage, especially of the initial walk, so I will refer to these.

Daily Mass in beautiful chapels.
Officiate is Fr. Gregory Pendergraft FSSP.
Priest in foreground is Fr. Jeffery Jambon.

Day 1:

We walked through Paris. People were honking their horns. I couldn't tell whether they were cheering us on or jeering at us. It first rained then it got really warm and sunny. People were having a difficult time dealing with the heat. I was very hot, sweaty, dirty. Our Chapter sang hymns, meditated, prayed, and chanted marching songs. Walking up-hill and then down-hill is tough especially when there are lots of people who have to share a narrow path. At the camp, dinner was water, some soup-broth concoction and of course, bread. I can hardly move! I'm glad I have my energy bars. I found out that we walked about 30 miles today! My feet hurt.

Morning of the 2nd day. The figure on the right is a priest or seminarian saying his Office.

Day 2:

Last night, it thundered and rained. I slept ok. I was awake before the French announcer was. "Bonjour, etc....." he would crone. I disliked that announcer. They woke us up at 5 am? Breakfast was cheap coffee and hot chocolate. The Pilgrimage began again. I was separated from my chapter for the entire morning because of misunderstanding and miscommunication. I didn't mind really. It gave me time to walk with other pilgrims. We are all Catholic here.

I finally met up with my group at the second break. At noon or so, because it was Pentecost, Mass was celebrated out in this huge field, where thousands of pilgrims worshiped and then we had "lunch" afterwards. By midday, my legs were burning. My feet felt like pins and needles. They still do! My right knee hurt so bad. It still does! We had to walk through mud and then through fields for most of the afternoon. I almost took the shuttle to the camp, but I didn't and so I forced myself to finish. 
We all finished this day on our badly hurt and terribly tender and blistered feet and burning muscles.
I am tired of eating power bars! 

We walked another 30 miles today. At this point, it's no longer the body wanting to finish, it's sheer human will, God willing of course!

Procession of the Banners in Chartres.
Before Mass. 3rd day.

Interior of Chartres Cathedral.
It's a little smaller than Notre Dame de Paris, but more ornate, hence the nickname, "Marian Playhouse".

Day 3: 

Today was the last day of the Pilgrimage. It didn't go as bad as the 2nd. The pace was a lot slower and the way somewhat easier, Deo Gratias! We walked about 10-15 miles today through fields andforests. In fact, 90% of the Pilgrimage was spent walking and trudging through fields, back country lanes, trails, hills, mud, rain, sun, heat, and roads. The other percent was through small towns and cities. 

Me standing in the center of the Labyrinth.
The walk felt forever. I was carrying one of the flags. Margaret and I would trade flags every so often. Carrying flags isn't what it's made up to be but it sure does help with getting your mind off of dwelling on how bad you hurt. At this point, everyone is hurting and limping. For me, it helped to consider the Pilgrimage as a Way of the Cross. If Jesus continued despite the pains and tortures He was enduring, then I can! This mediation helped me immensely to really control my pain tolerance. 

Anyway, we were nearing Chartres but we didn't know that until we climbed this hill and voila! There it was, the Chartres Cathedral towering in the distance. Seeing it gave me immense hope and morale to continue. Mind over matter. It was like a beacon of hope, nearing the end of this difficult trek. Seeing it, had given me a surge of energy to continue, despite the pains I was having.

We were walking through the town of Chartres. It is a quaint small town. The locals were out on the street meeting us and they were also cheering us on, which the pilgrims greatly needed. One last hill, it was so difficult. Finally, I decided to run up it. Around a narrow street corner and there it was, the Cathedral! It was so beautiful and real!! A site for us pilgrims- a beacon of Catholicism, this Marian Playhouse of old.

The chapters were filing in this place. We were one of the lucky ones that were able to sit inside the Cathedral. The organ sounded, the people singing. The stained glass reflecting God's glory. The Latin Mass was said. The people drinking this wonderful site in.  I certainly was. I just wished I had a video camera. Oh well, maybe next time...The service concluded with the procession of the clergy, seminarians and religious. There must have been several hundred religious, who all together, had gone on this Pilgrimage to offer the sacraments and to support the pilgrims spiritually.





Chez nous soyez reine. Chez nous.

Lourdes Basilica and the Rosary Procession.
After the religious festivities were over, thus concluded the actual walking pilgrimage and the beginning of our pilgrimage tour. We stayed 1 night in Chartres. It was so nice being able to feel decent and clean again. Sleeping in a bed after spending our time outdoors, was such a welcome relief! The next day we left for our bus ride to Nevers, the town where St. Bernadette is laid to rest. We stayed the night at the same convent Bernadette did. She looked so beautiful and peaceful while resting in that gold and glass coffin. The grounds of the convent was so peaceful and resplendent. Then after our stay in Nevers, we left for our 8-hour bus ride to Lourdes. On the way to Lourdes, we briefly stopped in Toulouse to visit the tomb of the great theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas.
After arriving in Lourdes, we found our convent-hotel, the Polish Mission Bellevue.
The next day was jam-packed with activities. We went to the Shrine to bathe in the miraculous waters at the Basilica. Then had Mass in a chapel not far from the Shrine. (I forgot what chapel it was!) The rest of the afternoon was free. My roommate, Deana and I went off on our own and toured the town ourselves. We saw the residences of St. Bernadette, scoured the shops, etc..

That night, we all participated in the candle-lit Rosary procession at the Basilica. The numerous lighted tapers, the gorgeous sunset, the people singing and praying made that experience so memorable.
The day had ended and new one began. This day we toured the fortified castle, Ch√Ęteau fort de Lourdes. A magnificent stone castle, which had numerous owners from the Romans to Charlemagne and to his counts. It was used as a prison, a fortress and now a museum. The rest of the day was free, therefore I went with a family to take a Funicular tour up the side of one of the Hautes-Pyrenees Mtns. The Funicular is basically a railway-tram. After the tram, we climbed to the top of one of the Pyrenees. Astounding 360, panoramic views from up there.

The next day we boarded a bus to Bordeaux. I didn't really like this town, because there was certainly a ghetto scene. In fact, in all of the towns I was in, there was numerous homeless, gypsies and drunks. Bordeaux just seemed to have a bigger and a more diverse faction of them.

Eiffel Tower and last night in Paris.
During the whole pilgrimage/tour I really felt quite safe, there was a few moments in some towns especially Bordeaux, in which I felt uneasy and on guard.
On Saturday, we were supposed to have taken the Bullet Train back to the Paris, but because the French have a hobby of participating in train strikes, we  were delayed over night. The leaders of our group scrambled to find a bus that would take us back to Paris. We arrived in Paris on the evening of Sunday for our last dinner. A group of us walked to the Eiffel Tower that night. It was so beautiful, being illuminated such as it was.  I didn't sleep that night, in fact most of us didn't.
Monday was travelling day. Tuesday, I arrived home.

In my second post, I will relate the spiritual aspects of this trip and their profound effect on me.

The Grotto at Lourdes
Notre Dame de Paris interior.

 I am sitting in a cloister of a chapel
in the Chartres Cathedral's Crypt.

These 3 pictures were taken on Pentecost Sunday. Mass was held outside and thousands of Catholics assisted this way.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Tomorrow concludes the wait for my Chartres pilgrimage. I am leaving tonight for PDX. My flight is early tomorrow morning and then I'll meet my tour group on the East Coast in the afternoon and then commence from there. Wish me luck and prayers. I hope to see and do many different things.
I am taking my Nikon and its 2 lenses. My camera is my baby and I already know I will guard it with my life.
I am not sure whether a blog post recounting my experiences will immediately follow. I had studied so much about French history in school, that in a way, it is a dream come true for me to do this. I am quite sure that God had a hand in the planning of this trip.

I believe I have everything I absolutely need for this trip. A pilgrimage, after all, is meant to shed the cares and luxuries of this world in order to focus on the eternal. Hopefully, I am attempting this.

I would like to thank everyone who have helped and supported me in this endeavor in some way or another.

I am also very thankful and grateful that my employer has allowed me this time off to do this and also very appreciative that my colleague friends are covering for me during this time. Many thanks and love! I will see you all very soon, Deo volente.

Please pray for me and I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers during these 12 days.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happenings. Harvard Black Mass.

It certainly has been a while since I posted last. There has been so many things happening that I simply haven't the time nor the energy to produce a post, until now. Just a quick summarizing of what's been going on: A week and a half ago, I finished my studies for Medical Transcription! I am happy and also very relieved. Work has been the usual for me at Crater Lake. Since, I am staying up there now, I don't have access to my beloved desktop PC (except on the weekends when I come home), instead I use a tablet.
Thanks be to God, I am going on the Chartres pilgrimage and so I have been preparing for that as well. I hope I don't freak out, because it really is the first time I traveled this extensively by myself. *If anyone has ever traveled out of the country before and they have some tips or tricks, I would greatly appreciate them.*

*** Most importantly, today is the occurrence of the satanic "black mass" being hosted at the prestigious Harvard University, despite opposition. I sincerely do not know how God can take these outrages any longer?! These blasphemies have been happening for a long time, but to publicize them like this, seems to make it worse ten-fold!
I strongly urge all Catholics to do some reparation today for this heinous and sacrilegious crime.

Dominus Meus et Deus Meus.
Dominus meus et Deus meus.