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Catholicism

5 Destinations for Your Catholic Road Trip – Northeast Edition

August 9, 2015

There’s nothing like a road trip to bring together a group of friends, and nothing makes a road trip better than great destinations. For all of who live in the in the Northeast or have a desire to road trip there, here are a few places I suggest you visit (paired with some great eats nearby):

1. The Abbey of the Genesee – Genesee, New York

This Trappist monastery, located in rural Western New York, is home to about 30 cloistered monks. They spend their days (waking up at 2:15 AM!) praying and working. To support their monastic lifestyle the monks of the Abbey of the Genesee bake bread which they sell at the monastery and in grocery stores throughout western New York. Not only can you buy every variety of Monk’s Bread at the monastery (including monastery exclusive unsliced maple cinnamon) you can join the monks in praying Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day!

Tip: After spending time with the monks, head into nearby Geneseo and go to Pizza Paul’s for the half-sub, half-calzone subzone.

 

2. St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal – Montreal, Quebec

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St. Andre was the main driver behind building an oratory in honor of St. Joseph, which has been enlarged multiple times over the years. There’s a lot to explore and see nowadays, but my two favorites were seeing St. Andre’s heart (they took it out and put it in a glass box!) and the hall honoring a dozen or so of the many titles of St. Joseph (e.g. Terror of Demons). There are also multiple places throughout the grounds that are covered in old crutches that people left behind after miraculous healings.

Tip: While in Quebec, you’ve got to grab some poutine, which is french fries and cheese curds covered with brown gravy. Yum!

Bonus Tip: While in town, check out the amazingly beautiful Notre Dame Basilica.

 

3. National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette – Attleboro, Massachusetts

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This shrine dedicated to Mary’s apparition in La Salette, France is a great visit any time of year, but is exceptional during Christmastime, during which they pull out all the stops with the Christmas Festival of Lights. They deck out the grounds with over a quarter of a million lights.

Tip: Bliss Bros. Dairy is only a 1/2 mile away from the shrine! Stop in for a sundae or milkshake, and be sure to take home a ice cream pizza. Yes, such a thing exists, and yes, it’s everything you want it to be.

4. Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs A.K.A. North American Martyrs Shrine – Auriesville, New York

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This shrine is built where the Mohawk village of Ossernenon stood. This is where St. Isaac Jogues and two of his lay companions were martyred. The other North American martyrs are also celebrated here. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha!

Tip: Auriesville isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, and this is the one location on this list I haven’t personally been to. I searched Yelp and found Forever Young’s diner less than 10 miles away. They’re known for their korean-inspired Bolgogi (fire meat) omelet and their thick-cut made from scratch cinnamon raisin toast.

5. Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica – Lackawanna, New York

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Father Nelson Baker’s heart broke for the poor and beat for Our Lady. Throughout his life, he did much for both. The orphanage he ran was so well known that children were put on trains all over the country with “Father Baker’s” pinned to their clothes, and they railroad staff knew exactly where to take them and made sure they got there. He spearheaded construction of a new church in honor of Our Lady of Victory (a personal favorite of his) and the absolutely beautiful basilica was completed in 1925 for over 3 million dollars without going into debt. (You know I love that!)

Tip: Lackawanna is right next to Buffalo, so head on over to Anchor Bar, birthplace of the Buffalo Chicken Wing, and chow down.

This post highlighted Catholic road trip destinations in the Northeast. Please list any Northeast favorites I missed in the comments, as well as spots to list in future posts about other regions of the country!

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The Conversion of St. Paul

January 27, 2013

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We celebrated the Conversion of Saint Paul on Friday. As I prayed about this, something interesting struck me. We were celebrating his conversion. It wasn’t the feast day of St. Paul (June 29 – Feast of Saints Peter and Paul), it was the feast day of his conversion. Just his conversion. Not the day we commemorate his ship wreck in Malta (Feb 10) or the dedication of his Basilica in Rome (November 18). Friday was just about his conversion. And what a conversion it was! On his way to round up some Christians to take them to be tortured and killed, he is knocked off his horse by a bright light and Jesus asks him to stop persecuting him. He is struck blind by the light and later regains is sight when meeting up with a Christian later.

I might be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure Paul’s is the only conversion we celebrate with its own feast day. I was trying to think why that’s the case. Perhaps it’s because there is so much for us to gain by reflecting on Paul’s conversion. It is not just a great story; it’s an opportunity for hope. If Paul, one of the meanest, baddest, persecutors of the Church can be radically transformed into one of her biggest evangelists, there’s certainly hope for me, for all of us. Paul persecuted Jesus by rounding up his followers to be killed. We persecute Jesus by turning away from him and going down our own road when we sin. If Paul can be transformed, certainly so can I.

And what was it that transformed Paul? What changed him from a man with a zealous faith that motivated him to ride around persecuting Christians to a man with a zealous faith that motivated him to travel the earth as he knew it spreading the Gospel? A flash of bright light? A desire to stop riding horses and start sailing in ships? No, it was an encounter with Jesus. It wasn’t knowledge of Jesus, not hearing about him, for certainly Paul had heard all about Jesus, he knew his claims to be the Son of God, the Messiah. He met Jesus, and his life was changed forever. He met Jesus, and our lives were changed forever.

After having this personal encounter with Jesus, Paul didn’t just stop killing Christians, he traveled the world preaching Jesus and converting multitudes to Christianity. Tons of the New Testament was written by Paul, without his letters, where would our faith be today?

This Feast of Paul’s Conversion reminds us of the transformative power of a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. If we open ourselves to that relationship. If we really let our relationship with Jesus sink deep into our hearts, it will not only change our lives, but the lives of others.