Category Archives: Photos

Photos from my Consecration

It’s been two and a half months since my Consecration on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart, and I couldn’t be more joyful! I haven’t posted much since June because (a) I am still pondering the many blessings and graces our Lord has been pouring into my life since then, and (b) I am still adjusting to my new job as an English teacher at a local Catholic classical school. Teaching is, by far, the most exhausting work I’ve ever done, but I’ve never felt so fully alive! What a gift it is to have found a job I truly love – even if my new routine will take some getting used to. This is my first year teaching, and I am teaching five different grades, so things will probably be pretty hectic for a while! (Perhaps for quite a while.)

For all those who responded to the first photo I posted back in July, asking to see more – here are some of my favorite pictures from the day I became a Bride of Christ. Please continue to pray that God would grant me the grace to live out my vocation fervently and faithfully, according to His holy will!

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“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

Isaiah 62:5  (the verse I had engraved on the inside of my wedding ring)

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“I seal my love to-be…”

Here is a glimpse of my Mass of Consecration, together with the beautiful poem that came to my mind at that moment!

Mass of Consecration: prostrate during the Litany of the Saints

During the Litany of the Saints: “All holy men and women, pray for us!”

Who knows what days I answer for today?
Giving the bud I give the flower. I bow
This yet unfaded and a faded brow;
Bending these knees and feeble knees, I pray.

Thoughts yet unripe in me I bend one way,
Give one repose to pain I know not now,
One check to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.

O rash! (I smile) to pledge my hidden wheat.
I fold today at altars far apart
Hands trembling with what toils? In their retreat

I  seal my love to-be, my folded art.
I light the tapers at my head and feet,
And lay the crucifix on this silent heart.

– Alice Meynell, “The Young Neophyte”

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At Long Last: Photos from Rome!

“What is the first reaction to the extraordinary action of God, who becomes a babe, who becomes man? I think that the first reaction can be none other than joy… [Joy] is the theme that opens the Gospel, and it is the theme that concludes it… But let us go one step further: where does this joy come from? I would say that it is born of the heart’s wonder in seeing how close God is to us, how God thinks of us, how God acts in history; it is a joy, then, that comes from contemplating the face of that humble Child, because we know that it is the Face of God present to humanity forever – for us and with us. Christmas is joy because we see – and at last we are sure – that God is man’s good, his life and his truth; and He lowers Himself to man in order that He might raise man to Himself: God becomes close enough to see and touch.

– Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, January 6, 2012 (emphases mine)

Without a doubt, this was the most joy-filled Christmas I have ever celebrated. Not to be dramatic or anything, but 2011 was probably the hardest year of my life thus far – and I suppose it was precisely for that reason that I was able to approach the Christmas season with such a deep thirst for Jesus. I had never before been so desperate for Him to come into my heart, and by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was so fed-up with everything and so exhausted from trying to “have it all together” that I felt as though I didn’t have any words left with which to pray. So I went back to that psalm which had become the song of my soul all through Advent, and prayed:

“Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

(Psalm 51:12)

It was a prayer from the heart – and even though the Lord has indeed been good to me throughout my life, I never could have imagined just how good He would be to me this Christmas! Spending the Octave of Christmas in Italy with four of my dearest friends sounds amazing – but I’m telling you, I never could have foreseen how much the Lord would use that week to refresh my soul and restore my joy.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few dozen of my favorites.*

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The first fifteen photos are from the two days we spent in Assisi. We took a train from Rome and stayed at a guesthouse owned by the Secular Franciscans, who gave us a fantastic tour of the Basilica of St. Francis on our second day. We were able to go to Mass at both Basilicas (St. Francis and St. Clare), as well as visit Francis’ family home, the Cathedral of St. Rufino of Assisi (where Francis and Clare were baptized), San Damiano (Clare’s first convent), and the Porziuncola (the tiny chapel that Francis rebuilt) in St. Mary of the Angels. I got in some really great prayer time at Francis and Clare’s tombs, and it was just the most tremendous blessing to be able to tell them “thank you” in person.

The rest of the photos are from our time in Rome – and yes, that is a photo of Pope Benedict (near the end of the slideshow) celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s! We were able to attend Solemn Vespers with the Holy Father on New Year’s Eve and Mass with him on New Year’s Day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. (Mario used his “seminarian magic” to score tickets for both.) What a gift!

I have to say, though – the greatest gift of the entire trip for me was the presence of Mario, Peter-George, Pius and Etsy. Words can’t say how grateful I am for their kindness, love and laughter. My life simply would not be the same if any one of them were not in it.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

– St. Thomas Aquinas

Indeed!

* All photos are mine – except the photos I’m in, of course! (For those who don’t know me in “real life,” I’m the blonde girl with glasses!)

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World Youth Day Pilgrimage, Part Four: MADRID

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Highlights of our three days in the Spanish capital:

  • Praying the Way of the Cross on Friday evening and hearing Pope Benedict speak to us for the first time! I was really moved by his words about suffering:

“Christ’s passion urges us to take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles.  On the contrary, He became one of us ‘in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way — in flesh and blood … hence in all human suffering, we are joined by One who experiences and carries that suffering with us…'”

You can read the Holy Father’s whole address here.
  • Singing hymns of thanksgiving under the stars
  • Running into a priest-friend of mine from the States (remember Fr. Timothy?) on the metro. With 2 million pilgrims running around Madrid, imagine the chances!
  • Walking the 5 km or so to the Cuatro Vientos airfield (and enjoying it!) as we watched pilgrims from all over the world marching and clapping and joyfully singing, “each of them in their own native language” (cf. Acts 2:9)
  • Finding a group of friends from my mission year – some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 2 years! – in the multitude of 2 million pilgrims at Cuatro Vientos. What a precious gift, straight from the heart of Jesus!
  • Listening to the Holy Father greet his “dear young people” in 7 different languages
  • Adoring our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with the young Church and our beloved Shepherd. Hearing all those voices singing “Tantum Ergo” was, for me, a little glimpse of what Heaven will be like – when we will praise God with one voice…
  • Camping out under an escalator (yes, on the floor) in the Barajas Airport. I know it sounds miserable, but we were just happy to be somewhere warm and dry, away from all that crazy weather!
  • Mass in the airport chapel with lots of other pilgrims. We sang impromptu hymns in Spanish, Italian, Latin and English – another beautiful experience of unity in the Body of Christ.
  • Running into yet another friend from my mission year in the airport! I have no doubt that the Lord arranged all these “chance meetings” with loved ones at WYD. He knew how much seeing them would refresh my soul!

Madrid was, in a word: unforgettable.

Click here for Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

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World Youth Day Pilgrimage, Part Three: ROME

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Highlights of our three days in the Eternal City:

  • Admiring two famous Caravaggio paintings, The Conversion on the Way to Damascus (St. Paul) and The Cucifixion of St. Peter in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. I was absolutely awestruck by their super-realistic, three-dimensional quality – photos simply cannot do them justice!
  • Tossing my coin into the Trevi Fountain for the second time, in hopes of returning to Rome someday. Hey, it worked the first time!
  • Visiting a gelateria (ice cream shop) that boasted over 100 flavors of gelato. Yes, please!
  • Having gelato and espresso for breakfast… twice!
  • Praying outside the Mamertine Prison, traditionally believed to be the place where Sts. Peter and Paul were imprisoned in Rome. Unfortunately it was closed, and we didn’t get to go inside.
  • Stumbling upon the tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, the “Beggar Saint,” in an out-of-the-way church we just happened to stop into. I’d learned about him during my mission year with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
  • Praying at the tomb of Bl. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Visiting St. Paul’s Outside the Walls for the first time and praying at the tomb of St. Paul (Whoa!)
  • Singing the Salve Regina with pilgrims from all over the world as daily Mass ended in Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Climbing the Scala Sancta (the Holy Stairs) on our knees

Rome was, in a word: overwhelming.

Click here for Part One and Part Two.

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World Youth Day Pilgrimage, Part Two: CÓRDOBA

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Highlights of our five days in Córdoba:

  • Staying with host families during our Days in the Diocese. I got adopted by a “host grandma,” and she totally spoiled me.
  • Trying all sorts of traditional Spanish foods (thanks to my host grandma): tortilla española, salmorejo, gazpacho, paella mixta with little tiny octopi, and of course, HAM. (Side note: Spanish people eat LOTS of ham. LOTS. This article says that the average Spaniard eats five kilos of cured ham a year; that’s over eleven pounds!)
  • Spending time with the priest who hosted us at his parish. What a humble, gracious, holy priest! He’s part of a new congregation called the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary that has a mission in Littleton, Colorado. (Any readers from around there?)
  • Meeting a consecrated widow at the parish and being “introduced” (via telephone) to one of her best friends, a consecrated virgin! (For those of you that may be new to the blog, I’m currently in formation to be a consecrated virgin.)
  • Befriending a few kids from the parish youth group – and being able to stay in touch with them thanks to the miracle of modern technology!
  • Getting to see the famous Cathedral-Mosque of Córdoba, a.k.a. the “Peppermint Palace.” (Can you recognize it in the photos above?)
  • Visiting a group of Carmelite hermitages in the hills overlooking the city that were almost 500 years old and going inside a real hermit’s cave! Unfortunately, there wasn’t a hermit inside of it… That would have been even more awesome.
  • Taking an impromptu “night tour” through the city with our families and realizing that after only five days in Córdoba, we didn’t want to leave! When we finally did pack our bags and go, there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere.

Córdoba was, in a word (or two): like home.

Click here for Part One.

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World Youth Day Pilgrimage, Part One: LONDON

I have so much to tell all of you about our adventures en route to World Youth Day that even after spending three weeks “processing,” I find that I still don’t know where to begin.

First, I will say this: our God is so faithful that anytime we offer Him some very small thing with a generous heart, He responds with a tremendous outpouring of blessings that more than make up for whatever it was we sacrificed. This, for me, was the great lesson of our pilgrimage. I can admit that I was not exactly a happy camper sleeping on the rock-hard, freezing-cold floor of that church hall two nights in a row – nor was I pleased to wake up after each of those sleepless nights and find that coffee would not be part of our frugal “pilgrim’s breakfast.” And yet – now all I can think about are the ways God blessed my time in London. It was like that everywhere we went: a little discomfort, a few sacrifices, learning how to “do without” and not complain… and then WHAM! A shower of unexpected blessings. God is so, so good.

That being said, here is a very abbreviated narrative of our pilgrimage to London, Córdoba, Rome, and Madrid. How we were able to see so much of those cities in just two weeks is still beyond me!

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Highlights of our two days in London:

  • Learning about the School of Evangelisation at St. Patrick’s Church in Soho. Sounds like an awesome opportunity for young adults interested in being formed as missionary-evangelists!
  • Meeting up with the Franciscan friar-priest who was my spiritual director during my mission year. We hadn’t seen each other since the last time I visited the mission (February 2010)! What a gift!
  • Exploring the National Gallery, where we were able to admire dozens and dozens of pieces of breathtaking religious art. (That experience might merit its own post!)
  • Being pleasantly surprised by the delicious-ness of the pub fare at The Sherlock Holmes Public House and Restaurant: fish and chips, bangers and mash, mushy peas, sticky toffee pudding… and, of course, an ice-cold pint of Guinness on tap!
  • Strolling through the gorgeous flora at Green Park on our way to see Buckingham Palace.
  • Eating lunch in Hyde Park on a gorgeous sunny day (a rarity in London).
  • Recounting the story of the martyrdom of St. Thomas More as we stood before the Tower of London.
  • Learning how to say the phrase “Mind the gap between the train and the platform” in a perfect (or near-perfect) British accent.

London was, in a word: delightful.

Stay tuned for Parts Two, Three, and Four!

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