Arriving at our one night accommodations, we were happy to traipse our belongings from the van to the hotel suite. Thank goodness for those luggage trolleys that are just big enough to contain 7 backpacks, 6 sleeping bags, 2 or 3 miscellaneous bags, one suitcase and a pack-and-play. After a meal of fast food, our family (minus our traveling eldest son) sang happy birthday to our newly twelve year old daughter as she cut the cake that daddy had smuggled in his car.
The youngest five and I made a thanksgiving stop at the local shrine of St. Gerard (all the more exciting considering we managed to get locked in a courtyard requiring rescue by a couple of funeral directors!) Then, I convinced my brood to belt themselves back in for yet another long ride to St. Padre Pio’s shrine the day after his feast day. Our arrival was divinely timed as we managed to participate in some of the prayer hour in the chapel and receive a blessing with Padre’s glove and holy oil.
authored by my son, Nikolai R. F. X. Brelinsky
So many times, I have heard people question, or say questionable things, about my faith. The easiest thing to do would be to ignore them. I could walk away as though they had said nothing, in order to avoid conflict. Instead, I choose to confront them.
It may take one simple comment or hours of arguing, but I always try to get my point across. Sometimes I have to just let it go; I’ve made my point and they have made their own. An important thing about having faith is that we must show the world that we really believe it. Often, this takes great courage.
It is not very hard to see the lack of courage in our times. The military now accounts for less than one percent of the United States population. So many children now live without fathers and, sometimes, mothers. Bullying is a huge problem in schools.
So many people who call themselves Christians don’t even go to church. The reasons for some of these problems can be based on one thing: people are afraid to live a moral life for fear of “shame”.
But what is there to be ashamed of? If we truly believe in our faith, in God Almighty, why are we scared to live how we are supposed to? We don’t have to be. The Holy Spirit endows us with the virtue of Courage.
Courage helps us to stand by our beliefs and against opposition. I can’t think of a single saint who does not exemplify this virtue, but one saint stands out in particular to me. St. Tarcicius was an early Christian, a child, alive during the Roman persecution.
Despite the fact that he was only a young boy, he braved the dangers of being caught by guards to bring the Holy Eucharist to prisoners. This young boy had enough courage to die for his faith. What is holding us back from doing the same?
Why do people let their faith and beliefs be attacked? Between government official’s ideas, media trash-talk, or other people’s mistaken presumptions, the Catholic faith is attacked every day. It is our duty to stand up to defend our faith.
We are the vehicle through which God often acts! With Him on our side, what- or who – do we have to fear? We should pray for the virtue of courage, so that every day we can be prepared to live out our faith for the greater glory of God!
|St. Gerard Maiella|
|National Shrine of St. Gerard|
|shrine of Padre Pio, Barto, PA|
Finally, reaching this second shrine, the Shrine to Padre Pio, we were greeted by a very different setting. Unlike St. Lucy’s church, which shone amidst a tight backdrop of city life, Padre’s shrine seeks to mirror the wide expanse of San Giovanni, the Italian home of the saint. While we sensed the beauty and peace of this holy place, there was also a feeling of loneliness, emptiness. The numerous parking spots unoccupied and spacious grounds mostly vacant. Not unlike the trials which plagued Padre Pio in his lifetime, this shrine site has been the source of controversy and contention between the Church’s shepherds and the devotees who built the pilgrim site. Placing my feet on those grounds felt like an act of solidarity. Holy Mass is currently prohibited at this sacred site, but that doesn’t stop the faithful from worshiping God. In fact, I suppose it simply leads pilgrims to pray all the more fervently for the privilege of one day celebrating there.