TMIY Pilgrimage: Into the Heart of the Holy Family

Wrapping up the Europe pictures! After about 10 days on our own in Rome and Paris, we met up with a pilgrimage group. This pilgrimage group was formed through the organization Paradisus Dei, based out of Houston. Paradisus Dei has lots of different avenues of ministry, but their main branch is a men’s group called “That Man is You.” It’s a great group that Josh participated in through our parish (any parish can start up a TMIY chapter!). It’s a group that seeks to build up the family by helping heal, restore and empower men to be the men that God called them to be – holy men of God. When we heard about the trip, we knew it was right and we signed up right away. We actually decided to do the pilgrimage before tacking on the other 10 days of travel! All of the timing (including that I would be out of the exhausting and nauseating first trimester of my pregnancy!) was perfect and providential.

Traveling on your own and traveling with a group are two very, very different experiences. Both have their positives and negatives. Traveling on your own, you can go at your own pace and set your schedule. But! You have to plan every little detail and all the logistics, which can be exhausting and difficult. With a group, you don’t have to worry about any details (which is a huge relief) but you sacrifice flexibility. Also, you’re not just traveling with one person – no you have 50 other personalities to account for 🙂 I’m glad we did both.

Our group was challenging though because the tour agency did not schedule in enough time for all of the items on our agenda. Sure, it may only take an hour to drive to X and then 2 hours for the tour…but they did not factor in how long it takes for 50 people to get off a bus, use the restroom (especially if there are TWO TOILETS), get ready for the tour, tour, eat, probably go to the bathroom again and then get back on the bus. So feeling rushed was a big issue for our group. However, I was so impressed with the way people handled it. Not that we didn’t voice our dismay at only having 20 minutes to pray at Sacre Coeur (after CLIMBING THAT HILL) but I think everyone took it in stride. Doing so truly allowed the Holy Spirit to work through the time constraints. We also had an amazing leader – Steve Bollman. What a holy man! His wife and daughters were incredible as well. They helped keep us focus on our purpose – to draw near to God through the heart of the Holy Family. Each destination has its own historical significance, but Steve lead us deeper into the spiritual realities behind the facts.

We saw many beautiful things, and experienced an abundance of grace-filled moments. Our entire trip was truly an ascent to Lourdes. What a place of refuge and peace. Though the town may be full of shops, the area where you find the Grotto and the Basilica is void of vendors and distractions. It is a place of prayer. Sitting along the river with Josh and praying….going into the baths of Lourdes…attending Mass at the Grotto where Mary appeared…renewing our marriage vows…it was a tiny glimpse of what I believe preparing to enter into Heaven will be like. Joy. Peace. Excitement. Longing. Fulfillment. On this side of eternity, all those feelings are fleeting. Consolation comes and goes. But it is still a gift to have a tiny, minuscule taste of what God has in store for those who love Him.

Josh and I did not receive clear answers to our prayers, but we did receive assurance that God has heard us and that He is leading us and that He is with us. That He has indeed called us. To what? We have no idea! But we trust that in His time it will be revealed. In the mean time, He is working on and preparing our hearts. He is purifying us – and that is quite the process!

For all those who sent us prayer requests, please know that you were prayed for. Throughout our pilgrimage we tried to pray for you in places that were significant to your request or that reminded us of you. Many were prayed for in Lourdes (particularly those asking for physical, spiritual and emotional healing) and I pray that the peace we experienced overflowed into your own heart. God hears your prayers and He loves you.

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