On today’s episode we’ll hear from a Catholic Bishop and a former member of the British armed forces talking about how our duties as Christians, striving to walk the path to Heaven, and how does that square with the hell of war?
This is a big topic with many twists in turn so we’ll attempt to somewhat narrow our conversation today, and it will be driven by a single line of movie dialogue: “your quality will be known among your enemies before ever you meet them.”
Standing on the shore of a mountain lake at sunrise, you may not think you’re necessarily on a pilgrimage, but then you’re drawn toward a prayerful moment. You gaze into the raspberry and amber skies, as the lapping waves try to sing you back to sleep.
But you’re called to be present and aware of the awe.
Or maybe you hike toward an Alpine peak when you’re serenaded by birdsong; nature’s hallelujah. Again you’re very present in the moment; thankful and introspective, like a pilgrim. And then on the trail you literally see Christ on the cross.
A traveler, a pilgrim, before you thought to install a wayside chapel—a small, wooden structure to draw you even further toward God. These things are common in Europe, and in Wisconsin chapels created by European immigrants still pepper the countryside.
Today we round out our series on the Marian Apparition site in Champion, Wisconsin with a few more thoughts on making pilgrimages wherever you are. You don’t have to go far to travel deeply in prayer. Sometimes you just need to look closely around you and decide to spiritually get away.
There’s a crisp hint of Autumn in the air when a young Adele Brise first catches sight of the mysterious figure she would soon know to be the Blessed Mother Mary. It’s October 1859.
Adele carries her bag of wheat toward the grist mill, in a wooded patch of Northern Wisconsin, when she freezes, frightened.
There, between a hemlock and maple tree stands a beautiful woman clothed in dazzling white, wearing a yellow sash and crown of stars atop her flowing golden hair, until…she’s gone.
The vision of the woman fades, and Adele all alone, continues on her way. A second encounter with the mystery woman a few days later is just as startling, compounded by the fact this figure doesn’t say a word.
On counsel from a priest, Adele is prepared for her next encounter and says to the figure: ‘In God’s name who are you and what do you want from me?’
‘I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ the woman says, ‘and I wish you to do the same.’
The Queen of Heaven—the Blessed Virgin Mary—proceeds to explain to Adele what she’s being called to do: teach the children of this wild country what they should know for their salvation, while also encouraging Adele, that she’s not going to have to do it alone:
When you strip away distractions, you might come closer to the part of yourself calling out for more. Not more stuff. Not more flashing lights. But more substance of the purest kind; the kind only God can provide.
It’s goodness. It’s hope. It’s love.
Catholics believe were are continually journeying through our lives, as Pope Francis said, until the final and marvelous goal…reaching Heaven.
But sometimes that spiritual journey, also becomes a literal journey…a pilgrimage.
Today we begin a series of episodes about a visit to the only place in the U.S. where the church has approved a Marian apparition…in Wisconsin.
Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and poverty doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as in other places. The numbers of people needing food and shelter are exponentially less, even when considering Switzerland’s size.
But there can be another kind of poverty, a spiritual poverty.
In this short episode of the Faith Full Podcast we talk a little about the poor in spirit, and the need for a bit more compassion in our approach to each other.
How do you pray? Is there a wrong way to pray? U.S. Catholic Bishops put it this way: “Prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us.” It’s like a phone is always ringing and God is just waiting for us to pick it up and spend time with Him. But how do you do it? It can be through recitation, through meditation, or maybe through the work we do.
In this episode we meet John Kraemer, a man who over two decades has offered as prayer his efforts to build a church each year out of tens of thousands of Lego pieces.
On the way out of Jericho a blind man named Bartimaeus sat begging on the roadside. The Gospel of Mark tells us Jesus is passing by, and Bartimaeus cries out for Him to have pity. Jesus stops and asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him.
“Master, I want to see,” he says.
Jesus replies, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” And he received his sight, and then followed Jesus. You can see with your eyes, yes, but you can also see with your mind, heart, and spirit. In this episode of Faith Full we meet Fr. Jamie Dennis, a Catholic priest who is blind, whose journey to helping others see the way to God has not always been easy.
“Here is sort of the blunt truth and I’m not trying to put the Church in a negative light, I’m just stating a fact: the Church hasn’t always been good at dealing with people who are, quote unquote different. It’s difficult.”
For some Catholics who are blind, the experience of the Mass can be very different than for sighted people. In normal times, it can be a tactile experience.
But not during the pandemic.
In Scripture, Jesus is recorded as saying where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them. And that goes for times when the two or three need to be two or three meters apart for social distancing. As with many Catholics, those who are blind have found technology as a way to continue to express their faith even when so much of life is disrupted. Many are also helped by an organization in New York, the Xavier Society for the Blind, which for 120 years has kept coming Catholic and inspirational materials in Braille and audio formats.
In times of struggle for the institution of the Catholic Church, some look for inspiration and intercession from the Saints. St. Jean Vianney is said to have faced regular attacks by Satan, yet his ministry in the face of those has positioned him as the Patron Saint of Parish Priests, having walked the Earth during a time of great difficulty for the Catholic church in France. The incorrupt heart of St. Jean Vianney is touring the U.S. during another time of trial in the Church. More on that, and the young man traveling with the relic in this episode of Faith Full.
We live in a moment when our faith traditions can lead some people to stereotypes right away. If you identify yourself as anything, a whole host of political or social positions may be thrown at you, or attributed to you, without nuance. This isn’t just a modern trend, of course, and today we’ll hear an extreme example of a lack of religious nuance from Switzerland’s past. The Catholic-Protestant relationship, and the murder of Joerg Jenatsch..in this episode of Faith Full.