The realness of Christ

“From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road, to bypass the land of Edom…” began the first reading at Mass one day this week. Years ago, perhaps I would have pictured a brightly-colored cartoon derived from a picture Bible of my youth, or maybe an aging Charlton Heston would walk across my mental image […]

What Bethlehem reminded me about Christmas

When I was preparing to go to the Holy Land this summer, everyone who had been there before had the same message for me: You’ll never read the Scriptures the same again. As a Catholic, I should have realized this also meant something else: you’ll never celebrate the liturgical calendar the same again. As we prepare for Christmas, my thoughts […]

On Pilgrimage

"Saint Peter's Basilica, Sant'Angelo bridge, by night, Rome, Italy" by Jebulon [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

This time last week, I was on pilgrimage in Italy. One of my favorite parts of my job is leading trips to places in important to our Catholic faith. While you might assume it’s my favorite because it means traveling to Europe, seeing the Pope, and eating good food, it’s actually my favorite for a different reason. I get to […]

Together on Pilgrimage

There have been many images to come out of World Youth Day.  The small girl reaching up to hug the Holy Father at Mass.  The smile the Holy Father gave to the penitent in confession.  The thousands of hands reaching up to the Popemobile.  The flags, the crowds, the sunrises, the World Youth Day cross being carried by the youth. […]

The Station Churches of Rome

  One of the oldest traditions of Lent is the pilgrimage to the Roman station churches.  The station churches, or statio, have their roots in the earliest days of the Church, when the bishop would visit the churches of his diocese on set days each year.  Today, the Catholic community in Rome carries on this tradition. Before it was legal […]

One Family’s Novena to Italy—Arrivederci Italia!

Over the Alps, Milan to London flight. Photography by Isaac Armstrong

Travel Journal Day 9 — The Novena Ends Our family novena in Italy ended in Milan, Italy.  As I began to write this final segment for ICL, four of us were aboard an American Airlines 767 at thirty-six thousand feet bound for the USA.  We had left Milan, Italy earlier that morning and the first views outside our windows were of the Alps […]

One Family’s Novena to Italy—A Blessed Day in Turin

Holy Mass celebrated before the Shroud of Turin, Photography by Mark Armstrong

Travel Journal Day 8 — Final Day in Turin Most of the two million people who will see the Shroud of Turin this spring will wait sometimes hours just to stand for three minutes to pray before it; as we did yesterday. Few of the pilgrims know, as I found out on my last visit here in 2010, that anyone can come […]

One Family’s Novena to Italy—From Pisa to Turin and the Shroud

The Italian Alps, Photography by Mark Armstrong

Travel Journal Day 7 — Arrival in Turin When my fourteen-year-old daughter Teresa and I left Turin five years ago, I never expected to see the Shroud of Turin again in my lifetime.  God had other plans for our family.  After leaving Pisa this afternoon, we boarded a train and traveled first along the Italian coast and then crossed the mountain passes […]

One Family’s Novena to Italy—There’s more to Pisa…

Inside the Cathedral of the Assumption in Pisa, Photography by Mark Armstrong

Travel Journal Day 6 — There’s more to Pisa than a tower that leans. Try to think of something else in Pisa besides the Leaning Tower.  It’s hard I know.  For sure the Tower is one of the most remarkable architectural structures from medieval Europe.  What the average person may not realize is the Pisa Tower is just one of the four […]