Today (8/6/13) we left for Canada. I woke up around 6AM to write some more petitions from my friends and family. Aaron came get me and Emmalee around 8AM and we waited at church for about 30-45 minutes for the bus to pick us all up. There are about 50 of us on this trip to Canada, mostly old people. About 10 of us are between ages 14-22. It didn't take long at all to get to the border. We hopped off the bus at the border, 2 men scanned our passports in less than 5 minutes and we were back on the bus! We reached our first stop, The Sacred Heart's Shrine of Beauvoir Canada (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada) fairly quickly. It was this beautiful little stone chapel filled with red candles burning with Pilgrims petitions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the altar was a beautiful statue of Jesus and His most Sacred Heart. Humbly tucked along the back wall was a pretty large frame with hundreds of Saints relics! It was so neat and actually the first time I saw the relic of my patroness, St. Cecile. After spending some time in the chapel I went into the gift shop for some sacred heart holy oil and to check out all of the French items (since Quebec is a French speaking area). We had a very large lunch... for being pilgrims who are supposed to sacrifice hahaha
I got to eat with the wonderful Priest hanging out with us for the pilgrimage. He's a hefty Irish man with a cigarette in one hand and jokes in the other. He loves being a Priest; so passionate about what he teaches people. We spoke a lot about Theology of the Body and the simple but profound teachings of Bl Pope John Paul II. And how his teachings go hand in hand with every teaching of the church; even down to just simply being a human being.
After lunch we had the option of going on the "Gospel Walk" with the french Parish secretary lady. She was so sweet, not a bad bone in her body. There was a small group of us on the walk an she had a little Britney Spears headset with one of our boys carrying the speaker. It started off at a statue of Mary because even though it is all about Jesus- to get to the son, you have to go through His mother. Then we walked up a little hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus altar where the locals have mass outside (weather permitting). Behind the altar there is a huge painting of Jesus and the artist painted his eyes to where no matter where you sit in the in the pews, His eyes are on you. Each statue we left, we sang a specific song when walking to the next statue. The next statue was "Jesus the Good Shepard" which was so incredible. There were lambs all around Him and he was holding an injured little lamb- the lost sheep. The best things about these statues were their emotions. The next story was the Samaritan Woman at the Well, which has a special place in my heart. I love the stories of the Women in the bible; Jesus loves his sisters very much. He never condemned the Samaritan woman, but he showed her great love and sincere compassion. The next statue was the Agony in the Garden followed by the Crucifixion. Then the miracle of the fish and bread, the healing of the sick, and Jesus with the little children. The tenth statue was the story of The Road to Emmaeus with the men walking and talking about the death of Jesus in Jerusalem and their worries and doubts. Then Jesus starts hanging out with them and they have no idea it's Him. It starts to get late, but they want to keep listening to his stories. So they invite him to eat (break bread with them). When Jesus blesses it and breaks it- their eyes were opened. They realized it was Him. The lady giving the walk gave the example of a high school reunion. We may not remember our classmates by their appearance, but we hear their voice or see their walk and we know it's them. So, although Jesus takes form in bread, in a different appearance, we still know Him.
Now we're on the way to the place we are staying for the pilgrimage. The place we're staying at is on the St. Lawrence River called Cap-de-la-Madeline. It's actually the basillica's 125th anniversary! There is a stone chapel on the grounds that was a miracle. The story goes that since the chapel was being built in the late 1800s they didn't have enough money to transport the stones to build it. So they waited for winter so the river would freeze to get the material across. because the river wasn't frozen during the winter. The ice actually didn't harden as it typically does in winter, so on march 19, the Feast of St Joseph, they prayed rosary and the ice hardened. So the men of the town got together, got the material across the river and when the last piece of material went over the river, the ice broke. Pope John Paul II came here and blessed the statue and the grounds. And the statue in The Stone Chapel is miraculous (on feast of St. John) - the eyes of the statue was open for 10 minutes and then closed. The beauty of the statue is that she actually looks like she is young and pregnant.
Our rooms are very nice and we had 3 options for dinner (Which of course is important to me hahaha)! Then we got to walk the grounds to the Basilica and Chapel and Giftshop. The other parts of the grounds include a Rosary bridge and pond and beautiful stations of the cross with a grotto and a replica of Jesus' tomb.
After dinner we were able to go to Confession, Adoration, and Mass. Immediately after there was a Rosary walk through the gardens around the stations. It was a wonderful mix of French, English, and Latin prayers and songs as we processed from the Church to the Rosary pond and back. The procession ended at The Stone Chapel with some Marian hymns!