Mr. JB jokes that our vacations consist of shopping and churches (not necessarily in that order), which has remained true on this latest trip.
On Saturday Mr. JB and I piled into the new car (that I haven't been able to drive since it's a manual transmission in an incredibly hilly part of the world, I can barely get out of our church parking lot since it has a TINY incline to get onto the road) and drove south to our first shrine: Our Lady of Czestochowa. I loved being greeted by a beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother and as we drove up the long driveway we saw another statue of Pope John Paul II (who is a huge part of my faith story that I will write soon, sorry Leila! My homework is so late!). Mr. JB was so excited, particularly because he is half Polish, and because the shrine was breathtaking.
We were able to visit the main church, the lower church, the candle chapel (where I lit a candle for the intentions of all of my Catholic IF friends) as well as the fantastic gift shop (I got the coolest t-shirt that I'm planning to wear my first day back at work!). We didn't have time to visit the outdoor stations of the cross since we had a date to meet TCIE and her hubs about twenty minutes away.
We continued our church tour at Nativity of Our Lord Church where St. Gianna's Shrine is located. When I realized that St. Gianna's Shrine was but a two hour drive from our resort, I knew that we had to go. I was so excited to see TCIE again and I was also so happy that her dh came along since I didn't want Mr. JB to be bombarded by infertile-girl speak! I have to admit that I was a bit nervous to go inside to see St. Gianna's relics, but as soon as TCIE and her dh pulled up the nervousness went away.
When we entered the church we were greeted right away by A who is the St. Gianna's Shrine Director and VP. I knew that she didn't work on Saturdays so I was so touched that she came to the church to make sure that there were enough prayer cards and medals! Mr. JB was taken aback when she greeted me as JellyBelly (he actually asked me in the car after mass if I was famous or something, I didn't know how to answer him, but I reminded him that I don't blog under my real name so that's what everyone that reads my blog knows me as JB) and that A gave me such a warm welcome.
I felt myself tear up a couple of times, but I was able to hold it together because I really didn't want to ugly cry in front of everyone! TCIE went up with me to hold St. Gianna's glove to my womb since I was so overcome the first time I prayed in front of her statue. I was hoping to feel warmth (like Sew did), but I didn't feel anything until we were all sitting in the pew. I had some twinges on the lower right side of my abdomen for a little while that could not have been digestion since I had eaten so long beforehand. Saturday was Peak +10, btw.
The four of us stayed for 5pm mass since we knew that the next day we had a very early day for day two of super Catholic weekend. I approached the priest about my gluten allergy before mass and I was told to go up to the altar during the "Lamb of God." I have to admit that it was a bit strange to be on the altar at a church I had never visited, but I guess that's what they do for us gf people (and I wasn't the only one that went up to receive the Blood of Christ).
Yesterday morning started bright and early. I am so grateful that TCIE made contact with Fr. Mike, a priest in PA who has helped many couples conceive after infertility. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. When we arrived at the rectory of his parish it was pouring rain (we seemed to drive into every spot of heavy rain yesterday!), have I ever mentioned that on our wedding day the rain was so heavy that we could barely see the road in front of us? Anyhow, Fr. Mike was very welcoming and TCIE and her dh, and Mr. JB and I spent a good hour and a half talking with him about our IF struggle.
Fr. Mike also shared how he discovered that he had his special gift, which he attributes to his sacrifice of having his own family for the priesthood. His blessings have helped fourteen children be conceived to formerly IF women (one of them being our K). After our visit Fr. Mike took us into this church and he prayed over the four of us and then he gave us each a blessing. It was truly an amazing experience. Afterward he was kind enough to let us take a few photos with him, after all, our babies are going to need his picture for their baby books, right TCIE?
After leaving Fr. Mike's the four of us decided to have an early dinner before the long drive (we spent a great deal of time in the car this past weekend which is why we haven't left our resort and it's almost 1pm!). I felt so light and happy in the car, I hadn't felt that way in a long time.
We had such a great time with TCIE and her dh. It was like we were old friends and it was so easy to hang out with them! Mr. JB joked (and apparently so did Mr. TCIE) that he was worried about me when I went to the BW weekend last summer since I had never met any of them in person (I believe his exact words were, "They could all be axe murderers of something!). Now that he's had the pleasure of meeting two bloggers in real life (he met Lifehopes last summer) he's more comfortable with my internet friends. In so many ways the friends I've met through the Catholic IF world are closer than my friends in real life and I depend on their support so much. My fertile bf is an amazing person, but she just doesn't get it!
Prayer Buddy Reveal:
I had the pleasure of praying for Maria at Hail Mary, Full of Grace!
I felt a kinship right away to Maria since she has also suffered with endometriosis and she also has a beautiful devotion to the rosary. We were quite the match!
I dedicated many rosaries to Maria's intentions as well as the St. Anne novena that I prayed for her (as well as other Catholic IF women who are still waiting to become mothers). She also had many frustrated prayers said in her name while I was working for the Minis.try of E.d! I also offered up a lot of tired prayers as I was commuting into the smelly city!
I also took Maria's intentions with me to Our Lady of Czestochowa and to St. Gianna's Shrine. And don't worry Maria, on our way home from the Poconos we're stopping at St. Ann's Shrine in Scranton and I will say some more prayers for you there!
I did pick up some goodies for you during our travels, but I'm going to keep those a surprise!
God bless you prayer buddy! I will continue to keep you in my prayers!