Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Pilgrimage to Heiligenkreuz

We are starting to see why we wanted to come here to ITI.  Not only is there a great community of families and tons of kids playing all the time, there is a spiritual discipline and lifestyle here that we can't access in the real world.  It is very rich.

Our Spiritual Life
We have mass every day (4 times a day).  As a family we go to the noon mass.  Becca picks up Winter at 11:45am from school and we have mass together at the chapel before we break for lunch and I go back to classes.  The kids are being exposed to mass in Latin, German, English and the Divine Liturgy in English/Slavic.  We also have the Extraordinary Mass offered, but we haven't been able to get the family to it yet as it is during the time Winter is walking to school.  Then on Fridays we pray the Akathist at 8pm, have confessions after and have Eucharistic Adoration till Sat. morning.  We have Eucharistic adoration every day.  This is in the St. Joseph oratory in our own courtyard.  So I can have my evening prayers and readings in the real presence of Christ and then walk 20 steps and go to bed.  Wow!  There is also Laudes with the monks/seminarians in the mornings and vespers in the evenings for both Latin and Byzantine rites.  This is exactly the environment I want to raise my family in.  Our life is ordered by prayer and surrounded by prayer.  We have 7 priests on campus.  Two of them are married Byzantine. The one Father has 7 kids and the other has 4.  We have two nuns in our community, other Byzantine priests with the long orthodox beards, and monks, and Roman rite priests and numerous seminarians.  What a wonderful place for my children to hear their vocation call.  Rebecca is joining the choir and I put my name in to learn Gregorian chant.

On Friday evening, our ITI rector, who is also a priest gave a presentation on the St. Benedict medals.  He blessed and gave out medals to all the students, families and children.  He told a personal story where his parish in Vienna was having a mission but things kept going wrong.  They found a coven of witches nearby and exorcised the demons and sprinkled St. Benedict medals around the area.  Lo and behold, the troubles  went away and the mission was a great success.

And of course we have pilgrimages.  We did a 22.9km hike to the monastery Heiligenkreuz where they have a piece of the cross of Christ.  The monastery is over 1000 years old.  The following are pictures of our pilgrimage.  Winter and Tristan hiked with me and were carried about 1km total. They hiked the other 22km on their own.  Man, we're hard core!  Becca, Benedict and Kate met up with us at the monastery by car.

Heiligenkreuz means- holy cross

This is a photo of the food we bought from a local farmer for a total of 6 Euros.

This is the get of the castle where I go to classes each day.

The next two pictures are photos of the chapel where we have daily mass in the Schloss.  It is set up for Divine Liturgy and mass - note the icon to kiss in the aisle.

Here we start our pilgrimage.  We are just walking out of Trumau.

And, as my kids were the youngest ones, with the smallest legs, we very quickly were the last in line.

We past many fields of squash.

After the fields and walking through a village we entered the vineyards.

A well needed snack break - 6km's in.

Here we are in the vineyards and there are tons of little cafes set up to serve you meat and bread and their wine.

This is about half way. We stopped for lunch in the forest and climbed this tower that have a view of the valley.

Lunch break.  One of our nuns is telling funny stories.

Getting close to the end (about an hour left of walking) the kids found this tree to climb.

In the last hour, the kids took turns getting carried.  Their poor little feet were getting pretty sore.

Here is the back of the monastery.  As we entered, we decided to who were offering up our pilgrimage and our suffering for.

These little huts are the stations of the cross.  We are by station 10 I believe.

Climbing up the cobblestones to the walk around to the front of the monastery.

As we passed the rest of the stations of the cross the lane was lined with statues of saints.  It was fun to find the name of each of the saints.

The entry to the monastery.

Collapsing in the courtyard after 22.9km!  Hiya!  Were we ever sore!

Winter and Tristan refreshing themselves in the fountain.

The courtyard.

The chapel.

The altar.

The pipe organ.

Reception after with music, wine, beer, and sausage!  A great ending to our day!

Short video of the reception area.


  1. We are LOVING the opportunity to live vicariously through you; looks amazing. I'm happy you connected with such a wonderful local farmer and HATS OFF to Winter and Tristan for completing the long pilgrimage - WOW! Wish we could have celebrated with you at the end. God bless.

  2. How cool! Thanks for sharing! I am so impressed with the kids. Tell them that uncle Justin would have passed out byhe 13km. What an experience and what memories you are making! Lovereading your posts!
    Keep them up!
    Love the Flunders

    1. Hiya pilgrims! Much love from Seattle.
      Uncle Michael and Kyla

    2. Hiya pilgrims! Much love from Seattle.
      Uncle Michael and Kyla