Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Pilgrimage: Rome, Norcia, Assisi

Life is always an adventure!

This past month of October brought more adventures to our life.  We decided to take the fall break and do a pilgrimage to Rome and answer Pope Francis' call for families to come to the tomb of Peter in this 'Year of Faith.'  So we headed off to Rome using only public transportation, a strict budget, too much luggage and 5 kids under 8 years old.  What an experience!  

As well this past month we finally received the dreaded phone call from Winter's school asking why she has missed so much schooling.  We've been keeping her home at least a day a week to focus on her homeschooling classical curriculum.  So I went into the principal and asked why she was calling about Winter and she answered 'because she missed so much school.'  I asked her why that was a problem and she told me it was illegal in Austria.  Here is where the socialist mentality that 'the people exist for the well being of the state' conflicts with the west mentality that 'the state exists to serve the people.'  For the meantime things are worked out, but the situation is heading up to her superintendent to deal with these 'Bifferts'.  

Hiking the Schneeberg

The highest mountain in our province of Niederosterreich is the Schneeberg.   We had the opportunity to climb it so I jumped on board and took Winter, Tristan and Kate.  If I had known what was awaiting us - I probably would've just went on my own.  Hiya!

Here are a couple pictures of the Schneeberg.  We are heading for the top!  2074m. If we had made it to the top it would've been the kids first 2000m mountain climb.  We were very close!

Here is a zoomed in photo of the top of the mountain.  To the left is a tram station where one could take the tram to that height.  To the right is not the peak, but close.  The peak is behind this one where a hutte awaits us.

A break and a look back after some quick elevation gain.

Here is where I began to get worried - not so much for Winter and Tristan as they are fairly good climbers, but for Kate on my back.  We ended up climbing vertically on this path to get to the top of this small gorge.  One mistake on my part and I would have fallen with Kate taking the brunt of the fall. This I wouldn't do again with a kid on my back.  A bit imprudent.

Here I am looking down at what we just climbed up.  My knees were shaking I admit.  Thank God for our guardian angels!

Finally, we all made it up through the gorge but it cost us a lot of time which would affect us later on in the afternoon.

Kate and I getting a drink from the spring.

This looked like we were getting close to the top, but alas it was just a ridge with much more to climb yet!

Winter and Tristan looking at how far they've hiked - we started at the end of the village you see in the picture.

Tristan loved hiking with our leader Travis and stuck by his side at the front of the line most of the hike. Both Tristan and Winter now have no problem keeping up with an adult pace on a hike.

The intense part about this entire hike is that 1/3 of the hike was a grade 3 or 4 - in that we had to use hands and feet almost continually.  The previous scale we did was a basic grade 5 wall where you actually had to rock climb up.

Here we are holding onto wires above a good 30 ft drop.  Again, not so prudent with Kate on my back. But interestingly enough, Kate could feel when things were tense and she would become very quiet and just rub my shoulder - kind of like saying 'you can do it daddy - I trust you.'

In this picture you can see the Austrian flag trail markings that show the way up the mountain.

Here is a picture of the tram station near the top - maybe around 1700m.  I'll be honest, my first thought was sheesh - who wants to get out into the wilderness and see a tram station at the top of a mountain.  But then at the top in the hutte's (there were 3 up there) - they were filled with families.  If there was not tram most of these kids would not be enjoying the top of a mountain.  So in this sense, I thought it was a great incentive to get families out enjoying the mountains.

Here we have finally summited the ridge.  The hutte you can see in the distance is at 2046m.  I really wanted to make it there with the kids so they could hit their first 2000m elevation, but we lost too much time rock climbing up that gorge and it was already past 4pm.  This would mean if we left right away we could make it near the bottom of the mountain right around the time it gets dark.

There was a cross stationed at 1800m so we jaunted up to the cross to get a picture before heading down.

Here is a little chapel that we stopped and prayed in near the tram station.

Now here is the real bad part.  My tradition with the kids is to hike up and celebrate.  We had planned on getting beer and strudel at the top of this mountain to celebrate our crazy accomplishment.  But because of the time, the team was eager to get down.  So we literally had no break.  We basically hiked up and took photos at the cross and hiked down.  My two hard core kids were exhausted after 8 hours of straight mountain hiking.  But it was still a great memory that they talk about.

Baptism of Octavian

It was a great joy to welcome Tavi into the Catholic through the sacrament of baptism.  We did things a bit different this year and had the baptism in the extraordinary form of the rite.  The one thing I love about Catholicism is the importance placed on matter.  We see this everywhere in our faith.  God takes matter and makes it holy and uses it for our benefit.  Just like Jesus took a human body of flesh for our sake.  For access to the full rite in English/Latin see:

Part I: Outside the Church proper

The rite began within the doors of the church to represent baptism as the entry, the gateway into the Body of Christ and into the other sacraments.
At this time we are asked our intentions for Tavi, and we signed with the cross of Christ and the priest places his hands on Tavi and breaks any bonds or wiles or toils of Satan against his life and frees him to receive the fullness of Christ.

Then next part still happens in the doors of the church.  Salt is exorcised and blessed by the priest and a bit of blessed salt is put into Tavi's mouth.

Salt is the symbol of that wisdom which gives a relish for the sweetness of divine nourishment; preserves, by the teaching of the Gospel, from the corruption of sin, and prevents evil passions from growing in men's souls. 

Part 2: Admission into the church

After prayers of exorcism and blessing and protection, Becca and I confess the Creed that the Church believes and reject Satan and follow the priest into the church.

Part III: In the Nave of the church

Here Tavi was anointed with holy oil and then baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Evie and Vincent DeMeo, standing in for the Flunders as godparents give the baptismal candle to us as a reminder for Octavian to keep the light ignited in him this day burning brightly till the day he dies.

Then Rebecca and I received conditional Sacraments of Confirmation.  Evie and Vincent were our sponsors for this event.

The happy family welcomes baby Tavi into the body of Christ and into the Catholic Church.  His original sin is wiped clean and filled with God's grace.  Monseigneur Hogan did the baptism in English and Latin and Fr. Juraj sang the blessing.

After we had a great party with the whole community.  Food and wine and beer and desserts galore!  It was also a special day as it was Becca's Birthday!  And St. Faustina's feast day.  So we celebrated a baptism, confirmation, birthday and feast day all at once.

Here Fr. Juraj leads the community in singing a blessing for Tavi.

Daddy Daughter Date

It was time to take Winter on a date.  We biked to Munchendorf and took the train into Vienna.  Then we took the metro to Schonbrunn Palace.

Our plan was to take part in dancing lessons and to learn the Quadrille.  The Quadrille is a historical dance done in groups of 4 and is the dance danced at midnight at the Viennese balls.
We were a bit early so we toured the palace gardens.

We weren't quite sure what to think about these trees.  They were definitely a surprise!

The time came to go into the palace and first thing we had to do was to pick out a classical costume to dance in.

And we danced till we were sweating and then went for some goodies!

Pilgrimage to Rome

It has been a desire of ours to go and see the eternal city where so much of our Church history began.  Pope Francis organized a pilgrimage for the families to come and pray at the tomb of St. Peter and it happened to be on the weekend during our fall break.  So we took the opportunity and ran with it!

The following is photo journey.  We made a conscious effort to not be tourists but pilgrims.  We went with intentions and to pray at different holy sites.  We also anticipated the suffering it would entail as we were doing the trip with 5 little kids, using only public transportation, and on a budget.
We are proof that it can be done! (and survived!)

Here is the beginning of our journey and a small miracle to start us off.  It cost 130 euros to get 4 of us to Rome from Vienna.  Two kids were 9 euros each and the adults were the rest of the price.  Then for the 3rd and 4th kid the train company quadrupled the price for the kids!  It would've cost us almost the same amount for just 2 more seats.  So I only paid for 4.  This means that we would have 7 of us sitting in 4 seats on the overnight train for 14 hours.  Oh yes - the suffering begins!  Well, the compartments as you can see above have 6 seats.  The gentleman and lady who owned the other two seats came to claim them just as my beloved daughter Kate had a huge 'dump'.  Oh bless her heart!  So I was changing her stinky diaper on their seat as they came in the booth.  They left and never returned.  We had two extra seats for free all the way to Rome!  The second challenge was to get the kids asleep.  They all zonked off but Kate.  Kate, O dear Kate, didn't fall asleep till 4am and then the kids were all awake by 6:30am.  Kate and her daddy didn't get a lot of sleep that night.

We arrived in Rome a little worse for wear and met the Owen family (Chris, Anna, Benedict, Leo - also students at ITI) who we'd tour a bit of Rome with for the day.
We found a taxi, we're charged the double the amount we should've been (and I even refused to pay him 5 euros) and made it to our hostel.  We had booked 4 beds in a very small hostel.  All 4 beds were in the same room so we fit 6 of us into the beds and Kate into her playpen.  This worked out ok.  After dropping our luggage off at the hostel we began our trip.

We took the Metro and met the Owens at one of the 4 major basilicas in Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore as it is Rome's principle Church dedicated to Mary.
This Church was first built in 352AD and used to be called 'St. Mary of the Snows' due to a miracle when snow fell on this spot on Aug. 5th.  They still celebrate the miracle by dropping rose petals from the ceiling.

This is the smallest of the 4 major basilicas that pilgrims visit when they come to Rome.

To our joy we found the manager that Jesus was born in enshrined!
What a thrill it was to kneel and pray before the manger Jesus was born in as we lifted up our hearts in thanksgiving for the incarnation.

Another interesting thing is that the great St. Jerome who translated the Bible into Latin in the 4th century is buried here.

After praying and confessions we went walked and found a place for lunch - pizza of course!  Then we headed off to edge of old Rome.

Here are the ancient walls surrounding Rome.  There used to be a rule that no bodies could be buried inside the walls of Rome and thus all the catacombs are outside these walls.

St. John Lateran Basilica

This was another joy for me for I'm taking Church history right now and was now standing in the places where the history took place.  After the Emperor Constantine had the vision of the cross and painted the cross on the shields of soldiers and won the empire - he converted to Christianity and stopped the persecution of the Christians that had been going on from the previous 10 emperors.  This basilica was built under the auspice of Pope Melchiades in 311AD  and marks the end of over 6,000,000 Christian deaths.  

You can see the statues of the 12 apostles with Christ in the centre on top.

The basilica is dedicated to Christ Himself.

The majestic doors!

Here is the Man!  Constantine (looking like the god Apollo) - used as an example by St. Augustine as how sometimes God blesses empires for the purpose of furthering His will.  His full name after defeating Licinius in 324Ad and becoming sole emperor of Rome was as such: Imperator Ceasar Flavius Constantus Pius Flavius Victor Maximus Augustus.

The doors of Jubilee.  Only opened when the Pope declares the year to be a year of Jubilee.

The Facade before you enter the Church with Constantine at the end.

This basilica is the Pope's basilica.  In fact, 'the chair' in which he speaks 'ex cathedra' (from the chair) - meaning from 'the chair of Peter' is situated in the Apse of the Church behind the high altar.
Along the sides you'll see statues of all 12 apostles with a particular symbol representing their lives.  The kids and I went through each apostles and tried to guess who they were and what the symbol was.

St. Peter of course was the easiest and the kids guessed it right away.

Here is the tomb of Pope Martin V.

The chair from which the Pope speaks 'ex cathedra' - meaning with the charism of the Holy Spirit he speaks infallibly.  This is different than the chair of Peter in the vatican which is the actual chair that Peter himself used.

Note the rivers of life flowing from the cross: sicut cervus ad fontes (as deer pants for the water)

Above the altar are enshrined the heads of Peter and Paul.  A bit hard to see as it was pretty high up.

Enshrined here is the table used at the Last Supper.

The 'keys' as a motif were all over the roof and walls showing this to be the Papal Basilica.

We spent a lot of time here.  We prayed at the different altars and prayed for many intentions.  Kate was getting tired by now (having only had 2 hours of sleep) but I managed to get a half smile out of her.

The Scala Santa

St. Helena, Constantine's mother, converted to Christianity as well and took off to Jerusalem in search for relics.  She found many including the stairs Jesus walked up after being scourged and where Pilate condemned him to be crucified.  She had them brought to Rome and pilgrims everywhere walk up the stairs on their knees and pray in remembrance of what Christ suffered.  

Here you can see Tristan on his knees.  This was a powerful moment for the whole family.  The kids took it very seriously and Winter especially prayed an entire decade of the Divine Mercy chaplet on each stair.  We prayed the chaplet as a family as we made our way to the top.

By this time it was almost time for supper or at least a snack!

So having done pizza, we did Gelato!

Crossing the Tiber

One of the moments we wanted captured was a deliberate moment of us crossing the Tiber symbolizing our conversation to Catholicism. 
Here is the majestic, breathtaking view of St. Peter's Basilica on Vatican Hill. 

Crossing the Tiber!

Day #1 in Rome is almost complete as we have a dinner at a backstreet restaurant.  It was great to be outside so the kids could run around and not be cooped up in a little building.

Day 2: Colosseum

For our second day we headed straight to the Vatican to see St. Peter's but because it was a pilgrimage weekend it was crazy packed.  We did a little bit of shopping for sacramentals and then took the metro to the see the colosseum.

We arrived and then tried to find a bathroom to no avail.  Winter was crying.  The kids were tired.  It was hot.  We got lost in a construction zone and had to backtrack a long ways.  Tavi was hungry and tired, it was too expensive to take the tour inside and we had a family breakdown.
So we took a breather in some shade.  Kate and I took some photos.

Then we decided as a family to pray and go get gelato.  This made everyone happy again!

San Clemente: 

We headed down the block away from the crowds to St. Clements basilica to pray.  This turned out to be a highlight of the whole trip.  There was an excavation tour here for only a couple euros and the kids loved being underground.  This church is built on top of a very old basilica which was built on top of the house of St. Clement the 3rd Pope of Rome (90Ad).  He used to say Mass in his house during the great persecutions and it was deemed a holy site by the Christians.

This mosaic is called the 'Tree of Life'.  It is by far my favourite and it was one of my goals to see it here in Rome.  It is breathtaking to look at and study.  

After a wonderful explorative time at San Clemente we headed to the of a hill to have supper and watch the sun set over the coliseum.

Here outside the walls where so much blood shed we knelt as a family and remembering the martyrs prayed and petitioned them for their intercession in our own lives.  It was a powerful moment for all of us.

Rome is sitting on many springs.  All over the city there are the fountains of spring water where you can fill your bottles with cold, fresh water.  Becca loved this!

Day 3: Sunday Mass with Papa Francesco 

It was family pilgrimage Sunday and we woke up at 4:45am to try and beat the crowds to the Piazza of St. Peter's.  We had the family fed and out the door by 6:30am - a major accomplishment - and walked the two blocks to the metro station and ... we were in for a surprise!  The metro was packed with pilgrims!  Crazy Catholics!  So we got to the Vatican at around 7:30am and didn't have tickets to get into to get a seat (the tickets are free, but they get you into to a seating area).  Someone came up and gave us tickets to get in just as we went up to security.  We ended up with great seats and settled down to relax for 3 hours till Mass was to begin.

This trip to St. Peter's was also the fulfillment of the requirements for the Papal Indulgences for the Year of Faith set out by Pope Benedict XVI last January.  Becca and I made sure to do our best to gain the plenary indulgence this pilgrimage weekend.

 Benedict loved seeing the Swiss Guard and even got a picture with one!

 My kids were awesome and just played and read and ate snacks till we prayed the rosary at 10am.

Then Holy Mass began.  Pope Francis talked about families and that we need to pray together, pass on the tradition of faith to our children and (this third point was most poignant) we need to be joyful.  And how does a family be joyful?  It is rooted in harmony and peace.  As a family prays and celebrates traditions together a harmony develops in the family which breeds peace.  From this peace will spring a joy which is not the same as being entertained on a rollercoaster.  It is a joy springing from within and through this joy families become a testimony of Christ's love to world.

 After Mass, Pope Francis drove around slowly in Pope mobile and greeted the pilgrims and gave blessings to the children and handicapped.

We held out Octavian to Pope Francis and he gave him his own special Papal blessing!!!  Wow! What a memory!

These moments were a real joy for all of us.  We talk about Pope Francis so much to the kids and pray the first decade of the rosary for him every day.  To see him and to see how excited all the Catholic pilgrims were to see him was a great experience.  We Catholics sure do love our holy fathers!

We got out of the Piazza around 1:30pm and immediately went for gelato and for lunch.

The owner of this ferrari is the guy behind me in the red hat.  Becca and I both thought of the same idea for a picture at the same time:  Who is richer?  Red hat man or daddy?

Enjoying fresh spring water!

Italians love children and everywhere we went they would look at us, count our kids, and ask if they were all ours and after an affirmative ask if I was the father of them all.  They would unabashedly watch us and our kids everywhere - especially in the subway - especially as the oldest ones kept kissing princess Kate!

Kate thought it was so fun being kissed that she kissed herself!

Santa Croce:

One of our pilgrimage destinations was to the Holy Cross in Jerusalem Basilica where the passion relics that St. Helena brought to Rome in early 300Ad.  

On the way there the kids found this memorial statue of St. Francis' visit to Pope Innocent.

It was dark when we arrived.  We had had a big day and still hadn't had supper yet.  But this side trip was worth it.  It turned out to be one of our most meaningful pilgrimage sites for us as a family.  

 The mosaic behind the confession tells the story of the journey of the holy relics from Jerusalem to Rome.  We took our time and prayed and venerated the relics remembering how Jesus died for us.  The relics included a piece of the cross that Christ died on, thorns from his crown of thorns, nail that held him to the cross, the titulus that was nailed above his head reading 'Jesus Christ King of the Jews' in Greek, Hebrew and Latin and the finger of St. Thomas the Apostle.

What? The finger you ask?  When St. Thomas was martyred in India his body decayed except for the finger with which he touched the wounds of Jesus after Jesus had risen from the dead.  I guess this is what happens to human flesh when it comes into direct contact with the glory of the Almighty, eh?

There was a little chapel dedicated to the memory and veneration of 'Servant of God Antonietta Meo'.

She as a little girl who died at age 6 and had written 162 letters to Christ of profound depth.  Her relics were enshrined, which included her toys and clothes.  We asked for her intercession and the kids were so inspired by her life that they all began to write letters to Jesus.  It was very moving for all of us.

We found a place for supper and here is Tristan fast asleep with food still in his mouth.

Day 4: Off to Norcia

We realized a couple things during this trip.  If you take a trip as pilgrims and visit holy sites the trip becomes very inexpensive.  Holy sites are free (for the most part) whereas tourist sites cost money.  We miss the crowds most of the time (unless you're trying to see the Pope) and all of a sudden the trip isn't just a holiday it takes on meaning and eternal value and binds the family together.

We tried one last time to get into St. Peter's to pray at the tomb of St. Peter but the lineups were hours long.  Alas.  Alas.  We were all quite disappointed.  So went for lunch in the Villa Borghese and headed back to the hostel to pack.

Here is when things began to get stressful again: public transportation with luggage and 5 little kids!! We split up to avoid having to argue with a taxi driver about costs.  Becca took Kate and Tavi to the metro to go to the Tiburtina train station.  I took the other three with all our luggage via taxi and we prayed we'd be able to meet up.

The plan was to take the bus to Norcia where the Owens would pick us up and lead us to the hostel (of which name I had no idea).  I went to get tickets for the bus, lugging all the luggage half a block and the three kids to find out there was no train to Norcia that day (despite what we found online).  Arg!!  Soaked with sweat and frustrated I lug everything back through the crowds to the train station and up two flights to get a train ticket to Norcia.  I get tickets but only to Spoleto.  Ok - I agree.  It is on the way and we'll hopefully catch the last bus to Norcia.  Deus Gratias - we found Becca and the two kids and caught the train to Spoleto.

We were supposed to arrive in Norcia at 6:30pm, but didn't get there till 9:30pm.  Thank God I was able to get a hold of Chris and he picked us up and brought us to the monastery run hostel.  We were done.  A glass of red wine and blessed sleep!

Day 5: Norica

Why Norcia?  Norica is a quaint walled city north of Rome and is the birthplace of St. Benedict and the home to a thriving Benedictine Order.  For us it was a place of relaxing, peace, quiet and prayer.

Norcia is famous for two things: wild boar and truffles (subterranean mushrooms)

That is one large truffle on the chair!!!  Becca was in her glory here in Norcia!

The main porta (gate) to get into Norcia (Nursia).  Vetusta Nursia: Ancient Norcia

The basilica built on top of the home where St. Benedict and St. Scholastica were born.

St. Benedict and my Benedict.

My favourite vehicle in Norcia!

 This was a park outside the walls of Norcia with outdoor pingpong tables.

Restaurants in Norcia don't open till 7pm.  This is a problem for my kids as they wake up so stink'n early.  This is what happens to my kids if we try to eat out late:

Tristan actually jerked and spilt his water all over our focaccia bread!  This is actually a strategy of saving money on a trip - eat late and they eat less and it keeps the cost down! Ha!  Becca didn't think this was funny.

Day 6: Assisi

We took the bus/train/bus to Assisi just for the day.  What a joy it was to see Assisi!  It was definitely a highlight for us. A beautiful walled medieval city on a mountain!  We walked the streets that St. Francis and St. Clare walked.  Crazy.

First Stop: La Basilica Patriarcale di Santa Maria Degli Angeli (Patriarchal basilica of St. Mary of the Angels)

This Basilica is at the bottom of the mountain in a valley.  The exact same valley St. Francis fled to after he stripped naked in front of the bishop and gave everything he owned back to his father.  Here on this spot he began to rebuild the church of the Porziuncola and inside the Basilica is that same church!

 We were floored!  We expected to walk in and see the high altar and frescos all around.  Instead we see a small church inside this big church.  This is the exact church that St. Francis built (I snuck a picture when security wasn't watching).  The walls and stones haven't been touched or replaced.
Wow!  Inside we could kneel and pray.  We prayed that God would help our family build his Church as he called St. Francis to do.

Pope Francis' motto: miserando atque eligendo: "lowly but chosen" or literally "by having mercy by choosing him." Obviously, this is a pilgrimage site of some significance to Pope Francis.

A view of the St. Francis Basilica as we take the bus up the mountain.

 The porta to enter the walled city of Assisi.

This is a view from where we just came from: St. Mary of the Angels Basilica.  This used to be an empty valley with a tiny little church built in the middle 100's of years ago.

 Streets in Assisi either go up or down the mountain.

 The St. Francis Basilica where St. Francis is buried.

Statue is depicting St. Francis on is return from the wars - dejected and without a purpose.

The basilica is built on top of an old basilica which is built on top of a crypt and chapel.  This is the top floor.  Along the walls you see 26 frescos depicting the life events of St. Francis.  The kids and I went through each and told his story.  They were fully engaged with the art and the stories for all 26 frescos. I've never seen them so attentive with art before.  It was fantastic!

The clausura where the Franciscan monks live.

After praying for godparents and godchildren at the sepulchre of St. Francis we traipsed across the city to pray at the remains of St. Clare and to see the cross that spoke to St. Francis.

 Di Basilica di Santa Chiara (St. Clare)

The was a special place because we have a god-child named Clare after St. Clare of Assisi.  This was our opportunity to petition St. Clare on her behalf for her intercession and protection over our little god-child.

Here is the crypt where her body is kept.

Her body was here for veneration as were her relics.  We encouraged the kids to be like St. Therese of Lisieux.  When St. Therese came to Italy when she was little she made a point of touching everything holy that she could for she knew that God's power remains on relics and in holy places and we receive graces just by being present.

Here are relics - the clothing of both St. Clare and St. Francis.  They had a sock of St. Francis that had been sewn together from 8 pieces of material.  Plus the hair of St. Clare that she cut off when she joined the order.

The other joy was the small chapel where we knelt and saw the actual crucifix that spoke to St. Francis to go build up the Church of God.  It was in front of this very crucifix that St. Francis found his mission in life to serve the Church.  This was a time for us as a family to pray and seek God for how He wants us to serve Him when we move back to Canada.  Pictures were forbidden, but here is one off of the net of the crucifix and the chapel it was hanging in.

A view from outside St. Clare's.

And as seems to be our tradition - we end off our day with gelato!

Day 7: Home to Trumau

We didn't have too much time on this day, but we did have time for a tour of the St. Benedict basilica in Norcia.  I woke up early to pray Laudes with the monks and to attend the personal Masses and then later on the morning we had our tour.  This was special time with Benedict and we went back alone together to pray.

Norcia town square and Basilica at night.

Here is the crypt where the ancient house of St. Benedict is preserved.  It is here St. Benedict was born and grew up.  His mother was a princess rescued by his father from warlords and she died giving birth to the twins Benedict and Scholastica.

 Benedict and I knelt and prayed and asked God to help Benedict to be a man of faith like his namesake.  I really enjoyed my time with him here.  These are the original walls of the house.

We finally started our long journey home.  At 2:30pm we caught the bus to Spoleto and then took the train to Rome.  At 7:30pm we caught the overnight train to Vienna.  We were so so so hoping for a poopy diaper incident again - but alas.  We had a young couple that loved kids come into our compartment.  This meant there was 4 adults and 5 kids with 6 seats.  This was a bit much.  And - they were going all the way to Vienna too.  Alas.  Finally, my kids starting dropping off to sleep and we had to make a bed for them.  We found out that Becca and all 5 kids could technically squish into the 4 seats made into beds.  I was left to fend for myself.  I found an unreserved seat and staked a claim on it.  At 1:30am I heard screaming from 2 compartments down and there was Kate.  When she sleeps she flops.  And by flopping - she kept landing on the other kids faces.  Becca, in a rather stern, no beef, voice said, 'take Kate now.'  Ok.  I held Kate sleeping on lap till 7am.  It was a rough night of suffering, and thus I just tried to pray and to keep Kate from falling on the floor.  

Kenton's October Reading:

This is Rome by Fulton Sheen
A history of the Church in 9 books, from 324 - 440 by Sozomen
The story of the Trapp Family Singers
Early Church Writings: St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Ignatius of Lyons, Origen, St. Hippolytus of                                            Rome, St. Melito of Sardis, St. Justin Martyr

Sermon From the Vineyard:

      I believe the topic for this month is fairly obvious if you've been patient enough to read through this long blog posting: prayer.  Prayer is not something we are to do constantly (pray without ceasing -        I Thes. 5:17) or even something we just do before we eat or on special occasions as a formality.  There is something that happens when a family prays together ... something binding, something lasting.  This past month with its whirlwind trip to Rome taught me a lifelong lesson: the family that prays together, stays together.  If we were just going from place to place in Rome seeing sights - walking all day with the kids - we would never have lasted 4 days.  But we had a purpose.  We were going to pray.  We were going to engage in something much greater than ourselves.  We believed that our sacrifice and effort to make it to each holy site each day to pray for specific intentions was efficacious - it would make a difference.  It was transcendental.  It was beyond ourselves.  
        I remember the one morning getting up at 5:45am to pray with the Benedictine monks in Latin in this old beautiful church.  I was sitting there in the chill of the morning and realizing that this was reality.  Here, in a small medieval town in the middle of Italy, these monks were making a profound difference in their world through prayer and I was a part of that.
       In Patrology class we've been reading Origen on prayer.  We had a discussion today about how prayer is done of out of love and if it is done out of love than it is by nature liturgical.  What does this mean?  A spousal analogy will suffice I think:  in my love for my wife there are things I know she loves and I do them all the time for her.  We also have routines and rhythms in our love expressions - we make sure we show our love when we wake and go to bed and so forth - as you grow in depth in your love you need less and less emotional rushes and prefer the quiet, silent companionship.  We sacrifice for each other out of love for each other.  We are intimate and are one body and flesh.  We made a covenant through our marriage vows and we celebrate (usually with a meal) that covenant every year.  We have symbols of our love (ex: rings) that express a reality so completely that if one of us were to lose one we would pay lots of money for a new one.  Does all this sound familiar?  The liturgy of the Mass reflects perfectly our relationship with and love for God.  He has given us the prayer that He wants to hear (Our Father) and so we pray to Him with it.  We have profound symbols that represent our love for Him and His love for us - especially in the crucifix.  He made a covenant with us and we celebrate that covenant every Sunday in the Eucharistic meal.  We sacrifice our time and energy to do His will and to attend Mass because we love Him - He sacrificed for us.  The Mass has routines and rhythms that reach into the depths of our soul that cry out to God and that brings us to a stillness and quiet and stability through its ancient Christian traditions.  And finally, every Sunday we become one flesh with Christ as we consume the Holy Eucharist.  Beautiful isn't it?

Video for the Grandparents: Tavi's first conversation

Needs and Prayer Requests

- that Becca's blood pressure would stabilize and come down without the use of a plethora of medications
- Winter: she would learn how to persevere when things get tough.
- Tristan: he is struggling to stand to up for what is right when he and his friends are playing.
- for the money to pay my tuition for next semester either through donations or work ($4500).

We prayed for you this past month and wish you a wonderful November as you prepare to celebrate Advent!
Pax Vobiscum,

Love, Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate and Octavian

Mailing Address:
Schloss Trumau
Schlossgasse 21
2521 Trumau, Austria

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