grateful, religion, Travel

My Pilgrimage to Italy

With the celebration of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to stop to talk about my pilgrimage to Italy.  36

It started off with me just wanting to take my husband to Italy to show him where I had been when I was in high school and for us to celebrate our anniversary.  It was just going to be a trip for the two of us.  As the planning went on I realized the trip had the potential to be so much more.  I dreaded telling my husband that we would be going to church every day but when I did tell him, he simply said that if that’s what I wanted he was ok with it. Really?
Then the word pilgrimage kept coming up when the trip was talked about.  I was going on a pilgrimage but what is it?  Well a pilgrimage is simply a religious journey.  Father Colin advised us to pray in preparation for our voyage.  I never knew what a profound trip it truly would be.
It began with our amazing seats at the Papal Audience which before this trip I didn’t even know what it was.  We were so close to Pope Francis it was UNBELIEVABLE.  As I have stated, I think he is just what our church needs right now and it was such an honor to be so close.  Then we got to experience mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.  Who can say that?


However, it wasn’t until we got to the outskirts of Assisi that I would truly be moved.  We visited the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.  We started off with mass and then after we got to tour.  In the center of the church is Porziuncola which is where St. Francis understood his vocation and began the Franciscan Order.  It is also where St. Clare was converted and started the Order of the Poor Clares.

37St. Mary of the Angels

When I entered Porziuncola I felt a feeling come over my whole body and tears were coming out of my eyes.  I wasn’t sad and I wasn’t happy but the tears were coming.  We then went to the chapel of the Transito.  It is the cell where Francis died.  On an altar encased in glass is his rope belt which looks to have blood on it.  I could barely catch my breath in there.  I left with the same overwhelming feeling I had in the Porziuncola.  I was moved beyond words and had no clue why.


That feeling was with me the whole time we were in Assisi.  I felt a connection I couldn’t explain.  When I got home and told my mother about it she wasn’t surprised at all.  I asked why and she told me that my grandmother felt a connection with St. Francis.  I always thought my mom did too.

After being back I received a picture of Pope Francis from one of my fellow pilgrimages and that feeling was right there again.

That was part of my experienced on our pilgrimage.  I went on this journey being open to whatever would happen and I guess you could say I was touched.  I think a lot of people’s experiences with religion has to do with your openness.  When you allow yourself to be open to possibilities, the possibilities may be endless.

So this Thanksgiving I am feeling so blessed to have been given this opportunity and I hope it keeps the fire lit in me.  I wish all pilgrimages a life changing journey.  To those that I was blessed to meet on my journey I hope the fire stays lit in you also.  Thank you all for an experience of a lifetime!

Did you have a life changing experience on a pilgrimage or a story to share? Tell me about it.

copyright 2014 Sheila M Scarpulla . All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consen

famous people, inspiration

Diem Brown Thank You for Being You

Diem Brown (Danielle Brown)32

Since finding out about Diem Brown’s death last weekend I have been working on a blog entry and I lost all that work last night on my computer.  Today when I realized it I was angry.  I had spent days re-watching her time on MTV and remembering how wonderful she was.  All my thoughts that I had documented were gone.

Yet, now I realize maybe it was a blessing.  That entry was going to be pretty much a timeline of her time on MTV and what made her so special for every show she was on.  If my readers still want that then please let me know and I will do it again.

Instead I just want to write so that her life and death get the recognition she deserves. She was an inspiration not only to me but I am sure so many out there.  She fought until her last breath and her life was ended way too soon.  We may never know why but I know that she got her golden wings and she has no more pain.  All her family and friends have one special angel looking over them now.

For those who met her you truly were blessed.  If she impacted me just from the TV, I can only imagine how special it was to know her personally.

I first saw Diem on MTV’s Fresh Meat challenge back in 2006.  She was the girl that I wanted to hate but couldn’t because of who she was.  Not only was she beautiful with the perfect body but her heart seemed to be just as beautiful.  She was the girl that I would want my daughter to look up to.  She is the role model our society needs.  On that first season was when she was open about her cancer.
After that show is when she came back for the Duel and the romance between her and CT (Chris Tamburello) began.  They had me hooked along with the rest of the world.  She also showed what a true fighter she was.  She choose to take her wig off (she lost her hair from the chemo and it had just started growing back) for the first time on national television.  I kept watching every Challenge show that MTV put on just to see them.

ctanddiem                    34

I am so glad I got the opportunity to watch her on TV.  She also started a webpage called Medgift to help people suffering like she was.  It is so interesting that she did this because I was telling my husband over the summer how I would love to donate money to those who are actually suffering from an illness then to multi-billion dollar companies.  Well she did it!!!  So you can go to her page to show your support today just click on the Medgift above.


May God be there for all those who loved her.  May he help them all through this difficult time and may her legacy live on.  She was a gift given to us that had been taken too soon. May her blessing continue to live on for generations to come.  Suffer no more Diem.

copyright 2014 Sheila M Scarpulla . All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consent



5 Things I Wish I Had Known When Traveling To Italy


This information is based on my recent trip to Rome, Assisi and Florence in the beginning of November 2014.

1.  They have mosquitos.  Not only do they have mosquitos but they don’t have screens on their windows.  When we were in Rome I never thought I would get bit but sure enough I did.  The first night my husband and I were attacked in our hotel room by one measly mosquito.  The following day my husband had welts on his back and it seemed more came out through the day.  I thought I may have a rash so I began researching mosquitos in Italy on the internet and sure enough they have them.

We not only found them in Rome but also in Assisi and Florence.  In Florence they seem to be not only in the room but throughout the hotel.  I asked a receptionist in Assisi if they had them and she said no.  At first most people in our group had a hard time believing us until slowly a few got one or two bites.

2. The hotels may say they have air conditioning but we found that none of them worked.  They were controlled by the hotel and in the beginning of November they were shut off.  Yet, the rooms were stuffy and very hot.  We couldn’t open the windows for fear of the mosquitos and they don’t have ceiling fans.  So you may want to consider bringing a small portable fan of some sort.

3. In the public bathrooms they do not have toilet seats for the ladies.  They have the toilet bowls with the two holes for the toilet seat but for some reason they didn’t put the toilet seat on.  I found this to be cold and challenging.  I wondered if I found it challenging how the older ladies in my group felt.  I never realized what a luxury it is to have toilet seats but after this trip I am truly grateful for them.  I had forgotten this minor detail before getting there.

4. You walk a lot and there are many stairs if you are sightseeing.  The roads that we were walking on seemed to be mostly cobblestone and a lot of people in my group found them challenging.  Not only are there stairs but most of them do not have railings on both sides or at all.  You need a good pair of shoes but also if they could be waterproof that is a plus.  I unfortunately didn’t have waterproof shoes on when we walked through a torrential downpour and my shoes never recovered.

5. There is so much to take in.  One of the people in our group printed out information on the places we were seeing beforehand and I thought that was a genius idea.  I found it very difficult to keep up with all the information that was being given to us.  I then had pictures that I couldn’t remember what they were.  So to be a little prepared beforehand would have been nice.

My pilgrimage to Italy was truly life changing for me (with mosquitos and all).  These minor details above did not affect my trip but could have, so I wanted to share with others this information.  I hope this information will make your future trip to Italy a blessed, unforgettable adventure.  If you have any other great tips I would love to hear them.  Take it all in!!

copyright 2014 Sheila M Scarpulla . All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consent


To be Open on Thanksgiving or Not, That is the Question


So I have been seeing a lot of post on Facebook about stores that will be open on Thanksgiving and then posts with stores that will not be open.  There are also posts that ask if you will shop or not.  At first I was one of the advocates against being open.  Now I am not sure how I feel.  Here are my different thoughts on it.


1. Shouldn’t we be spending Thanksgiving with our families giving thanks instead of out shopping?

2. What happen to the good old days of black Friday?  You got to spend Thanksgiving with your family and then if you wanted to go shopping bright and early the next day you could.

3. What about those who do not have any family or those who need to work to support their family?

I started working in the workforce when I was 16.  I worked in the food line at a local nursing home.  They were open every day, just like police, firemen, hospitals and our military.  If you worked on a holiday you got extra pay.  I was down in the dumps one year and wanted to work to earn extra money instead of being at home.  It was just for a few hours so what was the big deal?

4. What if certain employees want to work on those holidays?  If the company wants to be open and they have employees volunteering to be there than why not?

5. What about those people who lost loved ones or are alone during the holidays and it isn’t necessarily a happy time for them.  What if going to work instead of sitting home would make them happy?

6. There are plenty of people out there that live pay check to pay check.  What if getting that extra pay for working during a holiday would mean heat in the winter, food to eat or presents for their children at Christmas?  Shouldn’t those companies that want to have that option for their employees have it?

7. If you don’t want to shop you don’t have to.

Now I don’t agree with the stores that are choosing to be open and forcing certain employees to be there instead of with their families.  I don’t think that is right.
Each of us can choose whether or not we are going to shop on Thanksgiving Day.  So my thought is shouldn’t those who may want to work have that option too if there company is thinking of offering it?

Here are some stores open


Here are some that are closed





copyright 2014 Sheila M Scarpulla.  All rights reserved.  No reproduction without written consent


Italy and Pope Francis


On Monday my husband and I will be traveling to Italy on a tour.  I am elated for our trip.  I toured Italy in high school and always dreamed of going back.  The difference between then and now is that back then I didn’t really pay attention to or appreciate the religious aspect of it.  Now I am stoked for the whole adventure.  My husband however, has not been as enthusiastic when asked about his upcoming trip.  We are going for our 10 year anniversary celebration and he is doing it for me because he knows I want to go. Yet, now as the trip gets near he is becoming more excited and enthusiastic.

The one thing that I am most excited about is the possibility of seeing the Pope at the Papal Audience.  What is a Papal Audience you ask?  I didn’t know until I looked it up.

The Papal Audience is a chance for those on pilgrims and those visiting to see the Pope and to receive the Papal Blessing from the successor of the Apostle Peter during their visit.  It consists of small teachings and readings.  The Pope greets everyone in different languages and special visiting groups will get a mention.  At the end the Pope will pray together with those attending the Audience.


However, when I was talking to my husband about the Pope I was explaining that it was about much more than just him being the Pope for me.  Pope Francis, I believe, is going to change the Catholic Church and is the blessing that we have been praying for.  He had the opportunity to live a very lavish lifestyle and he turned it down.  Who does that?  A man we should all admire.  He is a man who represents everything I want to be.  He is humble, caring, giving, generous, loving, empathetic and much more.  He visits the poor, imprisoned, feeds the sick…. He is what the Catholic Church that I believe in truly stands for and he is not afraid to address current issues we are facing.


So my prayer for him and all of us is;
Thank you God for the gift of Pope Francis.  Please continue to be by his side giving him the strength and wisdom he needs to face the current issues of the Catholic Church.  Help all of us to be open to your will and the future of the Catholic Church.  Let us all embrace ‘love one another’ no matter how hard that may be at times.

The following prayer can be found here


Lord, source of eternal life and truth; give to your shepherd, the Pope, a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love.  By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care may he, as successor to the apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your church into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for all the world.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

I look forward to future posts about our trip.  Please keep all those traveling and those who are not safe.
copyright 2014 Sheila M Scarpulla . All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consent