grateful, religion, Travel

Creating Lasting Memories

family time

Well I have been on a bit of a whirl wind for about 2 weeks now.  Last week I went with my parents to the west coast to see my niece receive her first communion and perform in a play.  I haven’t seen my parents since November so it really meant a lot to be able to travel with them.  I also haven’t been to the west coast to see my two brothers and their families for almost 20 years.  It was wonderful.

I got to see where both my brothers are living.  I went to the Museum that my baby brother works for and it was absolutely amazing.  I am so proud of him.  His longtime girlfriend is working at the airport we arrived at so she greeted us and showed us around a little.  We got to meet some of her family and share a meal together.  Seeing the love they have for my brother meant a lot.  They were wonderful.

Then we attended the first communion of my oldest brother’s daughter.  We were in the very front and got to see everything.  The church was beautiful and the priests were AWESOME!!  It was just great.  We then celebrated at my sister-in-law’s house.  Later that day we saw my niece perform in the Jungle Book at a local playhouse.  Again we sat in the front row and she was GREAT!!  It meant so much to be able to see where she is growing up and how wonderful my brother and sister-in-law are doing at raising such a special young lady.

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To end the amazing trip my two brothers and I took our Mom and Dad out to breakfast on Mother’s Day.  I don’t remember the last Mother’s Day I got to spend with my mom. While I missed celebrating with my husband, kids and in-laws it was a day I will never forget.  We did a lot of reminiscing.

When I got back it was go, go, go time.  I had to get ready for my son’s first communion which was that coming weekend.  How time flies.

So this past weekend almost all of the rest of the family came and stayed at our house Saturday to Sunday.  Saturday we decided to celebrate my dad’s upcoming birthday since we were all together.  Wow, it had been a while since we were together.  It was really nice.

Sunday was beautiful.  My son received the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time!! The dinner after was delicious too.

Whether or not we get to be with our loved ones on certain holidays we have to learn to cherish the time we do have together.  I have learned that my Mother’s Day celebration may or may not be on the day that everyone else is celebrating and that is ok.  Anytime we can bring our families together should be a celebration and a cherished time.  I know for our family we do not get to be together very often but when we are it creates lasting memories.

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I am so grateful for all those I have in my life and I will take from these two past weeks this; time together is precious.  Each loved one is special to me and those moments together are just as special.  I will hold on to the memories created from our time together and look forward to the next.  We won’t have these opportunities forever.

copyright 2015 Sheila M Scarpulla . All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consent

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religion, Travel

Finding Hope in The Catholic Church

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This week I was debating on what to write about.  My first thought was to write some thoughts I have to those who recently converted to the Catholic Church and those who are debating on converting.  Then I got thinking about St. Patrick’s Day and wanted to write all about that.  Well I decided by the time I post about St. Patty’s Day it will be over so maybe I would save that for next year.  Then I realized how the two topics mesh together.

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Saint Patrick converted people of Ireland from Pagans to Roman Catholics.  Do you know what the current colors of the Irish flag represent?  I didn’t until today and I really can’t believe it.  The green represents the Gaelic tradition of Ireland which was Roman Catholic.  The orange represents the supporters of William of Orange who was Protestant.  The white in the middle represents the hope for peace between the two groups.

As you can see celebrating St. Patrick’s Day does really mesh with my original idea to reach out to converts.

I have read a lot about different people facing struggles after they have converted and I simply want to say that you are not alone.  Even people like me who are called ‘cradle’ Catholics (those born and raised Catholic) have experienced struggles with our religion. How do you think other Christian denominations formed?  Many were Catholic and then chose to leave and start a new church.

My message to all who have doubts and struggles is to pray and pray some more.  Don’t give up and ‘take the easy road’ but learn and pray.  I had many questions about the Catholic Church and actually thought of leaving for a Protestant church but God led me home.

We can always find something to disagree with but there is hope in change.  There is hope in God.  There is hope in each other.  Bringing your gifts that God gave you to the Catholic Church is such a beautiful gift.  For example, there was a gentleman who was the leading Pastor at a Protestant church who since he has converted has felt lost at his local Catholic Church.  Yet, there are options.  He could look into being a deacon or maybe the head of one of the many ministries of the church.  There is an answer to your question but you have to be patient and open to whatever the answer may be.

The key is that if you found your way back to or for the first time at a Catholic Church there is a reason.  Don’t give up on that reason and just abandon ship but keep at it.

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While we are all part of the Roman Catholic Church each individual church has its own personality and you need to find the one that fits you the best.  If you aren’t comfortable at one parish try another until you feel at home.  There is a parish where we each fit into the puzzle of the church; you just need to find it.  Let God guide you there.  Let him help you feel at home.

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God please watch over all those facing religious struggles.  Guide them where you want them to be.  Help them to be open-minded and open to change.  Help them to listen to you and hear your calling.  Please let them feel your love when they come home to the Church.

copyright 2015 Sheila M Scarpulla.  All rights reserved. No reproduction without written consent

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?

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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.

38Porziuncola

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

Travel

5 Things I Wish I Had Known When Traveling To Italy

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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