FROM THE PRESIDENT'S KITCHEN TABLE
For years, my husband and I have talked about taking a cross country pilgrimage/trip out west. We decided to do it while we were still healthy enough to hike, a favorite pastime. So on Labor Day we set out pulling our hard-sided pop-up camper for a two-month journey from Virginia as far west as Wyoming and Utah and back. What an adventure! If you want to read about it visit http://maryannkreitzer.blogspot.com. I don’t have enough space here to even begin to describe it all. Even the blog leaves a lot out. I’ll be processing the trip for months, if not years, as I reflect back on the places, people, and conversations we enjoyed as well as the many churches and shrines we visited including Our Lady of Good Help in Wisconsin, the site of an approved Marian apparition in the 19th century.
However, I can summarize the trip’s overall impact on us in one word: “hope.” Our world may be filled with craziness, but that’s not the entire picture and may not even be the true one since we are so manipulated by the media. During our seven weeks on the road (We cut our trip a week short because we yearned for home.) we met many people who are committed to Christ, conservative in their outlook, and preserve the old fashioned values of faith and family. Perhaps partly we experienced that because we were camping, definitely a wholesome, family activity. But we met plenty of non-campers, business folk, and young people who filled our hearts with encouragement. We also saw many pro-life billboards. God, as always, moves among His people.
I’ll share one story that reflects the hope I’m talking about, a reversion story that we heard at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, WI where we met a fellow Virginian from Manassas.
When Larry and I stopped at the information desk and mentioned we were from Virginia, the receptionist replied, "I just talked to someone else from Virginia, a man traveling by himself." What a coincidence, we thought. Only a handful of people were visiting at the time, and as we walked up the path to the church for Mass we saw a lone man coming toward us. "Are you from Virginia?" I asked. "Yes," he answered looking puzzled. "How did you know?" "I'm clairvoyant," I laughed, then admitted the lady at the desk told us there was a single man visiting from Virginia and I just guessed.
We introduced ourselves and he told us a bit of his story. He recently returned to the Church after 40 years estrangement. While teaching Bible classes in a Protestant congregation, he began asking questions the church elders could not answer. Apparently they began to worry, because they wouldn't let him teach anymore. He didn’t explain exactly what brought him back to the faith, but told us, even before his reversion he had visited Marian shrines all over the world. Clearly, Mary was instrumental in his coming home. He mentioned he had just gone to confession, and was leaving to head back to Virginia. He was in Wisconsin, he said, because his dad died recently and he was helping his stepmom.
This reversion story would have been cause enough for joy, but our new friend had more to tell us. His daughter attended a Protestant college, but she decided to become Catholic as well. Then his wife began attending RCIA to learn about the faith and plans to join the Church too. What a wonderful example of the generosity of God and the powerful intercession of Our Lady. The Blessed Mother knows the Trinity intimately, and the domestic church of the family mirrors the Trinity. In many ways it seems natural that a family where Dad shows such affection for Mary would gain a trinity of conversions?
We ended our conversation promising to pray for each other, and I urge readers to join, not only in prayer but in rejoicing. What a meeting of hope we had there on that hallowed ground in La Crosse. And did I mention that it took place on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary? What a powerful Mother she is! Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, pray for us.