Saturday, 18 July 2009

Our Lady's Saturday

Today, as with every Saturday throughout the year, is Our Lady's Saturday. Catholics remember Our Lady in a special way on Saturdays. So I thought it was a good occasion to show you my latest icon of the Blessed Mother.

This, as many of you will know, is an icon of "Our Lady of Czestochowa" -- the patroness of Poland. Her shrine is in Poland with the original of this image. The real image is much darker than my drawing after all the centuries of being venerated at a shrine filled with candles burning. As well, its has, I am sure, darkened with age.

The marks you see on Our Lady's face were made by soldiers who attacked Poland at one point and made it as far south as the shrine. However, before any further damage could be done, the enemy was driven back and the image was saved.

My dear Polish friend, who grew up in Poland while the Communists were still in power, tells of how the young people would go on pilgrimage every year from all over the country. The Communists were never able to keep the people from practising their faith in Poland.

Anyway, she lived in the north of the country, 300 kilometres south of the Baltic Sea. She and her companions walked all the way from their city to the shrine. It was over 300 kilometres. They were treated kindly by most people along the way and could sleep in the barns at night. It rained almost every day, but they walked on anyway. It took 10 days for her to get there, but she made it and had the profound joy of spending time at the shrine which meant so much to her and to Poland.

Her story always makes me feel a bit ashamed. I have visited many shrines in the Holy Land and in Italy but I always took air-conditioned buses and stopped for meals in restaurants.

I remember thinking, in my early 30's, how wonderful it would be to be a man for a month or so and go and walk from one end of the Holy Land to the other -- really spending time in silence and contemplation as I went from one holy site to another (this was long before checkpoints, concrete barriers existed -- before even the first Intifada).

I mean it is all very nice to ride the bus, but as you probably know, the bus stops at a site, everyone gets off and listens to what the guide has to say, then everyone piles back on the bus and off you go to the next site. It is hardly conducive to prayer and contemplation! Ah, well ...

Thanks to my friend, Eugene, three more typos were discovered in my book. I was able to correct them and re-upload the book after going through the text one more time looking for mistakes. Now the book is as corrected as it is going to be so this is the perfect time to buy your copy.

May peace be with you all.

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