At the time my husband and I married in the Catholic Church, we had both been away from the church for a very long time. Before making our vows, we arrived early to simply sit before the tabernacle in silence. Yet it seemed nothing changed, and we continued to be absent at Mass on Sunday.
A short while later, my daughter and I experienced a profound conversion. We embraced our Catholic faith with renewed hope. This was an extremely dramatic time for us, and I can still vividly remember my husband looking perplexed and expressing his concern, “Joanne, you are changing every day. I don’t know you anymore.”
During this time, I asked my husband if we could travel on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His response was an adamant, “No! Under no circumstances will we travel to the Middle East.” I never asked again.
Thank you, Jesus. Israel was a gift of a lifetime.
Father Bernard, our parish priest, had travelled to Spain on pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago. He brought back a scallop shell and in giving it to me, he explained the tradition that whomever is given the shell will pilgrimage to the Way of St. James. I had not heard of this pilgrimage until Father spoke of it. With excitement, I looked to my husband, who again adamantly said, “No! I cannot walk that distance every day. I simply can’t!” But I was determined to convince him that he could do it…
If you would like to read Joanne’s full story, please click here for information on how to do so.
Notes from Alice: I met Joanne on the pilgrimage to Israel. I watched her nibble at pieces of bread as she slowly consumed her breakfast, then her lunch and again her dinner. It was Wednesday. On Friday, she fasted in the same way. At the dinner table, her thin body purposefully leaned into her husband’s.
The pilgrimage to Israel proved to me that with a sound conviction, we can carry on our good habits, such as fasting, either at home or away. After Joanne told me the story of the solicitor, I looked at her and asked, “Was that Jesus at the door?”
“Without a doubt it was Jesus!” she exclaimed. Now when I see signs posted “No solicitors,” I add, “Unless you are Jesus.”
Biblical Note: Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! James 5:9 (NIV)