Thursday, September 8, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation...

With summer coming to an end, and school in full swing, I thought I would post a few pictures from our vacation...

For many Americans, summer vacation is a time to unwind, relax, and travel. Possible destinations are endless. Disney World and other commercial resorts are at the top of some families' dream vacation lists. Then there are the usual natural wonders: the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, countless beaches, and mountain getaways. Or you could visit national landmarks and historic sites: Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge, Washington D. C. All of these are fine choices. Some of them I have been to myself and enjoyed them immensely. But there are other possible destinations scattered throughout the country that provide an opportunity to incorporate our Catholic faith directly into our vacation plans.

As Catholic parents, my wife and I always plan ahead when we are traveling so that we are near a Catholic Church on Sunday to attend Mass. Indeed it is our obligation as Catholics to do so. But beyond this minimum obligation we Catholics can also enjoy some wonderful and historic pilgrimage sites all across the nation while traveling to vacation spots. Certainly Sunday Mass attendance is a must for our own spiritual benefit, but we can also enjoy many spiritual blessings by taking a brief pilgrimage to various shrines, monasteries, chapels, cathedrals and basilicas while traveling.

With that in mind, our family made two such pilgrimages this summer in connection with our trip to Niagara Falls, NY: Our Lady of Victory Basilica Shrine in Lackawanna, NY; and Our Lady of Fatima Basilica Shrine in Lewiston, NY. Both are within an hour or less drive from Niagara Falls. Both are minor basilicas and so have spiritual significance as pilgrimage sites. And both offer regular Mass schedules. The kids enjoyed seeing these religious sites as much as they enjoyed Niagara Falls, and they were absolutely free to tour (although donations are always appreciated). By incorporating these pilgrimage sites into our vacation plans we can teach our children the importance of bringing our faith with us wherever you go (...we never take a vacation from being Catholic.)
Below are some links to the websites of each of these basilicas, as well as some photos we took while on vacation...

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Of course, included in this trip was a visit to Niagara Falls. When visiting a natural wonder such as Niagara Falls, parents can use this too as an opportunity to point out the beauty of God's creation. It can become another pilgrimage of sorts. The grand churches and basilicas were built by man to give glory to God...the works of nature were created by God to show forth His own glory to man. Either way, vacations can be a great opportunity to connect with the divine.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, those are stunning places to be during the summer! Seeing those places can really give you goosebumps. You are a devoted Catholic, indeed. And how about the Niagara falls with the rainbow? Anyways, it looked like your family had a great opportunity to connect with the Divine. :)

    ~Walter Tully