Preparing Spiritually

Pope Francis Must Know We're Heading to Italy!

Pope Francis laughing outside of St. Peter's Basilica during the general audience the moment he heard about WINE & Shrine. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Pope Francis laughing outside of St. Peter's Basilica during the general audience the moment he heard about WINE & Shrine. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA

The Holy Father affirms WINE: Women In the New Evangelization, BIG TIME! 

I think the article POPE FRANCIS: WANT TO CELEBRATE WELL? DRINK WINE, by Catholic News Agency, shows that Pope Francis knows a WINE pilgrimage is heading his way!

The Holy Father's words this week echo that which runs through everything WINE: Invitation, God-given Gifts of Women, JOY, Relationship with Others, Deeper Relationship with Jesus, Taking Mary's final words to heart and doing the will of God! All of these are the essence of WINE and all of these are going to be at the heart of our WINE & Shrine Pilgrimage—all of them!

Invitation: The focus is "the wedding feast in Cana"... someone invited Mary to a wedding. Scripture tells us that and it tells us that "Jesus was also invited "(John 2:1-3). A miracle began with a simple invitation. WINE is all about inviting women into relationship with other women, such that they can be supported and nurtured as they grow in relationship with Jesus.

God-given Gifts of Women: One of these key moments, Francis said, comes with Mary’s observation that newlywed couple’s resources have depleted, and that at a certain point “they have no wine.” WINE teaches women to embrace the gifts of womanhood, the gifts Pope John Paul the Great illuminated for us, the gifts of receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and our maternal gifts.

Joy: While water is necessary to live, “wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the feast,” Francis said. WINE is infused with JOY—always! (John 16:22)

Relationship with Others: In the expression that Jesus was “with his disciples,” it’s made clear that the ones Jesus has called to follow him are now bound together as a community and as a family, he said. WINE is all about relationships, because women are all about relationships. In fact, we are radically relational!

Deeper Relationship with Jesus: Francis said that the foundation of our faith is “an act of mercy with which Jesus has bound us to himself.” The Christian life, then, “is a response to this love, it’s the story of two lovers.” WINE & Shrine is a journey to bring us closer to the heart of our Beloved bridegroom during an extraordinary year of mercy.

Following Our Blessed Mother's Words: This mission, following Mary’s directive to “Do whatever he tells you,” means serving the Lord by listening to his Word and putting it into practice, Francis continued, adding that “it’s the simple but essential recommendation of the Mother of Jesus and it’s the program of the Christian life.” Not to sound like my earthly mother, but if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, WINE is about following our Heavenly Mother's final words to us in Sacred Scripture and doing the will of God... It's just a bit easier to do that when you have your sisters in Christ supporting you!

Bottom line: Pope Francis and WINE are a very good pairing!

I want to encourage you, as we pack our bags and prepare our hearts in this final week before flying to the Eternal City, to read John 2: 1-12 each day and to meditate on that Scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your heart so that on this journey you can see anew the invitation into relationships that God has for you.

Looking forward to journeying with you!

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Praying for Our Pilgrimage

Here is a beautiful prayer to help us prepare for our journey. We invite you to pray this prayer with us daily as we ready our hearts and minds to enter into a new relationship with each Person of the Most Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena, Roma

Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena, Roma


God our Father,

Be with us on our pilgrim journey of faith.

Give us the grace and courage

to step forward in faith and hope on the road ahead.


Lord Jesus,

Open our eyes to see your face in all those we encounter.

Open our ears to hear your voice in those who are often ignored.

Open our hearts that we might be faithful disciples of mercy and truth.


Holy Spirit, Transform us.

Empower us to give of ourselves to the poor;

to welcome the lost; to forgive those who hurt us; to comfort those who suffer

and are marginalized.


Bless those who travel on mission

from the United States of America

to Italy, on this WINE & Shrine pilgrimage

to join the universal Church in celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy.


Bless, too, those who celebrate stateside, united in faith and joy.

Like the disciples who journeyed up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration,

may this experience be an encounter that strengthens us for our work in the world.


Through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, patroness of our nation, may we be worthy witnesses of our faith, humble representatives of our country, and inspired missionaries bringing peace, hope, and mercy into our communities.




St. Clare, pray for us.

St. Scholastica, pray for us.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

St. Rita of Casia, pray for us.

St. Theresa Fasce, pray for us.

St. Cecelia, pray for us.

St. Agnes, pray for us.

St. Priscilla, pray for us.

St. Helena, pray for us.

Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.


(Adapted from the USCCB World Youth Day Official Prayer for Pilgrims, © 2015)









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Blessings in Disguise

As we journey together on our pilgrimage in the footsteps of some of Italy's most beloved saints, we are going to see blessings all around us! But as this is a pilgrimage, it is important to prepare our hearts to be open to all God's blessings—those that we see clearly and those that may be disguised.

In the June 2016 edition of "The Word Among Us," Teresa Tomeo shares how the saints have taught her how to view suffering. This is a beautifully written and powerful post that will help us prepare our hearts for the blessings God has in store for us on our pilgrimage in Rome as well as on our pilgrimage here on earth.

Blessings in Disguise:
The saints have taught me how to view suffering.


“All sunshine makes a desert.” It was an old Arab proverb, according to the instructor of a Bible study I attended shortly after returning to the Catholic Church more than twenty years ago. I remember being struck by her words as she proceeded to discuss the topic of suffering. I could definitely identify with the proverb’s meaning.

We don’t really learn or grow if we don’t experience some sort of discomfort. And yet, when we are in the midst of the pruning, the stretching, and the dying to self, most of us—and I put myself on the top of the list—whine and complain, asking God to relieve us of the very thing that he just might use to perform a miracle in our lives. Those not-so-fun periods are made so much more worthwhile when we look to the saints for examples and for a helping hand. (Continue reading on The Word Among Us)

When I read Teresa's post on blessings in disguise, I couldn't help but hear one of my favorite songs playing in my mind. The song not only fits well with Teresa's article, but it is a good way to prepare your heart to be open to all that God has to offer you. I encourage you to find a quiet place and to listen to this song. It truly is a beautiful. Simply click on the video below.

Blessings by Laura Story

Blessings by Laura Story

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