Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Grotto of St. Mary Magdalene

Tradition has it that St. Mary Magdalene ended up in France after the diaspora of the disciples after the destruction of the Temple. Here is a website maintained by the Dominicans that guard the holy cave: The history of the cave and the connection to the saint can be read here:

The ITI went on a week-long pilgrimage through France. It was a wonderful trip with much sacrifice. We drove a van and spent two nights sleeping in the van and three nights driving until 3am. It was worth it, though. Here are some pictures of the grotto.




View from the bottom of the hill. You can see the facades of the buildings in the center of the bluff near the top.



A close-up of the grotto.



The view from the top.



Entrance into the cave.



The altar in the cave.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Debbie and I are putting on a retreat Saturday, August 22nd at Nazareth Retreat Center (4450 N. Five Miledivine mercy Rd, Boise, ID  83713). The theme is: Jezu ufam tobie (Jesus, I trust in you). It begins at 9:00am and goes until 7:00pm. Sign-in is from 8:30am-9:00am. At the conclusion of the retreat, we hope to go to dinner together for fellowship. You can bring the family to the dinner (you are responsible for the cost).

There is no cost for the retreat. Lunch will not be provided so please bring a sack lunch. You should bring a Bible, pen, and journal. There are cold spots in the facility so dress accordingly.

If you plan on going, please email me at ShoelessMichael (at) gmail (dot) com. Please ask any questions in the  comments or email. Thanks!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Into the Deep

john[1] After a year-long hiatus, the Into the Deep podcast produced by Brent Brown, Mike Englesby, and yours truly is back! We are going to do a thematic study of the Gospel of John similar to what I am currently doing at Nazareth. The podcast would be a good way to make up anything that was missed or to be able to review certain points for those attending the Bible study at Nazareth.

This series of shows will study: the major themes of the Gospel, word studies of important Johannine terms, and how to apply what has been learned to our lives.

Come join us!

You can get the show at or

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Feast of the Transfiguration

It was three years ago on this day that we landed in Vienna exhausted, scared, and excited. This Feast always has had a place in my heart since arriving in Austria. The icon of the Transfiguration is one of my favorites.

Wall_sized_Icon_of_Transfiguration_painted_by_ITI_Priest This particular icon takes up an entire wall. Father Thomas Labanic (a graduate of the ITI) wrote it.

It captures my heart in that it shows the two aspects of my spiritual life and ministry that I am most grateful for, viz., that Elijah (on the left of Jesus) is standing on Mt. Carmel and Moses is standing on Mt. Sinai with the Torah. I love the Carmelite Order and its spirituality. St. Teresa of Jesus and St. Therese of the Child Jesus are particular spiritual mentors of mine. I make every effort to root my life in silence and contemplation.

In addition, I love the Scriptures (here signified by the Torah, the Law). It is such an honor and pleasure to study God’s word – to hear the voice of the Shepherd calling to me in the Holy Writ.

It is in the study of the Sacred Scriptures within the context of a life of contemplative prayer that Christ Jesus in his glory becomes manifest and known to me.

I hope and pray that God gives me the grace and the gifts to share these two aspects of my spiritual life with others…

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars

Today is the Feast day of St. John Marie Vianney, the Patron Saint of Diocesan priests. There is an expectation that at the end of the Year of the Priest that he will be named the Patron of all priests.

He was born near Lyon, France in 1786. He was not the brightest student mainly due to a lack of exposure to academics rather than being unintelligent. He did, however, struggle with his Latin studies. With the help of the Lord, he overcame these obstacles and became the parish priest in the small hamlet of Ars. The following is from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The chief labor of the Curé d'Ars was the direction of souls. He had not been long at Ars when people began coming to him from other parishes, then from distant places, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. As early as 1835, his bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of "the souls awaiting him yonder". During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. The most distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy curé and hearing his daily instruction…His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. His instructions were simple in language, full of imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes, but breathing faith and that love of God which was his life principle and which he infused into his audience as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almost inaudible.

The miracles recorded by his biographers are of three classes:

  • first, the obtaining of money for his charities and food for his orphans;
  • secondly, supernatural knowledge of the past and future;
  • thirdly, healing the sick, especially children.

The greatest miracle of all was his life. He practiced mortification from his early youth. and for forty years his food and sleep were insufficient, humanly speaking, to sustain life. And yet he labored incessantly, with unfailing humility, gentleness, patience, and cheerfulness, until he was more than seventy-three years old.

Otten, Susan Tracy. "St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 4 Aug. 2009

He was said to sleep only 2 hours a night and live on potatoes that he would cook as his meal but also to keep him warm. The devil attacked him continuously even setting his bed on fire.

We had the blessing of going to Ars to see this holy man. In that pilgrimage, we had gone to Lourdes, also. Ars was my favorite. It was a very holy place. I find myself drawn to this simple country priest.

Thought you might like some of the pictures we took:


A Chapel beside the church which contains the heart of the Saint.


St. John Vianney’s bed that the devil set on fire.


The Body of the Saint.

St. John Vianney, please pray for all priests and those considering the vocation. We need holy priests such as you to give us the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Confession…

Eighteen Years…

Yesterday,  Deb and I celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary. I am always amazed at how fast time goes by. One thing is for sure, God has blessed me with a wonderful woman.

A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and tasks for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers girdles to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 30:10-31

Debbie certainly fits the above Scripture. Our home is blessed.