|Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane-Shrine of Christ's Passion|
On the Eve of Pentecost, my family and I were blessed to go on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Christ's Passion in St. John, Indiana led by Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana and Fr. Anthony Jelinek of Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois. The pilgrimage was sponsored by Michael Wick of The Institute on Religious Life. We were all deeply moved by the experience, so much so that I thought about just titling this blog post "Wow!"
Although a trip out of town is always a fun occasion, a pilgrimage is not just any ordinary trip, but rather, it is meant to be difficult and to change us in some way, helping us to draw closer to the Lord, and so we were well-prepared to deal with any challenges that we might encounter, although, admittedly, we encountered very few.
Our first stop was at St. John the Evangelist Church in St. John, Indiana. The presider at Mass was our dear friend, Bishop Hying. It was so good to pray with him, and in his moving homily about the power of Pentecost he shared one of my favorite quotes of his: "One thing is certain. When we give our lives over to the Holy Spirit, nothing will ever be safe or dull again. We will find ourselves blown out to the deep water and then Christ will bid us to get out of the boat."
When the parish outgrew the log cabin, they had built a larger church, and then years later an even larger church right next door. Now they have once again outgrown that third church but continue to use it for the daily and school Masses. In 2008, they built this newest church which seats 10,000 people, the number of people who attended this past year's Good Friday service. Our tour guide boasted that although the original debt for the cost of the building was well into the millions, most of the debt is already paid off. The architect who designed the church is a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Parish. How special it must feel to worship in the building that you designed!
|St. John the Evangelist Church as seen from the grounds of the Shrine of Christ's Passion.|
|A large statue of Our Lady, properly crowned for May.|
The grounds of the Shrine of the Passion of Christ can be seen in the background.
|A window in the front of the church displays scenes from the book of Revelation.|
|photo credit: John Paul Bender|
|The two-sided tabernacle which opens from the back is flanked by two angels on loan from a private collection in Rome. The hand-carved gold leaf angels are over 300 years old.|
|The angels that surround the tabernacle on both sides represent the Liturgy of the Hours. |
They were designed by the same architect that designed the church.
Photo Credit: John Paul Bender
|The Stations of the Cross are made of ceramic by Suzanne Young from Grand Rapids, Michigan.|
|She captured the expression on Our Lady's face so perfectly here...|
|...and here, as well. You can feel her love and her sorrow.|
|The stained-glass Holy Spirit window mimics the one found at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.|
|Although she's not yet been declared a saint, the church has a |
stained glass window of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
|St. Pope John Paul has a window, as well.|
|The Blessed Mother with the infant Jesus were carved by the same artist who made the |
statue of the Blessed Mother for St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in downtown Milwaukee.
|Our Lady of the New Millennium|
As we walked the path from station to station, the path that was measured out to be the exact same distance that Christ had walked on his Way to Calvary, they spoke about nuances of the artwork and shared stories of how past pilgrims have been touched by the Stations of the Cross at the Shrine. Then they played an audio-recorded prayer for each station while hauntingly beautiful music played in the background.
|Touch me not! Our Resurrected Lord meets St. Mary Magdalene.|
|Fr. Jelinek lies prostrate at the crucifix and leads us in prayer.|
|Fr. Jelinek shares the story of how Our Lady was a help to him while he was persecuted in Communist Hungary.|