I am doing some work to find resources for spiritual direction. I will put a whole new category of links on that tomorrow and add to them as I get more. Some folks have asked for help and I am going to dig deep into every nook and cranny and try to give all the help I can – and I will get right into the heart of individual dioceses and add links to the site. Also, if you have asked in an email on a specific area, give me a few days. I am digging and will get you resources to get it done.
I noted that, with each of these musings, I will make a mention of one of the countries from which this site has regular readers, just to mention a little of what it is that that country means to me and a little of its role in salvation history. I sure would appreciate it if those of you either from that country or who have spent significant time there would chime in with stories that maybe are not so common and that most of us would not know.
Of course, I already mentioned Ireland – but before I adopted the idea for this particular course. My father’s side of the family is heavily Irish – though they were the type of Orangemen that settled in the southern U.S.
I count St. Patrick as one of my close patrons. Having chased the snakes out of Ireland, I wish he could come back and spend a little time in Boulder, Colorado.
The apparitions at Knock in County Mayo in 1879 seem to me to be far more important than they have been counted over the years. Of course, they are approved and supported by the Church. In those apparitions Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist and Our Lord appeared. One of the striking things about the apparition was the silence of the heavenly personages. They were at prayer and contemplation – which encouraged pilgrims, standing in the driving rain, to join in saying the Rosary for several hours. It is striking to me that the apparition of silence occurred in a country known for its joyful volubility. I think it bespeaks the solidarity of the people of heaven with us as we people in time on earth enter into our passion.
Another thing that struck me about it was the profuse rain that seemed to persist for the duration of the apparition. I learned from studying this that almost every authenticated appearance of Our Lady is preceded by a sometimes brief, but intense rainstorm. While I was on my pilgrimage, every time I crossed a state line, I was met with an intense rainstorm. When you live outside, that is not the most pleasant thing – but because of what I learned while studying Knock, I always thought that was Our Lady’s way of welcoming me into each new state I entered.
Of course, there is the old saying that someone who speaks eloquently has “kissed the Blarney Stone.” Notwithstanding a video of my rather nervous, rambling first public discussion of my visitations which is floating around on the Internet, I was a popular speaker in a lot of demand when I was in politics. One night, after a particularly rousing effort at a Southern Illinois dinner, the Chairman of the event, a wonderful man with the delicious name of Dogg Connell, slapped me on the back and said, “You didn’t just kiss the Blarney Stone, Charlie; I think you French-kissed it.” I roared with laughter and have always savored that compliment.
In another, tragic sense, Ireland was the epicenter of the bloody religious battles that followed the Reformation. The reasons actually had more to do with politics and nationalism, but Ireland was where the battle played out most intensely. I often pray that, having suffered most grievously and earliest, Ireland has a profound role to play in reconciliation and unity.