Every year since my first blogiversary, I’ve gone on a pilgrimage to a St. Anne Shrine as a way of thanking her for her patronage of my blog and her intercession in the many many prayers I’ve prayed for all of you and my own special intentions. It’s been fun to find St. Anne shrines that are close enough to me to either do a day trip or an overnight at most — there are more than I ever realized! The first year my husband and kids and I went to the shrine in Isle la Motte, VT; the second year was Sturbridge, MA; the third year was Scranton, PA; and this year we went to Waterbury, CT.
Look at the name of this beautiful shrine:
Shrine of St. Anne for Mothers. So so perfect for this enormously pregnant woman praying for so many of you who are mothers, or who want to be and are struggling with infertility.
It was a huge, gorgeous church:
(I know you all know my photog skills are lacking … I tried to capture how beautiful it was and failed, as always!)
I was determined that we would attend the 9:00 Mass, and the whole morning of trying to do something good was like a comedy routine, Catholic-style. First, I made sure we were all up and downstairs for the hotel’s complimentary breakfast by 7:30, so we’d have plenty of time to eat before needing to begin our pre-Communion fast as well as get to the church in plenty of time.
Apparently we were being way too leisurely, because I glanced at the time whilst finishing my coffee and it said 8:29. I almost had a heart attack! My hubs was still drinking his coffee and a couple of the boys were still picking at their breakfast! And Mass — a daily Mass, likely only a half hour — was at 9! So surely Communion would be before 9:29! “We need to stop eating!” I yelled, and said a quick prayer that something would happen that would delay Communion just enough. I was trying not to be upset — traveling with everyone is so hard, and getting anywhere on time is so hard, and we were trying so hard to do this nice thing, and breaking our Communion fast was definitely not part of the plan!
Once we got to the church, we tried the front doors and they were locked, but then we saw someone arrive for what we assumed was Mass, so we creepily followed him down these back stairs at the back of the parking lot and into a back, unmarked door, which led right into the sacristy … being the center of attention is not my favorite thing, which walking into the sacristy with our circus of a crew definitely makes happen, but indeed we were in the right place — Mass was held in a small chapel behind the main church, and we were there just in time.
Oh, and there was the heat. Oh the heat! This heatwave is killing me! I’m a total baby about being too hot anyway, and I’m a total sweat-er, so these past few days, being so very very hugely pregnant (much bigger than a normal 9 mos size, despite only being 28 weeks today) and so very very hot have been interesting. Not to make it all about me, but the idea did cross my mind that this heatwave came at just the right time to make our pilgrimage very pilgrimage-y. Sorry everyone.
Anyway, the chapel was sweltering — like, sweat pouring down my neck, chest, and back the whole Mass — but it was just beautiful and so perfect for our St. Anne pilgrimage:
Father gave a fantastic homily, which tied today’s feast day (St. Thomas the Apostle) in with the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and he talked a bit about Indian Catholics and how they have such a strong devotion to St. Thomas. It was so reverent and so informative! (I’m not sure if the Syro-Malabar church is the same as what he was talking about — I’m guessing yes? But anyway here‘s a post I did on Syro-Malabar naming traditions.) And he mentioned St. Anne a bunch of times during the Mass. I really felt like I was doing what I wanted to do — I was at a beautiful St. Anne Shrine, and I offered the Mass for all of you.
So back to the Communion-fast bit … wouldn’t you know, but Mass started a few minutes late. And then, despite the heat and poor Father in his vestments (he requested a towel at one point, which one of the church ladies immediately jumped up to get, and I assumed it was something he’d forgotten for the altar, but no — he just needed to mop his face), his homily was so long — much longer, I thought, than I’d expect at a daily Mass. Just after the Lamb of God I snuck a peek at my phone to see the time and wouldn’t you know: it was 9:29. Exactly one hour since I’d realized at the hotel that we needed to stop eating. Communion was a couple minutes later, and I felt like clicking my heels as we went up to receive. God is so good. ❤
After Mass, Father stopped us to chat for a minute, and several of the ladies too, who were kind of swoony over my boys (I don’t blame them 🙂 ) and amazed that I have three months left before this baby comes (them and me both!) — anyway, Father said we were welcome to take a look inside the main church. Oh! It was so beautiful!
All in all, it was such a wonderful trip. I’m so grateful for St. Anne’s intercession for these past several years, and I’m so happy to make these small trips as a way of thanking her and praying for all of you. St. Anne, pray for us!
(I’m going to add some of these on Instagram, including one of me and the baby taken in the fingerprint-y hotel mirror!)
My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!