Monday, October 9, 2023
“I know it’s crunch time in preparing for the Three Hearts Pilgrimage. Please remember the devil doesn’t want you to participate in the suffering of our Lord. So this is when he will throw doubt, fear and excuses at you to not do this Pilgrimage…”
At the time my husband wrote and sent this message to all our chapter members for the Three Hearts Pilgrimage, we were fighting ourselves. We had been warning our pilgrims that spiritual attacks will become more fierce at the pilgrimage approaches and reminded them to stay close to the Sacraments. While Jason and I were doing that, the spiritual attacks leading up to the pilgrimage remained strong. Yet, so did we and so did our pilgrims.
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Jason and I began our journey to the Three Hearts Pilgrimage. I didn’t want to ride in the car with him because I was still angry with him. Just a few days before, my son was very upset with me because a girl he wanted to court was told she could not date him. Joey clearly wanted to court her so he called her father to ask him for permission. We were not prepared for his answer on why he could not court her. For privacy reasons, I cannot say much. What I can say is, I am the reason. It’s confusing because there is no animosity between me and this family but seeing me causes them pain.
When we learned this, I was asked to “fix it.” Somehow my husband and son believed that I could change her parents’ mind. There was no way I could do this yet somehow my sons happiness relied on me fixing it. The girls mother had a huge influence on me in such a short period of time. In fact, the girls mother had prayed for me for six years! She was praying that I would attend her parish, which is the Latin Mass. Clearly her prayers were powerful!
Because of this mother, I included information about limbo in my latest book, The Catholic’s Guide to Miscarriage. She was the catalyst for helping me learn about limbo and because the book was finally published and I had books on hand, I wanted to send her one. I used this opportunity to also include a personal letter to her. That was all I could do. The rest was in God’s hands. I asked my eldest to pray for the girl and for God’s Will in this situation and I asked my husband to fast and pray for her. This also became an intention for us on the pilgrimage.
The Flat Tire
Because I am from Oklahoma, I know the trip from Colorado to my old stomping ground really well. We have made this trip probably a thousand times without major incident (except when we buy something to bring back to Colorado…like a truck or a camper). This time though, we got a flat tire. I had just finished driving most of the way and turned the car over to my husband for the final three hours.
I saw it in the road, a tiny little black thing. We were on the turnpike so the road is smooth and I knew this wasn’t part of the road. He didn’t even swerve, he just hit it. Hard metal against metal and then a whizzing sound occurred. I yelled, “We have a flat tire!” To which Jason replies, “The car is fine. It’s driving fine and the tire pressure hasn’t changed. I just hit part of the road, it’s fine.” I begged him to pull over but he ignored me.
Then the low tire pressure light came on and I felt the whole side of the car lower. “PLEASE PULL OVER!” I yell. “I want to get to an exit,” he replies. I’m not sure what made him pull over but he finally did and addressed our flat tire. Now the thoughts in our mind were, “we might not get to go on the pilgrimage.” Yet Jason was the leader so we had to go but we needed new tires and that would be hard to accomplish with so little time.
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
I rose early that morning to find a tire place. Thankfully, there was a place I had used before that could get us in and the tires were reasonable. I spent the morning getting new tires while Jason rechecked all our camping equipment. Then we had a nice dinner with my sister and her husband. Well, THEY had a nice dinner. I insisted on going to a place that had only one non-seafood item on the menu. My husband hadn’t been to this restaurant yet and I wanted him to try it. The food was so spicy, I got sick. The Devi doesn’t want me to go either, because I didn’t want to go now. By the time we got home, I was praying I could get some good sleep because we leave for the campsite in the morning.
Wednesday, October 11, 2023 – 11:15pm local time, 10:15pm Colorado Time
Our cell phones start dinging and ringing. I was woken out of a slight slumber and looked at the phone.
“Where is the bus,” one of the messages read.
“What is the number to the bus company,” read another.
“What time is the bus supposed to be here?”
The one thing Jason and I didn’t pray for had just happened. Our bus didn’t show up for our pilgrims. You would think after spending $12,000 for a service, the service would be provided but it didn’t happen. 50 people are stranded in Colorado. That was more than half our chapter. No sleep for anyone tonight!
We tried our best to help them but there was no way to accomplish anything in the middle of the night. The Devil didn’t want them to come and he was putting out all kinds of obstacles, plus that sleep I needed wasn’t coming. By 4am, our priest sent everyone home and told them to come back by 2pm for a special Mass. They would pray for a miracle.
Not Today Satan
Thursday, October 12, 2023 – Day One of Pilgrimage
After two failed attempts to secure a new bus, the pilgrims were exhausted and spiritually torn down. Many had made significant sacrifices to go, taken time off work, got family to come watch children, were already struggling with the suffering they were about to endure, and no bus showing up compounded their fears. How many would bail?
By the time Mass was over, the pilgrims were blessed with three 15-passenger vans and an equipment trailer, plus a driver (which meant two pilgrims would have to drive who hadn’t slept all night). Meanwhile, Jason and I were at campsite one working with pilgrimage leadership. Most of the original pilgrims jumped in the vans and headed to the pilgrimage. A few decided it was a sign not to go and a couple decided to do a retreat with the Sisters of Walburga Abbey.
I was very concerned about these pilgrims, who were already exhausted, driving all night. It was an inspiration for sure but I feared someone would fall asleep at the wheel. Those of us who were already at the campsite, were praying for them heavily and one pilgrim onsite asked the main speaker for the night to have the whole pilgrimage pray for the safety of our pilgrims. It was a beautiful prayer and to hear about 2,000 people praying for them brought tears.
Friday, October 13, 2023
We wake to bagpipes playing “Saints Go Marching,” and monks chanting. It was a very chilly morning and we have to pack quickly. Cell service is spotty but we are being asked by the pilgrimage leadership, “Where are your pilgrims?” It’s 5:15am, we step off in two hours. I have no idea where they are. We try holding our phones in all sorts of way to get a bar or two and we manage to find our they are about an hour away. Apparently, they ran out of gas on the way here. The Devil didn’t want them to come and he wasn’t stopping.
As we gather our chapter and line up, it’s very dark. We keep looking towards the road, hoping and praying they didn’t hit a deer or drive off the side of the cliffs out here but no car lights are seen. As the sun starts to turn the darkness to grey, there is still no sign of our pilgrims. We are prepared to walk without them and we were told that no matter what time they arrive, the pilgrimage will drive them to wherever we are on the journey.
As the bullhorns start giving us commands to get ready, we hear a loud roar of cheering. Our pilgrims arrived! The pop out of their vans and get in line with us. A few hurry to the port-o-potties and came bolting out just as we start walking. They made it!
The first day of walking is about 23.5 miles. It’s actually more than that with all the side turns we have to make. It was beautiful having all our pilgrims with us (for the most part) and I don’t know how they did it. They were completely exhausted but they kept putting one foot in front of the other. The pilgrims had great joy! They received so many graces I’m sure from all they endured. Most of them completed the entire pilgrimage. I was also happy to see my best friend had made it.
I know they slept well after the long day of walking. They were exhausted in so many ways, their feet hurt, body, blisters, chaffing, etc. And the next morning, they got up and walked another 12.5 miles! Some received personal blessings from Cardinal Burke, others received the Eucharist from him, some were blessed with both.
There was so much put in the way of these pilgrims. The Devil really didn’t want them to go. He didn’t want anyone to go. Not only did they experience the trials I listed above, many were experiencing their own personal trials within their families and friendship circles (much like Jason and I were). Every argument or disagreement they had was an excuse not to go. They had to fight the Devil who was placing doubt in their minds such as, “you will suffer and it will hurt and you don’t need to do this.” Or, “How can you leave your family or your job to go on a trip?”
They outshined the darkness. They were the light of the world on that pilgrimage. Not just our pilgrims though. While they had some strange circumstances, every single pilgrim there had those same struggles with the Devil. The Devil didn’t want any of them to walk. Why would he? They were walking for Christ and that means they will crush the Devil. The Devil doesn’t want you to do anything that is good.