Archive for May, 2008

The Blessed Mother of the Yellow Flowers

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

On every wall and every corner in Italy there are little niches and even little houses for the Blessed Mother (Italy calls her Madonna and Bambino!).  I have photographed about half of them!  From every corner you can hear lots of church bells. For Sunday Mass I mapped out about 3 churches that had Sunday morning services  and I set out for one of the three but got lost as one easily can even with 2 maps….   I was wandering down a very narrow street after takiing two wrong bridges and suddenly there she was on a wall in front of me! The Madonna of the Yellow Flowers. In a church in Jerusalem I saw a statue that said over it Total Beauty is Maria (of course this was in Latin and I got it translated)….. Well… I said to Madonna, …OK take me to church… and I landed in a square called Saint Margarita. … A little old Italian lady walked by all dressed black from hat to shoes and I thought… follow her. Indeed she went into a church that had a crazily tilted look. Actually I think half the facade slipped…. I went to Mass and the next evening I went to Mass and the Rosary.  I say a hearty thanks to the Madonna of the Yellow Flowers who helped me find my way.  Yesterday Chuck and I took a ride on a gondola across the Grand Canal and found a another beautiful Madonna !!!! She is everywhere in Italy!    I will write more when I have more computer time! Love Susie

The Grand Adventure goes ashore!

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Today Chuck and I went ashore at Livorno, Italy. It is a port town. Very busy and too big for our tastes, but I did find a few churches. I decided I would let Mary guide me this trip and go into churches, first look for the Blessed Sacrament usually well-lighted with red candles, then find Mary in her many roles. My friend Fiora promised to take me on a little pilgrimage in Panzano. In the month of May, Mary’s month, the priest takes women down the hill to a local shrine built in thanks for ending the great plague that wracked Italy many years ago. When I go there, I’ll write about it. I’m looking forward to many “personal” tributes to Mary. Meanwhile… I’ve watched Under the Tuscan Sun at least 3 times and finished the book on this cruise. Both the movie and the book refer many times to Mary, sister, mother, aunt. Gentle mother, tower of strength. So, I’ll do little pilgrimages of course Assisi (tomorrow!) and Padua for the Saints, and Mary, in every little church. God bless us all! Love Susie

Mary, Mother’s Day, and Stone

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Three things inspired this musing… Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, Michelangelo’s love of Florence, and my visit to the Cathedral in Milaga, Spain. I visited several churches in Malaga where Mary is highlighted in silver robes as the Madre Dolorosa (Mother of Sorrows). I touched the walls of the great Cathedral and I remembered Michelangelo loved to touch the stone walls of the Cathedral (Duomo) in Florence. Walls made of hand-carved and hand-placed stone. Looking at the beautiful paintings and statues of Mary, and touching the 1200 year old stone used to build Medieval and Renaissance churches leads me to musings… and Mother’s Day is coming so I must pay tribute to my Mom! Not to say that Mary and Mother’s Day should be thought of in the same way as 1200 year old stone, but… close your eyes for a moment and think about this:  A mother has to be tough doesn’t she? A woman is invaded by a life giving force. She is literally “taken” as it were to be a vessel as no man can be taken. She is made to be a slave to give life. But God has given a mother a special grace. For he gives her the strength to accept the load that will indeed load her down for 9 months and then that will remain with her, a load on her heart for all the years of her life. Her child, God’s child, is given to her to carry first in her womb, then at her breast and on her knee, and finally when the child grows the wings he needs to go “out,” Mother carries him in her heart. As Mary did, and as our Mothers did and do! They carry our lives in their hearts. God chooses each mother for the work she will do just as the builder chooses the stone he will use to build a great church. First he carefully designs the foundation he will dig to be the “foot” for the temple. Then he begins to select from the stone he has selected from the quarry. One by one, carefully ensuring balance, he lays the stone. “Make it right… make it right.” If he misplaces any stone he will cause the great ediface to fall. Our lives are like this — God carefully chooses our traits, our talents, our being, and he chooses our mother, the foundation. I am sure God watches with great love as we take the first tentative steps. “Take the right way,” He whispers. “Your mother knows - I built her, your mother. She is strong and full of wisdom and love. Follow your mother! Follow Mary, my mother.”

Amazing distance facts

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I’m not sure I ever paid much attention to the Straits of Gibraltar. In fact, I wonder just how many of us know exactly where they are. If you look at a map of the Atlantic, notice how BIG the Atlantic Ocean is. I tried to get some numbers from the Purser last night, but he said the bridge was very busy last night. We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar between midnight and 2am in high waves, winds, mist and darkness. The sea had been perfectly calm the entire 11 days of our crossing… But it really kicked up as we entered the straits. The distance we “drove” to get from Miami to “inside the Mediterranean” is 4400 nautical miles [it’s 4450 miles from Susie’s house on Westwood Lake (25° 43′ 43″ N; 80° 22′ 16″ W) to Málaga, Spain (36° 44′ 34″ N; 4° 25′ 33″ W) mp]. Chuck says that a nautical mile is a little more than a “land” or statute mile. It took 11 days to make the sail to “steam” from Miami to Malaga Spain (with a stop in Saint Maarten and Funchal Portugal)… Suppose you make it across the Atlantic. Take a look at the map. If you run due east or maybe north east you will run full tilt into Africa or Spain or other land mass…. and you have a very tiny chance of hitting the 20 mile wide opening into the Mediterranean!!!!! It is no wonder so many ships have been lost in the past. As we passed into the straits, I went up to the 10th deck in my jammies and robe (Chuck was just coming in from the piano bar so he was in tux) I could see very clearly despite the dark and fog last night both sides (Africa and Spain.) The English controlled the opening to the Mediterranean (the Strait of Gibraltar) during WWII to keep German U boats out. I know the American subs were in the Med patrolling in case a German U boat slipped through. What amazing history this body of water (the Med) has. Our room steward knocked at 9am this morning and we roused ourselves to go ashore at Malaga. Great churches!!!!! Chuck lost his sail and sign card but they let him on board the ship with his passport. All is well and we look forward to beginning our “Tuscan Adventure” on Saturday morning. Cheers!!! Love Susie

Transatlantic - it’s all the same!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Good day My dear readers. We’re on a transatlantic crossing with plans to stay for a while in Italy (Tuscany), Croatia (Istria), Venice, Greece (just the highlights) and then to England. I recommend this kind of travel only for the hardy as one can easily eat too much, drink too much, sleep too much. Excess is never good!  We are learning Italian. For example… “Dove il trattoria… Ho fame!” “Where is the restaurant… I’m hungry!” One should not ever get hungry on a cruise like this!  We scan the buffets and find amazing appetisers: calimari, oysters, salads, lamb, and salmon…. I’m trying to skip dessert. For breakfast there are eggs over easy, grits and bacon. … Just like home. I remember to write a journal for it is easy to lose track of days. We awake at 6am, watch the sun rise and think of home. What day is it? Does it really matter? The Atlantic looks the same from both sides and the sun always rises in the East.  We are headed out of the Atlantic, through the straits of Gibraltar, into the Mediterranean tonight and my thoughts go to Ulysses who first thought he might try to sail out of the pond that is the Mediterranean, but wondered if he would then fall off the earth for the earth at that time was thought to be flat. … May God bless my friends and family. Please think kindly of us, the wandering travelers. Health and peace. Susie