Generosity

The Irish are almost unnervingly serious about hospitality. All those movies with kindly housewives insisting the weary traveler sits down for a cuppatea are entirely accurate; wherever we go in this country, either long-expected or unannounced, we never fail to find doors and larders flung open for our much needed respite.

The Crossroads walk, as you know, owes everything to the charity of others. So far (and by that I mean three quarters of the way through the walk) we’ve never gone without a place to sleep, and we’ve never gone hungry. We’ve stayed everywhere from country farms to hillside mansions, and we have many people to thank. Some might say we have simply chosen a fortuitously hospitable country to trek through, while others may suggest that we’re on the receiving end of God’s providence. I say it’s both.

When we return to America next week, I know that I’ll be coming back to a place where this sort of unremitting goodness, while present, is not an everyday practice. I pray that I can become to others what these wonderful hosts have been to us. I hope that I can shed my avaricious and mistrustful nature, so that I may give to others simply because it is the right thing to do. Until then, walkin’ time. Pray for us and for the unborn, and take care.

- Jon C.

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Mary Rose

It isn’t easy being kidnapped by a Pro-Life volunteer group traveling around Ireland in a rickety white van. Perhaps kidnap is a strong word…but rickety is a very apt word for our mode of transportation.

I joined Crossroads with a completely wrong impression of what I was getting myself into. I imagined trudging through the cold, windy, rainy Irish landscape, my feet full of blisters and my bones aching from the much-needed exercise!

Instead, I got an awesome road trip with a set of amazing volunteers. I was slightly worried about fitting in with a group that’s already had two weeks to bond. But that wasn’t a problem with these guys, because we have a common goal…to protect the most vulnerable of our society.

I wish I could spend more than four days with this crowd walking to raise awareness for this extremely important cause.

It has been a great experience walking for Pro-Life and given the opportunity I would do it over…kidnapped in a rickety white van, making up band names in between walking shifts to save lives.

Mary Rose Dovel
Temp-Crossroads Walker, Co. Cork, Ireland. Age 18.

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Cliffs of Moher

 

Sometimes things do not go as planned.  Most of the time, things do not go as planned.  This does not mean you should trash the schedule and sit back and wait for things to happen, but simply, that you should rejoice and seek to glorify God within the context of the “altered” plans.  Too often these surprises or changes incite frustration, but when you are seeking to do the Will of God you can joyfully accept the unforeseen twists in “road” by surrendering to Providence.  Besides, God knows our hearts and needs so much better than we do.

More than a week and a half into the Pilgrimage Walk that is Crossroads, the walkers and leaders are “buckled down” and set on walking.  Without special grace and constantly reminding yourself of the purpose of the walking and praying, it is easy to think only of getting from point A to point B.  It was at just such time in the walk that we ran into some difficulties.  What at first seemed like a problem due to dangerous windy roads, no shoulder to walk on, and blazing traffic turned out to be just the gift that we all needed.  The detour began after driving several miles ahead in order to find a suitable place to continue walking.  Before finding a good spot to pick up, the road led us to a beautiful lake, which inspired a quick left turn down a narrow lane.  The crew spilled out of the minibus and sped to the waterside to drink in the refreshing breeze and breathtaking view.  I believe that this water, which is so symbolic in our Catholic Faith, served to wash away that temptation of limiting ourselves to serving and praising God in only one way.  That cleansing (that moment of grace) allowed me to remember that we are called to praise God in all things.  It was the sight of such beauty and the reception of such grace that inspired Patricia to suggest visiting the Cliffs of Moher.  Unanimously, the crew voted to visit the cliffs.  I, recognizing the danger of the road and the presence of the new gift, thanked God for coming into our plans.

The Cliffs of Moher, in their immensity and grandeur inspire awe.  The crashing waves of the ocean against them, inspire awe.  The “water as far as the eye can see” inspires awe.  True wonder and awe come from God through the moving of the Holy Spirit.  The wind moving over the cliffs reminded us of that Spirit .  And that Spirit inspires all good and holy thoughts, reflections, words, and actions.  It was the Spirit that inspired in all of us a renewed sense of mission.  It was our joy in prayer as we overlooked the sea that reminded us that God desires us to be happy.  It is this happiness that has rejuvenated us and led us to tie our laces and hit the road again.  No more point A to point B.  We walk, run, and pray for joy, we walk, run, and pray for life!

Tony Ertel

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Irish Friends

Tuesday week 2: The day began with a visit to Blarney castle, which was described by another walker ‘as a once in a while experience’. I had to agree. Being Irish I never planned a visit to Blarney castle and it never entered my mind to kiss the Blarney stone, ever. A tourist trap, right? Well even if it is to a certain extent I am glad to have been there and if it truly is a prize relic from the Holy Land I am all the more glad to have venerated it. The greatest joy of the day though was the family that joined us for the day, the O’Donaghues’ from Co. Wexford. Joe, Brenda and their 5 children. Joe and Brenda walked and prayed with us for the day and in-between shifts we got to play with the children, John, Pauric, Katie, Mary and Therese.  Their mere presence was an encouragement and a great reminder of why we are doing this walk. Precious children. Their beautiful little faces, their joy and love, I was struck with joy. Heart warmed thoughts rolled through me and I marveled at motherhood. To be a mother is truly wondrous, what is more important? What is more beautiful? What brings more love? Motherhood I did not consider alone, the family, it’s the family that I was marveling at so simple so beautiful. Their love for life was clear. Their openness and willingness to serve life, to live life to the full was a privilege to share for the day. They don’t need to wear shirts with PRO-LIFE printed on the front, they live it, they live it.

Patricia Mannering

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Kiss O’the Blarney!

The “Gift of Blarney” is the art of elegant, flattering, persuasive speech that one supposedly acquires upon kissing the Blarney Stone, a legendary stone set in the very walls of Blarney Castle, in Ireland. We, the Crossroads group, have yet to see any supernatural persuasiveness pass our lips…. Though it would certainly come in handy on our travels. We started the morning early by stopping by the Blarney Castle before our walking for the day began. It was an impressive sight to behold, walking up to the imposing, grey castle resting on a frowning rock face from which the stones of the castle were hewn. The Blarney Stone, however, is a relic brought back from the crusades, reported to be the stone pillow of Jacob. The magical powers attributed to the stone developed after the stone arrived in Ireland. It’s quite an experience- laying on your back and bending backwards to hang off the top of an ancient castle to kiss a rock. I think it’s perhaps the only occasion Americans would fathom putting their lips to a completely unsanitary, doubtlessly spit-covered surface. It is, though, a life experience- one that I’ve always wanted to scratch of my bucket list. I don’t actually have a bucket list… but, you know.

Caitlin Christianson

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48 Years

June 29th, the feast of Sts. Peter & Paul. Our Crossroads walker and chaplain Fr. Hillary Flynn (from “the tropics” – as he likes to say – in Australia) celebrated 48 Years of priesthood. That day we put in some good miles, had a bit of a shorter walk, and were able to pilgrim to the Apparition site at Knock. Mass and Stations of the Cross, followed by take-out dinner, pear cider, and apple crisp. Mmmm …love those burgers and “chips” (the Irish way of saying fries).

Father has been a blessing and inspiration to all of us, in his good spirit, his perseverance, and his simplicity and confidence in prayer. He also keeps us on our toes, putting in just as many miles as the rest of us (!!!!) and keeping our hearts focused as we walk. He was also on the Original Crossroads in the USA in 1995, and this year in Ireland is his 5th walk.

For all the hidden and visible ways in which you serve us, Father, we thank you.

Crossroads Team

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The N17

 

The roads slope and wind around the Irish countryside. We’re on the N17 highway now, from Galway through Tuam, heading towards Sligo. Sometimes those roads seem like endless stretches, and sometimes you wonder how you could have gotten there so quickly. RAIN OR SHINE, that’s our motto. We’ve had great weather so far, but yesterday was our first day of really soaking rain. Splash through the puddles, watch out for the lorries, check that you have enough room on the shoulder. AWESOME. The skies are grey, white, and every shade of blue. Rolling green hills with sheep, horses, and cows dot the landscape. The song N17 by the Saw Doctors seems something familiar to us as we walk these roads for the cause of Life.

N17

Well I didn’t see much future
When I left the Christian brothers school
So I waved it goodbye with a wistful smile
And I left the girls of Tuam
Sometimes when I’m reminiscing I see the prefabs and my old friends
And I know that they’ll be changed or gone
By the time I get home again.

(Chorus)
And I wish I was on the n17
Stone walls and the grass is green
And I wish I was on the n17
Stone walls and the grass is green
Travelling with just my thoughts and dreams

Well the ould fella left me to Shannon
Was the last time I traveled that road
And as we turned left at Claregalway I could feel a lump in my throat
As I pictured the thousands of times
That I traveled that well worn track
And I know that things will be different If I ever decide to go back.

(Chorus) And I wish I was on the n17
Stone walls and the grass is green
And I wish I was on the n17
Stone walls and the grass is green
Travelling with just my thoughts and dreams

Now as I tumble down highways
Or on filthy overcrowded trains
There’s no one to talk to in transit
So I sit there and daydream in vain
Behind all those muddled up problems
Of living on a foreign soil
I can still see the twists and the turns on the road
From the square to the town of the tribes

(Chorus)
And I wish I was on the n17
Stone walls and the grass is green
Yes I wish I was on the n17
Stone walls and the grass is green
Travelling with just my thoughts and dreams

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmv0ONF7frk

 

Meghan Schofield

 

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Christ in the Humble Places

One of the greatest blessings of this walk has been the presence of a priest among us. He brings us Jesus every day in the Eucharist. This sacrifice of the Mass at once grounds us, and reminds us of why we are here, what our purpose is.
Being on the road often means celebrating Mass when and where we can: from beautiful Cobh Cathedral, to the pilgrimage site at Knock, to interesting 1970′s style churches, to the local parish church, to the coffee tables in people’s living rooms. The splendor of the great churches reminds us that Christ, in all His glory, comes to us in the humble places too. Heaven lept to earth first in a stable, lowly and small. Heaven continues to leap to earth every day in the sacrifice of the Mass, and He chooses once again the small and lowly Host. It reminds us of our own frailty, and the vulnerability of those we have come to defend: the unborn. Celebrating “home Masses” brings this startling reality to light and brings our focus to what is essential in all things: the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It’s all about Jesus.
As we walk, we continue to try and see where He makes Himself present and visible in the small and humble things of this world. In the face of those we meet, in our conversations with each other, in the subtle beauty of creation. He is always already present in all things. May we have the eyes to see and stand in wonder.

Meghan Schofield

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The Walk Begins

The first day began as so many first days do: a struggle through organizational and logistical bedlam to figure out just where we were going and how to get there. Some of our walkers began down the road out of Dublin while two others departed for Donegal to pick up our support van and yet another contingent went to pick up a final volunteer at the airport. Progress was slow, and the walk stopped short outside of the University College Dublin when the crew reconvened to record our progress, and to meet both the new arrival and our new ride. Through the kindness of former Crossroads walker Tim Jackson and his cadre of roommates, we enjoyed an evening of good conversation and, of course, a roof over our heads.

Our second day proved much more straightforward, and yet much more of a challenge. Gone were the uncertainties – we had a plan now – but in their place were narrow winding roads into the Irish countryside. A few points along the way were perhaps a bit more dangerous than we would like on our first day of serious travel, but in short order, we made our way out of the city and into the incredibly scenic hills beyond. Out trek ended just south of Rathnew, County Wicklow, and we were treated to the incredible graciousness and generosity of the Porter family, who opened their home to us on this night as well as the wollowing two evenings.

On the third day, we walked some more – no great surprise there. What was a surprise was the weather; one typically imagines Ireland with only a passing acquaintance with the sun, for want of cloudless skies and rainless days. Not so on day three – the sun shone throughout the day, with only the occasional veil of clouds concealing its auspicious warmth. For most this meant walking without fear of the harsher elements, for a few this meant an unwelcome heat that made the walk that much more uncomfortable, and for Tony it meant picking up a strawberry off the ground and eating it. Rogue fruit notwithstanding, at the end of the day we had a rare treat: a home mass at the Porters’ farm. Many were in attendance, Crossroaders and Porters and others alike, and we all enjoyed a proper (and enormous) Irish supper afterwards.

The fourth day found us lagging behind our expected daily mileage; forty miles or more were necessary to close the distance between our position and outr daily destination. Aster another home mass, we dauntlessly struck out harder than ever before, walking double-time and only making brief stops between shifts. We made our way through countless towns, each with their own distinctive atmosphere (and quite a few castles) – New Ross and Ferns especially come to mind – and we came to a stop just oputside of Waterford. We returned to the Porters’, where another magnificent feast waited for us.

There is more to come, but for now, this blog writer is exhausted.

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There and Back Again, A walkers tale, By Rachel Mary

Peace and Love to you all!

Just a wee update on how things went for us.

Update: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!

Our walk was a huge success and we thank you all for your prayers that helped so much!  A long the way we were able to witness to 1000′s of people along the road, in parishes and doing outreach and street contact!

We meet some very inspirational and loving people, prayed around this beautiful Isle as we walked, saw AT LEAST 40 shades of green, and had a lot of laughs throughout the journey!

Thankfully we were able to attend daily mass, which as you know yourself is a great way to start the day!  After paving our way down to Cork, and up the West we reached the hills of Donegal, were a number of the walkers were from.  From there we walked through Northern Ireland and back down until we reached Dublin again.

The walk was completed officially in Dublin on Saturday the 13th of August.  We prayed outside the IFPA for an hour (an organisation which refers Irish women for abortions in England.)   Then we took part in a Pro Life Street session in Dublin with Youth Defense, informing people on the beauty of life and the destruction of abortion.  It was a great way to finish the walk.

I thank God for Ireland’s pro life stance and I pray it will continue to stay that way.  I thank God for the many people who pray to keep abortion out of Ireland, pray for mothers considering abortion, and pray for those who are pro choice.  I thank God for all of you who are actively involved in this LIFE SAVING movement.

Everyone has an obligation to be at the service of life… Together we all sense our duty to preach the Gospel of life, to celebrate it in the Liturgy and in our whole existence, and to serve it with the various programmes and structures which support and promote life. -Blessed JP II.

The Crossroads Pro Life walk around Ireland has planted many seeds, and is a sign of hope for the future generations to come.  I will leave you with this appeal from our late Holy Father and I pray that you will be courageous in answering the call to all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life

“I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.”

Béannacht Dé


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