I love to go on vacation (who doesn’t?)! You get to meet new people, see sights you have never seen before, and may never again. When my husband and I went on vacations before kids, I could tell you of some awesome stories of when we couldn’t find a hotel and drove till 4 AM, or how my kids were amazed at how much of the Chicago skyline you could see from Willis Tower. The one thing we never skip when we go on vacation is God. He is always there for us, and never takes a vacation from his work in us, so why should we take a vacation from Him? As Catholics, it is awesome that no matter where in the world we go, our Mass is always the same. I feel like the best part of our adventures going to see the huge Cathedrals or attend Mass in a tiny Church on the plains. I love the beauty of the stain glass windows or the relics they may be hiding. This is why when I received 101 Places to Pray Before You Die, A Roamin’ Catholic’s Guide, by Thomas J. Craughwell, I couldn’t wait to see what places I’ve already visited and new ones to go to on our next adventure.
Craughwell’s book offers the “roamin’ Catholic” a variety of locations to visit in the United States, from large Basilicas and Cathedrals to quiet retreats or places of interest. Of course, I started with my home state, Nebraska, and was delighted to see his stop for Nebraska was Boys and Girls Town founded by Father (future recognized saint) Flanagan. Here you can visit the museum and learn about how Fr. Flanagan saved the lost boys of Omaha and eventually worldwide, visit his home, pray in the flower gardens or even attend Mass at their on campus Church (recently renovated) where Fr. Flanagan lies.
Then there were other stops he also had on my checked list, Our Lady of the Snows Belleville, IL (near St. Louis), St. John Cantius in Chicago, IL, and so many more on my “bucket” list. Our Catholic Church is so amazing and wonderful, and each Holy site holds its own treasure for faithful worship to quiet reflection. This book covers all of the states, where he lists a few sites in each location, but it is such a small list compared to all of the possible places of adventure. This is a great start for someone who would like to know more about our Catholic faith, as he also describes why he picked the place and a brief history to wet your appetite. Even if you aren’t able to visit all of these Holy locations, it is great to be able to recommend places to visit to family or friends, or to let a distant friend know about a place they may not have known about right where they live. (They say many people don’t even visit the sites in the place where they live!).
I do wish there were pictures in the book of these places Craughwell is suggesting we visit, but thank goodness for Google to show us any place we want to go.
Pick up a copy of 101 Places to Pray Before You Die, A Roamin’ Catholic’s Guide, by Thomas J. Craughwell before your next vacation, check out some great sites in the state where you’ll be visiting and I promise your vacation will be blessed!