Last weekend, we made a trip as a family to a retreat given by Michael Brown of Spirit Daily in Natick, MA and to Stockbridge, MA to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy for Divine Mercy Sunday. I had planned to blog about it throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack the power supply for my laptop and tonight is my first opportunity since I returned home.

The weekend was really a special one for the family. The retreat was an interesting event. Looking back at it, I wouldn’t actually call it a “retreat” in that it wasn’t the soul searching, faith enriching experience which I have come to associate with retreats. It was however a very interesting presentation of the kind of material Brown writes about on Spirit Daily. The theme of the event was Spiritual Warfare. Its focus was largely on analysis of near death experiences and how they consistently relate to Catholic teaching on purgatory, heaven and hell and prophecy. The material was impressive and Brown is an engaging presenter and a deeply faithful man.

The irony of our weekend is that the Spirit Daily retreat took us to Massachusetts and it was largely because we were already in the state that brought us to Stockbridge and the Divine Mercy Shrine, and yet it was our Divine Mercy Celebration that was one of the most deeply spiritual events I have ever experienced.

My wife has developed a very special devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus over the past year. Despite the fact that the Michael Brown retreat included a celebration of Mass, she was trying to figure out where we would go to Mass on Sunday when it occurred to her that the National Shrine is in Massachusetts.  Though it was two hours away, we decided to make the journey, and was it ever worth it.

We were among 12,000 pilgrims to the shrine that day.  The principal celebrant of the Mass was Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, DC and concelebrated by Bishop McDonnell of Springfield, MA and many priests from the resident order of the shrine, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception and other clergy.  It was the largest assembly of priests I have seen since I had the honor of attending an outdoor Mass in downtown Philadelphia said by Pope John Paul II in 1979.

It was an amazing spiritual event to be joined by so many faithful and the Mass itself was truly beautiful.  The Cardinal’s homily was really wonderful (We recorded it on EWTN and I’m trying to figure out how to get it onto the computer so I can post it) and the music was beautiful.  After mass was an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which completed right about 3PM (the hour of Divine Mercy) and we all  (all 12,000 of us) prayed the divine mercy chaplet.  The music that accompanied the chaplet was so incredible that none of us have been able to get through an hour without singing it in our head all week.

After we left the shrine and checked into our hotel we drove through Stockbridge to get some dinner.  As we approached the town, there was a rainbow right over the shrine.  The rainbow was almost entirely a band of red and a band of yellow and clearly represented to us God’s pleasure with the day.

This will be a day all five of us are likely to remember for the rest of our lives.  More to come when I get the homily available to share.

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