Today, I’m so happy to share the following guest article by my good friend Julie Cragon, the author of several books including Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and Their Graces. Julie is not only an author, but also the owner of St. Mary’s Bookstore and Church Supply in Nashville. Perhaps that’s what makes her an author who knows exactly what readers need and want in a book! Frequent CatholicMom.com visitors will know that this book combines two loves of mine: our Blessed Mother and travel in the form of pilgrimage. This book looks at twenty eight holy sites in the United States where devotion to Mary has created shrines, grottos, chapels and churches all dedicated to Our Lady. I’ll be making it my personal goal to visit as many of the sites that Julie has shared as I can. I hope you enjoy this amazing book! Lisa
“Every mother loves to receive a visit from her children. Whether planned or “I was just in the neighborhood,” whether for an extended stay or “just for a moment,” the time a child takes to stop, to talk, to listen makes a lasting impression, an everlasting memory. Deep in the heart of every child, young and old, is the need for love, a mother’s love.”
“In every State in our beautiful Country, there is a place, a grotto, a shrine, a Basilica, a church or a chapel built in honor of Mary, Our Mother. We all know that we can sit in our homes, our cars, our offices, our parish church or chapel and talk to, pray with and visit Our Lady.” But, there is just something about making a pilgrimage.
Summer vacations are nipping at our heels as children wrap up this school year. For two years my family and I have traveled the country visiting Our Lady in the beautiful shrines made to honor her and her Son. Whether purposefully visiting a shrine and including a vacation or including a visit while enjoying a vacation, our journeys from California to Massachusetts and Wisconsin to San Juan are marked with memories and moments of grace that will last a lifetime. For example, we spent several days in upstate New York because of the many shrines in the area. After spending a Saturday in Niagara Falls and struggling to wake everyone early enough to make Mass at Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna, New York, I write, “As I kneel, I simply take a deep breath. The morning has not been the best. I question dragging my family to so many places. They are tired and it is not easy to get up this morning. And yet I hear plain and clear, ‘The victory is getting them here, getting them to the places, to the Church to visit me. The rest is between them and me, between them and my Son.’ All I can do is to thank her and let the Mass bring us together as a family.” The entire day is filled with her gifts of grace.
“Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces” is a prompt to spend time with Our Lady and to receive the many gifts of grace she has waiting for us. The original apparition or devotion to Our Lady starts each chapter followed by information about the Shrine we visit and a short prayer and grace. Listed in the back are other Shrines throughout the U.S. dedicated to Mary. Go. Take whoever is willing to share the journey and visit her. The gifts are well worth the effort.
Julie Cragon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Allen, and their six children. She and her husband run St. Mary’s Bookstore and Church Supply. Her first book, Bless My Child, is a mother’s prayer book published by Ave Maria Press. She writes biography holy cards for the Italian company, Bonella, which have been developed into beautiful picture books, The Illustrated Lives of the Saints, The Illustrated Book of Mary, The Illustrated Book of Jesus and The Illustrated Book of the Saints for Children. Her book Jesus at My Side: 365 Reflections on His Words published by Our Sunday Visitor gives a daily reflection on the words of Jesus from the Gospels. Her newest book, Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces has just been released this month from Servant Publications.
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