We are now in Madrid after taking a night train--10.5 aweful hours of cramps and little sleep--and are at the Best Western near the airport.
Fatima was wonderful. I was priveleged to be able to go twice before, but this was undoubtedly my best visit. We arrived on Saturday evening and settled into the Domus Pacis, which I recommend to anyone going to Fatima in the future. The rain, unfortunately, followed us to Fatima so we had to dodge the scattered downpours as we made it around the town.
On Sunday morning I went over to the Irish Dominican Sister´s convent and caught the tail end of their Sunday mass. Afterwards, I went next door to their convent in order to visit two sisters with whom I had become friends during my previous visits. I wasn´t sure if they would remember me, but they did, and had been keeping me in prayer since my last visit! Their names are Sister Lucia and Sister Jacinta--good Fatima names :-)--and they are two very holy and prayerful ladies.
We talked for about an hour and a half about life, the shape of their order, families, and the rosary. Their example of prayer and faith was awesome. They have given their lives totally to our Lord and to praying for the world and are just so incredibly joyful. You leave the convent kind of on a spiritual high after talking with them. They gave me a couple bags of rosaries and prayer cards and books and stuff when I left, and only asked for prayers, no donations!
I went the next day with Jason because it turns out that Sister Lucia is from the Alexandria, VA area where Jason is going to be stationed this year on his pastoral year. What was even cooler was that Sister Lucia´s sisters were in to visit this week and got there on Monday, the day we were visiting, and I think they go to the same parish where Jason is going to be stationed--crazy! No coincidence there. We spent a couple hours talking again with them and hanging out. We also met an awesome old Irish priest, probably 85 or older, and talked to him for a little bit as well. He has as much life in him now as He did at his ordination. Just a great example of a priest.
We had been planning on heading out kind of early in order to get to Lisbon at a good time so we could get to the shrine of Saint Anthony of Padua--not Italian if you can believe it, but actually born in Lisbon--but we ended up staying in Fatima until about 4pm. Our Lord and Lady had other plans.
On the way back from seeing the Sisters, we ran into a lady from England who had just finished the Camino with her husband and were going to be in Fatima for the 13th. She has been all around the world doing mission work with her husband, and visiting almost all the major Marian shrines. The kicker: she isn´t Catholic. She is Anglican, but very much on the edge of conversion. She believes all the messages of Our Lady, but has a hard time with not being able to find the rosary in scripture. We explained how the Bible says that in regards to traditions, not everything that our Fathers in faith wanted us to do is written in the Bible. She also explained that part of her problem with the Rosary was that saying the Hail Mary´s over and over was like--to use her terms--verbal diarrhea, saying the same thing over and over in a mindless trance. We then explained what the point of the Mysteries was--a meditation on the life of Christ, not a prayer solely exalting the name of Mary. I then gave her the Scriptural Rosary book that I had brought with me on the Camino, and had almost thrown away because of getting soaked and seemingly ruined during a day of rain--Jason said "no, man, lets dry it out"--part of Our Lady´s plan. She was incredibly thankful and basically said that she needed something like that book and had never heard of it before. Needless to say, we were pretty blown away after talking to her. Her name is Pam. Please keep her in your prayers.
Alright, well we are resting now in the Best Western and are ready for our flights home tomorrow. I can´t believe it is time to go, but at the same time I am very much ready to be back. Unfortunately, we won´t get to check out Madrid because of the National Holiday today. Everything is either closed or crazy, so we are just going to be recluses today. I get into Charlotte in the late evening after a layover in Newark. I look forward to seeing you all very soon. Much love.