Thursday, March 30, 2017
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Customs and Religion

The Day of the Dead

As the sunny warm days of September and October turn into November, the trees are more stark and the landscape becomes bare against the dramatic November sky. The eve of All Saint's Day begins the preparation for the "day of the dead" or the day when many Poles visit the cemetery to pay respect to their dead family members. In the old days, loaves of bread were baked to give to the beggars so that they would pray for the dead. Today, families attend Mass, visit the graves, and take flowers, but many still light candles at the grave site. Some cemeteries are all aglow as the sun sets that day.

Read more: The Day of the Dead


John Paul's II - Polish Pope's Legacy

When I write these words - our first Polish pope, Karol Wojtyla, the most important man from our land is on the verge between the life and the death. The vigils are kept in churches all over Poland.

Our Polish pope changed the papacy in many ways - he was charismatic and spiritual leader, but also a very warm and down to earth person. He wrote books and poems - but he also worked physically as a young men and liked sport. His many interests helped him to understand people with different backgrounds and cultures better than anybody else. This pope did not do anything because he wanted to please the press, public opinion or poll, he did it because of conviction.

Read more: John Paul's II - Polish Pope's Legacy


Remembering the Pope

I remember the smile on my Dad's face and how excited he was as a Polish American when a Polish Pope was chosen! Pope John Paul II was a hero to our family right from the start. We followed his wonderful achievements throughout his life with pride, tears and smiles. I will never forget my first visit to Poland to teach English with my husband and son just after communism ended. It was evident that they were so very proud of him and the impact and influence of John Paul II was so visible everywhere. Yes, he was a hero, in Poland, in the world and in our hearts.

Read more: Remembering the Pope


Papal Audience: Handshake with John Paul II, the Holy Father

A couple years ago, just a few months after I had two new knees replaced by Dr. Sridhar, my Sacred Heart - St. Gerard combined choir (I was a director then) made a trip planned to the Vatican to sing at St. Peter's - and also to meet the Pope for the Wednesday Papal gathering.

Handshake with the Holy FatherFor a number of days before that particular Wednesday, the entire choir traveled Venice - Padua - Florence - Sienna - Assisi and Rome - a fabulous trip! Along the way, my husband Dick was my official wheelchair pusher - since he was not sure whether I was going to be able to hold up on the cobblestones. The doctor had said I'd be OK - but it didn't take long to realize, Italy has some "hard roads" to travel - so the rented wheel chair was probably the best $100 Dick ever spent.

Read more: Papal Audience: Handshake with John Paul II, the Holy Father


Pope John Paul II Legacy

As I write this article, the pope has just undergone tracheotomy surgery. This surgery is done to save life but at the expense of permanent damage. The throat of a patient is cut to allow more air to get to the lungs through a special tube. My mother had the same surgery a year before she passed away, so I know how many inconveniences this brings. The patient need to learn talking, eating, and bathing with the tube inside; the mucus that gathers in the tube needs to be suctioned away. This surgery is done as a last resort, since it makes the life of the patient and people around him difficult.

Read more: Pope John Paul II Legacy


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