Sunday 28 April 2024

Places of Grace My Visits to Shrines, Chapels, Graves, and Monasteries and the Graces I Received - Fr. Edward Looney

Meditations After Holy Communion: 
Guided Meditations for Every Sunday and Other Holy Days
Fr. Edward Looney

Bon Secours Books
ISBN 9798988403333

Places of Grace My Visits to Shrines, Chapels, Graves, and Monasteries and the Graces I Received - Fr. Edward Looney

This is the eighth volume from Father Looney it is another great read and wonderful resource for growth in your spiritual life, for devotion to shrines, saints, and spiritual places. The volume contains a total of 46 reflections. Some of the locations and people I was familiar with, many were new to me. It was wonderful to read these reflections and in some cause they inspired me to look up books on the people, or places to add to my reading list.

The description of this volume is:

“Catholic travel, or what we call pilgrimage, has been important in the life of Fr. Edward Looney. His first pilgrimage was with his parish on a local bus trip to see the Shrine of Our Lady of Champion when he was in eighth grade. Since then, he has boarded planes, rented cars, and travelled the world to see sites of Marian apparition, shrines of saints, and other spiritual sites and places along the way. Some of the places he visits are popular and attract many visitors. Others are hidden sites, off the beaten path. In Places of Grace, Fr. Looney recounts his experiences at shrines, chapels, monasteries, and graves, naming a grace he received from the Lord at each site. That grace will be different for each person. In his typical style, Fr. Looney weaves together personal anecdotes and experiences to arrive at a greater spiritual point, helping the reader and future pilgrim to better appreciate the holy sites they will visit during their earthly pilgrimage to Heaven. This book does not present the historical facts or architecture of holy sites, but the spiritual experience of a Catholic priest who hopes you will discover God's grace at a shrine or holy site.”

The sections and chapters in this volume are:

The Grace of Saying Yes (Champion, Wisconsin)
The Grace of Searching and Simplicity (Beauraing, Belgium)
The Grace of Participation and Remembrance (Lourdes, France)
The Grace of Encouragement (Zaragoza, Spain)
The Grace to Remain (Garabandal, Spain)
The Grace of Mary’s Presence (Guadalupe, Mexico)
The Grace of Silence (Knock, Ireland)
The Grace of Mystery (Walsingham, England)

The Grace of Mary (Washington, D.C.)
The Grace of Intercession (St. Augustine, Florida)
The Grace of Direction (Waukesha, Wisconsin)
The Grace of Stained Glass Windows (Hubertus, Wisconsin)
The Grace of Fulfilling a Promise (New Orleans, Louisiana)
The Grace of Quiet (Orlando, Florida)
The Grace to Visit (London, England)
The Grace of Disappointment (Belleville, Illinois)
The Grace of Research (Montreal, Canada)

The Grace of Entrustment (Cold Spring, Minnesota)
The Grace of Someone Else’s Faith (Northeastern Wisconsin)
The Grace of Nature (Cross Plains, Wisconsin)

The Grace of the Mass (Oconto, Wisconsin)
The Grace of Gift Giving (Quebec, Canada)
The Grace of Passing By (Briggsville, Wisconsin)
The Grace to Return (Chicago, Illinois)
The Grace of Gratitude (Detroit, Michigan)
The Grace of Dedication (Agreda, Spain)
The Grace of Adoration (Libertyville, Illinois)
The Grace of Connection (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
The Grace of Miracles (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
The Grace of Being Pursued (Emmitsburg, Maryland)
The Grace of Beauty (Hanceville, Alabama)
The Grace of Faithfulness to Death (Mexico City, Mexico)
The Grace of Availability (Watford, England)
The Grace of Saintly Witness (St. Cloud, Minnesota)

The Grace of Conviction (Escanaba, Michigan)
The Grace of Introduction (Chicago, Illinois)
The Grace of Preaching and Evangelization (Peoria, Illinois)
The Grace of Appreciation (Custer, Wisconsin)
A Grace Against Mediocrity (Marquette, Michigan)
The Grace of Renewal (Benton, Wisconsin)

The Grace of Stability (Conception, Missouri)
The Grace of Rest (Peosta, Iowa)
The Grace of Oblation (Rockford, Illinois)
The Grace of Ruins (Ireland)
The Grace of Continuity (Moncks Corner, South Carolina)
The Grace of a Thankful Heart (St. Leo, Florida)


I highlighted numerous passages while working through this volume. Some of them are:

““Places of Grace” is more than just a guidebook; it’s a roadmap for the soul, leading us to the sacred sites that have shaped the landscape of Catholic faith and devotion. Authored by Father Edward Looney, this meticulously curated collection invites us on a profound pilgrimage through shrines, chapels, graves, and monasteries, each bearing witness to the divine presence and the transformative power of grace.”

“Father Looney’s exploration of these sacred destinations is a testament to the enduring tradition of pilgrimage within the Catholic Church. With eloquence and insight, he unveils the hidden treasures of shrines, the mysteries of apparition sites, the sanctity of churches and chapels, and the hallowed ground of resting places for saints and blesseds. Through his words, we are reminded that pilgrimage is not merely an act of physical travel, but a journey of faith and action—a deliberate step towards encountering the divine.”

“I am a pilgrim. You are a pilgrim. We are all pilgrims on earth journeying to the Kingdom of Heaven. The notion of pilgrimage is quite ancient in Christianity as early believers visited places of importance in the life of Jesus in the Holy Land.”

“I’ve been blessed to travel throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe and pray at graves, shrines, and chapels. When I have visited those holy places, I have at times prayed for a very specific grace, sometimes making the pilgrimage for that intention. Other times, I have paused in prayer thinking of what is most pressing in my life and imploring heavenly intercession and assistance. I have prayed for graces for myself or thought of people in my life who were desperately in need of prayer.”

“I have had profound experiences at these shrines and have received many graces. The purpose of this book is to share places that have been significant in my spiritual life and places of pilgrimage.”

“The Madonna appeared in a similar fashion as Our Lady of Lourdes and a fountain of water was involved. The shrine and apparition gave off vibes of Lourdes. I loved that the rosary has been prayed daily at the Banneux shrine in unbroken succession since the first apparitions. Yet, my heart and soul loved Beauraing. I loved its simple messages and invitation to prayer. I was aware of my need for conversion and how I wanted Our Lady to convert me as one of those sinners. That same clergyman remarked that is why people didn’t feel close to Beauraing because it was more challenging. I considered it a simple challenge.”

“To me a Lourdes grotto replicates the reality of the grotto of Lourdes. Not everyone has the means or ability to board a plane and fly to Lourdes, France and spend days in prayer at this holy sanctuary. An ordinary parishioner can feel connected to Lourdes by praying at a grotto.”

“A Lourdes-style grotto is a reminder of Mary’s apparition, her message, and maternal love for all of us. Seeing a grotto can draw us into spending a few moments with our heavenly mother who prays for us. And when we stop for a few moments of prayer or to pray a rosary, we participate and remember the grace of Lourdes, France.”

“Our Lady, who was given insight into the life of the apostles by God, bilocated while still alive and appeared atop a pillar in Zaragoza to converse with St. James and encourage him in his missionary works. Many consider this bilocation the first Marian apparition.”

“Another part of the story about Juan and Our Lady that I marvel at is that Juan Diego tried to avoid Our Lady. He knew that if he went the same way, he would see her. He did not want to be delayed, so he went a different way. His reason was noble. He wanted to visit his uncle Juan Bernadino who was ill and dying. You can’t avoid Our Lady. She appeared to him and told him that his uncle was already healed. The presence of Mary was real and powerful.”

“Silence was the grace of Knock. To be silent and behold the mystery. To be silent with Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John, and the lamb. To be silent and imagine what it was like to be one of those witnesses of the apparition. And in the silence, is the grace to listen and respond to what the Lord asks and to go where the Lord leads.”

“You can ask Our Lady of La Leche and Our Lady of Good Delivery to pray for them, even if you cannot pray before the image of the breastfeeding Madonna. When you are able though, praying at these shrines where pilgrims have prayed before you can be powerful. Truly they are a place of grace; a place where prayers have been answered. The La Leche Shrine instilled within me the grace to intercede for other people, and if you happen to be in that area of Florida, that grace to pray for others can be yours too.”

“Did praying the rosary in front of the statuary of the mystery enhance my meditation? Most definitely. That is the grace of a visit. As we grace a place with our visit, we are graced in return by God who is the giver of all good gifts.”

“While I may have been disappointed about my visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, I think that’s a valuable lesson to learn in the spiritual life. There are going to be disappointments. Things are not always going to be as I want or would expect. In the spiritual life there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys, consolation and desolation. The shrine didn’t live up to the hype of my childhood imagination, but it was a holy place, built for a holy purpose, where God was doing amazing things though the intercession of Mary. I was able to participate in that. Receiving grace and being open to it, is never a disappointment.”

“With every Mass celebrated at a parish, God is pouring out his grace to all who attend. I have heard bishops remark that when a parish ceases to exist in a community, the quality of life decreases and there is more violence, crime, and sin. The Mass is efficacious. Each week, a parish offers a Mass intention for the living and deceased members of its community. It is a constant prayer for the local church, past and present.”

“I prayed for my priesthood, asking that in times of persecution I would remain faithful to the end like Blessed Miguel Pro. We do not know what will become of the Christian faith in years to come. The message preached by Christianity is antithetical to the world. The world is threatened by the message and teaching of Jesus, and as in the past, could seek to obliterate it. We must be prepared and ready should that ever happen.”

“In his life, St. Cloud had three saintly role models who formed him and cared for him. Reading his biography made me realize that we all need saintly people in our lives. Holy people attract other holy people.”

“If I want to become a saint, then I need saintly influencers around me. I have St. Cloud to thank for this grace.”

“Walking and praying on those grounds, and other monastic ruins in Ireland, made me realize that as Catholic Christians, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us in the faith. Their life was a witness to belief in God, lived out through prayer and vocation. The grace of ruins reminds us of our past and to appreciate what once was. As one happens upon ruins of monasteries in Ireland, in the United States we come across closed churches and suppressed religious communities. We are reminded of history and people’s contributions to Catholicism, all of which should move us to thank God for what has been and to pray for what will be.”

“Shrines and chapels, monasteries, and graves, have taught me a lot about pursuing God, and have helped me feel connected to Our Lady, the saints, and the Church. I receive God’s grace every day in the parish church in which I serve, pray, and celebrate Mass, and also at the holy sites I visit when I travel. They are places where I have received much grace, helping me on my pilgrimage to my Heavenly home. Until I arrive at those pearly gates, I remain here on earth with open hands, ready to receive the graces God gives me on the path to my heavenly destination.”

Father Looney is open and transparent in this volume. He shares hopes, dreams, successes, failures and struggles. But he also open’s to us holy p[laces, and people. I few years ago I worked through a series from the Catholic Truth Society called Christian Shrines the series contained two types of books, the first were pilgrim companions sort of a tour book for visits and the other on understanding the meaning and devotion. I have read 18 of the booklets in that series, and this volume reminds me greatly of them. Though in this one we experience both types of guidance. 

The first thing I do when I look at a book on Marian apparitions, or shrines is look up Knock and Walsingham. Both of which I have specific devotion to. When I read this volume I read those two sections first and then went back and reread the whole book in order. This is one of those volumes you could easily return to again and again. Either flipping through and reading specific sections, or looking for associated graces. It is a little treasure trove of places and people mainly in the United States, then Canada and a few in Europe. Father Looney towards the end of the volume indicates they may be a second volume I for one would pick it up right away.

This volume is well written, and easy to engage with. It is a wonderful little volume that will spark curiosity and it will foster engagement and growth. It is a book that will benefit any Catholic readers. I can easily recommend this volume.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Fr. Edward Looney:
A Heart Like Mary's: 31 Daily Meditations to Help You Live and Love as She Does
Our Lady of Good Help Mary's Message and Mission for Adele Brise and the World
A Rosary Litany
Our Lady of Good Help Prayer Book For Pilgrims

Lenten Journey with Mother Mary
Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary
Praying with the Church Through Advent
Praying with the Church Through Lent

Children’s Books:
Little Chapels, Grateful Hearts
The Story of Sister Adele and Our Lady of Champion
Breakfast in Bethlehem
Fr. Looney's Christmas Stories

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