Thoughts from a young theologian

Wrapping it all up… in Paris!!!

Sorry for the little break back there again… I got home a few days ago and with a wedding to attend, jet lag, sickness (from all the travel) and post-Europe depression to get over, papers to sign, and school (seminary) starting up in a couple of days, I’ve had my hands tied up just a little bit… It’s soooooo good to be home though and it’s also really nice that I don’t have to be back in the monastery until Friday… That’s basically given me a week to unwind a bit and unpack before repacking my life and moving back to Mission for year two of seminary… Before that, let’s wrap up the trip to Europe by going back to where I started… Paris, the city of lights…

When I first had the idea of visiting Paris a number of years ago, there were two things on top of my list of things to do… The first actually involves a trip an hour outside of the city to the beautiful medieval town of Chartres… My first day in Paris involved the first train out of it… Hehehehehh I even used some of the train time to blog…


Chartres is gorgeous… I’ve always wanted to visit this medieval cathedral for two reasons… First, I wanted to see a very special relic presented to Chartres in 876 by Charles the Bald, Charlemagne’s grandson: the Sancta Camisia… This is the veil worn by the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Christ in Bethlehem… Yes… It’s the actual veil!!! It’s also why the cathedral has been such a major pilgrimage site for centuries…


The other reason I wanted to go see Chartres is tied to the Sancta Camisia… On the night of June 10, 1194, a terrible fire blazed through the town, destroying most of the cathedral… Many of the villagers despaired in fear that the precious relic had also been destroyed… That dismay was turned into a profound joy when 3 days later (yes… that’s 3… coincidence??) the relic was found unharmed… In celebration, the villagers, rich and poor, noble and peasant spent the 30 years rebuilding the cathedral into the grander and more glorious form it possesses today… Numbering in the thousands, these villagers built their cathedral up brick





brick… It amazes me to think that while most cathedrals and basilicas are commissioned by princes and popes, this one that arguably trumps most of them in grandeur and antiquity was built by the people for the people!!! It has stood the test of time and still stands today, relatively in the same state it was close to a thousand years ago… Sure, some of the statues are missing heads and other body parts, but it’s still pretty cool!!!


At first arrival though in Chartres, I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed… I was at first disappointed because most of the cathedral was either sealed off or covered with ugly scaffolding because they were currently renovating the cathedral… I was even worried at first that I might not get to see the holy veil… And to top it all off, the pretty famous English tour guide I was hoping to join was away on vacation… After looking forward to seeing the cathedral all this time, I was a bit sad when I made my way down to the crypt for mass…


My day picked up really well from there though because after mass, I met one of the sacristans of the cathedral… After allowing me to take a look around some of the unseen areas of the cathedral, he invited me to join him and his family at their home for lunch… It was pretty spectacular… Not only did I get to see the veil of Mary, but now, I made a new friend. And after spending the rest of the afternoon checking out the medieval town, I was pretty stoked when I left… I vowed to come back again some day, after all the renovations are done… Maybe before I head out to do the Camino… hint hint… c”,)

The other big thing I wanted to do in Paris, second on my list, took me up to the highest point of the city… Renowned for once being hangout of Picasso, van Gogh, Dali, and Monet, Montemarte is now one of the sketchier parts of Paris… It’s home to the famous cabaret, Moulin Rouge and the red light district of the city… Trust me though, I did not go into that area looking for drugs or prostitutes… High up overlooking, not just all that “stuff” going on around it but also the entire city is the great basilica of the Sacred Heart where, for 125 years, people have been coming day and night in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament… Eucharistic Adoration has always been a huge part of my life ever since I’ve rediscovered my faith a number of years ago and I would jump at the chance to adore in what is perhaps the center of Eucharistic Adoration in the world… During the day, the basilica is always open to pilgrims and tourists who want to spend a few minutes with Jesus but I was more interested in spending the night for the night adoration. I emailed the sisters and was invited to come during one of my nights in Paris…


I arrived via the back entrance and was shown to my quarters for the night… My room was very simple, separated from everyone else by a giant curtain… I was nevertheless, really comfortable… Remember, I had just come from World Youth Day… I could sleep on an anthill… wait.. I had already done that… Hehehe


While getting settled in, I met a young man from a different part of France who was going to adore that night for the first time too… After settling in, we were asked by one of the sisters to come down for a quick orientation and teaching… She taught us how to adore, speaking of the need for a heart to heart conversation with Jesus and being receptive (for lack of a better word) enough to allow Him to work with you… One of the things that really stuck with me was how she insisted that everything we do can become a prayer… She suggested that one way to make even our day a prayer is to begin each day, before even getting out of bed, with a sign of the cross to sanctify the day to God and allow Him to work in our lives… That’s a practice I want to start enforcing in my own life…


The night went pretty smoothly from there… We had mass and a little bit of time for prayer before I turned in for the night…. Then, riiiiiiiiiiing…. At 2:50 am, my alarm clock went off… My favorite time for prayer… 3 am… It’s probably one of the scariest times to head out walking in the night but that’s also why I love this time the most… Anytime I get to adore at night, I ALWAYS choose 3 am… One of the first times I did this, during the eucharistic congress in Quebec city a few years ago, I woke up at 3 to the sound of thunder and lightning… It was super stormy and I had to walk through a dark monastery all alone towards the little, dimly lit church which was thankfully attached to the monastery… Ever since then, I’ve always LOVED 3 am and that night was no exception… The only problem… By that point, I had been through close to a dozen cities, walked tons of miles and got very little sleep… So what happened during my adoration night? I don’t know… I don’t remember… I kinda dozed off a little bit during it… :S Sigh… God still loves me… Hehehe St. Therese of Liseaux once said “I ought to be distressed at sleeping during my prayers and acts of thanksgiving. Well, I am not distressed. I think little children please their parents as much when they sleep as when they are awake.” Sigh… I love the Little Flower…



Other than that, there’s not much more to report to you guys on Paris… I did the whole tourist thing in a couple of days… I visited the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arche de Triomphe, Notre Dame cathedral and tons of other places… I even ate ONE escargot… I also managed to see the little church where Mary appeared to St. Catherine Labouré to commission her to create the Miraculous Medal… All of these were pretty cool things to see but I think at this point, I was already pretty exhausted and was ready to head home…





The trip home was pretty uneventful but was made more interesting by the little attempt I made to bring back my big stick (the one I got from Montserrat) back to Canada… That was pretty interesting… I worried a bit in Paris when they attached the baggage tag onto an easily removable piece of string we used to tie up the flag and I watched with glee as they loaded it onto the plane in Montreal…. I was pretty pleased to get it back all the way to Vancouver… That’s all for today… Thanks for following my travels!!! God bless!!!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s