Quebec, again.

This post is long overdue and will do not justice to the beauty that was our trip to Quebec, but I will try! We had been longing to go back to Quebec since our initial pilgrimage in 2013, but there just hasn’t been an ideal time until now. We lovelovelove Canada and try to go once a year (last year we went for our honeymoon). We were unsure if this trip was going to happen because finances are a bit tight, but we felt at peace with going and ta-daaaaa the Lord provided in many ways this month. God is good.

We started the drive up Friday evening and stopped for the night in Stowe, VT (stayed at the Stowe Inn with a groupon – so charming!). It broke up the long drive which was great, and we had a very relaxing trip up Saturday morning through the wonderful greenery and mountains of Northern New England. We crossed the border with no issues (not that there would be…it just always makes me nervous) and there we were!

A wee little stop in Vermont
A wee little stop in Vermont
Votive Chapel at the Oratory
Votive Chapel at the Oratory

The weekend was on and off with the weather – rainy then sunny then cool then rainy. But it didn’t really matter to us. We spent good quality time at St. Joseph’s Oratory – and gosh, the second we stepped foot back in there it was a wave of peace. Walking through the Votive Chapel is an experience. There are several different statues of St. Joseph above different stations of votive candles – each with a different title of his (Protector of our Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, Pure in Heart, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick & Dying, Terror of Demons, Model of Workers). Needless to say, there were many prayers to be prayed and many offerings to be made.  We spent much time off and on in this Chapel.

Brother Andre's Chapel
Brother Andre’s Chapel
The Oratory
The Oratory

We also were able to spend some beautiful time in prayer in Brother Andre’s Chapel. Brother Andre (now Saint Andre) was the one who had the Oratory built in honor of Saint Joseph; a very humble man and being in his chapel (alone, nonetheless) was a moving experience. It’s probably where I received the most consolation of the weekend.

Outside the shrine
Outside the shrine
St. Anne de Beaupre
St. Anne de Beaupre

There’s so much that could be said about the Oratory, but…just go. Just go and see it for yourself. This trip we were fortunate enough to also visit the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre just outside Quebec City. I had been wanting to visit this shrine for quite some time, but even I had no clue what was in store for me. Driving along the St. Lawrence river (delightful!), we pulled into the town of Ste. Anne-de-Beapre and soon saw what had to be the Shrine. It’s amazing – just off the main road being all stunning and what not!

Inside St. Anne's
Inside St. Anne’s

This Church took my breath away. Everything about it. Whoever built this Church had a true devotion to St. Anne. There is just so much detail, so much complexity, and it all is weaved together so effortlessly in this magnificent structure. The whole thing was a treat, but I was especially fond of the little side chapel holding a RELIC OF ST. ANNE (bone of her arm!). I mean, no big deal. After Mass (which we understood very little of, but being Catholic and all it’s usually fine since it’s all the same), the Priest came over to give us more details about the Shrine. He talked of the miracles he’s been present for that have occurred in front of the relic, and my goodness…it’s unbelievable (but also believable!). We were so grateful for our conversation with him; it helped us to appreciate even more about the Shrine that would have gone unnoticed by little old me!

There was also the outside areas which were so simple yet so incredible. There is one particular chapel that is host to a number of relics of the holy land – it has 28 stairs which pilgrims are meant to climb on their knees – each step in reparation for Christ’s passion (and many of the steps have the relics built into them)…uhhhhh-mazing. To sum it up, the short time we had at St. Anne’s was powerful. We were able to pray at the foot of her statue (said to be the place of many miracles) with the petitions weighing most on our hearts.

 

Montreal
Montreal
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.

The rest of the trip was more exploring Montreal and Quebec City. We had already seen most of Montreal that we enjoy – there are lovely parts (like Old Montreal, ohhhhh I love it), but there are also typical city parts…that I don’t particularly care for. Quebec City, though. Lurv it. Such charm. Such cuteness. The old city is huge and it is a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it was super rainy when we were there, but I still fell in love. And the Chateau Frontenac – ahhhhh the famous hotel that I read about in high school french class! It was a joy seeing it in person. Kevin and I decided that the next time we visit (which we will), we will reverse our itinerary and stay in Quebec City with a day trip to Montreal & the Oratory.

I hope to put together a mini Catholic Canadian travel guide soon (Kevin’s very encouraging of doing that) for all those dyyyyyying to visit. I hope I’ve sold everyone enough on this delightful province!

Back to the Oratory

A little over two years ago, when Kevin and I had been dating for 7ish months, we took a pilgrimage to Montreal together. We stayed at the retreat house on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Oratory, and a truly special trip it was. There were highs and lows to the weekend, and in a lot of ways, I really felt afterwards that this was it. I would be with this man forever. It’s kind of funny to say that now since there really were some rough patches over those four days. But it was the first time we openly spoke about marriage with one another…and children…and baby names. (That was as emotionally unchaste as we’d get until engagement.) 

 Montreal is a really special place to us (and really just Canada in general). And spending so much time at the Oratory was a truly spectacular experience. St. Joseph has always been a great intercessor in our relationship (hello 30 day novena that ended with a first date), so praying to him throughout that weekend also aided greatly in preparing us for our future. And there is something about the Oratory itself: it’s majestic, but humble. If you’ve been there and stood in the great shrine on top (with no one else around), you’d understand what I mean. For all of it’s simplicity, I could sense my unworthiness in a very real way.   

 There were other great aspects of Montreal that we got to explore outside of the Oratory grounds, and I was continuously stunned with beauty (could have also been the fresh snow). We spent an evening at Notre Dame in Old Montreal and that.church.is.beauty. Anddddd Celine Dion was married there, nobigdealthatdoesntinfluencemyopinionatall

 Anyway, we are going back this weekend and we are so excited. We’re at such a different stage in our life, and since it’s not January spontaneousblizzardseason, we’re hopeful that we won’t get snowed in like last time when we tried to visit the Shrine of St. Anne in Quebec City. That’s another place that we’re so looking forward to visiting. St. Anne is my patron Saint, and we’ve been praying to her in particular for some special intercession in these recent months. I so look forward to bringing our petitions and our love to that beautiful, sacred shrine. 

 And! I just can’t wait to be in French-speaking Canada again! The beauty! The elegance! The romance! The cheese! And the spring time!

Au revoir!

April: all sorts of amazing

Did I once write that October was my favorite month? If so…that may still be the case…but April is a close second. Not that it’s really putting its best foot forward here…spring in Boston tends to be about 5 days and it always comes later than you think, leaving earlier than it should. But I take what I can get.

April, in and of itself, though, is just a delight. With the timing of Easter, the sun making itself known, flowers starting to blossom, gardening projects at the ready, anddd my birthday – it’s a time of renewed hope. Our lord makes all things new, and I love that the celebration of His resurrection happens at this time of the year. The Church, in all her wisdom, knows best. There is so much goodness happening and coming…

Container Gardening // We are trying our hand at balcony/container gardening for the second year (though, last year was a bit hectic since my move into the apartment didn’t happen until post-wedding in June), and we have high hopes. Last year was pretty successful for some herbs and a couple veggies. So this year we’re going to keep on with several herbs and branch out to something new (like blueberries!). Keep it simple.

Spring Cleaning // We also plan to do some serious de-cluttering. It’s tough living in a small space, because sometimes no matter how organized you are, it still feels like we own a million things (which we don’t). Still, though, we still find ourselves collecting things that need not be collected. So let the purging commence!

All the free things // For some reason, we’ve had a lot of free things thrown at us lately. The biggie – free Panera coffee for the month of April…ummm OKAY. I won’t ask questions. And there happens to be a Panera about a 12 minute walk away from our apartment. Then somehow we have four free drinks at Starbucks in addition to the gift card from my dad. Add that to a free meal from Blue Apron (a generous giveaway at Camp Patton), two restaurant gift cards, and we’re living the Easter season in a high and luxurious way.

Movement // Kevin and I recently began going on runs together about 3-4 times a week. It. Is. Lovely. Just getting fresh air and our heart rates up has been fantastic. We’ve also had the chance to get morning walks in together whilst the free coffee at Panera is a thing.

NOUS ALLONS QUEBEC // Yes, ladies & gents. We are going back to Quebec. This weekend. My heart can’t handle the excitement… 🙂

So much goodness. Lord, please magnify this time! What’s everyone else looking forward to this spring?

Oh, beautiful Quebec

I receive all of the promotional emails from Fairmont since Kevin and I stayed there on our honeymoon (the Chateau Banff Springs and Fairmont Lake Louise), and my heart aches every time I see a photo like this…

Chateau Frontenac

Their hotels are so phenomenally gorgeous and make me feel like a Queen just looking at them.

Kevin and I have been to Quebec together once on a pilgrimage when we were dating; we stayed in Montreal at a retreat house next to St. Joseph’s Oratory (so.awesome.).  We had plans to go up to Quebec City to the shrine of St. Anne (and to see Le Chateau Frontenac), but it snowed multiple feet of snow…so our plans were thwarted. Our trip was by no means ruined – Montreal had much to offer. But we really hope to go back to Quebec once more while we’re living in New England.

Magical snow storm in Montreal

I would looooove to stay at the Chateau – chances are it won’t happen anytime soon because of $$$$ but it will still be a treat just to even see it in person. In my French class in high school, we read this random book about bears and it kept referencing Le Chateau Frontenac, and so, I feel like I’ve always been destined to go. And St. Anne is my patron Saint, so to go to her shrine would be so great! We’ve been thinking we might go for a long weekend at the end of April for my birthday, but every time I get an email like this, Kevin and I have exchanges like this:

“UGHHH MY HEART!” “Let’s just do it…now!” “Maybe we should just spend Christmas alone in Canada!” “When is the soonest you can take an extra day off?” “Why do we not live in Canada?” “Do you think we can afford-…okay, never mind.”

Until then, yield to bear… 🙂