Hi Everyone! I hope that you are doing well! I have just about completed my first full day here in Fátima. I am happy to report that all is going well, though I did have to cancel going up to Porto for a mini-pilgrimage.
My flight left Dallas/Ft. Worth around 10:45 p.m. (Central) and we arrived in Heathrow (London) around noon (London time). It was not a bad flight, but having been up all day and not getting any real sleep on the plane, I was not in the best of shape. I then had a layover until my flight to Lisbon, and the gate was announced rather late. It was about a 2 to 2.5-hour flight and I arrived in Lisbon shortly before 6 p.m.
After taking the requisite two buses, I arrived in Fátima around 9:15 p.m. I then had to walk up to my hotel carrying my things and by the time I figured out where the front door was, I was ready for bed. Pilgrims were heading towards the Basilica for the Rosary while I was headed in the opposite direction. I felt bad, figuring that I should make the sacrifice and join the pilgrims, but I was about gone at that point. I went to bed shortly after arriving and slept for about 9 hours.
I woke up this morning a little dizzy. Knowing that this would turn into a headache, I took some ibuprofen after breakfast and that settled the issue. Speaking of breakfast, a low-carber and a foreign country do not necessarily mix. The hotel, however, had some cheese and ham. Let me tell you, that cheese was silky-tasting and I absolutely loved it. To my fellow low-carbers in Waco, you’ve got to try it! If I can identify it, I’ll let you know.
After breakfast, I set out for my day. I went around the grounds of the Basilica for a bit, re-acquainting myself with places I have not seen for a little over 11 years. My memories are different, but then again, there was a lot of construction for the Church of the Most Holy Trinity back in 2005. The re-orientation has helped me and set a good tone for the next week.
For those wondering, yes, I found the Basilica’s gift shop, and yes, tomorrow, the owners might have to re-supply their inventory….
Mass was at 11 a.m. with the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, who, I hear, will be around for the Mariological Congress. Concerning Mass, unless you’ve been in a foreign country, one cannot really appreciate hearing the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin. That is all I will say on that point.
After Mass, I came back to my hotel for lunch. I sat with three priests and a Bishop—all from Central/South America (I think the lady who seated me thought I was a priest). One of them speaks English and we seem to have developed a rapport. For that I am grateful as the full delegation of the Mariological Society of America has not arrived yet. After lunch, I sat for a bit with the English-speaking priest and we spoke about mutual interests. I then left around 2:50 p.m. to go and further explore Fátima.
Concerning that exploration, I think I found a low-carb friendly store. It was closed for Sunday and so I will check back tomorrow and give an update in my next post. May it please God and Our Lady that this one little store be low-carb friendly! I do not know what else to do if it is not, but I trust that Our Lady—who has gotten me this far—will not leave me bereft of help.
I then returned to my hotel and met up with the English-speaking priest again. We did a little touring around town. We visited the Church of the Most Holy Trinity for a bit at the end, and then visited the fountain at the center of the piazza. I told Father a story about that fountain which Rick Salbato told me back in 2005. I am surprised how vividly I remember said story.
Speaking of Rick, I got to see his old apartment earlier today, or at least the outside of it. Knowing that he is no longer with us makes me pensive. Several months ago, I composed an article in his memory but never posted it. I shall soon rectify this matter.
I attended a Eucharistic Procession today at 5:30. It went around a good portion of the piazza. The Portuguese know pageantry and it was good to see. Afterwards, I did some editing on my talk and then began this blog post. Tonight is the Rosary around 9:30 and I might attend if I do not pray the Rosary on my own.
One final detail, to the Deacon who asked me to pray for him at the tombs of Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta as well as the Servant of God, Sr. Lúcia, I have done so and will do again before leaving.
That is all for now. Please pray for me and the Conference!