Wednesday, June 5, 2019

D-Day All Day: Pegasus Bridge & Omaha Beach

by Steve Ray on June 5, 2019

This was the most remarkable day.  On our ride to the battlefront our pilgrim Glenn Juday gave us an excellent overview of the whole operation of the assault on the beaches of Normandy. He is quite the historian! We started out at Pegasus Bridge where the British landed in gliders to set the whole stage for D-Day. We had Mass at the glorious Church of Saint Stephen (Saints Etienne) with the tomb of William the Conqueror where our organist Matthew Johnson played for us.

Then we spent time in the World War II  Museum in Caen which was a center of the fighting following D-Day. An excellent Normandy lunch with their fresh cider. Then to Omaha Beach to visit the Normandy American Cemetery.  You can’t prepare for this experience. We then drove along the beach and saw the memorial and imagined our military men coming ashore and climbing up the cliffs in the hills. It was very moving and stunning. What they did was unimaginable and incredible.

We had Marilyn Walton, who is an author and a World War II historian, tell us the story of her father who is shut down and all of his crew were killed. She told us many stories and it made our a ride back to the Château very short. A great dinner and a better early.

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I received a few e-mails from a gentleman and his wife, obviously both good and excited Catholics who had recently had a real encounter with Jesus that had revived their faith and filled them with joy and emotion. Brian and his wife were disturbed that I talked so much about the Catholic Church when the important things was a personal relationship with Jesus that sets our heart on fire.  So I responded to him to demonstrate that Jesus is not divided from his Church.
DEAR BRO STEVE,
I SENT SR. BRIEGE’S TESTIMONY FOR YOU TO HEAR FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT SHE TOO, LIKE THE MUSLIMS WHO ARE FINDING CHRIST, AND MANY OTHERS AND IF I CAN HUMBLY INCLUDE MYSELF HAVE TASTED THE LORD AND HE IS GOOD. AND I BELIEVE THAT THIS EXPERIENCE OF KNOWING JESUS CHRIST IS NOT FOR A FEW BUT FOR ALL MANKIND.
     [His wife had written earlier with a very strong sense that Catholics did not follow Christ like they should and she could hardly stand being in parishes with them because she knew Jesus and it was obvious to her that the others did not. They expected all Catholics to be like them and felt that they were almost, it seemed to me in earlier e-mails, not real Christians.]
       BUT YOU I AM NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND. YOU SEEM TO SAY THAT ALL CATHOLICS ARE IN CHRIST. MY UNDERSTANDING IS IF CHRIST IS IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY THEN U JUST NOT ONLY KNOW IT BUT WILL WANT TO GO AND SHARE HIM FOR OTHERS TO ALSO TASTE HIM AND DO WHAT IS HIS PLAN FOR THEM.
      SO I HEARD A FEW OF YOUR TALKS ON YOUTUBE AND ITS ALL MOSTLY ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A CATHOLIC AND I HEARD SISTER BRIEGE WHO SAYS THAT ITS JESUS CHRIST FIRST. ONE MUST ENCOUNTER CHRIST AND THEN THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A CATHOLIC.
     THANKS ALOT.  LOVE U IN JESUS,  BRIAN
So I wrote a short response to maybe help Brian and his wife understand things in a more balanced position. Maybe the dialog will be of help to a few others as well.
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Dear Brian and Marlene:

It is not Jesus OR the Catholic Church. It is Jesus AND the Catholic Church. Not everyone has emotional or super-spiritual feelings. Some people like Mother Teresa was devoid of such did not FEEL Jesus all the time but she was in Christ—she was closer to Christ than many who have lots of spiritual feelings.

It seems to me that it is a somewhat Protestant, Pentecostal idea that you expect yourself and others to have all these feelings. The Christian life is by faith, not by feelings. Feelings, emotions, the sense of the presence of God, the sense of the filling of the Holy Spirit are all great things. If they accompany our daily life, we are blessed. But the Christian life is primarily by faith and obedience to Christ.
It is important not to go around judging people, thinking since you have this experience with the Holy Spirit that you are more spiritual or close to God than a person who is close to God in other ways — through the Eucharist, prayer, devotion. To set yourself apart as more spiritual sounds to me much like the Pharisees.
Be happy for your experience of the Holy Spirit. All Christians have received the Holy Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation. Not all have understood or appropriated this great gift, but not Catholics or other Christians have learned their blessing and many experience him in different ways. You cannot put the Holy Spirit in a box and think he has to work the same with every person. Just because you have one experience does not mean that to be spiritual and close to God and filled with the Spirit that I have to be just like you.
Anyway, God bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. I cannot write about this any more since I am in Israel and a large group of people are arriving today and I will be guiding them through the Holy Land — including the Upper Room where the Holy Spirit first fell on the day of Pentecost. God bless and it has been nice talking with you.

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