Choosing Joy – Saints and Scripture Sunday

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Saints and Scripture Sunday

John 15:11

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Brett, Rachel and I recently took a field trip to Virginia/Washington, D.C. Before we left, I told Brett I was only concerned about seeing ONE thing in the area. I wanted to go to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  I know that there are so many things to see and do in DC, but this was on my heart. I couldn’t be 30 minutes away and not visit.

On the way from Sterling, Virgina, into the heart of DC, I quickly decided that I never want to live in a huge city. Crazy traffic makes my skin crawl, and DC was no exception. I almost told Brett to scrap the whole idea – thankfully, I held my tongue.

As we approached the Basilica, I realized that we were likely to be in time for Mass. That was an added plus for me, since I wasn’t able to drag myself out of bed early that morning.

Since the Basilica is near the campus of Catholic University, parking was a bit hairy, and a patience trial for me. Once we parked, I rushed Brett and Rachel toward the doors.


Pictures that we took don’t do this incredible church any sort of justice. There are so many things to see – I could have spent a half day here. I had to stop at the huge wooden doors, to see the scriptures and prayers carved there.

As we walked in, I was struck by the immense size of the cathedral, and was amazed by all the people there. As we made our way to our seats, I noticed a seminarian leading a tour group through the Basilica. He looked at me, and smiled — and I started to cry. As the mother of boys, priests (especially young ones) hold a special place in my heart. I appreciate their sacrifice and service to our Church. I can’t help but think about how proud I would be if one of my boys were called to that vocation.


We made our way to our seats and got settled in. Attending Mass in a different city is always such a treat for me – surrounded by different people, in an unfamiliar place, yet the Order of the Mass is always the same. Listening to the Monsignor talk about Christ, in his role as the Good Shepard, and watching people walk quietly through the church, I started to cry again.

My poor husband has finally gotten used to me crying during Mass, and no longer wonders if something’s wrong. I cry for a million different reasons — the readings touch me, or the music. Sometimes, I’m particularly stressed, and something in the homily stirs me. I’ve been known to cry because I miss my oldest daughter, or because I’m so incredibly blessed, much more than I deserve.

After Mass was over, we set out to explore the church and all the shrines on the Upper Level. I headed to the Miraculous Medal chapel first, since it’s one of my favorite Marian stories.

 Our Lady of The Miraculous Medal Chapel

 photo credit


our lady of guadalupe national basilica

Continuing on, we found an amazing Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel – the walls here are mosaic tile, depicting pilgrims on their way to visit Mary. There are priests, nuns, and even an Aztec Indian carrying candles and kneeling. For Rachel, it was an art lesson and faith lesson, all rolled into one.

I wanted to continue walking through the upper level, taking my own sweet time to peruse all of the beautiful artwork, chapels, people watch, and more. My spirited child had other ideas. She skipped through the Basilica, uttered the evil words, “I’m BORED!”, and just about made me blow my stack. Brett took her off to the bathroom, to let me have some time to myself.


our mother of sorrows

I stood in the chapel of Our Mother of Sorrows, taking in Mary’s pain as a mother, when Rachel came skipping back.

“MOMMA! I found the most beautiful thing ever! You have to see.”

Sighing, I followed her slowly down the stairs.

mary queen of ireland


She and Brett had come across the Mary, Queen of Ireland chapel.


st patrick


irish pilgrams

It was a simple chapel, but stunningly beautiful. St Patrick’s breastplate prayer covered one wall, along with a map of the Emerald Isle. A Celtic cross covers the door behind Mary. The window to the left depicts pilgrams traveling to revered shrines in Ireland.


Rachel says, “Look, Mom! Mary is laughing! Baby Jesus must have been doing something silly!”

Mary, Queen of Ireland
photo credit

Indeed she was. Our Lady is usually serene, or even sad in art work, but this statue of a mother’s love made me cry.It reminded me that I need to look for the joy in being a mother, instead of getting so darn wrapped up in things that simply don’t matter.

I took many things away from the 2:1 conference, but by far, embracing the joy in my life is the most important.

Looking for more faith filled posts? You’ll find me visiting Soli Deo Gloria,Jump Tandem,Scripture and a Snapshot, Sunday Snippets, Spiritual Sundays, Hear it on Sunday, Playdates with God,Titus 2sday,Domestically Divine Tuesdays,Gratituesday,Word Filled Wednesdays, Walk With Him Wednesdays, iFellowship, and Good Morning Girls.


  1. Patty Perkowski (@PACWP) says

    I can’t believe it, you were at the Shire! That’s my home parish, well, it was until I got married and moved to the Midwest!

  2. Lisa Schmidt says

    Beautiful! So glad you attended the conference and made the pilgrimage to the Basilica. Very nice.

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      It was awesome — looking back through the pictures made me think about how much I enjoyed it. I want a Catholic University sweatshirt now, too, after being on campus!

  3. Your pictures are just beautiful. And as you know from experience, I’m right there with you on the crying during Mass.

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      Oh, I know. I still giggle at us, sobbing at a Funeral Mass of a woman we didn’t know at all.

  4. Years ago, when I was discerning a vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor, I was stationed in one of their homes which is right up the block from the shrine. It was a blessing.

    However, like you, traffic makes my skin crawl and I’m not a big fan of cities. It’s hard enough living near the shore and having to deal with beach traffic every summer!

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      How wonderful, Carol! I would have loved to peruse more, and look around the University, but Rachel wasn’t that interested. I saw some Sisters down in the quad – with white dress, and blue habits — are these LSOP? They were YOUNG, and vibrant! I wanted to approach them, and take Rachel down to say hello, but I felt a little embarrassed. Now, I’m kicking myself.

      The traffic was bad — plus the neighborhoods were crazy! You’d have a really nice neighborhood, blink and be in the ghetto. It was a bit unnerving for me.

      • No, they weren’t LSOP, although the Little Sisters do have many young and vibrant sisters. The Little Sisters have a white dress/scapular and white veil in the spring and summer and a black dress/scapular and grey veil in the fall and winter.

        I’m sure they would have loved to talk to you, maybe next time. 🙂

        • Patty Perkowski (@PACWP) says

          At the Shrine, there is a commuter Mass said everyday at 5:15 that I used to go; it would be held in one of the smaller Chapels and if you went everyday you became part of the “club” and people would look for you, and comment if you were not at mass. I loved that! To be in this HUGE Church, and still, because you were in this small intimate Chapel, feel so connected to one another. You have no idea how much I miss that community, how much I miss that Parish. My dad was a Knight at that Parish.

          We tend to forget that it is a Parish and only think of it as the “Shrine”

  5. Alicia Therese says

    That’s so cute! “Jesus must have done something silly.” I never thing about the light moments of His life, like just laughing over something with Mary or Joseph. It reminds me that even though there is suffering, amidst that there can also be great joy! Thanks for sharing! And, don’t worry, I cry at the Eucharist a lot. 🙂

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      One of my favorite parts of the Passion of the Christ is the scene where Mary and Jesus share a laugh together, as he jokes and teases with her. It’s beautiful, and I love seeing the glimpse into their day to day lives.

      I love seeing Mary depicted naturally … there’s a print of her hanging laundry, with Jesus at her feet playing, that I adore. I’d love to have that one in my laundry room or kitchen.

      Yay! Another cry-er! My husband took a while to learn not to panic over me crying at Mass. 😉

  6. Beautiful! We love touring churches when we’re in different cities too, but I’m with you on how hard it is to take pictures of churches! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. If I ever make it to Washington (though I hate big cities and traffic too), I’ll have to check it out myself!

    • Dianna Kennedy says


      I’ll try to update it – and include a link to the slideshow of pictures that Brett took. He took about 200 — some better than others, obviously! He missed taking pictures of the Adoration Chapel in the Upper Level — and it was STUNNING!

      If you make it to Louisville, please drop me a line – I’d love to give you my list of ‘don’t miss’ churches.

  7. Barb Schoeneberger says

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us and taking so many pictures. I can no longer visit places like this so it was a real treat.

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      You’re more than welcome, Barb! I’m glad you enjoyed them! I’ll try to get a link posted to the entire slide show.

  8. Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I still hope to travel to the DC area someday!

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      You’re very welcome! It was beautiful! You really need at least a few days to visit DC – there’s so much to see!

  9. HEHE I LOVE visiting other churches. There was a summer when I was home from college that I think I went to mass at a different parish almost every week. My DAD LOVED to do it especially in the summer and I got it from him. Although my mom says my dad used to do it when he “didn’t want to get dressed up/see anyone he knew.”

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      I do too — I don’t parish hop as much as I have in the past anymore, because of my work schedule. I do pour over online bulletins, to see what’s going on at some of my favorite churches.

  10. Your pictures turned out great. I love the Basilica too; the Irish shrine being my favorite. You don’t say, but I hope you made it downstairs!

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      I didn’t make it downstairs, but my husband did, since there are pictures of things in our album that I never saw! My favorite was a white statue of Mary, surrounded by candles, and flanked by these dark granite ?columns? ?oblesiks? I’ll have to look at it again.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Ellen Gable Hrkach says

    Love the photos, Dianna! I’ll have to create a saints and scripture post for next Sunday! And I know the feeling of being the mother of boys (I have five sons)…it would be an incredible honor if one of them was blessed with a vocation to the priesthood. I also appreciate the sacrifice of young men nowadays who are responding to God’s call. God bless you!

    • Dianna Kennedy says

      Thanks so much for stopping by! We’d love to see you here for Saints and Scripture Sundays!

      Isn’t being a boy mother wonderful! I’m thrilled that someone else ‘gets’ how I feel about my boys and the priesthood. It would fill me with trepidation, but I would be so very very proud!

  12. Kate @ Teaching What Is Good says

    Those are some pretty awesome photos!! Thanks so much for sharing them.

  13. I really like this post for two reasons: Choosing Joy is something I’m focusing on in my personal life, and I cry sometimes during service as well. Tears can be for sadness, happiness, joy, repentance and redemption, so many things. It shows you have a beautiful, gentle soul. As for your oldest daughter, continually keep her in prayer, keep the lines of communication open, and know that God has her in sight. It’s never easy letting go of our children, letting them make their own way in life. Hugs to you.

    • Dianna Kennedy says


      Thanks so much for your wonderful thoughts —

      It’s so easy to get caught up in our ‘busy-ness’, and watch ourselves become robotic in nature, not taking time to enjoy and soak up the beautiful blessings around us.

      Thank you for your advice regarding Abby — even though she and I are apart, I think she’s beginning to understand me more, and how much she means to me.

      So glad you stopped by!

  14. I’m glad it worked out for you to be exactly where you desired to be. The pictures, the statues, the beautiful creativity is well beyond what many of us ever see. And your daughter has had much planted in her heart, too, from the beauty.

    • Dianna Kennedy says


      I had been looking forward to it all week — my excitement was almost palpable!

      I’ll be blessed to look back one day, and discuss some of the shrines with my sweet baby girl, reminding her of how much she brightened my day.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. I finally got to visit the Shrine two years ago when I was 7 months pregnant with our 5th. I was able to visit by myself! (I had a friend who wansn’t Catholic wait!! for me outside). I loved the crypt for Eucharistic Adoration.

    • Dianna Kennedy says


      I’m pregnant with my fifth baby as well! (very obviously pregnant, as you can see!)

      I missed the Crypt — I think my husband may have stopped in there while I was in the bathroom or bookstore. I could have spent an entire day there — I’m pretty sure there are some gardens we missed as well.

      Great to have you stop by!

  16. I’m so glad you had this experience and glad you shared it and the beautiful photos with us.

  17. momto8blog says

    The Shrine is definitely an amazing experience. Good for you!! I would love for one of my kids to go to Catholic University..
    you look fabulous!

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