Here we are, home again. Home is kind of a wreck: the kitchen no longer has linoleum and I'm too afraid even to look at the dining-room. There are rough men with hammers on the other side of the sitting-room door. Life will not return to normal for two weeks at least. It is a sobering thought.
But meanwhile B.A. and I survived our trip, which in time we will remember as exciting rather than harrowing, for we will gradually come to believe that our (my) Polish was up to the task of navigating Polish buses and weather and traffic.
We went to Częstochowa and, despite a two hour journey that actually took four, we were in the basilica in time for a Mass and to see the famous icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa. Our Lady was wearing a beautiful robe of diamonds and blue stones, with some pink stones; Baby Jesus was mostly in pink stones. (Isn't it amazing how you can dress up icons?) The icon was more beautiful in real life than in photographs, and I was so amazed and happy that we could be there to see it. (I will see what I can do about posting photos anyway.)
I prayed for all readers there and also during Trid Masses, Sunday and All Saints', at Swięty Krzyż in Cracow, i.e. the church of the Holy Cross.
The funny part of the Częstochowa visit was my meek inquiry to a young nun behind a window, "Gdzie jest sklep? (Where is the shop?)" At least she seemed to find this funny, and it would have been funny if we had just got off a comfortable tour bus instead of travelling for four hours with a zillion Poles, and then discovering (in Polish) that there was no bus back, and then going to Mass and praying for everyone.
Personally I felt I had earned the right to kupić wszystko I wanted in a sklepie. At any rate, the sklep was zamknięty, the most horrible word in tourist Polish. This was terribly disappointing until B.A. and I found another sklep, where we threw złotych about with great British abandon. One British pound sterling = almost 5 złotych, so we felt very rich.
By the way, we saw lots and lots of young nuns and young male religious and young priests in Poland. This was truly heartwarming. And we also saw lots of young men at Mass, and they did not always have young wives with them, as some of you may be interested to know. (A cutie was staring at me at Trid Mass; I suspect he needs to get married. Can I have a volunteer?) On Sundays the churches were absolutely packed, and they were respectably full on weeknights, too. There were Poles of all ages, and I mean all. There were lots and lots of men and women of college-age.
Exciting news on the mantilla front: there were only three or four women at the Traditional Latin Mass who more mantillas, and I was one of them. Some wore berets or other winter hats, but most went bareheaded. So if anyone gives you a rough time for going to a TLM bareheaded, tell them very coldly that you prefer the custom of such Catholic countries as Poland.
While I was gone, two of my writing-children earned my living, so here is a link to a funny one of which you will recognize bits, and here is a sobering one, complete with a debate in the combox. I don't usually chat in the CR combox, as I feel my articles should speak for themselves. However, any suggestion that the Vatican is ultimately to blame for the sins of the BBC or the National Health Service, let alone of Sir Jimmy Savile, really gets my Irish up. That is a blame-the-Vatican pathology too far.