On Barb’s Bookshelf: 101 Places to Pray Before You Die

Thomas J. Craughwell’s unusual guidebook to our nation’s vast treasury of Catholic churches, shrines, retreat houses and universities helps travelers add a Catholic element to their vacations, business trips or Sunday drives. If you plan to visit a city for any reason, take a look in 101 Places to Pray Before You Die: A Roamin’ Catholic’s Guide to see if you’ll be near any of the featured locations. Visits to some of these sites may not require very much time; others (like the retreat houses) beg for longer stays.

Since many holy sites are closing due to lack of visitors and funding, like the St. Katharine Drexel Shrine near Philadelphia, PA, this book is a well-timed reminder to take the opportunity to visit such places while the opportunity still exists. Your visit supports the efforts of those who maintain and staff these churches, shrines and other sites.

101 places to pray before you die

Craughwell makes sure to note that some of the locations featured in his book are “hidden treasures”: you might not guess from a building’s plain facade that it holds a beautiful collection of statues or boasts unusual painted ceilings, for example.

The author takes a “big tent” approach with this book, making sure to include at least one site from each state plus Washington, D.C., and selecting places with connections to a variety of ethnic heritages. The destinations include universities, cathedrals, churches, retreat houses, and shrines. Many are working parishes, so you can plan your visit to include Mass, if you wish (one of the highlights of my only trip to California was the chance to attend Mass at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, so I’d always want to time a visit to a church, cathedral or shrine to include Mass)!

101 Places to Pray Before You Die also includes notations of special events or times of year when visitors might enjoy special displays, such as the collection of 76 Nativity scenes each December at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, CT.

Each site’s description is short (only a page or two in length) but includes website information as well as address and telephone number. I would have loved a photo from each place and a location mark on the state map illustrating each holy site. I’d hope that most readers know where the various states are, but not everyone knows the locations of cities within those states.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who travels frequently.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

"A Good Dressing-Down" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (FranciscanMom.com)

A Good Dressing-Down

My maternal grandmother never wore pants a day in her life until she was in her 80s and had to go to physical therapy following surgery. They wouldn’t let her wear a dress for that.

Around her home, she wore “house dresses” (dusters) and “house slippers.” She never left the house in these. If she went anywhere–the supermarket, the beautician, the dentist’s office–she put on a dress or a skirt and blouse, stockings, and dress shoes.

When I was in public grade school in the early 1970s, my mother made me wear dresses and knee socks and nice shoes every day. Not just on picture day, but every day. When I got to fourth grade and we had gym class twice a week, I wasn’t allowed to wear my gym suit (those awful blue one-piece numbers) under a pair of jeans. Mom always said, “You’re not going out of here looking like a slob.”

I didn’t even own a pair of jeans. I had pants, but they were generally corduroys that came with a top that had an appliqué made of the same corduroy as the pants. So stylish in 1974.

Right now I’m wearing sweat pants. I work from home, so I can do that. But other than driving my kid to school in the morning when he’s missed the bus, I don’t leave my house in these.

I was surprised yesterday when I read about #leggingsgate: United Airlines didn’t allow two young women wearing leggings to board a flight. They were apparently in violation of a dress code associated with the employee-perk tickets they were using. From what I read, the terms of the dress code were known to the passengers in question.

I don’t have a problem with that dress code. I wish it applied to all passengers. If you’re old enough not to require a car seat on the flight, you’re old enough to get out of your pajamas. And leggings? NOT pants. Put a skirt on, ladies.

Last summer I flew both for vacation and for work, and I saw far too many people wandering around the airport in workout wear and pajama pants. Many of them were also not wearing shoes. Sloppy AND unsanitary!

Over the weekend, the Street Urchins made an appearance. One of them arrived, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, in pajama pants. Those were all the clothes he had–when Hubs took the boys to the diner Sunday morning, that’s what this kid wore.

It’s about time we upped our standards for dress. I’m not suggesting we return to my grandmother’s way of doing things, but it’s time to take a little more care about what we look like when we venture beyond our own front doors.

Image via Flickr by Emma, 2011. All rights reserved. Text added by author.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Small Success: Flying Solo Edition

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

Hubs had a business trip this week, so it’s just been me and The Kid (formerly known as Little Brother. He’s almost as tall as me now, which he loves to remind me about, and The Kid is shorter for tweeting purposes, so he’s been renamed.)

I’m sleepless in NJ this morning (it was a bad diabetic night…4 juice runs and one desperation cookie…his sugar just would not stay up) and I’m getting a cold. There will be no NyQuil until Friday night, when Hubs will be home, however, so I just have to tough it out.

joe cool coffee cup
My favorite mug, because who doesn’t love Joe Cool? Photo copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

I gave up homemade lattes for Lent, and I won’t be having one today–time to just stick to tea in my mug. It feels good on the throat.

Here’s what DID work this week, so far:

1. We enjoyed our Easter dinner with all 3 kids on Saturday, because Hubs had to be at the airport before dinnertime Sunday (and he spent the rest of the day with the younger 2 kids, visiting his mom at the nursing home)

2. Big Brother brought his new octave mandolin and played with the folk group for Easter Mass. I miss having him here to play with us every Sunday!

3. Big Brother dropped Hubs off at the airport on his way back home.

4. I took The Kid up to the Great White North and we stayed with my parents for 2 days. We got to see my brother’s family and my great-aunt, who taught all the kids a card game that she plays with the other seniors at her apartment complex.

Micke Desk: Ikea

5. We got home yesterday in plenty of time for folk group practice. Today will be spent at my Adoration hour and assembling some kit furniture: a new desk for The Kid. The 20+-year-old desk he was using is falling apart. He is excited to have a new desk that he chose for himself. We got it at Ikea. The back of the hutch is a magnetic whiteboard, which I think is a great feature. I can write his chore list every day on there <insert evil laughter>

Shall we take bets on how long it’ll take me to put this bad boy together?

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

© 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz


Last Saturday, Hubs announced that he wanted to go on vacation to the Outer Banks.

Pretty much immediately. Except he didn’t want to miss his Sunday visit with his mom in Assisted Living, or his Sunday-night Adoration hour. So we had 36 hours’ notice to get out of town.

I did a good bit of scrambling in those 36 hours, but it was worth it, because from Monday to Friday, I got to look at this:







Little Brother and Hubs savored crabs they caught themselves.

I just savored the view.