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Single Living

I’ve written before about how singles should spend this time wisely. Rather than pining at home, worrying about when you might (or might not) get married, why not take advantage of the many wonderful opportunities presented to you? Everyone chooses to do this in different ways, but the one thing that I’m happy I checked off my bucket list is traveling.

I know that if I ever get married and am blessed with children, pulling up stakes for a few weeks to see the world might not be the wisest move. There is work and school to consider, not to mention hostels without elevators and strollers on cobblestones.

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When I finished my Master’s degree, I treated myself to two weeks in Italy on a pilgrimage with the Fraternity of St. Peter. My boss was generous with my time off and I had no debt—thanks to working my way through grad school.

Being on a group trip meant that most of the travel arrangements were out of my hands and I was free to enjoy myself without worrying too much about safety or carting my (far too large) suitcase around. The pilgrims were young and old, married and single, and from all over the United States.

Having gotten my feet wet and my interest piqued, I saved my money and vacation days and went back to Europe a couple of years later—this time with some girlfriends. We managed to travel extensively through England, France, Germany, and Austria, and this past summer we reunited for a Spanish and Portuguese excursion.

Each time I’ve gone abroad, I’ve been so humbled by the long and rich history that the Catholic Church has and its effect on each of the countries I’ve visited.

Coming from American churches built “in the round” in the 1960s, church architecture in western Europe is magnificent and awe-inspiring. Even in the smallest churches, we stumbled on saints’ remains—often a saint that is hardly known outside the local region. There are wayside shrines all along the roads in Germany and often statues on the outside of secular buildings.

Because we were traveling in June, we were away for the Feast of Corpus Christi two years in a row. Bavaria celebrates the feast as a national holiday and we witnessed a procession with colorful banners and locals in native dress. In Spain, Corpus Christi processions take over the city streets with immense floats of the Blessed Mother and various saints. It was so heartening to see religious feasts ingrained in the national culture!

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Floats in the Cathedral of Seville.

In addition to having the privilege of praying for friends and family at various apparition sites and tombs of saints (some incorruptible!), one of my favorite sights was the Mesquita (or Great Mosque-Cathedral) in Córdoba, Spain.

It is a World Heritage site that combines various architectural styles with a long and bitter religious history. Despite years of studying world history in depth from books, visiting the actual places where history was made left a huge impression on all of us.

When I look back at my pictures, I know I will never regret traveling. I have learned so much about the Church and the histories of countries that have helped shape our own.

I’ve had to order pizza with hand signs in Rome and remember to say “Grüß Gott” to shop owners in Salzburg. In addition to having good times—Munich beer gardens and almost driving on a freighter to Africa come to mind—traveling can expand our appreciation of others, while reminding us that we are all very small indeed.

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” ~ Hilaire Belloc

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19 Comments

  1. Tim-921751 November 8, 2013

    Thanks for article! Any suggestions on tour companies?

    • Catherine Frank November 19, 2013

      You’re welcome! Other than the one trip to Italy with the Fraternity of St. Peter, I’ve planned my own trips. I do know that CatholicMatch has trips from time to time, and most dioceses seem to have pilgrimages. It’s not a bad idea to go on one group trip – maybe you’ll find a traveling buddy for you next one!

  2. MaryClaire-847709 November 8, 2013

    Catherine- thanks so much for this story! I recently returned from a 10 day pilgrimage in Italy, and like you, was awed by the history of the Catholic Church. My first trip overseas seemed to awaken in me a hunger to see new places, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of Europe. I’m encouraged that you were able to go back a few years later! For a long while, I’ve been told what a blessing the single years are, and after experiencing the freedom of this trip, I totally agree. Traveling really does broaden your horizons and yes, make you feel very small in the large scheme of things!

  3. Meesch-691047 November 9, 2013

    “tear” I MISS SPAIN!!!!!

  4. Frankter-932331 November 9, 2013

    Cordoba… it reminds me of the days of St. Ferdinand. Indeed, its history is fascinating.

  5. Naomi-698107 November 9, 2013

    I went to WYD in Madrid a few years back, our group travelled down from England through France, Spain, had WYD and then to Rome and a few outlaying areas. We spent two days at Lourdes and it was so stunning. I’m currently saving with intention of WYD in Poland , and certainly I want to get back to France. My brother has done the Holy Land, and with his wife spent a year in Africa, both places he said are a must see both for our own Church’s history and the general experience.

    There’s so much of the world waiting to be seen, I can’t understand how singles can find time to whinge! They shoudl be working and saving. God won’t let you miss your vocation because you were saving to see the Sistine Chapel!

  6. Ann-1023144 November 9, 2013

    Catherine: I wish there was a website for singles to find a friend and travel buddy of the same sex. I lost my travel friend about 14 years ago, my wonderful god-mother and aunt. Anyway, it’s too expensive (and a little concerning) to travel at the single suppliment costs. I’m in my mature years now and would love to do some traveling. Maybe you could write an article on How singles that have no friends who want to travel can do so????? I’m sure there may be other older singles who have this same problem??

    • Catherine Frank November 19, 2013

      Ann, CatholicMatch does sponsor some trips – there are quite a few coming up on the events page. Also, many dioceses have pilgrimages. Although I’ve planned all but one of my trips myself, I think a group trip is a great experience, there are always other singles to room with, and you might meet some travel buddies for future trips!

  7. Lucy-41785 November 9, 2013

    I agree that some suggestions for groups that Catholic singles can travel (safely, esp. while not knowing the language) would be a great idea. Definitely check into the CM events page here. I went to Ireland led by Tracy and will have no problem joining another one of her events when the time is right. Also, though I have yet to take part, Google Ave Maria Singles Trips for another possibility.

  8. Josie-633617 November 9, 2013

    Thanks for the articles. I learned something that traveling is the best thing you can do to
    be single and not worring about anything. I have been blessed for a wonderful opportunities
    that happen to me in the past and the future . I can move on for the rest of my life. God
    will always there for me .

  9. Cataldo-787443 November 9, 2013

    Little off topic: FSSP (Fraternity of Saint Peter) they celebrate in a very reverent and holy way. It’s a blessing we have them here in Rome!

  10. Willi-980652 November 9, 2013

    I think that at least one of these pictures might have been shot in Austria.

    • Catherine Frank November 19, 2013

      The main picture of the article is from Sankt Georgen am Längsee, Austria. The other ones (the captions seem to have disappeared – are from Füssen, Germany and Seville, Spain.

  11. Theresia-686896 November 9, 2013

    I really want to go to Lourdes, Fatima, Retondo, Italy (to visit Fr. Pio’s) and Lisieux. But up to today, I have not found friends to go with.. :(
    I keep praying maybe someday I will go with my significant other. I trust Fr. Pio and St.Therese will pray for me too.
    I always remember Fr Pio said: Pray, Hope and Do not worry. That is what I do now. Time will come according to God’s plan.

    • Jacqueline-198 November 11, 2013

      Godwilliing in 2015 Tracy will be having a trip to Lourdes and Fatima and Godwilling I will be able to travel with her again, I’ve never been to neither and have always wanted to….It was a blessing to have gone to CM Italy this past summer, we visited Rome saw Pope Francis, visited Padua (my most precious memory since I have great devotion to St Anthony) Assissi (St Francis, another favorite) St Rita of Cascia a new saint for me and a new favorite. In 2011 I crossed off another dream from y bucket list, IRELAND!! What a dream come true and what a beautiful country, the culture and people are wonderful (loved it so much that after CM Italy this year a few of us went over to Ireland for a few days) The CM events are a wonderful opportunity to meet online friends who then become ‘real’ life friends, many of us have reconnected at different events!! I encourage anyone that is interested in travelling to joint the wonderful events found right here on CM!!

  12. Paula-982894 November 10, 2013

    Great article !

    Great article! Traveling, even within your own country, broadens and expands your horizons and your ability to see past your own minor daily concerns!

    I hope and pray to one day travel abroad to Italy, Spain, the Holy Lands and the Mediterranean area in general.

  13. William-607613 November 10, 2013

    Bring a good camera, everyone. Spend the money on a good SLR before you go. Trust me on this.

  14. Kathy-669573 November 10, 2013

    Loved the pic of the Cathedral in Seville! One of my Spanish friends that I met while studying in Spain got married in that Cathedral 4 years ago and I was lucky that I was able to attend. My recent travels took me to study Italian in Florence this past July.

    Don’t let being single stop you from traveling!

  15. Maria-1028959 November 10, 2013

    NICE!!!

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