Join me on a pilgrimage to Italy!

My St Peter's_edited-1Image42-1Pope Francis holds dove before his weekly audience at the Vatican

In July, 2015, I will be leading a pilgrimage to Italy entitled “Saints for Changing Times.” Our pilgrimage will visit several holy sites in Italy focusing on some of our medieval saints who helped steer the Church through the changing times in which they lived, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony, St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Clare, and St. Catherine of Siena. Our journey will take us to Venice, Padua, Bologna, Florence, Siena, Assisi, and Rome. It will include a papal audience at Castelgandalf
o, the Pope’s summer residence (pending the Holy Father’s schedule) , which is located on the brim of an extinct volcano that is now filled in by the Lago di Albano, a breathtaking view! The journey will be from July 7-18, 2015. You may click the link below to view the brochure, and you can print it and send in your application directly from the link. I’d love to have you join us next summer in our Pilgrimage to Majestic Italy!


Click here to view the Pilgrimage Brochure.

“I’ll never forgive him for what he did to me!”


forgiveness Let’s face it:  we’ve all been hurt in life, often in little ways, sometimes in big ways, but we’ve all been hurt. And it stinks! It’s lousy, it’s painful, and it’s not right, but it’s the world we live in. Sometimes we feel we will never forgive somebody for what they’ve done to us, and it is certainly understandable that we would feel that way, especially when we’re in pain. But when the pain starts to subside and we think clearly, we realize that forgiveness is the only means to restoring peace in our hearts. If we continue to hold onto the pain of a wrong that someone has done we will never find peace. No one can change anything that’s happened in the past even if we want to, but when we don’t let go of the past we let the pain of the past continue to harm us in the present and the future, and we are forever victims of the harm. Instead of finding peace, we end up living as victims each and every day.

We know we should forgive people, but sometimes we think forgiving them kind of gives them the upper hand, that maybe they’ve made us into a chump by forgiving them. Maybe we think not forgiving them gives us the victory and ruins them. But it really doesn’t; it only harms us! Actually, forgiving somebody is the way that we have the upper hand in the situation; by taking the high road we win in the long run. Imagine this: suppose I do something to hurt somebody really badly and I know it and I go to them and ask for forgiveness and I’m big about it. I don’t make any excuses, I don’t try to say I was in a bad mood or I was cranky or anything like that. I say to them, “I did something to hurt you and I was wrong and I am sorry for that; will you forgive me?” Hopefully the other person will say yes, in which case we can make amends and move on with the friendship that we’re meant to have. But suppose the other person says no, suppose they say, “No, I will never forgive you for that!” Well, I can at least say in my heart that I tried to do what was right I did the right thing. I went to them and I apologized. I’m sorry for them that they could not find it in themselves to forgive me, but I can move on and leave it in the past and will have peace, but the person I hurt will continue to allow what I did to harm them into the future. No one can change the past even if we want to. We cannot go back and change something we’ve done. It is therefore healthy for us and even necessary to forgive other people who harm us.

But what exactly does it mean to forgive somebody? Let’s talk about what it doesn’t mean: it doesn’t mean I always just forget about it and pretend it never happened, especially if it was something with serious consequences. Sometimes we do have to remember that something happened, but forgiving them means that we realize that they are weak human beings like ourselves and just as we fall sometimes and do wrong things, so are they, and we’re not going to hold them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. Forgiving others also does not mean that we pretend somehow it was all our own fault, that we must’ve said or done something to make that person react that way. Maybe there is truth to that, but not always. Sometimes we’re perfectly innocent of saying or doing anything, and the harm that was done to us was totally unprovoked. It does mean to say “I understand that you are weak like me and I forgive you because we all need forgiveness every now and then.forgiveness1

Hopefully if somebody does come to us and ask us for forgiveness we will always say yes to them. But what happens if somebody never comes to us for forgiveness? What happens if the person doesn’t realize or will never admit that they’ve done anything to harm us? Or suppose the person who harmed us has long since passed away and could not come to us even if they wanted to? Well, this is what I always do: I bring it into prayer and I say, “Lord, if that person ever comes to me and says, ‘listen, I’m sorry for what I did to you. It was wrong of me; will you forgive me?’ then of course I would forgive them on the spot, and if they never ask me in life they will have to one day stand before you in judgment, and they will realize then that they have harmed me, and when they realize at that point that they need my forgiveness, help them know that I forgave them a long time ago!” That gives me so much peace, to be able to move on and have healing for the times in life that people have hurt me, even if they see no reason to apologize whatsoever. You never know! You might get someone to apologize to you even many years later. That happened to me once. Somebody who had harmed me big time repeatedly when we were young and with whom I had lost contact searched for me online and many years later finally found me and said, “listen, when we were kids I was really mean and cruel to you, and I’m sorry for everything that I ever did to you. I hope I didn’t hurt you too much, but can you forgive me?” I was able to tell this person that I did forgive him and that I have forgiven him a long time ago. I found peace many, many years ago. But I wonder if this person had been holding onto the guilt for all this time. Was this the first moment that he finally found peace for what he had done to me when we were kids? If that’s true, I’m glad at least he finally found it. But you see, I was able to go through my life with peace, leaving the harm in the past, and this other person may have been carrying the pain for all of these years. Now this doesn’t always happen; there are many people who have harmed me that have never apologized, and I am certain there are people whom I have hurt to whom I have never said I was sorry. But I ask God always to help anyone whom I have ever harmed to know I am sorry, and to please see that they are not forever hurt by my carelessness. That, too, gives me peace!ToErrIsHumanToForgiveIsDivine

So when somebody harms us, were only hurting ourselves by not forgiving them. If they ask you for forgiveness, always say yes.  If they don’t, pray and say, “Lord, if there ever comes a time when they realize they’ve hurt me and they need my forgiveness, help them know that I freely grant it. In this way, we can have peace in our lives. And of course if we have harmed somebody else and need to ask their forgiveness, then remember to apologize and make amends so that we may heal. If we withhold forgiveness we hold on to anger, which embitters us and cannot give us the peace that we look for in life. Refusing to forgive only makes us bitter. So forgive as God has forgiven you; that is the path to peace!


“A poem, by Fr. Carrozza”

Since it is National Poetry Month, I’ve decided to post one of my old poems. I write a poem every Christmas to include with my Christmas cards. This one was sent years ago.



The Price of Love

One night a man came home from work

   disgusted from his day. 

His daughter ran to greet him

   and his anger died away. 

Her smile was oh, so delicate!

   her childlike ways so pure! 

His waning joy rekindled

   as he raised her from the floor.

“If everyone could be like you

   the world would be much kinder! 

Why must we have such misery

   and pain?” He stopped to wonder.


Then, drink in hand, he settled down  

   to watch the evening news. 

His daughter snuggled with him

   as the talk shows aired their views. 

One host after another

   spoke of pain, of tragedy, 

of graft, corruption, vice and greed,

   deceit, duplicity. 

“Where is this mad world headed?!”

   he screamed out in great despair. 

“Where is this God they talk about?

   How come he does not care?”  


Just then, into his living room

   walked Jesus, calm and meek. 

He sat down on the sofa

   and he stroked the young girl’s cheek. 

He asked her father, “Why such fear?

   Why do you feel despair?” 

“Because you have abandoned us!”

   he said. “You do not care! 

You say you love us, but you lie!

   We cry out, but in vain. 

If you’re so good, why do we suffer?

   Why not stop the pain?”  


 “My son,” said Christ, “I want to

   but you never follow me. 

You refuse to do things my way,

   thus, you cause your misery! 

What causes most of your distress?

   Is it not people’s sin? 

You’re hurt by other people’s wrong;

   from you sorrows begin! 

I’ve shown the way, I plead with you

   but you refuse to see. 

So maybe I should ask you

   why you let these evils be.”    


“We’re weak!” he said. “We’ll never change.

   You know we cannot win! 

Why not force us to follow you?

   Make sure we cannot sin!” 

“Because,” said Christ, “If I did that

   I’d be forcing your love. 

Love must be given freely,

   not coerced with mighty shove! 

If I truly love you, then

   you must be free to turn from me. 

For if I forced your love

   it would be meaningless, empty!”   


“That sounds so sweet, but let’s be real!

   Let’s call a spade a spade! 

How would you know what suffering is?

  You’re God! You’ve got it made! 

You don’t know what it’s like to starve,

   be hated or ignored! 

What did love ever cost you, huh?  

  what pain have you endured?” 

Just then the child, who’d nodded off,

   awoke, and as if planned, 

look up at Jesus, shrieked, and said: 

  “Sir, what happened to your hand?”