From there we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed over to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and ducked down into the crypt church to attend the Solemn Mass of First Profession to witness the first vows of ten sisters of Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara which is part of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word.
Although people did take pictures during the Mass, I did not feel comfortable doing so, nor could I have as Ian fell asleep on my lap during the first reading and slept through the entire Mass (which lasted from 2pm until 3:45pm!) But it was so beautiful....there were so many priests and brothers there, the family of the sisters, the other nuns in the order, the celebrant was Cardinal McCarrick, the singing and atmosphere was other-worldly! What an inspiration to all of our homeschool friends who attended this ceremony....particularly those who God may be calling to a religious vocation. (Maybe even Isabel!) ;)
And after the Mass, I also have zero pictures of these beautiful sisters...but it was like attending a wedding. Their faces were just all smiles and glowing!
We went upstairs to the main part of the Basilica and found a chapel for our family to make our own family consecration...it was appropriate that we stepped into the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa (as our home parish in Raleigh is a Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa!). There was also a mosaic (well, almost everything in the basilica is made of mosaic tiles) of Saint (Pope) John Paul II, which was really neat because our sweet homeschool friends gave us one of the holy cards of JPII that they had been handed when they walked into the vows Mass (we had come in minutes too late and they had run out of these holy cards, so I had no idea until she handed me one of theirs for us to keep) and it is not just a holy card, but a 2nd class relic of one of his garments! So walking into the chapel with both of these images was really a little smile from God. We literally had just enough time to kneel down and pray this consecration prayer that I had found online before Caroline was just at the end of her little 2 1/2 year old "rope". So it was a disappointment that Isabel was not able to see, explore, and pray at this magnificent basilica....it is just gorgeous and every nook and corner calls your attention to God's glory! What a place!
The next morning we woke up and swam in our hotel's rooftop pool (enclosed and heated, thank goodness....it was still chilly, but the kids loved it). Then we went to visit the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial which led us by the reflecting pool and both the WWII and Vietnam Memorials. The younger kids were pretty uncooperative with pictures but I suppose that was to be expected as it was a long walk from the monument to the memorial and back to our car, and they had exercised themselves quite thoroughly already in the hotel pool..... ;) So the pics that we got were just what we got!
This field trip was a great reminder that planning a trip with little ones never ends up exactly how you envision it in your mind ;)