Flying Houses

Statue of Our Lady of Loreto, Loreto, Italy, by Flyer20061, used under CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My patronal feast, Our Lady of Loreto on December 10, was elevated on liturgical calendars in 2019. I love this title for Mary, even though it’s possible that my dad’s admiration for Catholic actress Loretta Young influenced my naming. Our Lady could have been a cover story.

Not everyone knows the legend about angels supernaturally carrying Mary’s house from Nazareth to a hilltop in Loreto, Italy. Others say it was the Angeli family who disassembled the house and took it by boat to its new home. Did they sneak it out? Who knows the real story? The point is that Mary’s house is a part of my story and my spirituality. Sometimes I imagine I’m visiting her home, and we’re sitting near her fire together, sipping some hot drink and discussing our children. In this imaginative scenario, Jesus often enters the room and sits with us.

Now that I’m house-hunting in Seattle, what better intercessor than Mary, Mother of a flying house? Our house did fly off the market within days.

I needed Mary while purging prior to the sale, and I prayed fervently as my very human tendency to worry surfaced. What if no one wanted our house? Ha!

Soon I will fly to a rainy city, very different from California with its droughts. I’ll experience different history, geography, and culture. When I fret, I find consolation in remembering that Mary walked or rode more than a week to Bethlehem. I have it easy.

Perhaps I will find a Loreto hilltop in my new state, a place where angels arrive with tangible blessings that lift my mind and heart to Christ in new ways. And I pray, not for the house of our dreams, but for the environment that will become home, the people we will meet, and a parish where we will put down roots.

I don’t know how God will use my husband’s new job and our desire to simplify. My writing and spiritual direction ministry can take place anywhere. I believe this transition will draw us closer to Christ; we will find a welcome wherever we live.

When it becomes my plan, the sheer joy I feel about moving fades; worries creep in. Our Lady of Loreto, invite me to sit in quiet once again with you. Tell me about your journeys to Egypt and back. I bet you never saw that coming.

Downsizing is an invitation to follow Jesus a little bit better. When tempted to complain about letting go of stuff, I remember the pregnant woman who likely trudged with only a knapsack, had no roof to sleep under at night, enjoyed no access to convenience foods or restaurants, and ended up homeless in Bethlehem.

I am privileged and traveling in a liminal space between one destination and the next. It’s a freeing place to be, full of excitement and anticipation.

Mary, were you excited about holding the Messiah in your arms? Even in the difficulties, I believe you smiled a Mona Lisa smile as your soul magnified God with every step.

Mary, please fly with me to my new home. Give me support as I remember your courage.

I pray a favorite prayer I learned in first grade, the Memorare. I fly unto thee, my Mother.

Image (cropped) of Statue of Our Lady of Loreto, Loreto, Italy, by Flyer20061, used under CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. I appreciated your reflection on our Lady of Loreto. My name too, is Loretta and it seemed that my Mother also liked Loretta Young! I owe our Lady of Loreto for the safe trips I made to and fro to Brazil and back to Canada while I worked there as a missionary for over forty years. A dear little Brazilian girl gave me a small statue of our Lady, patron of the airways which I always carried with me. I know she is with us as we travel on life’ journey. Blessings to you and your new community.
    Loretta Novecosky

  2. Yes! As a spiritual director I’ve connected with others during the pandemic in centers of Ignatian spirituality up and down the West Coast.
    I’m looking forward to connecting with the bunch here in Seattle soon.

  3. Loretta, thanks for this beautiful insight on the Virgin of Loreto. I am sure you will find, with God and your patronal Virgin’s help, a lovely home and a parish where you will be most welcomed. A new place to call home in Seattle.

    • Thanks for your encouragement. I think of Jesus’ mom facing so much uncertainty after the birth of Jesus. Where would they live in Egypt?

  4. Dear Loretta, I wish you very blessing and a safe transition. Trust, and all will be well. We moved with three children from India to Australia – a completely different place and culture. We decided to trust God and never look back. 34 years have passed and we know God looked after us very well. My husband died 8 months ago and that is another journey I am undertaking. However I know God is with me always.

    • So many journeys. Life is full of them, and your life especially. Thanks for your warm wishes in our transition; I send them to you as well as you mourn the loss of your husband.

  5. Dear Loretta: We were in Kirkland, WA for 17 years and loved it. Hope you do, too. If you are interested there are several CLC groups in Seattle. I’m still hoping you will write a book of guided meditations.

    • CLC! Steve and I are participating in a zoom version with people in three states. I’d love to learn more about the Seattle groups.
      I hope you will look into the book of Grace-Filled Days 2022. I prayed for everyone who would read it while I was writing it.

  6. Good luck and God Bless in your move to a new place. May our Mother Mary guide you on your way And you find like-minded friends. Hoping it is not too far from some family. I have no family anywhere near me and live alone. Old now and need family, everyone is so busy with their own lives ; which i guess is o.k. for them. Not the way I was raised of course. Thank you for your Reflections. .A.M.D.G.

    • I’ve noticed as I age that younger people are very busy in their lives and we get to watch them move beyond us.
      I have some friends in their 80s and they’ve had to say goodbye to so many people.
      They are teaching me to keep making new friends every day.

  7. Thank you for this I’m in the midst of moving also it’s so stressful and I find reflecting on this such a blessing. Good luck with your move.

  8. Welcome to your upcoming(?) move to the beautiful State of Washington. If you are not already aware, the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Seattle is a wonderful Hub, I have found it very grounding sense moving to WA in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. I live west, over the mountains in Wenatchee. When you get tired of the clouds and wet…cross the mountains to the beautiful orchards and, generally, sun of Wenatchee. I enjoy your writing…always thoughtful. Peace as you take this next step in your journey. Have a blessed remaining Advent season.


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