"To be a pilgrim one needs to be ready to have God fill their lives with His Love."
This quote comes from a 17 year old girl who first came on the pilgrimage to get away from home. At the end of the pilgrimage she used that quote to explain to others what it is all about. Looking deeper into her reflection , …to have God fill their lives with His love" implies that one needs to empty, or have room for his love. Through the commitment to "pilgrimage" to a holy place , for us Martyrs' Shrine; the pilgrim reflects the journey we are all on, the journey towards the Kingdom. In short whether we are aware of it or not our whole lives are a "pilgrimage.
WHY OF PILGRIMAGE
Throughout history , men and women of all ages have struck out on pilgrimage, to seek answers, to empty oneself , to change, to grow. It may be break from everyday life, a search for answers to a heavy burden, a desire to be part of a community. Pilgrimage reflects our journey towards the kingdom and through a Walking Pilgrimage we are often reminded of our desire of everlasting life. Within hours of starting the walking pilgrimage it becomes clear that you are leaving the frenetic pace of the "google" mindset and entering into the quest of peacefulness, and true contemplation. Walking , feeling the heat, wanting water, being nervous about what lies ahead all reflect our everyday lives. Pilgrimgae like life, is not easy. In life we can miss the deeper meaning, pilgrimage allows us to enter more deeply into understanding the Why? Of our existence . We do reach our night spot, hospitality is received, yet the morning invites us to continue on and realize that the journey is not yet complete; God has much more in store for us. Pilgrimage brings us hope.
Pilgrimage is also a journey of conversion. We journey to learn what God is doing in our lives and we turn our intentions to live lives that reflect this , for some; new found insight. We journey "to" and leave behind things that are not reflective of being a pilgrim. In the words of Pope John Paul II, " one who goes on pilgrimage never returns the same" In short piligrimage changes us.
HOW OF PILGRIMAGE
A Pilgrim is never alone. What may have started out as a journey of an individual, soon changes to the journey of a community. Friendships are made, intentions are exchanged, and a meeting of the Risen Lord , just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered. This may happen through the greeting people along the way, the unknown prayers of those walking beside us. A pilgrim starts to connect with the thousands who have walked this path in the past, and therefore with their prayers and intentions. In meeting the Risen Lord one begins to desire to grow even closer to others and true community forms.
Words cannot explain the emotions of a pilgrim as they approach the stairs of Martyrs' Shrine. The sense of joy and the words of Psalm 122 "I rejoiced when I heard them say, Let us go up to God's house" resound in our hearts. Throughout the pilgrimage, each day, each hour, each step, may have a different dimension. Yet as we enter the Shrine, we realize that throughout this journey, this pilgrimage, we have encountered God. Through that we offer our hearts even more . The traditional hymn for pilgrims as the enter a Shrine, is the "Te Deum Laudamus" what more fitting words can be found!
The desire is to stay , just as the disciples did at Mt. Tabor, and say " Lord it is good to be here." Yet pilgrimage calls us now to return , refreshed, strengthened and sent forth Our task is to continue now and to announce to all that Jesus is Lord!