When was the last time you went on a pilgrimage? A few years ago, I decided to do something during the summer months to bring my parishioners together, and hopefully inspire their faith life and devotion. My plan was to organize Summer parish pilgrimages. I wasn’t sure how well it would work out, but we are now in our third year. The pilgrimages are only day trips to shrines within driving distance. So far we have traveled to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, the National Shrine of Divine Mercy, St. anthony’s Shrine in Kennebunkport, ME, the Benedictine Monastery in Still River and St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer for vespers just to name a few. For many, we left early in the morning and I celebrated Mass at the destination, we pray together, have personal prayer time and usually stop for lunch or dinner together. We have ranged in numbers from 12 up to 35 people.
So why go on pilgrimage? The purpose of pilgrimage has always been to see a special favor through the intercession of a particular saint, the Blessed Virgin or from Our Lord Himself. However, pilgrimage is also to remind us that we are not in the world forever. We are “strangers and pilgrims in a foreign land”. Life is short and temporary. Whether we are on pilgrimage to Rome, Fatima or som small unknown shrine in our own neighborhood, our ultimate journey is to the Father house.
If you haven’t gone on pilgrimage in a while, why not gather a few friends and seek out God’s many graces by visiting a local shrine. Spend the day together in prayer and fellowship as we all journey to God’s kingdom!