Typically, a pilgrimage encompasses travel to a holy or sacred place that is significant to a person’s faith and beliefs. The Catholic Church gives spiritual importance to many sites called shrines: the place of birth or death of Saints and founders of religious communities, or to the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection with the divinity of Christ, and to locations where miracles were and still are being performed or witnessed. One that makes such a blessed journey is called a pilgrim.
A pilgrimage differs significantly from a tour in several important ways. It is a personal invitation from God, comprised of his offer and dependent upon the pilgrim’s acceptance. God’s call (usually interior and in the heart) may vary but the purpose remains the same: It is an individual and personal summons to know God more fully and to be ushered into his presence in a special way. A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to which the pilgrim joyfully responds, “yes” to God’s invitation.
Today’s pilgrim has comfortable and affordable travel options and must embark on this journey with joyful anticipation, being willing temporarily to separate himself or herself from the business of the contemporary world in which we live. A successful pilgrimage involves a commitment to leave behind one’s problems and to focus instead on seeking to learn more about Our Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and very often the Blessed Virgin Mary; making one’s heart full of desire for special graces, praises, petitions and thanksgiving, and with the expectancy of returning home transformed, renewed and restored by the abundant blessings received.
A pilgrimage is a time of prayer and to experience the miraculous signs that God has left for our return to Him. Ask the Lord to bless you with a heart that will be receptive to the treasure chest of graces he desires to shower upon your pilgrimage. The success of your spiritual journey will depend upon your openness, flexibility, and love.
Our prayer is that when God prompts you to make a pilgrimage it will be remembered and cherished as a pillar of faith formation for the rest of your life, and that as a pilgrim you will draw closer to Jesus through Mary, on a beautiful and transforming spiritual sojourn of life.