What is a pilgrimage?
A Journey of Faith
In a general sense a pilgrimage is a journey with a spiritual end: “Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination” (Pope Francis, MV, 14). The more specific understanding of pilgrimage is that it is a physical journey to a holy place, such as a religious shrine or a site at which something spiritually significant took place. This journey doesn’t necessarily need to be made on foot, but the walking pilgrimage, for those who are able, is an opportunity to place oneself profoundly into the care of God’s Providence. A pilgrimage is most fruitful when the pilgrim fully offers his or her journey to God as a gift of self. Our Good God will always surpass our hopes when we place our lives in His Hands.
Simplicity & Austerity
We live in a highly materialistic culture, a “throw-away culture”, as Pope Francis has reminded us on many occasions. The pilgrimage in its simplicity and austerity reminds us that we do not need all of our material possessions to be happy. Christ is the true source of joy. Pilgrimage also provides an opportunity to step away from the noise of the world, which will benefit us in many ways. In this year of mercy Pope Francis reminds us of one such benefit to the silence made available on pilgrimage: “In order to be capable of mercy, therefore, we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God. This means rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us. In this way, it will be possible to contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle” (MV, 13).
A Tradition of Pilgrimage
The Judeo-Christian tradition is rich in powerful pilgrimage stories. In Scripture we see many pilgrimages, from Moses and the Israelites journeying to the Promised Land, to Christ walking along the road to Emmaus with the “unperceiving” disciples, and many in between. In early Church history pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the tombs of the martyrs were popular. For example, we have “The Pilgrimage of Egeria“, which is Egeria’s personal account of her pilgrimage to the Holy Land made around the year 380AD. Throughout the centuries Christians have been making pilgrimages to countless holy sites, places associated with Christ and the saints. Of course, pilgrimage is not merely a Christian practice. Pilgrimages are an important part of many religions. As beings who are both body and soul, we need to express our spiritual yearning in physical ways. The pilgrimage is a microcosm of life’s journey to God.
Thank You for sharing St. Ann's "Walk the Opeongo Line" Pilgrimage