We live in a time where we are constantly assailed by noise and busy-ness. If we walk away from our computers, our phone begins to buzz. We go out to eat and there are televisions on every wall. Exercise equipment in the gym is now equipped with TV as the pounding music rages from the cycling room. Now even gas station pumps have televisions! Noise!
To keep our sanity and refresh our souls, sometimes we need longer periods of silence than we can find in Mass or daily prayer. A holy pilgrimage is one of the most powerful ways we can break out of the noise and renew our ability to hear God’s voice.
I love the idea of pilgrimage, especially for people — and there are a lot of us — who work very hard and are really grinding it out on a day-to-day basis while giving our lives to the Lord in whatever way He’s called us. We can get in a rut, we can get in patterns of sin, we can get consumed with the noise and activity, and we can lose perspective.
A holy pilgrimage is a way to break the pattern and gain clarity. In fact, I would venture to say that there are few ways to achieve this break that are as powerful as a pilgrimage and particularly to Lourdes and Carmelite France.
A non-Christian may look in and see us going on pilgrimage and think, “Well, that’s a vacation,” but we do not travel to a holy place for the sake of sipping margaritas and laying on the beach (though this can happen in a holy context).
We go on pilgrimage with one goal in mind: to strengthen our relationship with our Lord.
Pilgrimage isn’t supposed to be easy all the time; it’s supposed to be something that challenges our souls to pay attention to what is most important. It really means breaking away from the everyday distractions and giving our hearts over to God for a special purpose or intention or to learn something about Him.
Historically, people would save up for long periods of time, even if they were poor, to go on pilgrimage and practice this powerful and holy tradition. Because of the secularization of our culture, the practice of pilgrimage has waned. This waning has contributed to deep spiritual sloth that has done much damage to souls.
There are special spiritual graces that come only through pilgrimages and coming into contact with holy sites. When we go to these holy sites where the Holy Spirit has worked so powerfully through the faith of people and we open ourselves to God, we can come to a profound encounter with Him that could not have otherwise been realized in another place or another kind of situation.
As we conclude our novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, consider joining us on a pilgrimage to France. As Catholics, we recognize that the saints are still alive and they are with the Lord. They desire to help us to heaven and to the spiritual riches that Christ has for us. We can, and we should, regularly reach out to them and ask for their help by visiting them at their holy sites.
If you would like to join Dan Burke and Dr. Anthony Lilles as they explore the riches of the saints in France, please click HERE for more information or contact Stephanie Burke at 1-833-77-AVILA (2-8452) ext. 6 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please remember that there are spiritual riches to be seen all over the world and it is important that you take the time for your spiritual well-being.
Photo credit: By Nono vlf – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47712542