|Weekly Message from the Pastor|
Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
The Christian life is often described as a journey, and discipleship as a pilgrimage. Soon after the Church emerged from the persecutions and martyrdoms of the early centuries, pious believers longed to rekindle the fire that burned within the hearts of the martyrs and compelled them to such great devotion and sacrifice. Since Christianity is a religion that is rooted in historical events, the pilgrimage became one of the means by which the Christian might reconnect with salvation history. The empress St. Helena, the wife of Great Constantine, journeyed to the Holy Land in search of those places where Jesus suffered, died and was buried. Other pilgrims have followed her example and the experience of the pilgrimage has captivated our imagination ever since. As the work of the Church has expanded over the centuries and across the continents, so have pilgrims followed the activity of the saints in their work to build the Kingdom of God. We will be visiting three shrines next month on a pilgrimage to reconnect with some of our history and learn more about the extraordinary work of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and St. Maximillian Kolbe.
In a spirit of full disclosure, the pilgrimage has never really been high on my list of spiritual priorities. In fact, I was ten years ordained before embarking on any kind of journey with a spiritual expectation. My first trip to Rome was primarily as a tourist, but after spending some time in the Vatican and visiting the catacombs, the impact of our salvation history made a profound impression on me. Catholics have been given a faith that is shared with a communion of saints that extends across time and space. There is a mystical quality to our faith that tends to draw us into contact with the personalities and the actions of the saints. We can use our imagination and intellect to read about the saints, but actually being in some of the places they have been is more sensible.
Our pilgrimage on May 5th and 6th will take us into an encounter with the shrines of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini in Chicago and St. Maximillian Kolbe in Libertyville. Then we will continue on to the shrine of the Blessed Mother at Holy Hill in Wisconsin. I am certainly no expert on any of these shrines and hope that my own experience of God’s mercy will be expanded with the other pilgrims on this journey. But on the other hand, even though we might be new to this experience of pilgrimage, we can be sure that we are much more than simple tourists with cameras around our necks. We are going to visit the family…our own relatives, some of whom we have never actually met. That is what can be so exciting about a pilgrimage. The pilgrimage not only opens up new experiences, but also new relationships that tend to change forever the progress we are making on this journey of faith.
For more information visit: http://seas-carmel.org/religious-formation/adult-faith-formation/seton-parish-pilgrimage