Making a pilgrimage is a great form of prayer, discernment, and personal growth. For those not sure of what a pilgrimage actually is, Wikipedia puts it this way:
In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a sacred place or shrine of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith. Members of every major religion participate in pilgrimages. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.
There are all sorts of ways that we make pilgrimages. It may be traveling to Europe to follow one of the ancient pilgrimage routes. It may be cycling across the midwest. It may be getting on the bus and traveling across town to the cemetary where a loved one is buried. “Smaller” pilgrimages are not necessarily less significant. We all have our own reasons for a pilgrimage, reasons which may seem absurd to others. Often pilgrims journey together, each for their own reasons or for a common one. I know in my life I have made several deliberate pilgrimages. One was my journey to Monroe for the first time to visit the IHM Motherhouse. Another was a trip to the desert and the mountains for retreat, prayer and discernment.
Zenit.org recently published an article on the modern pilgrim: “Planes replace trains for modern pilgrims“. The article ends with a good quote by Cardinal Ruini: “The ways of doing pilgrimage change often, but its deep soul remains substantially the same when one is speaking of pilgrimage and not just of tourism. The search in this kind of travel and prayer leads to a more profound contact with God.”
What kinds of pilgrimages have you made in your life?