See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Friday, June 03, 2011

Pilgrimage Lost



The 'way' becomes a 'lifestyle'?
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Like monasticism, the spirituality of pilgrimage has been watered down in modern times.  Personal comfort, convenience, nice accommodations, and pleasant company seem to be high on the priority list, not to mention ease of travel as well as the availability of sightseeing side trips and good eating.  One or two exceptions to this rule may be the more obscure  pilgrimage destinations which have not been developed for tourism.  Even in St. Therese's time, the bourgeoisie secured for themselves all the comforts their Grand Tour counterparts enjoyed in their travels.
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The pilgrimage as tour.
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I came across this story about a festival in Rome celebrating pilgrimage:
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Rome, Italy, Jun 2, 2011 / 09:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Rome is hosting a gathering that would be unusual in almost any other city-- a festival showcasing possible pilgrimage destinations from 31 different countries.
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The Journeys of the Spirit Festival, or JOSPFest, is bringing over 120 exhibitors from 31 countries to the Italian capital to promote their particular locations as destinations for pilgrimage.
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The organizers predict that over a million people will descend on Rome to take part in the festival. For those in the tourist business there are numerous seminars, debates and trade shows.
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This year’s theme connecting all the events is “The Pilgrim Lifestyle.”
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“The pilgrim lifestyle is really an interesting way of life,” said Mancini.  "The idea with a pilgrim lifestyle is that the values that come along with that journey of the spirit – building bridges, interacting, dialogue, being respectful, being kind - those values don’t have to end after you finish your pilgrimage. You can use them and implement them in your everyday life afterwards.”  - CNA
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The pilgrim lifestyle.
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I wouldn't be surprised if the festival presents more of a Disney-esque version of pilgrimage rather than anything close to the earliest concept of the meaning of religious pilgrimage.  It is obvious the festival version is about tourism as much as it is about religious pilgrimage - and both spell profit - which accounts for the festival/market in the first place.  Modern pilgrimage today makes Canterbury Tales look positively austere.
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Authentic pilgrimage is about penance and prayer, be it done in reparation, in petition, in thanksgiving, or simply for the sake of worship - it isn't a tour, or at least it shouldn't be.  A rock-wall climber ascending the most state-of-the-art climbing wall in the best of gyms is more ascetic than most pilgrims today.  A tour through the Tibetan mountains to visit Lhasa is probably more spiritually challenging and fulfilling than most first class pilgrimages to Rome or Rue de bac in Paris.
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Traditionally pilgrimage meant leaving the comforts and securities of home, seeking God, emptying the self as Christ did - arriving as a pilgrim and stranger, demonstrating to the world that we are not at home on the earth, rather we seek a fatherland which is above.  Ideally, it is a time of ascesis and contemplation, as well as spiritual renewal.  of course it is different for people of different ages and conditions, such as the sick who go to Lourdes, but pilgrimage of itself is an act of prayer and worship, and no matter the condition of the pilgrim, it should always have some character of self-renunciation.
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Like so many other spiritual endeavors of today, including monasticism and even priesthood, many seem  to be seeking to accommodate themselves, and even profit from their endeavors - that profit not always being spiritual.
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The Christian life should have the character of a pilgrimage.
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The pilgrim "withdraws from his acquaintance and those dear to him, and keeps his mind disengaged from all temporal comfort, so the blessed apostle Peter beseeches the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world." - Imitation of Christ
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"For there is no lasting city here on earth, we are looking for the city which is to come." - Hebrews 13
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Hence, in reality a pilgrim, and even the monk, does not need to ask for donations or secure accommodations to set off in pursuit of God, knowing he will receive everything he needs, "provided he is content with a sufficiency."
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"Today we love the world and it's luxuries and profits more than God.  We place our trust in insurance rather than God.  The whole idea of the pilgrim is to follow Jesus in a life of humility, poverty, hiddeness and ceaseless prayer in obedience to the will of the Father.  He walks in the way of abandonment to Divine Providence, and since he has been raised with Christ he seeks the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of the Father; his whole mind is set on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for he has died and his life is hidden with Christ in God." - Rule for a Pilgrim
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16 comments:

  1. "Hence, in reality a pilgrim, and even the monk, does not need to ask for donations to set off in pursuit of God, knowing he will receive everything he needs, "provided he is content with a sufficiency."

    Always so controversial you are and just when I was going to follow the recent example of so many bloggers and post a donate button for my trip, er tour, erm, pilgrimage to Hedjastroyah.

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  2. Islam has certainly retained the nature of a true pilgrimage. Take some time and read about the Hajj. Even as a Christian I would like to experience it. (Obviously I can't, though.)

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  3. Interesting take Terry. I have to mull this one over, maybe pray about it.

    I instinctively agree with you, yet... I wonder if there isn't some counterpoint to it...

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  4. The best Pilgrimage a Catholic can make is to send someone else.

    So many poor are not able to go to Holy Places because well, they are poor.

    In my neighborhood, the Holy Angels are walking around: their shoes have soles that flap when they walk exposing their feet with every step, their clothes are tattered, their hair in a tangle.

    I would love to get one of these to a pilgrimage.

    That way, when our Mother is catigating me for not pilgrimaging, I can tell her I was broke from sending poor to those places.

    I have been given some pretty heavey duty relics; I don't have a single one left.

    I gave them all away.

    A relic is like a pilgrimage, it should be given to someone poor.

    (Poor equals poor, not I can't afford this 'cause I'm spending $4000 dollars a month on junk I absolutely don't need but can't live without).

    Set the table for the poor, and spiritually hungry you will never be.

    *

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  5. If you receive Magnificat you will notice today is the memorial of St. Davinus, the Pilgrim +1051. His story begins, 'Davinus gave all he had to the poor and left his native land of Armenia to devote himself to God as a pilgrim.'

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  6. There is always The Way of St.James - Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

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  7. What a beautiful post. Thank you.

    SM, we were doing a "Make a Wish" thing at work the other day and I wished in my heart I could do some sort of charity to raise money for sick Catholic children to go to Lourdes, etc.

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  8. What a beautiful post. Thank you.

    SM, we were doing a "Make a Wish" thing at work the other day and I wished in my heart I could do some sort of charity to raise money for sick Catholic children to go to Lourdes, etc.

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  9. hey I think I recognize that dude in that picture praying in a church in India. (not really)

    Thom, SFO: everything about islam is medieval, so it's no wonder that the hajj is anything different. Bleh. Firsthand, I know all about islam, the hajj-- i am ready for a divorce from islam.

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  10. I think a pilgrimage is a chosen way of life in service to others. The pay you get is when you help or touch the lives of others. I hope someday I can go to France and get some Lourdes Water to give to our people back home.

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  11. I don't know if this would be considered a pilgrimage, but I've considered visiting as many churches as possible in my diocese, attending a Mass or Adoration in each one.

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  12. SM - I like what you said. I have only one relic and have been hoarding it. You are right. I shall find a poor person and give it to her/him.

    The trick will be to find somebody who is really poor. So many of our city's official 'poor' have more than I do, much larger televisions, blue ray players, cell phones, ipads, and so forth. It is hard to know. However, I will find someone I believe is poor and trust the rest to God.

    Perhaps I should just find someone poor in spirit? In that case, I'd have to keep the relic myself!

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  13. Cathy,

    I hope your dream of sending sick Catholic children to Lourdes works well.

    Remember the Lord acts with lightning speed at the tears of Holy Mother Church and the Faithful, especially women.

    In your prayers for these sick children, add some tears that they come more quickly to the attention of our Lord.

    It already seems you are motivated by Love, and Charity on their behalf.

    The children are twice blessed.

    I wish I had a friend like you.

    If you allow, I will add your intentions to my Rosary prayers.

    God be with you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rMW6Le56XI&feature=related

    Here is a little video for you.

    *

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  14. Perhaps I should just find someone poor in spirit?...

    I gave a relic of Blessed Miguel Pro (part of his blood spattered shirt) to a young man that is a crack addict, a suffering soul.

    Blessed Miguel and a few others are helping him, that he not perish in mortal sin.

    We must ask the Saints and Blesseds for their help, and at times we have to ask on behalf of the poor.

    By all means, when I say poor, I say it in the Catholic sense.

    God bless you in your efforts.

    *

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  15. On the subject of relics, a holy monk once told me that we should avoid giving them away, but if we do give them to some one, we should only give it to those who will keep them well, or give them back to the Church - such as a religious community or a parish church. Relics actually belong to the Church and we are simply custodians of them. We should also ensure they are taken care of after our death.

    I'm referring to 1st class and 2nd class relics. 3rd class relics, such as those attached to a holy card or rosary, or medal, may be given to others who we believe will benefit from them.

    (To my knowledge this isn't a rule of the Church - just some advice I've received.)

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  16. Anonymous3:52 PM

    SM,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. They mean so much, and I will remember you in mine.

    Eve,
    It certainly is, and that's an excellent point. There is a tradition of visiting 7 churches on Holy Thursday night to visit the altars of repose at each church, and my parish calls this our "Holy Thursday Pilgrimage."
    A pilgrimage is not just a trip to Rome or Fatima. You remind us that pilgrimages can happen in our own neighborhoods, too.

    -Cathy

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