Why a Pilgrimage?
“A single tear shed at the remembrance of the passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.” -St. Augustine
Pilgrimage – The Journey of Life
Christians see life itself in terms of a journey, coming from God and returning to God. Christ is journeying towards us.
A pilgrimage is a symbol in action, an essential part of life and living. It represents the journey of the Christian life from earth to heaven. The people of God are sometimes described as a pilgrim Church.
The image of walking is frequently used by the saints. For pilgrims, it could be said: “All is walking.” This walk is a journey to the bosom of the Father. Each step is closer to God – and by proxy, one’s neighbor. Walking involves an image of the Church, on pilgrimage.
During the glory of European civilization, medieval pilgrimages were very popular. It was not like going on an ordinary holiday. Pilgrimages often took years. Journeys were long and arduous and some never made it home. Pilgrims usually traveled in groups and would stay in monasteries or religious guesthouses on the way.
Pilgrims undertook these journeys to holy places because it was important for them in their faith. If they had committed sins they believed that by going on a pilgrimage they could show God how contrite they were. Sometimes they were sent on such journeys as a penance for the temporal remission of their sins. Sometimes they went in search of healing of a physical condition.
Pilgrimage – A Modern Revival
It is a strange phenomenon of the late twentieth century that pilgrimage should again become immensely popular. Today many millions of people make pilgrimages all across the world. In fact, the movement is growing.
The particular emphasis of pilgrimage stems from the desire to be rejuvenated and confirmed in the Faith. It is a blessed experience for those privileged to journey.
Popular destinations include the Holy Land, with special emphasis on the Incarnation of Christ – this is the belief central to the Christian faith that at a definite date in history, in a certain place, God himself was born incarnate of a woman into a human family. He walked among men and worked His miracles. Pilgrims flock by the millions to venerate these holy sites and to walk where Christ himself trod.
Millions of others flock to places such as Rome, where the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul lived, died and were buried. Or to Santiago, where the Apostle James was martyred and buried. Pilgrim sites abound. At OC-Travel we design the best Catholic pilgrimage for you. We hope you will find the right fit and join us.
Every pilgrim group is a reminder of Nazareth, a little family on a journey together in which we live and walk with the Holy Family of Nazareth. By visiting these religious sites together and by praying and experiencing the same mystical ethos, we identify Christ at work in our lives, and we share as partakers in His blessed divinity.
We hope you will join us…and then join us again!
Poem by the future Pope St. John Paul II, penned during his first visit to the Holy Land in the early 1960s:
“I come across these places which you have filled with yourself once and for all. … Oh place … You were transformed so many times before you, His place, became mine. When for the first time He filled you, you were not yet an outer place; you were but His Mother’s womb. How I long to know that the stones I am treading in Nazareth are the same which her feet touched when she was Your only place on earth. Meeting You through the stone touched by the feet of Your Mother. Oh, corner of the earth, place in the Holy Land – what kind of place are you in me? My steps cannot tread on you; I must kneel. Thus I confirm today you were indeed a place of meeting. Kneeling down I imprint a seal on you. You will remain here with my seal – you will remain – and I will take you and transform you within me into the place of new testimony. I will walk away as a witness who testifies across the millennia”
-Karol Wojtyla, Poezje. Poems, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 1998, p. 168).