Magazine article U.S. Catholic

It's Worth the Trip

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

It's Worth the Trip

Article excerpt

"For most of us, the image of pilgrims evokes the notion of early settlers, newly arrived on a continent called America, clad in unusual clothing who gathered to give thanks for the blessings of the first bountiful harvest. In reality, the pilgrim and the journey known as a pilgrimage was, from earliest times, a unique expression of the Israelites' worship of the One God. The annual religious feasts of the early Hebrews were often celebrated in the context of elaborate pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The procession of the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple in Jerusalem by David and those who accompanied him is an ideal example of the pilgrimage as a ritual expression of their faith and determination to seek out wherever God had made himself known.

In the Gospel of Luke, we see how even the Holy Family participated in a yearly pilgrimage to jerusalem to observe the feast of Passover as was prescribed by Jewish custom. "Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom" (Luke 2:41-42). In much the same way, Christians during the first few centuries after Jesus' death and resurrection journeyed from Europe and other parts of the globe to the sacred sites of the Holy Land. Eager to grow in their understanding of Jesus and identify with his early life, our Christian ancestors frequently set out from their homelands for the places made holy by Jesus when he walked the villages and towns along the Sea of Galilee. Since that time and throughout the spread of Christianity, Christians have been on the move, traveling the world over to experience firsthand the ordinary places made extraordinary by the presence of God. Whether to the Holy Land, Lourdes, Fatima, or the Eternal City of Rome, Christians have journeyed to these sacred places to claim them as their own, no longer belonging solely to the secular order but to all people whose faith has made them a part of the events that occurred in them.

Originating from the Latin peregrinus, the term pilgrim evokes the one wandering in search of a deeper reality, one determined to discover a more profound truth about the events and circumstances that define human existence. …

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