Lent 2017 Pilgrimage to the Passion

What is a pilgrimage?

The word “pilgrim,” is derived from the Latin word peregrinus, which is translated as a foreigner who is neither a resident nor domiciled in the jurisdiction of the court.

From this word, pilgrim, comes pilgrimage, a journey or expedition, usually made with others who share a common mind and faith, with the specific purpose of veneration, meditation and self-discovery. A pilgrimage is made with the intention of becoming renewed in faith through experience and meditation. Embarking on a pilgrimage has been an important part of religious practice for millennia.

After the Temple in Jerusalem was completed around 957 BC all Jewish men were required to present themselves at the temple for feasts. This meant that people who lived a long distance from the Temple would have to travel for days through wild and treacherous country to make the journey. Rather than exposing themselves to danger from animals, robbers or starvation, pilgrims would form groups - usually family groups - and travel together. As they traveled they would sing psalms, chat and pray. Men would travel with a group of men and women and young children traveled in a separate caravan.

It was during one of these annual pilgrimages that Jesus became lost in Jerusalem. He was around 12 years old and was of an age that he was given the choice of either traveling with his mother and the children or with his father and the men. During the return trip Joseph and Mary, not seeing Jesus with them, assumed that Jesus had decided to travel with the other parent. It wasn't until the group stopped for the night that they discovered that Jesus wasn't with either one of them. They had to leave the safety of the group and make the dangerous and exhausting return to Jerusalem to search for their son. He was found in the Temple, enjoying discussions with the learned men.

The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus occurred over the feast of Passover, a time when there were many pilgrims who had made the journey to Jerusalem and the Temple, yet it was the entry of Jesus that was hailed triumphantly with crowds waving palm branches, and it was his presence in the city that attracted the attention and the ire of the Sanhedrin. After the death and Resurrection of Jesus, several of the apostles like Saint Paul and his followers spread the Christian faith further and further from the Holy Land, and the people were inspired to return to the holy sites to walk the Way of the Cross.

One of the earliest usages of the word is found in the writings of Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430). His work, Peregrinatio, described a Christian spiritual journey as a search for God's truth by visiting the holy shrines of the Faith. In the Middle Ages it became a common religious practice to make a pilgrimage to a holy shrine and venerate the relics of saints. Even in modern times pilgrimages are made to holy sites.

Did you know that because we at Saint Catherine Laboure possess a first class relic of Saint Catherine Laboure, as well as one of the original Miraculous Medals, our Shrine is often visited by pilgrims from the US and Canada who join pilgrimages to tour holy sites in the United States?

Our theme for Lent 2017 is Pilgrimage to the Passion - a daily journey that will follow Christ as he completes his salvific mission to his death and Resurrection. Each day through scripture and prayer we will visit the roads and places that Jesus walked and meditate on the meaning of his journey until we arrive at our final destination on Palm Sunday, Jerusalem. Thank you for embarking on this pilgrimage with us.

Credits:

"The By Christ Disputing with the Elders" by Heinrich Hoffmann. "Pilgrimage" - Canterbury Cathedral

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