Featured Image Photo Credit: Kristin McCarthy, 2016, Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland, Ontario, Canada
This past summer I embarked on what I though was a carefree camping trip. Instead, it turned out to be a very rewarding spiritual journey. I visited five shrines in Quebec as well Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec City and crossed the threshold of four Holy doors. It was an amazing experience and one that I am sharing with you. During this Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis asks us to go on a pilgrimage and cross the threshold of a holy door. He calls us to set out on a faith-filled journey –a trip that nourishes our spirituality and renews our soul, so that we may accept God’s mercy. In Pope Francis’ Misericordiae Vultus, he states:
“The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us. (#14)
He goes on to say,
The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain our goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:37-38). The Lord asks us above all not to judge and not to condemn. If anyone wishes to avoid God’s judgement, he should not make himself the judge of his brother or sister. Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul. How much harm words do when they are motivated by feelings of jealousy and envy! To speak ill of others puts them in a bad light, undermines their reputation and leaves them prey to the whims of gossip. To refrain from judgement and condemnation means, in a positive sense, to know how to accept the good in every person and to spare him any suffering that might be caused by our partial judgment and our presumption to know everything about him. But this is still not sufficient to express mercy. Jesus asks us also to forgive and to give. To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God. To be generous with others, knowing that God showers his goodness upon us with immense generosity.” (Bull 14)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states,
“Pilgrimages evoke earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. For pilgrims seeking living water, shrines are special places for living the forms of Christian prayer ‘in Church’.” (2691:1674)
It is not too late. We’ve still got a few weeks before Holy Doors around the world will close, ending this Jubilee Year of Mercy. On Sunday, November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Pope Francis will seal the Holy Door in Rome. Ask God to guide you on your pilgrimage in the few weeks we have left.