Going on a pilgrimage has a long and well-respected history in the history of many faiths. Followers of the world’s great religions have included pilgrimage as part of their spiritual disciplines. For centuries, Muslims have journeyed to Mecca and Jews to Jerusalem. Several of the Psalms, notably numbers 120 through 134, are called the “Psalms of Ascent.” These were songs sung by the faithful as they made their pilgrimage upward to Jerusalem. Jesus himself most likely sang these psalms when, as a boy, he traveled with his family to Jerusalem for the High Holy Days before being found in the temple by Mary and Joseph.
A pilgrimage is a journey inward, as well as outward. Pilgrims seek to strengthen and renew their faith through travel. It is a transformative journey to a sacred center. What makes being a pilgrim different from being a tourist is that for the tourist, travel is an end in itself. Pilgrims travel with a clear intention: to draw closer to God. They make the journey with heightened expectations of enriching their spiritual lives in the everyday world back home.
The essential nature of pilgrimage is a simple one – making a transformative journey to a sacred center – and is a powerful metaphor for the spiritual life of the followers of Jesus throughout the world. For this reason and many others, Cross Catholic Outreach has offered to our donors on three occasions, a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Rome and the Vatican. Each trip has had a tremendous impact on the pilgrims, returning to their homes strengthened and renewed by their experience, and drawing closer to Christ and his love of the poor. This pilgrimage occurs every two years and is open to any donor who is interested in experiencing a heightened spirituality amidst the holiest of sites, art and artifacts, with private masses and tours at most sites.
“For me, the Sistine Chapel after hours inspired a breathtaking resonant awe. The ever-changing image of figures, colors, forms and design within stories from both the Old and New Testaments, the subtle changes in Michaelangelo’s style over the years as exemplified from stilted theatrical backdrop type clouds to more naturalistic, wispy type clouds can only be truly absorbed when one has their own physical and mental space. This experience in the Sistine Chapel has created a lifetime memory and encounter with one man’s interpretation of heaven and hell and belief in God.” – Barbara Brooks