The Eve of Pilgrimage

Tomorrow I’ll be going with 28 other pilgrims to visit Sacred Heart and Apostleship of Prayer sites in France.  Juan Landa of Mater Dei Tours is leading this pilgrimage that has been in the works for several years. I’ll be the spiritual guide.

I have to admit that today, as I try to tie up loose ends in the office and then go home to pack, I’m a bit stressed.  I tend to like routines and the familiar.  Recently I was asked: “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” And of all the exotic choices possible, I said: “I’d go to our Jesuit villa house on nearby Lake Five.”  With all the traveling I do, it would be nice to just be in one spot in a natural setting.

That being said, I am also looking forward to the pilgrimage to the basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart in Paris, and to the home and convent of St. Therese who enrolled in the Apostleship of Prayer when she was twelve. I’m looking forward to visiting the parish of the patron saint of all priests, St. John Vianney, in Ars.  And I’ve heard so much about Lourdes and the Eucharistic and Rosary processions there that I’m anticipating an experience of a lifetime.

Perhaps the highlight will be Paray-le-Monial, where Jesus revealed his Heart to St. Margaret Mary and through her to the world. I’ll celebrate Mass there on June 27, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

As I prepare for the pilgrimage I am also aware of something else.  A pilgrimage is a microcosm of life. I am on a journey to the Lord.  My temptation is to feel that I am in the “driver’s seat” of life, but the reality is that life is more like flying than driving. I am not in control.  I need to learn to surrender and trust.  That isn’t easy, but I know that it’s ultimately the source of interior peace and it prepares me to experience the providence of God in new and wonderful ways. 

And so, in my final hours of preparation for pilgrimage, I return to the slogan that many people in various 12 Step programs have found so helpful.  I let go and let God.  I let go of trying to be in control and let God show me his loving care that will be more than I could hope for. I trust.

The itinerary can be found here. At each holy site I’ll be lifting up in prayer my friends, family, and the Apostleship of Prayer.