Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pilgrimage Defined

This morning my dear friend and fellow Cursillista Lorraine passed me a page from the Modern Catholic Dictionary by John A. Hardon, SJ, whose picture appears here.

This is almost a daily occurrence now: someone knowing of my upcoming pilgrimage to Montreal offers advice, a place to stay, a day of companionship on the walk, or in this case, something out of a book.

A journey to a sacred place 
undertaken as an act of religious devotion

The page is number 432, on which you'll find definitions of such things as Piarists, pietism, Pontius Pilate, the Holy Pillar, and my current favorite topic, pilgrimage.

I found the definition very useful, very relevant:

PILGRIMAGE, A journey to a sacred place undertaken as an act of religious devotion. Its purpose may be simply to venerate a certain saint or ask some spiritual favor; beg for a physical cure or perform an act of penance; express thanks or fulfill a promise. From the earliest days pilgrimages were made to the Holy Land, and later on to Rome, where Peter and Paul and so many Christians were martyred. From the eighth century the practice began of imposing a pilgrimage in place of public penance. As a result, during the Middle Ages pilgrimages were organized on a grand scale and became the object of special Church legislation. In modern times, besides Rome and the Holy Land, famous shrines such as Lourdes, Fatima, and Guadalupe draw thousands of pilgrims each year from the Catholic world.

To that list of shrines should be added the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal.

Of the many reasons for a pilgrimage given by Hardon—

1. To venerate a certain saint
2. To ask some spiritual favor
3. To beg for a physical cure
4. To perform an act of penance
5. To express thanks
6. To fulfill a promise

—I am very much down with numbers 1 and 5.

I am walking to Montreal as an act of veneration toward St. Joseph and his "little dog," St. André Bessette; and I have so much to be thankful for.

As my spiritual director, MAM, pointed out recently, other reasons (2, 3, 4, 6, or other) may emerge between home and Montreal.

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