I realized this morning, I must be somewhat of a cynic after all.
I am not sure about you, but whenever I think of going on a pilgrimage, I think of retired people looking for something to do. I also have to admit that the very thought of the hectic schedules and the pace of pilgrimages really do scare me. Could it be that I am lazy and a cynic? Oh, my! I have also sometimes thought that pilgrimages were extraordinarily expensive and that the money could be used to help the poor! But have I done that?
How have I become such a cynic I wonder?
This morning, I read a very inspiring article, about a woman Jean Inskeep, out of Hutchinson Kansas, who went on a pilgrimage to Fatima. Her the purpose of praying for other people who need healing and got healed herself! Then a little while later, what pops up in my Facebook newsfeed? An article about a Spanish model, Olalla Oliveros, who quit the entertainment industry after visiting Fatima, to become a nun!
Both articles really got me thinking about my limited notions of pilgrimages. It also got me wondering when I stopped believing in them and why? It also got me thinking about spiritual backsliding. You know, when you regress spiritually.
Am I backsliding? It’s amazing what reading one little inspiring article can do!
When my children were very little, I held a strong conviction about the power of a pilgrimage after a good friend talked about the fruits of her own family pilgrimage. Our family does have the habit, or tradition, as taught to me by my mother and her by hers; of going to the Catholic church of whatever city we are visiting as a first stop. So, we have been on several accidental pilgrimages. By that I mean pilgrimages that we took within a vacation and accidentally ended up being pulled into the supernatural realm. I will never forget our trip to Washington, stumbling upon the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was truly a stunning family experience.
I can confidently say that every family should prayerfully consider going to Washington for a family pilgrimage for more reasons that one. Who would have thought that all the entrance fees to each Smithsonian Museum would have been free?
Our family has gone on several intentional pilgrimages to the Shrine of St. Anne De Beaupre – my son was very little when he announced that his intention for the pilgrimage was the work I was doing at Salt & Light TV at the time. He was only eight years old at the time. The program, Mothering, Full of Grace has been fruitful. It was there I got a blessed gold Miraculous Medal as a further symbol of deepening my consecration to Our Lady – I have never taken it off since. I remember the priest blessing it solemnly. Something happened that day, tho I am not exactly sure what.
Maybe I should, dust off the skepticism, and give pilgrimages a second look?
Dorothy Pilarski is the founder of Dynamic Women of Faith, author, Catholic radio host, motivational speaker, blogger, guest columnist with the Catholic Register and a facilitator on Salt + Light TV. www.dorothypilarski.com