Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Pilgrimage of Hope

Here it is, the after math of our 3,600 mile, 10 state, 7 day pilgrimage.  So much to try to sum up.  The one word that comes to mind is that of hope.  This has been a pilgrimage of hope.  This journey didn’t just start last Tuesday when the Mount Angel boys flew into Denver.  No, it started last spring with the desire to pilgrimage to see Pope Francis and partake in the World Meeting of Families as a brotherhood.  Like any good pilgrimage, this one was not without its obstacles.  We had potential buses come and go, no place to stay, and our itinerary in Philly was far from being fixed.  But we pushed on, for two main reasons I think: because of the deep desire in our hearts and the encouragement of others.  These two elements gave us hope that this was indeed the Lord’s will and He would provide what was lacking.

Our desire was the Lord’s way of asking us to drive on.  Any authentic desire from God is never in vain.  These desires need to be purified and well discerned, but if they are truly from God, He will not leave them unfulfilled.  Such was the case for us.  God our Father fulfilled our desires for this trip beyond any of our expectations.  In a sense, these desires were just His way of expanding our hearts to receive His great gifts.

If it were up to me, I would have bagged this idea a long time ago because of the complications that came with it.  However, the encouragement of the brothers kept me driving on.  Pretty quickly this pilgrimage became larger than ourselves.  The entire family of God in different parts of the country got behind us.  You encouraged us with your prayers, recommendations, and financial support.  In the end, the entire cost of our trip was paid for by your generous contributions.

Fast forward to last Tuesday.  All was in place and we hit the road.  The Lord was true to his word.  If anything, all obstacles subsided and all that was left was the hope of a fruitful trip.  Joy filled the bus and our spirits high.  Every stop we made, people were not only excited about our journey, but above all, about the Pope Francis’ visit to the USA.  It’s no secret that there has been much tension and division in this country surrounding marriage and the family.  The timing of this World Meeting of the Families in Philadelphia was perfect.  Our Holy Father’s expectant visit to the US was bringing much needed hope to American’s hearts.

This was much more evident when we landed in the City of Brotherly Love.  I’ve always said that when you see a city through the eyes of the Church you are able to perceive its beauty.  Such was the case of our experience in Philadelphia.  All the stories the boys have been telling perfectly describe the goodness of the American people.  The arrival of Pope Francis confirmed this genuineness of people’s hearts.  Divisions ceased and hearts were filled with hope.  It didn’t matter where we were or who we met, generally everyone greeted us with open arms.  Francis is truly the people’s pope no matter what creed or religion they profess.  

I think it’s safe to say that it’s not Pope Francis that people are truly searching for; our deep desire is for Jesus Christ Himself whose vicar Francis is.  Jesus is the only man who can bring true unity; He is the only man who can bring true hope.  This is Who was presented in Philadelphia this weekend, the living Body of Christ, His Church, represented by Pope Francis the head and the People of God the members.  And where Jesus Christ is present there is hope.

This unity and hope was confirmed for me during the Papal Mass on Sunday.  Although we didn’t get to view the Mass in person, we did get to participate intimately in our distribution of Holy Communion.  Jesus asked Peter to feed His sheep (Jn 21:15-17), but he also asks us.  What a humbling responsibility to be charged with the duty to feed the People of God with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This was indeed the highlight of this pilgrimage for me.  Never have I experienced the Universal Church in such a large degree.  Never have I experienced the people’s desire for communion with God as in this Papal Mass.

This opportunity was well worth the 80 hours of bus travel it took to experience it.  In fact, the bus ride is what paved the way.  Our desire for communion isn’t just with God, but also with each other.  The Helena Boys’ desire for this communion was fulfilled.  We met God in the good people of Philadelphia.  We met Him amongst each other.  And we also met Him in the viewers of this blog.  What a joy it has been to share our experience with you.  This pilgrimage was not our own.  We represented all those we know and love with whom we took to Philly in our prayers.  It is now our hope, as we return to our normal routine in the seminary, that the graces we received in Philadelphia will bear fruit in the lives of all of you and in the lives of all we will encounter for years to come.  Thanks for making this such an exceptional journey.  Peace, db

1 comment:

  1. Now you may go in peace to love and serve the Lord!