The drought of March has pierced unto the root…
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
~ G. Chaucer: Prelude to the Canterbury Tales
The practice of Pilgrimage is a uniquely human phenomenon. Other animals might travel large distances to find food or to breed, but the human experience of pilgrimage does not carry with it any physical rewards. In fact, one’s time spent on “The Way” would be considered wasted from a purely physical standpoint. Yet, pilgrimage seems to be ingrained in the human psyche. From ancient times, people have taken up the pilgrim’s staff to travel to places like Stonehenge and Delphi, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury. But for the Pilgrim, the road is the destination. They travel to gain insight. But more importantly, they travel to physically touch the Sacred, and, in doing so, are spiritually touched, themselves. One does not return from Pilgrimage unscathed.
As part of our 75th anniversary, each month, we have been on a spiritual pilgrimage into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The theme words on banners in our sanctuary, taken from the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary have marked the milestones of the journey; Grace, Peace, Consolation, Refuge, Blessings, Mercy, Fervent, and Perfection to be followed by Devotion, Hope, Faith and, finally, Love. We humbly enter into God’s presence to touch the Sacred and be transformed.
This November, a number of parishioners will be physically making a pilgrimage to the homes of St. Margaret Mary, St. Francis of Assisi and the site of the deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul. Taking these physical steps will be a culmination of this Year of Grace. There are still a few spaces open for pilgrims who would like to join us in “seeking out strange strands, to distant shrines well known in sundry lands.” I invite you to think about taking up a pilgrim’s staff to experience the Sacred.