By Carol Matesich
The whole purpose of life is our pilgrimage towards our final destination in Heaven with Almighty God. On occasion, we have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage that separates us from our regular lives and introduces us to a new sacred space. We are able to encounter God in a unique way, and we often walk with other pilgrims. Prayer is central to the pilgrim’s experience. Here are 5 of our best tips for praying not only during your pilgrimage but also before you depart!
1. Continue your regular prayer routine – and kick it up a notch. Now is the time to add something extra into your regular prayer routine. Hopefully you have a habit of daily prayer. If not, now is a good time to establish a regular habit. If you already have a practice of daily prayer, add in something extra to continue deepening your relationship with God. Some ideas include Adoration, praying the Angelus, attending daily Mass, practicing an Ignatian Examen, practicing Lectio Divina, praying with the Sunday readings, or saying the Rosary.
2. Pray a novena leading up to your departure. A novena is a nine day period of intentional prayer for a specific intention and often through the intercession of a saint. Select a saint that is important to you personally or one that is meaningful to the place where you are traveling. Start your novena nine days before departure. The website PrayMoreNovenas has lots of wonderful ideas.
3. Take time to journal before and during your pilgrimage. This practice is extremely helpful for prayer and will help you preserve what is hopefully a significant time during your life – perhaps a once in a lifetime pilgrimage experience! Use the Verso Ministries Pre-Pilgrimage emails and reflection questions to begin your journaling practice. Bring your journal with you on pilgrimage, and write down your thoughts each day. Even short bullet points can be a helpful way to pray during your pilgrimage.
4. Ask family and friends for their prayer requests. Invite them to give you notes with their intentions or make a list of intentions to bring with you. While on your pilgrimage, select a specific time to pray for the list of intentions or pray for several each day. If you would like, purchase a small token to bring back for your loved ones from the place you have visited, as a reminder of the prayers offered for their intentions.
5. Select a personal prayer intention. It is easy to get swept up in practical preparations for your pilgrimage and neglect your own spiritual needs. Ask yourself where in your life is most in need of God’s will and God’s grace. What do you most want to pray for during your pilgrimage? Pick an intention, begin praying for it before you depart and continue praying during your pilgrimage.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these 5 tips and that they inspire you to deeper prayer and reflection! Feel free to leave a comment with any of your own ideas for praying before and during pilgrimage.
Carol Matesich is a Pilgrimage Specialist with Verso Ministries. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Divinity Program. Carol first discovered the beauty of pilgrimage during her visit in 2005 to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Ever since she has enjoyed the process of creating pilgrimages for others and experiencing pilgrimage as part of her own spiritual journey. She serves Verso Ministries by developing content for pilgrim reflection and carrying out administration for pilgrimages. Carol and her husband currently live in Ohio.