So much of what we think of when we hear the word “pilgrimage” is focused on traveling far away — experiencing the food, the culture, the planning, and maybe even the jet lag. Sometimes the ability to see the sacred in everything requires you to be taken out of your normal routine.
Traveling to a new place means finding a new perspective which might help you to see the sacred in things you wouldn’t think to focus on, like the quiet of an early morning before a full day or the grace of trying to communicate through a language barrier.
But how do we live out the spirit of pilgrimage when travel is difficult — sometimes impossible? Maybe you’re feeling stuck in a rut. Maybe you went on a pilgrimage and are itching to go again. Maybe you’re looking for a way to enrich your prayer life. Whatever the reason is, here are a few suggestions for living out the spirit of pilgrimage at home:
1. Try a local pilgrimage.
For many people, a pilgrimage to a local place only requires a little bit of travel. A few weeks ago, the Verso team went on a pilgrimage together to the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, IN — less than an hour’s drive from our offices in South Bend. We went to the Shrine, stopped for lunch, and spent some time in an adoration chapel before returning — a beautiful way to pray together and see more of the area.
Do some research and see if there’s a shrine, church, or other site within a reasonable drive of your home. Treat your time there as you would a longer pilgrimage–plan ahead what you can and move at a contemplative pace. Maybe going on pilgrimage somewhere local will help you see your home with fresh eyes.
2. Travel to Mass more intentionally.
Imagine how you would feel if you were going to Saint Peter’s Basilica in a rush, irritable, with the radio blasting at full volume. It would feel out of place, wouldn’t it? So why do we do it when we’re at home?
Realistically, having a silent, calm drive to Mass isn’t always a possibility — sometimes the beautiful mess of life gets in the way. But when you can, try treating your approach to Mass as a journey, not a commute. Leaving early and taking a prayerful attitude on your way might help you see the Mass with fresh eyes, even if it’s in a familiar setting.
Afterwards, in the spirit of seeing the sacred in everything, plan a brunch or stop at a favorite coffee shop. Give thanks for the chance to set aside time and focus on your faith.
3. Start planning!
Sometimes the call to take a pilgrimage is strong and specific. Maybe you’re excited about World Youth Day 2023, dreaming of Italy, or itching to go to the Holy Land. Maybe you’ve dreamt of Oberammergau your whole life and don’t want to wait anymore. Beginning to plan that trip now lets you take a prayerful approach and gives you something to look forward to.