We are pilgrims on a journey
By Scott Seibert
As Dave and I embark on this journey to Philadelphia, I’m left pondering what makes this journey unique. I find myself asking, “What sets this journey apart?” The answer: It’s about pilgrimage. Pilgrimages are often misunderstood. To the average eye, it appears to be a trip just like any other. The pilgrim goes to a new place, stays in a hotel, eats local cuisine, and even enjoys trips to local sites. The pilgrim, at first glance, looks like a tourist on a vacation. Yet, upon closer examination, the observer will find stark differences in the approach, mindset, and expectations of the pilgrim. A tourist goes to observe and to visit while the pilgrim approaches the trip with greater meaning to the journey. A pilgrim is seeking. The prilgrim is not on the journey by choice, but because s/he have been called apart. Pilgrims seek an encounter with our Lord, a deeper relationship with Him, and enjoy spiritual renewal. In addition, pilgrims seek clarity to their mission. Simultaneously, their approach brings different expectations. While there is an end in sight for the pilgrim, the pilgrim also understands that things will not always go as planned, and expects the potential for obstacles and challenges. Instead of getting frustrated by those experiences, the pilgrim approaches each obstacle with patience and understanding, knowing that the trip is not about them, and that each obstacle will become a story to share, and challenge that will be overcome. And so, this pilgrimage to Philadelphia, like any other pilgrimage, points to a greater pilgrimage: the pilgrimage of life.
Christians to the casual observer do not appear any different from anyone else. We engage in the world around us, and take time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells. Yet, the Christian doesn’t leave it there. The Christian knows that everything has meaning, and everything points to something more. Every moment becomes an opportunity for encounter, the opportunity to engage in relationship with our Heavenly Creator and Father. The Christian also knows that his/her life is to be handed over for a greater meaning, that we are on a mission to share the beauty and joy of our Heavenly Father with the world around us. Therefore, instead of visiting the world, we should be engaging the world and seeking depth with each encounter. We also know that our lives are not always easy, and that life brings challenges, pain and suffering. As Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis shared in a recent homily, “Our faith is not an aspirin.” Our faith does not make us numb to the world around us, but instead helps us find the joy and hope that lies beyond it.
For this pilgrimage, I hope to deepen my faith and hope in God. To grow in relationship with Him, the God who is insanely in love us, and I hope to share that love with all I meet. Much like flint which becomes easily inflamed the closer it gets to fire, so too, I pray my heart will become inflamed with God’s love so that I too might share the warmth of God’s love in my family, community, and world. Yet, I also come seeking clarity on how that will look in my life. I come seeking encounter, approaching each moment as it comes; realizing that each moment is part of the story. Therefore, let us all approach each moment of our lives as a pilgrim does the journey. Realizing that we are all brothers (and sisters) on a mission, on a pilgrimage, on a journey!
Listening for the Calling
By David Dellacca
This unexpected journey began several months ago with our family filling out an application to attend the World Family of Meetings being held in Philadelphia. We initally were not selected and were disappointed, but came to terms that it was not something that was going to happen. Then a few weeks later we were contacted and told that a family was not able to go and that we had a chance to attend. We believe by being open to the true path we are to follow, the path was being opened to us, the true journey could begin. That is not to say that we were able to just immediately say yes without a little consideration, as there is some personal expenses involved, but we believed that we could do it – we would find ways to meet the requirements, listen to our calling and embark on an unknown journey. With faith around us, we could immediately see the wonderful opportunity it offered our family to experience the conference and have an opportunity to attend an event with the Pope.
Those who doubt the Church or are unsure of the faith are not going to find worldly answers, that is what Faith is all about – being open to the teachings, being open to events and circumstances that we may not initially understand, even in tragedy, and looking for and listening for God’s calling. I pray for the millions who are attending the conference with us that we all will be able to hear the calling that comes from this week of praise and learning. I pray for those at home and all others around the world that they are open to their own calling. When we answer the calling, when we stop long enough to listen, there is no other choice but to hear the Truth that our true path is before us, only waiting for us to start.