Hoofprints of the Stag

Hoofprints of the Stag

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Primary Purpose of this Pilgrimage

Many of you who are reading this have probably already been told by me about this pilgrimage in conversation at some point, but oftentimes I neglect to share the general purpose of the pilgrimage due to lack of time (since there is much to explain).  In my first post, I briefly described the origin and purpose of our re-creation of the Path to Rome, but I wish to describe its purpose in greater detail.

I should preface this by saying that this is merely my view and that I cannot claim to also speak for Ed.  His take on our journey may be quite different from mine.

Sancta Gemma, ora pro nobis!
While the origin of this pilgrimage is literary (as the impetus for it came from a book), its primary end is spiritual.  In essence, it should be a means of growing closer to God and opening ourselves up to grace.  Right now I am in the process of coming up with a theme of sorts for our pilgrimage and selecting patron saints for the trip.  I'd like to pick a saint or saints to be our overall patron(s) along with saints who are also on the 'team' for various reasons (e.g. a French saint for the French part of the journey, a saint for me, a saint for Ed, etc.).  I have some preliminary thoughts, but we'll have to see.  I do know for certain that one of my special patron saints for the trip will be St. Gemma Galgani, who is one of my special patron saints in general and whose shrine we will actually be going to in Lucca, Italy.  One of the remarkable things about Belloc's journey is that he actually passed through Lucca while Gemma happened to be living there.  He even says in his book, "Everything in Lucca is good."  How very right he was in this case.  I intend to visit the shrine and spend some time there (one of the few places we will be stopping for an extended period).  When I've decided on a theme and on the rest of our saints, I will make a post about it.

I think it goes without saying that Ed and I will be praying.  In addition to attending Mass as often as we can, we will also be praying along the way.  Ed has expressed that he is not a huge fan of the Liturgy of the Hours (with the exception of Compline, which he loves), and I am not sure that it will be practical to bring a large breviary with us.  I am therefore considering sort of creating my own mini-office with a one week psalter and readings, drawing elements from various parts of the LOTH to complement our journey.  After all, there is the 'Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary,' right?  I think I might call ours the 'Little Office of the Pilgrim.'  It will have all the psalms with mountains in them ("I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where shall come my help?  My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." "Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place?  The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things, who has not sworn so as to deceive his neighbor," etc.).  Perhaps we will publish this as an appendix to our book when we're finished.

One of the big things I'd like to incorporate into the pilgrimage is a sort of intention book.  Before we leave, I'd like to compile a list of prayers people would like us to pray for on our journey.  Anyone will be able to send us an intention and we'll write it down in a notebook and carry it with us and pray for the intentions daily and in the end make our pilgrimage as an offering for those prayers.  And on the flip side, we also hope to enlist the help of a sort of 'prayer team' who will be praying for us back home and offering Masses for us.  If I can find a cheap place to do it, I'd also like to print a whole bunch of prayer cards that we can give to people to pray for us.  I'm going to compose a particular
Very tempting to use this image for the holy card
prayer for people to pray on our behalf (and of course translate it into French, German, and Italian to give to people we encounter in Europe).  On the card would have a picture of our patron saint(s) or Rome, and on the back would be the prayer and a small picture of us.  That's the idea anyway, I don't know of a place to get prayer cards made on the cheap.  If anyone has any ideas in that sector, let us know.  Where do priests get their ordination cards made?  Or funeral cards?

In effect, this pilgrimage should wind up not just involving the two of us, but lots of people.  This will be the first of probably many Lord of the Rings references, but just as Frodo and Sam carry the Ring on behalf of all the people of Middle Earth, Ed and I will be carrying the prayers of others on their behalf (and prayers are much more wonderful to carry than the One Ring).  Meanwhile, everyone else will be praying for us.  Our fates will thus be tied together.

One thing that ought to be clear is that we are not doing this simply for leisure or as a vacation.  The purpose of this pilgrimage is not leisure, though certainly leisure will be one of its results, just as the primary purpose of performing in a play is not for fun but for the purpose of creating something beautiful and communicating a message, and if executed well, one has fun (hopefully) in the process.

As I prepare for the trip on my own, I've been trying to do a lot of prayer and spiritual reading to prepare myself for the journey.  While I realize that the pilgrimage itself will provide ample opportunity for spiritual growth, I am trying to do as much as possible right now in order to, so to say, open myself up to grace as much as I can while we are on our trek.  The idea is to be able to offer to God our utmost effort so he can take the best we give Him and transform it.

We are going to come back new men.

1 comment:

  1. Prayer cards can be easily designed with a word program, and then printed on card stock. Then, you do the cutting. This is the cheapest option.

    Seminarians usually use the diocese's preferred printing store. Priests often make theirs in house, see above. Or perhaps, they send them to a printing shop, and pay substantially more.