My husband and I recently went on pilgrimage conducted by the Pilgrim Center of Hope with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox. Taking this trip had a profound effect on me that I neither anticipated nor expected.
I am a third-year theology student at Oblate School of Theology. I felt that I was pretty confident in my faith and I have a pretty good handle on what Catholicism is about.
Our particular pilgrimage included time with the Shroud of Turin. I experienced many emotions viewing this holy relic. First, I experienced the disgusting, pathetic sinfulness of mankind. I was so ashamed of us and our lust for power and money. I was embarrassed that my sinfulness had evidence…the blood on this cloth. My heart ached with remorse. And then something else happened. I felt a rush of joy. Like a loving friend, the good Lord lifted my chin and showed me the love and charity that it took for someone to accept this burden for me. I knew God’s overwhelming love for me. If I accepted culpability for the death of Christ then I had to accept the Love also. I felt love in its purest sense and I was humbled again, but this time from being grateful.
Once I came home, I started to feel different about my faith. I felt this intense strength and confidence. I feel I am now rock solid in my faith. I believe I will never waiver. I believed before, but I guess my faith still had some mythical aspect to it. I am a scientist at heart, so I appreciate evidence and proof to verify claims. Seeing the Shroud gave me that that verification. Where I was a soft pliable ball of clay, I now feel that I have been fired in a kiln and I am a solid vessel to carry God in.
I am currently undertaking a teaching ministry and I feel ready, enthusiastic and eager to get started. I am rock solid as a Catholic and I am rock solid as a Christian. I credit this pilgrimage and seeing the holy relic for this newfound strength.God lovingly provided all, from The Pilgrim Center of Hope, The Foxes, the planning…all of it. I am certain that this experience was like a pebble in my life’s pond and it will ripple for years. I am deeply grateful.
– Cindy Edwards