Hopefully this Lent finds you journeying alongside Jesus toward closer union with God. In many ways, this 40-day time of prayer and reflection, in preparation for Holy Week & Easter, resembles the ancient tradition of going on pilgrimage.
While you may not be traveling to a sacred destination, there are some key parallels which may help you to arrive at a place of transformation come Easter Sunday. To be a pilgrim this Lent involves the following:
- Deviating from Your Regular Routines
During Lent this means following in the footsteps of Jesus.
- Traveling Light for the Journey
Now is the time to assess your priorities and weed out whatever prevents you from traveling the narrow road that leads to life (cf. Matthew 7:14).
- Hope of Interior Transformation
Throughout the remainder of Lent, be open to God’s love and his graces
Let’s take a closer look at each of these three points along with some tips on how to make a more effective Lenten pilgrimage.
Following Jesus Christ
To be a disciple, we must be willing to follow Jesus, even when we don’t fully understand where the path is leading. We need to let Jesus take us where he wants us to be. Following Jesus involves total surrender, having an open heart, and trust.
Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you. – Psalm 33:22
Weeds and Wild Beasts
Mark 1:13 tells us that while Jesus was in the desert, He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. As we make our pilgrimage, recall that Jesus was tempted several times by Satan while in the wilderness.
If we are to make our way out of the wilderness during Lent, we need to tame our personal “wild beasts;” desires or lusts, angers or fears, and addictions or vices. The weeding out and the taming cannot be done alone. During this time, we need to allow God to care for us. If we will seek him out, he will speak to us.
Christ’s Transfiguration Offers Us Encouragement
The pilgrimage journey of a Christian is not easy; temptation and distraction are all around. Any time I get discouraged, I turn to my favorite depiction of the Transfiguration by artist Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo (shown here).
I also recall the time I spent on Mount Tabor in the Holy Land. As part of my Pilgrim Center of Hope pilgrimage, I was able to visit the Basilica of the Transfiguration (at which the photo above was taken). Within days of the feast day (August 6), I found myself kneeling at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist with my eyes fixed on the rock—visible through a glass window—where the Transfiguration took place.
Every Christian wanting to go on an authentic spiritual journey, should make the trip in their lifetime. Our next Holy Land pilgrimage is scheduled for June 23 through July 4, 2020.
This past Sunday’s Gospel reading of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), should remind us all that just as Peter, James & John were strengthened by witnessing the Transfiguration, if we too will love Jesus above all else, through his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will receive the encouragement we need to persevere in our faith journey.
At his Transfiguration, Christ showed His disciples the splendor of His beauty, to which He will shape and color those who are His: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of His glory.’ -St. Thomas Aquinas
Still to come on our Lenten journey – the Last Supper, followed by Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.
Now is the time to check your “spiritual GPS” to ensure that your Lenten pilgrimage continues to prepare you not only for Easter, but for your eternal life in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.