The spring and summer are exciting times to adventure and explore, especially sites important to our Catholic faith. There’s no better time to take the 21-mile trek from Old St. Joseph Church at St. Norbert College to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin! Whether you’re joining Relevant Radio for the Walk to Mary in Champion, traveling or even making a home retreat, you might be wondering: how do I make the best of my time of pilgrimage?
First things first, start at the core of your journey: what intention are you sacrificing for? Praying for the conversion of a friend? The healing of a friend’s recently diagnosed cancer? A spouse for your child, or a new job for yourself? Having a central focus gives a deeper meaning to your fasting, fatigue, and other sacrifices.
“Pilgrimages involve sacrifice,” emphasized Drew Mariani, who has led and attended many of his own. “Whatever your intention, you sacrifice for it – jet lag, exhaustion, long car trips, walking 21 miles. Offer that journey as a sacrifice to unite the inconvenience of suffering to the wood of the Cross.”
Friends and family can help us joyfully sacrifice – so bring them with you! While you don’t have to spend the whole time together, friendly faces lighten the pilgrimage load – treasures, just like it’s written in the Book of Sirach (Sir. 5:14-17). Timmerie also reminds us on Trending with Timmerie that “saints travel in packs!”
Thirdly, prepare yourself for the journey ahead. That may look like learning about the places you’re visiting, packing a pair of good walking shoes, keeping yourself well-hydrated and wearing sunblock. If you know you’ll be walking far or climbing lots of stairs, training might become part of your prep, too; whatever will help you find peace and wonder in your retreat days.
Finally, every helpful tip pales in comparison to curating openness to God’s voice. Awareness of His movement may be obvious or subtle – to be prepared for either and both, we have allow ourselves to stop and smell the roses – literally and figuratively. Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode. Offer prayers of gratitude and get excited about your experience. Engage all of your senses by intentionally pausing. Saint Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictines, wrote a perfect prayer for our searching:
Father, in your goodness grant me the intellect to comprehend You, the perception to discern You, and the reason to appreciate You.
In Your kindness endow me with the diligence to look for You, the wisdom to discover You, and the spirit to apprehend You.
In Your graciousness bestow on me a heart to contemplate You, ears to hear You, eyes to see You, and a tongue to speak of You.
In Your mercy confer on me a conversation pleasing to You, the patience to wait for You, and the perseverance to long for You. Grant me a perfect end – Your holy presence. Amen.
Saints have taken spiritual journeys and retreats for centuries; ask them and Mary for their intercession as you go on your way, especially ones associated with your destination or intention. For all those on the Walk to Mary, ask Our Lady of Good Help for your need – nothing is too big or too small for her attention.
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!
Register for the 2023 Walk to Mary on Saturday, May 6th by visiting WalktoMary.com – we hope to see you there!