A Reflection on ‘Youth Towards Assisi’, our Youth Pilgrimage!
Pace a Bene! Peace and all good! as St. Francis would say.
We are about to set off on our pilgrimage and so, let’s reflect! Franciscan Pilgrim Programs defines a pilgrimage as “not exactly a vacation but it is a time to move out of the ordinary mind-set into another in order to know Christ Jesus.” In reality, we don’t really know where this journey will take us, spiritually that is. Physically, our destination will be Assisi, Italy, but in this case we are trying to be open to the Holy Spirit throughout our travels, that means the journey is important, even the flight to Italy!
Pilgrimages have deep roots in the Franciscan tradition. To St. Francis, our key figure on this trip, he didn’t see a pilgrimage as only an outer journey to visit sacred sites, rather he viewed a pilgrimage as “an inner journey which corresponded to an outer one.” The inner journey is started because the pilgrims see themselves as incomplete, and so they go on a journey to sacred places to gain wholeness, healing, and ultimately to connect with God.
Our pilgrimage is undoubtedly going to be a very exciting one, filled with new people to meet and so many amazing places in Assisi to see. There will be 1000 youth from all over the world present at this pilgrimage and of course we are excited to meet them!!
But we also keep in mind that this journey is about taking time for reflection and prayer. Where are we in our life journey? What do we need God to help us with? Am I using my gifts to best serve God and those around me? These are all questions that we might think of on our travels, and of course, many other emotions and thoughts will arise on our journey and we remember that God is with us in this pilgrimage and on every step of our life journey too.
Finally I found a great definition of the differences between a tourist and a pilgrim, check it out;
1. Pilgrims see the internal dimension to the pilgrimage, where some tourists only look at the external journey.
2. Pilgrims invest themselves; they listen to people, they share their thoughts with people they meet, they are open to Jesus or St. Francis speaking to them through different people and places. Some tourists try to remain untouched on a deep level by their experiences.
3. There is a desire that the pilgrim will be affected by the pilgrimage. Some tourists try to remain detached and unaffected by their experiences; they are observers, not participants in the journey.
4. Both the journey and the arrival are important to the pilgrim, while only the arrival matters for some tourists.
5. Community is formed for pilgrims; community is not always formed for tourists.
No doubt, there is a difference between being on vacation and being on a pilgrimage, but nevertheless I think that we are going to have an amazing time. Also, don’t forget, you are not left behind! You the St. Bonaventure Parish Community are with us on our journey! We are taking your prayers with us, we have sewn them into a small quilt and will take them to each sacred site in Assisi.
I firmly believe in the power of prayer, especially when 1000 youth are gathered together in prayer. Jesus always said that if you have a strong faith, it will happen, so, God willing, get ready for some miracles people!
Keep us all in your prayers and we will see you when we return!
To Assisi we go! God bless!
Enjoy this photo, because after 10 days of camping we probably won’t look this pretty
*All information on pilgrimages from this reflection can be found in Pilgrim’s Companion to Franciscan Places, by Franciscan Pilgrim Programs, 2006. I am really enjoying it, please do pick it up.