Will you help a pilgrim carry his cross—and your intentions?
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Rome, Turin, Lourdes, Chartres, La Salette, Santiago de Compostela, Fatima: these are among the most holy shrines in the world for Christians. The practice of Christians visiting holy places to give thanks to God and make reparation for sins is an ancient custom. Though most of us long to visit and pray at these important sites, the reality is that not everyone has the time, money, or physical stamina to undertake these arduous journeys.
A pilgrimage to a foreign land is tiring and difficult as the pilgrim suffers the hardships of travel and separation from family and friends. Yet what reward is earned for the trouble! When a pilgrim leaves his family and comforts of home to visit sacred sites, his prayers bring grace and blessings to him and to all who have aided his travel. A young man who came with me last year explained how a pilgrimage helped strengthen his faith:
After sleeping in the cold and walking with aching feet, I found it easier to embrace the Faith. I truly believe that if you embark on this pilgrimage with a good heart, God will use it to change you forever, enriching your spiritual life with a new fire that will surprise you.”
For as long as there have been pilgrimages, a custom known as a “vicarious pilgrimage”—where one person sponsors, in part, another person’s travel to holy sites—has existed. Spiritual blessings are bestowed on each sponsor as well as the pilgrim. A vicarious pilgrimage offers the poor, the cloistered, or those too sick or unable to travel the opportunity to gain the supernatural graces earned on pilgrimage for themselves.
That is why I invite you to unite yourself spiritually with a youth pilgrim by helping defray the travel expenses of a young man or woman, who will pray daily for you and your intentions.
By participating vicariously in this pilgrimage, you will help our youth execute a public act of faith and form in themselves a true Christian spirit according to the perennial practices of Catholic Tradition. Our youth pilgrimage is not a joy ride to Europe where the schedule is slow-paced and the youth enjoy the luxury of first-class hotels. Rather it is a pilgrimage of prayer, reflection and sacrifice. The days can quite often be exhausting and the whole trip concludes with a grueling 65-mile march from Chartres to Paris.
Still, the aches and pains are no match for the reward that is experienced by the pilgrims upon reaching their goal. This pilgrimage is “a little glimmer of the happiness promised to those who make it to heaven” as one young woman described her experience to me.
Archbishop Lefebvre was fond of saying Acta non verba: “Deeds, not words.” This is a pilgrimage of deeds:
prayer, mortification and sacrifice. I have personally witnessed the impressive spirit of sacrifice and self-forgetfulness that our youth display during this formation abroad. I assure you that pilgrimages change lives, save souls, and challenge pilgrims to imitate the example of saints and respond to God’s call to holiness. Sometimes God uses pilgrimages to create saints, as with St. Gerard of Hungary."
Acta non verba. I need your good deed to help make this pilgrimage possible. Will you help?
Please make a sacrificial gift to help a youth carry his cross and lay his intentions—and yours—at the feet of saints and beg for their intercession. You may use the enclosed card or go here on our website right away to make your gift.
Your donation will help deserving youth cover up to half of the cost of the pilgrimage. To be eligible for sponsorships, the youth will write and submit essays to me. Once these essays are graded, sponsorship monies will be awarded to the best essayists. I will notify you of the name of the youth to whom your donation was applied and pass along any intentions that you wish him to carry.
For each gift of at least $100, you will receive a commemorative booklet of the pilgrimage, full of photographs and text describing the saints, sights, and stories of our pilgrimage.
You may send all prayer intentions to [email protected] or mail them to me at the Regina Coeli House, and I will distribute them to the pilgrims.
With my blessings and prayers,
Fr. Patrick Rutledge
Youth Pilgrimage Chaplain
P.S.: Please send your gift along with your intentions no later than January 31, 2015.