Year of Faith: Pilgrimage

| September 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis. CNS photo

Bishop Lee Piché will kick off the Year of Faith with a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., on Oct. 2. There still are spots available, and the registration deadline is Sept. 29. For more information about the pilgrimage, visit http://www.archspm.org. Bishop Piché answered a few questions about the event by Catholic Spirit editor Joe Towalski.

Why the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the destination?

There is something very appropriate about both a pilgrimage and a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in particular, as a way of marking the beginning of the Year of Faith.

First, we need to think of the life of faith as a journey. When we say “yes” to the Lord, he invites us to follow him, which implies a pilgrimage of discovery and interior growth. So when we physically participate in a pilgrimage, we are reminding ourselves of the importance of making our way, the necessity of taking concrete practical steps each day, to move closer to Christ and to his kingdom.

Second, because Our Lady of Guadalupe has such special meaning for Catholics and all people of faith in America, it is appropriate that we look to her for inspiration and intercession as we strive to know and love her son. She remarked to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not your mother?” and she urged him to place a greater trust in her maternal love and care.

Growth in faith also means growth in trust: We are being invited to renew and strengthen our trust in the Lord who is infinitely good, and in our spiritual Mother, Blessed Mary, who keeps a watchful eye over all her children and fellow pilgrims on the road.

What does the Guadalupe image mean to you personally?

I had the great opportunity of seeing the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City during a brief visit there in 1999. It impressed me greatly as a very beautiful sign to help strengthen our faith. I did some reading about the apparitions, and became convinced that Blessed Mary had a strong desire to bring about a new beginning of faith for the indigenous people of America, but also to bring a renewal of faith for those who had come to America from Europe.

Furthermore, she wanted to help all people find a way to peace and communion of life, to demolish pagan supersti­tions that led to the destruction of so much innocent human life, and to restore the dignity of the human person and the unity of the human family.

The silent but eloquent witness of the tilma and the image of the serene young mother about to give birth was a powerful source of renewed hope. Along with the testimony of her humble messenger, St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe inspired thousands upon thousands of conversions within a very short period of time.

What are you hoping the pilgrims will experience on the Oct. 2 trip? What are you hoping to experience?

My hope is that we pilgrims will have an experience of the richness and beauty of our Catholic faith and devotional life, and that our time together at the shrine (as well as the travel there and back), along with shared prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist, will give each participant a significant uplift in faith.

Also, I hope that in some real way the pilgrimage will strengthen each one’s relationship with the Mother of God, who went before us on the same pilgrimage of faith, and with her son, Jesus Christ.

Those who have not yet heard the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe will, I hope, be greatly edified by the timely significance of the story of the apparitions and their fruit.

What would you like to say to people who are interested but are yet to register for the pilgrimage?

I would highly recommend that anyone who might be interested but hesitating should take a little “leap of faith” and sign up. I’m sure those who do will not regret it!

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