September 19, 2008

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Holy Land pilgrimage will be anchored in prayer

My summer reflections on the Stations of the Cross were intended as a prelude to the archdiocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land launching the observance of our 175th anniversary.

The origins of the Catholic Church in Indiana, as elsewhere, have their roots in the Holy Land. We begin our jubilee retracing the footsteps of Jesus in his homeland.

God willing, as this column appears in The Criterion, I will be in the Holy Land leading 42 other pilgrims.

We are privileged to be able to make this pilgrimage representing our local Church. We are keeping all of the members of our archdiocese in our thoughts and prayers as we follow Jesus in the historic places he frequented on his way to Calvary and the Resurrection.

A pilgrimage differs from an ordinary tour in that it is anchored in prayer as we journey from sacred place to sacred place. As is our custom on pilgrimage, we pray for a special intention each day. By the time you read this, we will be on our way.

We flew from Indianapolis on Sept. 17 to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Tel Aviv, Israel, arriving on Thursday, Sept. 18.

This first day found us offering Mass in Netanyahu, not far from Tel Aviv. This Mass and this day were offered in special thanksgiving for all the blessings God has given our archdiocese over these 175 years. And we prayed that God will give us a special jubilee blessing for our anniversary.

On Sept. 19, we were in Cana where, at the request of his Blessed Mother, Jesus changed the water into wine at a wedding feast. It was his first public miracle in which his divinity was made manifest.

It was appropriate that the intention of our Mass and the prayers of the day should be offered for all the married couples of our archdiocese. We offered a special blessing for the married folks with us on the pilgrimage. I couldn’t help but think of all the husbands and wives who were our ancestors in the Catholic faith in Indiana.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, we will offer Mass in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The Mass and the day will be offered for all the children of our families.

This is the village where Christ grew up, where he worked as a carpenter and worshiped with Mary and Joseph. The Basilica of the Annunciation stands on the site where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing that she was to become the mother of our Savior.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, we will offer Mass in the Church of the Beatitudes in a truly beautiful part of the Holy Land, Galilee. Jesus spent a lot of his public ministry here.

Our Mass and the prayer and journey of the day are offered for our priests, deacons and seminarians. We pray that God will bless their ministry in the archdiocese now and in the future. I will pray for Bishop Simon Bruté and all the priests who have proclaimed the Catholic faith in Indiana through 175 years.

On Sept. 22, we will celebrate the Eucharist in Bethlehem near the shepherds’ field and the cave where Jesus was born.

This day, we pray gratefully for all the consecrated religious women and men, those who are a special grace for us now and all those special religious of the past. I will be thinking of St. Theodora Guérin.

Tuesday, Sept. 23, we will be at the site of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus suffered in great agony at the beginning of his Passion. We will offer the Eucharist in the Church called Dominus Flevit, The Lord Weeps. It is moving to realize concretely how much Jesus loves us. This Mass and the prayers of this day are offered for our youth, young adults and single folks of the archdiocese.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, we offer Mass and pray for the elderly, the sick and the homebound of the archdiocese. It is appropriate to offer this day for them as we celebrate at the Church of St. Ann, the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus.

Thursday, Sept. 25, is offered for our ministries of charity, evangelization and education at the Church of the Visitation. The Blessed Mother’s visit to the elderly and pregnant Elizabeth was a generous act of charity.

On Friday, Sept. 26, as we visit the various sites in Jerusalem, we will offer Mass and pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in our archdiocese. This intention is paramount.

On our final pilgrimage day, we will offer Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection give us pause once more to offer thanks for the gift of our Catholic faith that enlivens our archdiocese.

We are blessed people. †

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