Friday, March 25, 2011

Lenten Pilgrimage

Its time once again to what has become an annual tradition for our parish; a Pilgrimage to Our Lady of la Leche sanctuary in St. Augustine Florida. The site, which is the oldest site of Christian worship in the United States is nestled in a garden setting, along with an ancient cementery and rustic altar. It is the small chapel itself and the stone beacons depicting the seven sorrows of Mary that are the focus of our meditation.

Often we forget Mary as we look at the events surrounding the public ministry and pasion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, how must it have been for the one who heard the angel call, her blessed and that her child would be Savior and King? How do you reconcile what you feel is a promise of God to you or your family with the way life seems to turn out or the way God chooses to fulfill it? Surely this struggle must have been our Lady's as she lived through tumultuous events culminating in the death of her son. The prophecy of Simon, given at a time of joy for Mary makes all the more sense during this time; "Your child will be set as a sign in Israel...but a sword shall pierce your own soul...". Sometimes our life is that way, a curious mixture of hope and sorrow as we cling by faith to the promises of God!

Usually we arrive and begin with a short time of prayer and praise in the garden, followed by walking to each of the seven beacons and its corresponding image. Bible texts are read which correspond to the depiction in stone as prayers are said for the hurt, sick, homeless and persecuted in our world. The service ends with a time of silent prayer, praise and Eucharist at the old chapel , dedicated to Mary our Lady patroness of good labor and delivery. After the pilgrimage usually families go individually or in groups to the Old city of St. Augustine for sight seeing, lunch and much needed recreation.

I must say it is a simple, beautiful and renewing experience of prayer and faith during Lent that I look forward to every year. This year's pilgrimage will be on April 2nd from 9 AM-12 noon.

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