I recently had the chance to make my first official “at-home” Eucharistic pilgrimage. It was a torrentially rainy day in Chicago — as a matter of fact, if you had a basement, there was a high chance you experienced significant flooding. Despite the intense rain, however, I felt deeply drawn to take a drive out to Des Plaines, Illinois, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
As I approached the parking lot, I recognized that hundreds of people were there for one of the five Sunday Masses celebrated at the shrine. A little while later, I found myself at the outdoor grotto standing before the replica of St. Juan Diego’s tilma, which is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City and which bears the miraculous image of our Lady. I stood in the pouring rain (protected by my umbrella!) and meditated on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary as I offered my intentions to Jesus through Mary. I noticed so many individuals, couples, and families coming and going — most without protection from the rain — to pray there. One man even knelt in the pouring rain before the Tilma replica with bowed head for ten minutes.
After that, I went to the large, recently erected chapel. As I knelt at the back of the chapel silently uniting myself to Jesus, hidden yet present in the tabernacle, I experienced a deep confidence that my intentions were of great importance to him. I felt united to Jesus in a new way, and rested in the inner silence of my heart, grateful for this time of pilgrimage.
Now, my mind is drawn to the words of Will Peterson, director of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage: “My favorite pilgrimage is the one I make each time I attend Mass.” At every Mass, we journey, surrounded by the Blessed Trinity and all the angels and saints, through the paschal mystery, encountering Jesus fully alive in the Eucharist. If our hearts are rightly disposed, every Mass takes us one step closer to heaven.
In my own pilgrimage adventure this month, I was especially grateful to have Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as my special companion. Her words to St. Juan Diego still echo in my heart, “Am I not your Mother?” And, what a good Mother she is! May Mary always lead you and me to her beloved Son, Jesus!
I hope you’ll join me and make your own “at-home” Eucharistic pilgrimage — if not this summer, then as soon as you are able. It is a simple, concrete way to experience the reality that our whole life is truly a Eucharistic pilgrimage toward our heavenly home, if only we desire it and remain open to the grace to live it well.
Don’t worry, we are never alone: Jesus is with us every step of the way!