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Eucharistic Pilgrimage Brings Christ to the World

Posted on May 29, 2024 in: News

Eucharistic Pilgrimage Brings Christ to the World

During Pentecost weekend I participated in an historic event in New Haven, Connecticut. I was not there to take part in another protest at Yale University, or even to attend any of the graduation ceremonies taking place there. Instead, I joined hundreds of other Catholics for the launch of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

This four-pronged pilgrimage, which began simultaneously in New Haven, San Francisco, Brownsville, Texas and the Mississippi Headwaters in northern Minnesota, will cover 6,500 miles over the next two months.

These four routes will converge in Indianapolis in time for the National Eucharistic Congress in mid-July. The eucharistic pilgrimage is the largest procession ever attempted in the Catholic Church – the most audacious event in Christianity’s 2,025-year history!

Although we encountered no signs of protest, I was thinking about the recent unrest in our country as we processed with the Blessed Sacrament through the Yale campus Saturday evening in light rain. I could not help thinking how different our procession was from the recent university protests.

After all, we were following Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Good News incarnate, as he was carried in a monstrance by Father Roger Landry, the Catholic chaplain at Columbia University.

What a providential choice it was that Father Landry – so closely associated with “Ground Zero” of the protest movement – would be named as the only priest to walk an entire route of the pilgrimage!

Many other members of the clergy will participate in a portion of the trek, but Father Landry will himself carry the Blessed Sacrament along the entire eastern route of this historic journey.

In two talks over the weekend of May 18-19, Father Landry made several reflections that impacted my own eucharistic spirituality.

He spoke of Christian life itself as a eucharistic pilgrimage. We are pilgrims in a strange land he said, called to be always on the move.

This struck me in a particular way on Sunday morning as we processed through the streets of New Haven, a city just waking up to bistro brunches, dog walks and morning jogs. A few people seemed to pray with us as we passed them on the street, while others just stared with a look of curiosity.

We were walking in faith, bringing Christ out into the world, doing our part to reverse the indifference and contempt so rampant in our society.

We were trying to remind people that Jesus still lives among us and within us.

As we hastened along the streets of New Haven, I also recalled something Archbishop Christopher Coyne had said in his homily the evening before. A pilgrimage is “prayer embodied,” he suggested.

Each footstep lands both on an actual road and on the path of faith.

As Catholics I think our faith can be a bit “disembodied,” merely a private matter of the mind and heart. But this idea of prayer “embodied” became very real to me as my old legs began to tire during our fast-paced walk to the wharf in New Haven.

When we reached the dock, we saw two boats – a beautiful luxury yacht and a much smaller fishing trawler.

Jesus, who called his disciples to be fishers of men, could only have chosen the fishing boat, so we quickly boarded the humbler vessel, following Father Landry and the monstrance.

We Little Sisters felt privileged to be able to accompany the “Perpetual Pilgrims” and a few journalists on this leg of the pilgrimage.

During our two-hour boat ride on Long Island Sound, we fixed our gaze on the monstrance, prayed and sang with the Perpetual Pilgrims.

We were never in danger of sinking, nor did we try to walk on water, but we did try to imagine what it must have been like for Jesus and his disciples each time they set sail on the Sea of Galilee.

When we arrived in Bridgeport, Father Landry and the small band of Perpetual Pilgrims continued on, but our participation in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage concluded.

We returned home, grateful for having been a part of history.

If you are going to be anywhere near one of the eucharistic pilgrimage routes this summer, don’t pass up the opportunity to participate in this historic experience.

May you come to know the joy of prayer embodied and may your faith in Jesus’ personal love for you be rekindled!

Sister Constance Veit is the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States and an occupational therapist.

 

By Sister Constance Veit, lsp

 

*Photo by Edwin Lucero, in partnership with the National Eucharistic Congress @eucharistic_revival 


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