This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, where the disciples encountered Jesus’ divinity in a profound way. This encounter was so meaningful to them that they wanted to stay there and bask in His glory. The same can happen to us throughout our own spiritual lives. Whether in prayer, on retreat, or even on a pilgrimage, when we encounter the Lord deeply, we often want to hold onto that experience as long as possible.
Eventually we must depart from that experience, and what becomes most important is what we choose to do in our “normal” lives after the experience has ended. Whether it’s the disciples coming down off the mountain, returning to work on a Monday after a weekend retreat, or being thrust back into the chaos of travel after a pilgrimage, we all need to adjust to life after that meaningful encounter. How are we going to take those experiences and integrate them into our day-to-day life? Are we going to remain changed, or will it be over as fast as it began?
We ask our returning pilgrims how they will live their faith out differently after their pilgrimage journey. Time and time again, their responses show that the encounter did not end when their plane landed back home, but the graces continue to flow long after they return.
Some highlights from our pilgrims this year:
We are indeed changed. Reading the Bible has become alive with sights and sounds of the Holy Lands. The experience was transforming.
I’m more attuned to my faith and letting God do his work and knowing I’m in good hands!
It helped me get rid of my social media addiction, so I’ll have created more free time to be productive in my prayer life.
I feel more comfortable about talking about the Irish saints and have a deeper understanding of the trials Catholics endure, which means I will sympathize with more countries who suffer persecution and are oppressed for their belief in God. Hopefully I will pray more for the oppressed!
I want to know Jesus better and share my faith with boldness with those who need to hear the Gospel and learn about Jesus.
I was affirmed in my faith journey and will continue to seek opportunities to grow closer to Christ.
I already feel differently reading the Bible. I am still assessing the transformation going on in my heart. It is hard to find the right words to express the feelings I am experiencing. My plan is to be open to God’s voice he will provide all I need.
I believe it will be a lifelong journey to wrap my head and heart around all I experienced. I’ve only just begun to fit together the faith I’ve nurtured for a lifetime with what I saw, learned and experienced on this pilgrimage.
I have prayed a lot about and with my experiences on pilgrimage since returning. I was struck while in Rome and Assisi the juxtaposition of ancient Roman culture remnants (aqueducts, colosseum temples), renaissance remnants (cathedrals, sculptures, etc.) and modern culture. My overall take away is that cultures and civilizations flourish and die but God is the only eternal. I do not need to go anywhere to find Him. He is always very present.
While witnessing such an event as the Transfiguration is an amazing blessing, it is even more an opportunity to be transformed. It is always our prayer that all our pilgrims encounter the Lord in a deeper and more meaningful way on pilgrimage, but more importantly that they continue to know they are loved by Him when they come back home.