April 03: Are You a Pilgrim or a Tourist?
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For more than 20 years, I’ve been leading groups on pilgrimages to Rome, Assisi, the Holy Land, Fatima, Lourdes . . . so many incredible, holy places. And when I first get the group together on each trip, I always talk about the same thing. The question I pose before them is, “Are you going to be a pilgrim, or are you going to be a tourist?”
There’s a difference between a pilgrimage and just a vacation. A pilgrimage certainly can be a vacation, and maybe one of the best ways to have a vacation, but there is a real difference between the two.
There’s a phenomenal difference between the way a pilgrim behaves and the way a tourist behaves. And right at the core of that is sort of an awareness or a yearning for God to speak to us, for God to lead us, for God to direct us, for God to disclose his will, to show us what he wants from us, or what he wants for us. The pilgrim is always looking for those signs.
The pilgrim is patient, I think, above all else. If the flight is delayed, the tourist is like, “Aw, I’m going to miss this . . . I already made these plans and that’s gonna be ruined.” If the flight is delayed, the pilgrim asks, “What is God trying to teach me through this delayed flight? Is God trying to teach me to be more patient? Is God trying to teach me that I need to slow down? What is God trying to say to me?” And the pilgrim is very proactive, is looking for the signs, is not waiting for God to beat him or her over the head with a message, but is really eyes wide open, looking for the signs.
In life, I think we have to ask the same question: “Are we pilgrims, or are we tourists?” Some people live their whole life like a tourist. We are called to live our lives like pilgrims. We are just passing through this earth, and I think it is really important from time to time to remind ourselves of that.
We are on this journey to be with God. We are on this journey to be with God forever in eternity. This is not home; we’re passing through this place. And when you think about how quickly life does pass, and you think about how quickly we do pass through this life, I think it’s important to ask ourselves, “Are we preparing ourselves to live in heaven? Are we prepared for the next life?” And if we’re not prepared, “What do we need to do to get prepared?”
As we make this journey as pilgrims, how do we get prepared to live with God forever in eternity? Because there is just a phenomenal temptation, a phenomenal draw, to think of this world as all there is, to think of this world as, “this is it, this is home.” And when we do that, we rob ourselves of infinite possibilities, and we start to live in ways that don’t lead us to God, that don’t lead us to happiness, that don’t lead us to that-very-best-version-of-ourselves.
Matthew Kelly, Resisting Happiness
We are just passing through this place we call Earth. We are pilgrims.
Spend some time today thinking about heaven.
A PILGRIM’S PRAYER
by Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following Your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Today’s personal reflection features Dynamic Catholic team member Lindsey Wopschall. Lindsey is our public relations and media coordinator, coming to us from Pasadena, California. Lindsey is a marathon runner, recently attempted her first Ironman, and can often be found reading a personal development or leadership book.
What does it mean to be a pilgrim?
Let us know in the comments!