April 3: Are You a Pilgrim or a Tourist?

Day 29

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For more than 20 years, you know, I’ve been leading groups on pilgrimage, to Rome, Assisi, the Holy Land, Fatima, Lourdes . . . so many incredible, holy places. And when I first get the group together, um, on each trip, I always talk about the same thing. And the question I pose before them is um, "Are you going to be a pilgrim, or are you going to be a tourist?" OK? Because there's a difference between a pilgrimage and um, you know, just a, 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, between the two. And um, 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, or a yearning for God to speak to us, for God to lead us, for God to direct us, for God to . . . um . . . disclose his will, to show us what he wants from us, or what he wants for us. And, and the pilgrim is always looking for those signs. The pilgrim is patient, I think, above all else. You know if, 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, and . . ." 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? You know? What is, what is God trying to say to me?" And the pilgrim is, is very proactive, is very, 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. You know? "Are we pilgrims, or are we tourists?" And, and some people live their whole life like a tourist. And 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. You know? And we are on this journey to be with God. You know? We are on this journey to be with God forever in eternity. And, 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?" You know? "Are we prepared for the next life?" You know? And if we’re not prepared, "What do we need to do to get prepared?" You know? As we make this journey as pilgrims, how do we get prepared to live with God forever in eternity? Because there is uh, I mean, 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.

“We are always hungry for something more complete, and God is that completeness that we yearn for from the depths of our soul.”

Matthew Kelly, Resisting Happiness

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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. She comes 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?

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