It is still the year of faith.
We had a lot of talk and excitement with one year preparation, and now we’re almost a year into it. The excitement has tapered, and it’s easy to overlook. We still have time to make this a time of renewal of faith, and I have one simple suggestion – go, be a pilgrim.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about visiting churches when I travel, and Rita Suva wrote a great post about how to Travel like a Catholic. One of the great traditions of the faith is to take a dedicated trip to a sacred location for the intention of spiritual growth and renewal. It’s true that the custom is older than Christianity, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t do it in uniquely Catholic ways. Catholic Culture has some great tips and suggestions.
The word pilgrim often evokes images of Thanksgiving for many of us Americans. Even in the church, pilgrimage is often used more in symbolic terms of our life as a spiritual journey instead instead of a physical peregrination.
This is the year of faith, and it’s easy to see it as a concept with no tangible application in your life, but the Church has suggested pilgrimages as one of the best ways to participate in the Year of Faith. There’s a pilgrimage option for everyone. Some are quick day trips close to home, or you can go all out and travel to some of the holiest sites of our faith. It will all depend on how much time, resources, and money you have to spend.
There are many great organizations that lead Catholic tours, but you don’t have to go on a guided pilgrimage for it to be a real pilgrimage. It can be just a quick road trip with the family or friends. Keep it simple, it’s not about being a tourist or cramming in the busiest schedule. It’s all about seeking Our Lord and encountering a deeper relationship through your journey. This can happen within a 30 minute drive or traveling half way around the world.
Trips are exciting and getting caught up in the moment is easy. Remember to keep prayer at the center of your pilgrimage, especially around the Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and the sacrament of Confession.
Sure you can vacation to superficial destinations such as theme parks and malls, but in the end, but in the end, they just take all your money. I’m not saying that those vacations are bad, but I am urging you to consider sometimes taking a trip for the sake of your soul and not just about fun. Pilgrimages can be equally, if not more, instagram-worthy.
I have a few suggestions for destination for your pilgrimage. Theses are just a few select ideas, and all travel times marked are based from Austin. Feel free to add any suggested destinations in the comments.
Pilgrimage Destination Suggestions
Day Trips within the Diocese of Austin
In the Diocese of Austin, the following four sites have been designated by Bishop Joe S. Vásquez for the Year of Faith plenary indulgence:
- St. Mary Cathedral in Austin
- St. Mary Parish in College Station
- St. Mary Parish in Lampasas
- St. Louis Parish in Waco
Trips Outside the Diocese of Austin
1-4 Hour Drives
- National Shrine to St Therese of Lisieux – Feast Day October 1st
- The Painted Churches of Texas – Central Texas
- Missions of San Antonio
- Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Dallas, TX
- Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto – San Antonio, TX
- Mission of the Divine Mercy – New Braunfels, TX
- Archdiocese of San Antonio Official Pilgrimage sites for the year of faith (Pre-planned maps)
- Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Official Pilgrimage Sites for the year of faith
4-8 Hour Drives
- Basilica of San Juan del Valle – San Juan, TX
- Cathedral- Basilica of St. Louis King of France – New Orleans, LA
- Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine – Midland, TX
- St Anthony Cathedral Basilica – Beaumont, TX
- National Shrine of the Infante of Prauge – Prauge, OK
- Cross of Our Lord Jesus – Groom, TX
- Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Natchitoches, LA
Longer Pilgrimages within the United States
- El Santuario de Chimayo – Chimayo, New Mexico
- Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help – Champion, WI
- St Francis Xavier Cabrini Shrine – New York, NY
- National Shrine of St John Neumann – Philadelphia, PA
- Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington, DC
- National Shrine of the Divine Mercy – Stockbridge, MA
Major Holy Sites Around the World
- Rome, Italy – Suggested Itenerary from the Vatican for the Year of Faith
- The Holy Land
- Our Lady of Guadalupe – Mexico
- Our Lady of Lourdes – France
- Our Lady of Fatima – Portugal
- Our Lady of Kibeho – Uganda
- The Way of St James – Spain