Going back many centuries May has been the month that Catholics honor Mary, Jesus' mother. As new life springs forth around us, we also honor Mary who gave life to Jesus, the source of our new life.
A few years ago my friend Beth got me hooked on going on a pilgrimage each May to honor Our Lady, and to pray for special intentions. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place, and usually involves prayer and/or sacrifice in the travel or along the way. The journey is our offering to God, and purifies our heart and intentions. The history of pilgrimages goes back to the Jewish tradition of journeying to Jerusalem. Early Christians traveled to the Holy Land to visit and pray where Christ lived.
This May has been especially blessed for me. I have had the opportunity to go on three pilgrimages, step away from the craziness of daily life, and spend some much needed time in prayer. Last weekend Mike and I went on pilgrimage to La Crosse, WI to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is so beautiful there! This week my ladies' group did a pilgrimage right where we live, walking from our parish, Sts. Peter and Paul, to the Lourdes grotto at our cemetery. We prayed three rosaries as we walked, offering our intentions and meditating on Jesus' life (We did get a few quizzical looks from passerby's on our walk!) Next week, my friend Beth and I are going on another pilgrimage to the Lourdes grotto. I can't wait!
There are so many intentions on my heart: Grace to surrender as we come to the end of our fertility treatments, our hopes to adopt, strength and courage for those unexpectedly pregnant to choose life, the needs and intentions of family and friends, for our nation, for the Holy Father, etc, etc, etc. I tend to be a worrier, so it has been especially comforting to place these concerns in Our Lady's arms and know that she is bringing them to Jesus.
May isn't over yet! A May pilgrimage doesn't have to be to a far away and exotic place. It can be to a local church, cemetery with a statue of Our Lady, or a nearby shrine. If you haven't yet, I highly recommend making this a yearly tradition. I'm sure glad I did.