Site icon Saint Margaret of Scotland

A New Week – May 19, 2024

Last week, on the Feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis officially announced the Jubilee Holy Year of 2025, which will be celebrated by all Catholics around the world. In announcing the Jubilee Year with the theme “Pilgrims of Hope”, Pope Francis writes: 

“Hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5,5). In the spirit of hope, the Apostle Paul addressed these words of encouragement to the Christian community of Rome. Hope is also the central message of the coming Jubilee that, in accordance with an ancient tradition, the Pope proclaims every twenty-five years. My thoughts turn to all those pilgrims of hope who will travel to Rome in order to experience the Holy Year and to all those others who, though unable to visit the City of the Apostles Peter and Paul, will celebrate it in their local Churches. For everyone, may the Jubilee be a moment of genuine, personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, the “door” (cf. John 10:7.9) of our salvation, whom the Church is charged to proclaim always, everywhere and to all as “our hope” (1 Timothy 1,1).

Everyone knows what it is to hope. In the heart of each person, hope dwells as the desire and expectation of good things to come, despite our not knowing what the future may bring. Even so, uncertainty about the future may at times give rise to conflicting feelings, ranging from confident trust to apprehensiveness, from serenity to anxiety, from firm conviction to hesitation and doubt. Often we come across people who are discouraged, pessimistic and cynical about the future, as if nothing could possibly bring them happiness. For all of us, may the Jubilee be an opportunity to be renewed in hope…”

Over the coming weeks in this space, I plan to share the important and essential elements of a Jubilee, including the Holy Door, prayer, reconciliation, and indulgences. But the very first characteristic of a Jubilee celebration is in the theme itself, which Pope Francis brings up right away: pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is an essential part of the celebration of a Holy Year Jubilee.

A pilgrimage is different from a trip or a vacation in that it is spiritual in nature. A pilgrimage is a journey of faith, meant to give us time and space for prayer and encounter with God and others and nature so that we can be transformed and strengthened on the journey of life and the journey of faith. I’m not just talking about a pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land or a Marian shrine; a pilgrimage does not even necessarily involve leaving home, indeed, the whole of our life is a pilgrimage! We journey through life on our way to meet our God in the life to come. Those who are preparing for Baptism, or Christian Marriage, or the other sacraments make a pilgrimage of preparation. Our annual journey through Advent is a pilgrimage on the way to Christmas, and Lent is a pilgrimage toward Easter. At each Mass, there is a pilgrimage of sorts as we process to meet and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. In each instance, we set out with a spiritual goal in sight, and we pay close attention to our journey, to our experiences, to our thoughts and feelings, to the wisdom and experience of others, and to how God is speaking to us. In the end, we find that we have been transformed not by arriving at the destination, but by the journey itself.       

The Jubilee website says: 

The jubilee calls for us to set out on a journey and to cross boundaries. When we travel, we do not only change place physically, but we also change ourselves. Hence, it is important to prepare ourselves well, to plan the route, and learn about the destination. In this sense, the Jubilee pilgrimage begins before the start of the journey itself: the starting point is the decision to set out. The journey takes place gradually: there are various routes to choose from and places to discover; it is made up of particular sets of circumstances, moments of catechesis, sacred rites and liturgies. Along the way our traveling companions enrich us with new ways of understanding things and fresh perspectives. Contemplation of creation is also part of the journey and helps us to realize that care for creation “is an essential expression of our faith in God and our obedience to his will” (Pope Francis, Letter for the Jubilee 2025). Pilgrimage is an experience of conversion, of transforming one’s very being to conform it to the holiness of God. During the pilgrimage, one also shares in the experience of those who, for various reasons, are forced to leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves and their family.

Where is God calling you, as we prepare for the Holy Year 2025?

Exit mobile version