Pilgrimage: A fire that continues to burn

by Scott Scherer

When you return from pilgrimage, do you find the grace of your pilgrimage continues to burn inside you?

One of the remarkable characteristics of pilgrimage, and why I have devoted 30-plus years of my life to pilgrimages, is for precisely this reason.

Pilgrimage lights a fire in us, an ember that continues to burn long after our return.

I liken the experience of being on pilgrimage with a group to that of charcoals burning in a fire. A single piece of charcoal burning alone is limited in the heat it can produce. But many coals together can produce a hot burning fire. As a pilgrim in a group, you are as a coal in a fire. Each of you feeds off the others and cares for one another.

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Pilgrims walking in the footsteps of Jesus in the Holy Land gather outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, after experiencing the Via Dolorosa in the Old City.

By sharing your experience, turning to each other, praying and celebrating Mass together, by your closeness and togetherness, you burn more brightly and bring your fellow pilgrims to burn more brightly.

We become, mysteriously, pilgrims as embers in a fire of love! Pilgrimage becomes an experience of love – our love for each other and God’s love for us. “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.

So, whether you have returned from pilgrimage recently, or whether it has been months or even years, I invite you to email me to share how your pilgrimage continues to burn within you — to share the impact your journey had on your faith, your relationships, and your life.  I remain devotedly yours in Pilgrimage.

Scott Scherer is president of Catholic Travel Centre, which provides customized pilgrimages for more than 400 Catholic organizations across the United States. 

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