St Godric

(entered heaven 1170)

Dear Ricky,

Did I detect a bit of discouragement in your last note, or was it just my daily gruel disagreeing with me again?  Since after these years of solitary confinement I believe I am quite used to my daily gruel, I will assume that the former is correct.  No need, my young apostle, no need at all. Every apostolic endeavor has ups and downs, and so we must always keep pumping new energy and new ideas into our evangelizing efforts.  We will be able to rest when we get to heaven, please God. In your present circumstances, I have an idea. Nothing jump-starts enthusiasm like a pilgrimage, so why not organize a special pilgrimage for your group?  Do it up right, think big, get everyone involved in it. One of you can research the “theology of pilgrimages,” another few could be the travel committee, planning all the travel details, while some others start up a fundraising committee.  You can start having liturgies of preparation, gathering prayer intentions from friends and relatives. Make it a pilgrimage for the Pope, or for Life, or for Christian Unity, or for the Conversion of Sinners. Go to Rome if you can, or the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, or to a shrine or Church closer by (there are a lot of possible sites, you know).  Invite a great preacher to be your chaplain. Big or small, for a week or for an afternoon, however you cut it up, preparing for and carrying out a pilgrimage in a spirit of faith is an incomparable way to stoke that fire of love for Christ that you see waning among your friends.

Take today’s saint, for example.  Godric was a poor boy from a poor family in England.   He started making a living by peddling, then branched out a bit, started to travel and trade, and eventually became a full-fledged merchant (some would say “pirate”).  He saw the world, and liked it. But after reading a biography of that great hero of the faith St Cuthbert he started wondering if maybe he was missing the boat. So he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (no small feat back in those days).  His conversion began. Three pilgrimages later (to Campostela, Spain, to the shrine of St Giles in Provence, France, and to Rome – with his mother who made the whole trip barefoot) he knew that God had called him to a solitary life of prayer and penance.  He ended up attaching himself to a hermit in northern England, and after this mentor’s death, setting up his own little hermitage under the direction of a local monastery. He befriended a whole forest-full of wild animals (they used to run to his little hut when they were in danger), frequently gave audience to strangers searching for spiritual advice (a bunch of whom became canonized saints themselves), and predicted a whole slew of historic happenings (including the day of his own death).  God even gave him the ability to envision events that were taking place far away (shipwrecks, battles, etc.) so that he could pray for them. St Godric filled the countryside (and the country) with the sweet aroma of Christ for sixty years, and it all started with a pilgrimage.

Remember, only fools learn from experience; the wise learn from the experience of others.  God bless.

Uncle Eddy

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