EOHSJ VIRTUAL PILGRIMAGE TO ANTIPOLO

In May 2019, Nennette and I went to hear Mass in Antipolo with another couple. We have a breakfast fellowship — home and away, as we live on the same street, less than two blocks apart.

We reached Antipolo just in time for the start of the mid-morning Sunday Mass. The church was full so we stood outside the side entrance.  There was a giant TV screen and a loud speaker so we were able to see the altar and hear the priest-presider.

In previous years, we endeavored to hear mass in Antipolo every month of May — and whenever we would travel abroad on a family vacation. 

In our own way, we had a devotion to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.

When we were in Antipolo in May of 2019, we did not know that a year hence, in May 2020, we would not be able to return in the same way to the same place.

Two years hence today, we are still unable to return — except virtually, through a medium called Zoom.

Allow me to share our three reflections.

 

First Reflection, from Pope Francis:

… the pilgrim carries within him his own history and faith and the lights and shadows of his own life.  Each person carries within his or her heart a special wish and a particular prayer.

Throughout the pandemic — and during the last 14 months of quarantine and lockdown — we have been given many opportunities to count our blessings, to appreciate the incomparable magnificence of the gift of life.  We have realized that every second of our existence is sustained by the abundant mercy and compassion of God.  Indeed, the Good Lord holds each of us in the hollow of his hand.

And so — through alternating phases of ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, back to ECQ and MECQ — we soldier on and persevere.  We gratefully welcome the dawn of each new day, by praying —

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son



The second reflection is from Brother Geoffrey Tristram, from the Society of St. John the Evangelist  —
As Christians, we are a pilgrim people. God calls on us to follow him on a journey of transformation.

“Pilgrimage is woven into the very roots of our faith, beginning with Abraham, the first pilgrim. In Genesis 12, God calls Abraham to leave his house and journey to a land unknown. “Leave your country and your kindred and your father’s house, and go on a journey to a foreign land.” So Abraham becomes nomadic. He pitches a tent each night; the next morning, he takes up the tent pegs and moves on.

“This is followed by the Exodus, a forty-year pilgrimage. God’s people are enslaved in Egypt, brutalized by Pharaoh, and God raises up Moses to be their savior. And Moses leads them on an epic journey across the desert, to the Promised Land.

“This thread continues throughout the Gospels, as Jesus calls disciples to follow him away from their homes and all that they have known, on a journey into the unknown:
“He saw Simon and Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Mk 1:16-18)
“He saw James and John who were in their boat mending the nets. He called them and they left their father Zebedee and followed him.” (Mt 4:21-22)

“He called the rich young man and said, ‘Sell everything that you have and follow me.’” (Mt 19:21)
“He saw a tax collector called Levi and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him.” (Lk 5:27-28)
‘While we are not called to such extreme acts of renunciation for the sake of following Jesus, yet those words in the Gospel are surely addressed to each one of us:
“Leave everything and follow me, and you will receive eternal life.”
‘’A pilgrimage of transformation requires first that we leave everything behind, and set out on a journey that will lead to new life.
‘’This command contains a deep truth for each of us: the first step in our pilgrimage will always be a movement away from, a renunciation of the familiar. Unless we let go of the familiar, the safe, and the secure, unless we take the risk of becoming vulnerable, we cannot grow.


Third and final reflection — again from Brother Geoffrey—
Wherever we are on our life journey, we are never alone.

‘’The story of Emmaus promises us that our Lord, the Risen One, always walks beside us. When we are at the extremity of our strength, he is with us; in the wilderness of ice or the furnace of the fire; in our times of greatest loneliness or trial, Emmaus reassures us, “You are not alone: you have a companion.”
“Jesus, in this famous passage, is promising that he is that person for us. He is just ahead of us on our life’s journey: he prepares the way for us. Even though the next step of our journey may seem scary, he reassures us: “I have gone before you to prepare a place for you.”
“As comforting as this image is, we should also hear in it something of a prod. We often reach a stage in our life where we have found a very comfortable wayside shelter, and decide that we’d like to stop there for good. We begin putting up curtains and might even stow our pack under the bed!  But that is to forget our Abrahamic roots, which call us to take out the tent pegs in the morning, and move on.
“We are a pilgrim people. Christ urges us on: “Get back on the road. Don’t be afraid. For I will always be the one walking by your side – and I will always go before you to prepare the way.”
“In this pilgrim life, we are called to an ongoing journey, with God and toward God. And the more we travel away from what we know, the more familiar the landscape will become.
“My journey does not actually lead me away from myself, but toward it. I am called by Jesus to become more and more the person that God had in mind when God created me.
To quote T.S. Eliot, “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and to know the place for the first time.”
At the end of our journey, we will find ourselves, finally, home.

Amen. To God be the glory.  Amen.