June 24, 2022

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Family journey together in a pilgrimage of faith

Sean GallagherFrom the earliest days of the Church, the followers of Christ have made processions and pilgrimages a deep part of their life of faith.

Indeed, in the Acts of the Apostles, the Church itself is described simply as “the Way” when St. Paul, before his conversion, was authorized to arrest Christians in Damascus (Acts 9:2).

Christians from the beginning until now see each day of their lives of faith as one more step in their pilgrimage toward heaven, a solemn procession in which they take part with other believers shoulder to shoulder.

And just as the incarnation of Christ—the Son of God taking on human flesh—is central to our faith, so we as Christians fittingly express in physical ways our spiritual belief that our life is a pilgrimage to the house of our heavenly Father.

That’s why physical pilgrimages and processions have always been an important part of Christianity.

This important manifestation of our faith was on display in a beautiful and dramatic way on June 19 as Catholics from across central and southern Indiana joined together in a solemn and joyful eucharistic procession through the streets of downtown Indianapolis.

The procession spanned a mile and half from SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the archdiocese, to the historic St. John the Evangelist Church in the heart of Indianapolis’ downtown and the first Catholic parish in the city.

Such public processions are a way to invite others to join us in our personal pilgrimage of our lives to heaven. The June 19 procession was a very public act of evangelization.

Who knows how or when might bloom the seeds of faith planted in the hearts of people walking on the sidewalks of downtown Indy on June 19 who, through God’s providence, may have witnessed our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament and his holy people in the procession?

As important as such public demonstrations of our faith are for the Church and the world, the steps of our pilgrimage of faith ordinarily happen in more hidden ways in the lives of families, which are the fundamental building blocks of the Church.

Parents walk with their children in their common procession of faith when they show in their own lives how the faith is lived out in ordinary daily situations.

For their part, children help their parents along that same pilgrimage path when they, in their innocence and youthful vigor, re-enliven the fire of faith of their elders that, over time, may have died down to embers hidden in ashes.

And when families, with the help of God’s grace, consciously shape their life together according to Gospel principles, they can plant seeds of faith in the hearts of their neighbors, fellow students, friends and co-workers.

Such a procession of faith might not be dramatic and solemn like the eucharistic procession that went through downtown Indianapolis on June 19, but it’s crucial to the successful proclamation of the Gospel from one generation to the next.

So, families, come join in wholeheartedly in the Church’s great procession of faith to heaven. Let’s help each other in this great journey and invite others to walk alongside us. †

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