Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Each Day Is a Pilgrimage

Revisiting the places where we encountered the Divine.

A sneak peek inside God Moments II.

From Chapter 1 ~ Charity

Every one of our days is an adventure all its own with tremendous opportunities to recognize God’s loving presence among us, accept His love, love Him in return, and share His love with others. Each day is also a pilgrimage as we travel through and to places that lead to a deeper, more personal relationship with God.

We encounter mini-retreats throughout our days while revisiting places where we have encountered the Divine, places where God has manifested His great love for us, instructed us, or pursued us. Lately I have experienced these pilgrimages in a very profound way.

While doing things around the house I fondly recall my Divine encounters during the six years that we have lived here. Each one is a unique story, having occurred at a certain time, in a particular place, and for a specific reason.

Where have such encounters taken place in your home? Where have you thought about God, listened to Him, conversed with Him, offered thanks, asked for guidance, unified your suffering with His, shared His love with others, or told Him you love Him?

Encounters with God can happen anywhere, as we journey through our days. They involve people, places, events, animals, nature, circumstances, and discovery. God may speak to us, we may reach out to Him, or He may manifest His majesty, splendor, love, and mercy in a Host of other ways.

I especially love when my pilgrimage begins in the morning before I even get out of bed, when I awake before the alarm clock sounds and share precious, peaceful time alone with God in prayer before embarking upon the responsibilities of the day.

After dropping my children off at their schools, I drive to Mass and pass so many places that are of great personal significance. The places we go provide us with mental snapshots of how God's love is woven so beautifully and meaningfully into our days. We are constantly being reminded that our lives have great value and meaning, and that we are loved more than we can ever imagine.

One day my sons and I went to St. Andrew Catholic Church to take pictures. It was the first time we had returned to the church since following our summons to attend weekend Masses at our new parish. For us it was like returning home, home to God's house where we received Jesus so many times, where my children each celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation and received their First Eucharist, where Andre was confirmed the year before, where we met so many wonderful people and made so many valued friends. We felt many emotions as we prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, took pictures, and reminisced. So much happened to us that year and so much had changed forever.

While traveling through places of significance to you, think of the Virgin Mary and the Apostles and Disciples as they continued on with the particular mission God had for each of them following Jesus' Death and Resurrection. Their responsibilities must have taken them past places where Jesus walked, taught, healed, worked, suffered, died, resurrected, and appeared. Perhaps they returned to places where they were with Jesus and fondly remembered a moment, a smile, a glance, something they learned, or a conversation they shared.

Imagine what they were thinking and feeling as they traveled to or through those places, lovingly remembering Jesus. Perhaps they renewed their commitment to live in imitation of Christ. May we follow their example and remain close to God through all the circumstances of our lives

Recognizing that God is always with us, make each day a pilgrimage as you revisit places where you have encountered Him in a very special way. 1

"When we are walking the streets,
let us fix our eyes on our Lord bearing His Cross before us;
on the Blessed Virgin who is looking at us;
on our Guardian Angel who is by our side."

~St. John Vianney

God Moments II:
Receiving the Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Written and compiled by Michele Elena Bondi,
will be available Fall 2011.

Stories for the book were contributed by devout Catholics including authors, pro-life advocates, a radio show host, home educators, bloggers, speakers, a Marian Catechist, and publishers. Thank you Nancy Carabio Belanger, Belinda Bondi, Andre J. Bottesi, Rejeanne Buckley, Chris Capolino, Sharon Cecil, Maribeth Criscenti, Ellen Gable Hrkach, Gene X. Kortsha, Janet MacKinnon, Tom Mulcahy, Sean McVeigh, Paul A. Ray, Susan Schoenstein, and Jerry Weber for sharing your personal and very meaningful stories with us in the book.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are supernatural works that, according to St. Paul, manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit. The one who performs them recognizes God’s presence by the happiness he experiences, and others the divine presence by witnessing these good works (Galatians 5:22-23). They are, in other words, identifiable effects of the Holy Spirit. 2

May the stories in God Moments II encourage and inspire you to recognize the Fruits of the Holy Spirit manifest in your own life and the lives of others, and to consider their vital purpose.

1. Michele Elena Bondi, God Moments II: Receiving the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Rochester, MI: Joseph Karl Publishing, Fall 2011), Chapter 1.
2. John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary (Bardstown, KY: Eternal Life, 2008), pp. 222-223.