Paulís Footsteps

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

October 8, 2007


††††††††††† My parish is going to Turkey and Greece. Well not the whole parish, just 43 of us.

††††††††††† It will be fun, but that is not the only reason that we are going.

††††††††††† We are going on pilgrimage to learn. We hope to learn a little about St. Paul and about the history of our faith. Maybe we will also learn a little about ourselves.

††††††††††† Our Pope has proclaimed this year a year to study St. Paul. It is a happy coincidence that we already had this pilgrimage scheduled, but it certainly puts us on the same page as the universal church.

††††††††††† Ten years ago we took a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land and saw the places where Jesus lived and died. It was an experience that transformed the 45 of us who went. It certainly bonded us together into a more personal and vibrant community. This time we hope for a similar impact.

††††††††††† A pilgrimage is travel and in some ways a vacation, but it is also a spiritual experience. Our travel will include morning and evening prayer, mass, rosary and bible study. Along the way we hope to learn a little about the cultural setting that informed and transformed St. Paul.

††††††††††† Traveling in the footsteps of Paul has the happy co-incidence to going to nice places. Paul thoughtfully visited a lot of picturesque places in the Mediterranean world.

††††††††††† We will not be recreating his travels exactly. Certainly we will be leaving out the shipwreck at Malta.

††††††††††† Our travel will be much easier than his. We will stay in hotels, not with people we meet in the market place. We will travel by bus, not walking like Paul.

††††††††††† But just as Paul gradually discovered the meaning of his mission in his travels, we hope to discover the meaning of our own mission in this pilgrimage.

††††††††††† Sometimes you have to leave home and the familiar to discover what is truly important and lasting. When Paul left the confines of Jewish culture and set out on his mission to the Gentiles. He discovered good people who were also called by God.

††††††††††† When Paul stayed with Lydia, the cloth merchant, he discovered co-workers and allies in his mission. Many of them women. Like Paul we will depend on the kindness of strangers.

††††††††††† When Paul set out to places like Athens he was venturing into the heart of a sophisticated society that had only a little regard for his religion. Yet he found that he had something important to say to that society and there were sympathetic listeners.

††††††††††† He also discovered opposition and resentment. He even had the opposition of some in the church, but it was a journey that changed the face of the world.

††††††††††† We donít have such lofty ambitions for our pilgrimage. I will be content if we can just learn the content and setting of the scriptures. But I am sure that we will do much more than that.

††††††††††† Just getting ready has been a learning experience. We have had bible study classes and movies. Each of the pilgrims has had to write a paper. They will read their papers to the group as we go along..

††††††††††† Pilgrimages have always been part of the spiritual life. Ever since the Israelites set out across the desert in answer to Godís call, people have seen the spiritual life as a sort of journey. We are all headed toward a receding horizon of the mystery of God. With each step, we discover a little more about God and ourselves.

††††††††††† Thatís what we are hope and praying for. It will also be nice to see a few beautiful beaches.