Tourist or Pilgrim?

October 18, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:

I was inspired by the canonization of several individuals last Sunday. It was a sign of hope and encouragement in an age when both are lacking. These men and women, now saints, were ordinary people that accomplished extraordinary things. These ordinary people were sinners like us that stumbled and fell while on their journey, eventually finding solid footing and continuing their pursuit of goodness, truth, beauty, justice, and love.

My wife, Carol, attended the canonizations. Her tour guide emphasized that they were pilgrims, not tourists. Tourists are looking around, taking in the sights. Pilgrims are searching, in their case searching for the path that leads to Jesus.

When it comes to our faith, are we tourists or pilgrims? I believe many of us are tourists. We like the sights and sounds of our faith and want to take it all in. However, when it comes to the searching – digging deeper for meaning and understanding – we are hesitant.

What is holding us back? Perhaps it is doubt. We don’t feel worthy; we’re not holy enough. Why bother searching for something that is out of our reach? I recently read Matthew Kelly’s new book titled, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. Spoiler alert: The biggest lie is that we, the ordinary believer, cannot achieve holiness.

Which brings me back to the seven individuals that were canonized as saints last Sunday, and the hope and encouragement I mentioned. They are real life proof that holiness is possible. Despite hardships and challenges, they made the decision to be pilgrims. Being a tourist was not enough for them. They were seekers. As pilgrims, they discovered the words of the gospel were true: Seek and you will find.

We are all called to sainthood, to transition from tourist to pilgrim. Holiness is possible.



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