At the heart of pilgrimage is a longing that has fascinated and compelled the human spirit from time immemorial. And this ancient practice is experiencing a growing attraction and taking on new forms today. In fact, America now has its own pilgrim way: the road connecting the California missions of Saint Junípero Serra, canonized in 2015.
The life of Mary, mother of the Word of God, can show us how to read the Bible in a personal, prayerful and transforming manner. This way of listening to God’s word in Scripture is traditionally called lectio divina, an ancient practice by which prayerful listening to the text leads to a transforming encounter with God.
Saint Junipero Serra had a vision that did not turn out as he originally conceived, after human sinfulness overwhelmed the design, as it did in the Garden of Eden. Yet the Holy Spirit succeeded, and the missions he founded today are sacred places, alive with God’s Spirit and God’s people.
The faithful who inhabit and tend these missions can give hope to all pilgrims, that however flawed our own efforts are, the Gospel will still find a way.