Spiritual preparation for your pilgrimage is important for you as a pilgrim, as it will help you make the most of this rewarding journey and deeply personal experience.
These are some tips and guidelines to help you get ready:
Spiritual preparation for your pilgrimage can start as soon as you start considering the prospect of your trip even if it’s months before traveling.
Reflect on the reasons for your pilgrimage.
Traditionally pilgrims went on pilgrimage as a personal wish, to fulfill a promise or as penance, however there are as many reasons as pilgrims.
Many pilgrims go on pilgrimage to find themselves, to meet other pilgrims, to find the meaning of life, to deepen their faith, to share the atmosphere of reflection… and all reasons are complementary with the religious essence of your pilgrimage journey.
Learn about the origin and history of this particular pilgrimage, shrine and the life of saints; for instance the discovery of Saint James the Apostle, Saint Bernadette of Lourdes or the story of the little shepherds of Fatima.
Think about the goal of your pilgrimage, asking yourself, what would you like to achieve with this pilgrimage?
Think of your focus for each day to help you achieve this goal, for instance say a morning prayer, meditate, think about life, read a passage from the Bible or even write a journal or diary with your thoughts after each day.
As well as helping you focus on your spiritual goals during your pilgrimage, keeping a journal or diary will be a wonderful way to remember the experience.
Guidance from your parish priest can be really helpful for pilgrims ahead of their journey.
Your parish priest will be able to share spiritual advice and reading material to help you prepare.
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO PILGRIMS BLESSING
If you are embarking on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, you may want your priest to give you the Camino Pilgrim’s Blessing:
(Codex Calixtinus. Sermon “Veneranda dies” LI, c. XVII))
“In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, accept the purse, this symbol of your pilgrimage, that you may be worthy to arrive chastened and cleansed at the threshold of St. James to whom you wish to go; and with your journey completed, may you return safe to us with delight, with Him as a guarantee, Who lives and reigns as God forever and ever, Amen.
Accept this staff as a support for the journey and for the labour on the route of your pilgrimage, so that you may be able to overcome all the throngs of the enemy and arrive secure at the threshold of St. James; and having completed your passage, may you return to us with delight, with the agreement of Him Who lives and reigns as God. World without end. Amen.”
God the Father:
We pray for these pilgrims (Names)……………… who are soon to leave on a pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela. In doing so they will honour St. James, Apostle, friend of Jesus and martyr for his faith.
That faith has a long tradition of pilgrimages, of thousands of the faithful travelling to that Holy place for religious reasons. The very word “pilgrim” comes from the Latin peregrine, which means ‘foreigner’ or ‘wanderer’; someone who travels in faith to another place in an experience far from their normal lives. For this reason Abraham is recognised as the first pilgrim described in the Sacred Scriptures because he was called to journey to the land chosen by God. Centuries later, Abraham’s descendents embarked on their pilgrimage to the Promised Land from Egypt. The birth of Jesus himself is marked by the pilgrimage of the Magi, the three kings who followed the star to pay homage to the Messiah and it is recorded that Jesus himself travelled on pilgrimage many times to Jerusalem.
We pray that (Names)……………… be inspired by these examples of pilgrimage described in the Sacred Scriptures.
God the Father, we ask you to bless these scallop shells, the traditional symbols of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela – we pray that (Names)…………… bear them proudly to their destination at the Tomb of the Apostle.
We ask you to bless these sticks and rucksacks, symbols of the support (Names)…………… will receive from friends old and new who they will meet on the Way.
And to bless (Names)………………, may they travel safely and enjoy days of happy companionship, prayer along the way and nights of restful sleep until they reach their journey’s end.
Together we now say the Pilgrims’ Prayer:
St James, Apostle, chosen among the first, you were the first to drink the Cup of the Lord
and you are the great protector of pilgrims. Make us strong in faith and happy in hope on our pilgrim journey, following the path of Christian life, and sustain us so that we may finally reach the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Names)……………… as you go from this place to begin your final preparations, leave with the love and fond good wishes of all who know you.
Bow your heads as we pray for God’s blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your cheeks.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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