It wasn’t too long ago that my faith wasn’t a top priority. In 2013 my outlook changed due to a life challenge and by attending a Christ Renews His Parish weekend. My eyes were opened on that weekend and the months and years after. I sometimes wonder what took me so long.
My longest journey within the journey was my visit to the Holy Land. My wife and I recently went on pilgrimage with a group of St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioners lead by Father Rob Waller, Pastor Emeritus at St. Andrew. What I thought this experience would be and what it turned into was awe-inspiring. I walked where Jesus walked. Every time I say that and or write it goose bumps appear! Most of my pilgrimage was a feeling of complete joy at the locations and with the people we met.
We started in Jordan traveled through Galilee, Palestine and ended up Jerusalem. Every location had a significant impact on my faith journey. It is impossible to pick one place or event that affected me the most. I touched the place where He was born, walked where He taught and finally stood at the place where He was resurrected.
One particular day, a group of us walked from the Sea of Galilee up to the Mount of Beatitudes. Along the way Father would lead us in prayer and taught us as we walked. I remember thinking this is what happened on the day of the Sermon on the Mount. When we reached the top, I fully expected to turn and see a multitude of His followers behind me.
I Sought the Lord and He Answered Me, Delivered Me From All My Fears. Ps 34:5
That part of the trip led me to my decision to begin the Lay Pastoral Ministry program at the Athenaeum of Ohio. A year ago I met with Dr. Susan McGurgan, the director of the program and was accepted as a student, but I never started. My pilgrimage was my time to reflect on this and decide if this was the path I was to take. On the top of the Mount of Beatitudes, at the hostel we stayed, I heard a familiar voice. When I turned, it was Susan with another group of pilgrims. I start my classes this fall. I’m not sure where this next journey will lead me, but I am open to His will and know my path is leading toward Him.
“Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” Pope Benedict XVI.
I pray that you have an encounter or meet someone who will inspire you and lead you to a new horizon on your life’s pilgrimage.
Tom Hodson is a Lector, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, member of St. Vincent de Paul, on the RCIA team, and Stewardship Committee at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Tom also chairs the St. Andrew/St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Continuation Committee for Christ Renews His Parish. He and his wife Debbie have been parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for 8 years.
The Women’s Christ Renews weekend is coming up on Aug. 6-7, 2016. To register contact Patty Norris, Director of Religious Education at St Elizabeth Ann Seton; phone (513)575-0119 or email email@example.com.