For many years I have pondered on the importance of Pilgrimages and why so many flocked to these places. I always believed that the Almighty God is present everywhere, so why do we need to go to specific places.
In some way I got my answer when I visited Lourdes. You may have heard that the water of Lourdes is miraculous, and the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette several times at that place.
The amazing thing was that I experienced a deep sense of peace at the Grotto, and actually tears streamed down my cheek. I was quite confused, but totally overwhelmed with this time of grace.
It came a lot clearer, when I entered the waters of Lourdes, to once again experience renewal of my baptism. As I stepped out , my face shone and I was overjoyed to see the brilliant sunshine around me. So yes , now I did have some understanding of the ‘why’ of pilgrimage.
The volunteers, explained that the real meaning of going to the waters, was to first repent for past wrongdoing and then believe In the new life in Christ, through being baptized in those waters.
I have subsequently been to a few places and it makes a lot more sense as to why we visit ….not only once, but again and again.
Some of the places are at Retreat Centres….. I visit often Loyola’s Retreat Centre at Pashan , Pune.
Then there are numerous others, the most famous being the Divine Retreat Centre at Potta.
In Goa there are the miraculous Holy Crosses at Bambolim and Morjem.
Batim is one more, where the location was seen in a vision by a lady from Canada . She subsequently discovered it and the venue is now a place where people flock to pray, as many devotees have received answers to prayer.
So I come back to my quest as to why do we flock to places of pilgrimage.
Do we receive answers to prayer only at these places; and why not at other sites.
Do you remember Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible, encountering God in the burning bush ? He was so overwhelmed that he went to check it out physically, but was told not to come near as it was Holy ground.
What can we conclude from these phenomenon?
Only one thing is clear. The Holy Almighty God will reveal Himself to many who seek Him, and then we can respond to this verse:
‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.’
May all my dear friends on this pilgrimage of life, finally encounter the Lord face to face and experience His Awesome Love!