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A pilgrimage for the family — your family!

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For those who read my columns or hear my homilies, you may notice that I often mention the need to “slow down.” Our constant activity is perhaps one of the greatest challenges to our spiritual lives.


Life is busy, technology is distracting and the demands on our time only seem to grow. While being productive is a wonderful thing, it can often cloud our ability to listen to the Lord in the midst of our daily activities. This should be no surprise. In our reading of Sacred Scripture, the need for silent prayer is evident.


In the Book of Psalms, we read, “Be still and know that I am God!” (46:11). In Matthew’s Gospel, we are instructed to “go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (6:6). In the Gospel of Mark, we are told that Jesus Himself rose early in the morning and went to a “deserted place” where He prayed (1:35).


With Scripture repeatedly highlighting the importance of quiet and serenity to grow closer to God, and with Jesus Christ Himself praying in solitude, we must find opportunities to sit before the Lord and dedicate some time to Him. That time specifically devoted to worship and prayer strengthens our spiritual lives and opens us to His unending grace.


For those who need to reawaken their relationship with God, or for those just simply looking to deepen their spiritual life, please consider participating in this year’s diocesan pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on Oct. 14. The Diocese hosts this pilgrimage every two years to provide a day when the faithful of our parishes can gather, apart from the commotion of their lives, to pray together. Under the theme of “Totus Tuus” (meaning, “We are totally yours, Mary”), I will pray for Mary’s intercession to bring unity to our communities.


Our society has shown tremendous unity in some situations, such as in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes. In other cases, such as recent racially motivated demonstrations, we have seen division and discord that require us to pray for the conversion of those who disregard basic human dignity. Whether our prayer is for unity that is lacking or abundant, the diocesan pilgrimage is a wonderful way for our Catholic family to express our joy in the Faith that unites us.


Our diocesan pilgrimage providentially falls during the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, where one of the primary messages of Our Lady was a call to pray the Rosary for peace in the world. Given our current political and cultural climate, I ask all families in the Diocese of Arlington to join my brother priests and me on Oct. 14 to pray for peace, in honor of our Blessed Mother, and for unity.


During the apparitions in Fatima, Our Lady promised, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” Trusting in the intercession and protection of Mary our Mother, I will lead all at the pilgrimage in renewing the consecration of our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


The day is structured so that you can come for just part of the day, if your schedule is limited, or for the entire pilgrimage. We will have Mass, a rosary, music, a “seek and find” family activity, a Holy Hour, reflections and more. The pilgrimage will conclude with a Eucharistic Procession to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. More information about this diocesan pilgrimage is available on our website: arlingtondiocese.org/diocesanpilgrimage.


Whether or not you can join us for this “family reunion,” I pray that Our Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, will bring you peace and serenity, now and always.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017