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Clergy View: We are like ships without guidance

The Catholic Churches of St. Francis, All Saints and St. Andrew are in the midst of a church building boom here in our beautiful Brainerd lakes area. We are all adding needed space for all of our people and programs. But as we deal with budgets and architectural plans, it is always good to be reminded of the purpose of all of this. We don't build just to have a new place to gather. It is to Praise God, to provide space for people to encounter the living and true God, and to be able to preach the Gospel to others who don't yet know Christ.

But even in the midst of our busy lives, building projects notwithstanding, we can lose sight of our purpose in life. That is why I love journeys to the Holy Land. There is, I have found, no better way to "get in touch" with all of the events in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to encounter the early church. When one makes a pilgrimage, the payoff is a deepened sense of God's love and care for us, and the assurance that all the saints are watching out for us, and praying along with us, and for us.

This upcoming Monday, a number of parishioners and clergy from the area will embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will be visiting Galilee, all the places Jesus did His ministry, and then make our way to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Bethany, and the many places we read about in the Bible. I am always amazed at how those visits bring freshness and clarity to what we read in the scriptures.

What is a pilgrimage? It's a group of people on a mission to bring their prayers and concerns to God, often through the intercession of His son's mother and the saints. It's a joyous experience, to have a group of people gathered in places of prayer for an extended amount of time. Prayer is the heart of what a pilgrimage is all about. By doing something like this, we learn more about where we come from, and strengthen who we are and what our lives are all about. We seek meaning and purpose, and the only way to do so fully in our lives is to know where we come from, and to strengthen our knowledge that God has always been present in the lives of our ancestors, in our lives, and continues to be active even now.

Pilgrimages have been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. They aren't unique to the Christian experience. I firmly believe unless we know where we come from, and know our history, as Christians, as any people of Faith, and as citizens of this land, in other words, know our roots, we are like ships without guidance.

My prayer for you in the New Year is that you take stock of what has been, so that you may go forward in the future with hope, confidence and with the assurance that providence always guides us.