On Sunday April 22, one of our trip leaders, Lori Helfrich, introduced and led us in an engaging exercise that will be carried out during the course of our pilgrimage. It is called the “Sharing of the Heart”--an activity that prompts reflection and observation of ourselves and those around us. The experience began with a beautiful opening prayer that invited us to ask for the courage to always be aware of God’s loving presence and closeness--to be open to always receiving the grace He gives so freely. After the prayer, Lori played a song. From the song, we were asked to reflect on the state of our heart. We asked ourselves, “How do I come today?”, “Is there anything stirring in my prayer or in my life?”, “Where did I see God today?” These questions can seem weighted and sensitive, but guide necessary attentiveness to our thoughts. As I reflected on the state of my heart, I found that I was grateful, eager and expectant. The song was inviting and calming. For most of us, including myself, Le Puy will be our first time traveling abroad. This can surely be intimidating, but the song centered me back to the purpose of this trip: community and transformation. Next was the “Order of the House” which is broken up into two sections--reflection on ourselves and reflection on us as a community. We were invited to individually ask ourselves how God is moving in us and ask ourselves how we are developing as a group. During our meeting, God was undoubtedly seen in our desire to encounter and inclination to share. This exercise reminded me of something compelling: God wants to move in our lives. I believe He called each of us to this experience for a reason, but He can only work in us if we have a willing spirit. Accepting His invitation requires stepping out of our comfort zone, but God has the power to transform us in ways we never imagined. Rest in this truth and take heart for we have already taken the first steps! Despite our different backgrounds and walks of life we are willingly stepping out into the unknown and I am excited to see what God has planned for us. The "Sharing of the Heart" exercise will help guide us in recognizing and interpreting God’s messages to ourselves and all of us as a group. Speaking our thoughts is powerful--when we openly voice our apprehensions, our excitements and our longings, we are giving God permission to use those things for transformation. Not only that, but we are also giving others the courage to step out and share as well. As the closing prayer so poignantly reads, “With St. Joseph as our example and guide, help us to deepen our listening hearts so that we may hear clearly your Holy Spirit speaking within; and give us the strength to believe in and respond to Your love. Enflame our hearts with the fire of Your love--that we may build bonds of relationship and respect among all sharing in unioning love. Help our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh--that we may encounter and journey with those we meet during our time here.” I pray that through this journey we would keep this prayer in mind and live it with honest and intense conviction. I look forward to sharing my heart with all of you!
“We do not want merely to see beauty, we want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see.” - C.S. Lewis
There is an undoubtable transcendence to the human experience--an immeasurable, immaterial longing to do and be more. We have a captivating ability to be go beyond--to ask and pursue further. This continuous depth of the human person is inherent, beautiful and a resounding echo of Our Creator, who is the ultimate source of our wonder and intelligence. A pilgrimage nurtures the transcendence of being. It is a journey that indulges our yearnings, a journey of encounter and immersion--an opportunity to connect, affix and relate. A pilgrimage is communal, tangible and calls us into deeper relationship with ourselves, others and God, if willing. In a culture that is constantly on the move, it is important that we stop and reflect. A pilgrimage gives you this chance--the luxury of being mindful of the present moment. I challenge you to savor the experience. We will soon embark on our pilgrimage to Le Puy, France. Students and staff from our member campuses will be bound together despite our different walks of life for a common purpose--to connect to the Sisters of St. Joseph and relate their vocations to our own lives. So as you prepare yourself for the trip, keep this purpose in mind and ponder the potential beauty of the journey ahead of you!
Hello everyone! I’m so happy you’re here. My name is Tatiana Belanich and I’m the writer for the Le Puy Pilgrimage blog. I’m a junior at St. Joseph’s College Long Island campus and a double major in Journalism and Religious Studies. I am also an intern with ACSSJ and will be participating in the pilgrimage this June. I hope my articles will be fun and informative, but most importantly a reminder of the mission of this trip. St. Augustine once said, "The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only a page." There is so much beauty to be explored and so much goodness to be experienced if only we would step out of our comfort zone. I hope you will follow us on our journey as we take these steps to respond to the stirrings of our hearts and attempt to read the many chapters the world has to offer.