Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

A pilgrimage in the Holy Spirit

By BISHOP BERNARD E. SHLESINGER III | Published May 6, 2024  | En Español

This December, Pope Francis will inaugurate the Jubilee Year 2025 with the theme being “Pilgrims of Hope.”  

Bishop Shlesinger

Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III

In preparation for the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis is encouraging everyone to dedicate themselves “to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer in one’s personal life, in the life of the Church, and in the world.” As disciples of Jesus Christ, we live with a perpetual need for spiritual renewal lest we succumb to a spiritual atrophy. If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal 5:25)  

Whether or not we are considering a pilgrimage to Rome in the Jubilee Year to join the estimated 35 million pilgrims expected there, we will miss out if we are not spiritually on pilgrimage, dreaming with God and living under his providential care. We cannot succumb to the delusion that we will be happy only when the world has changed for the better or when we achieve that next goal. Christians are “pilgrims of hope and builders of peace.” For some, living the dream can mean living a nightmare if we do not have the Holy Spirit to help us experience love, joy and peace. (Gal 5:22)  

Sadly, escaping from reality into the virtual world of cyberspace and a world of imagining infinite possibilities fails to address the deepest meaning of our existence. On this journey, we may discover that we are disconnected from our true selves and others, wondering why we are in the frantic pursuit of happiness, which seems just out of reach. If we live in the world of cyberspace alone, we may fail to develop the social skills needed for deeper relationships. As such, this may lead to a greater need for mental healthcare.  

The early church in the apostolic age began preparation for a pilgrimage in the Holy Spirit by nine days of prayer—the first novena. Before making decisions, the early church prayed and fasted. To go on pilgrimage requires that you break from your normal routine.  

For those who are unable to travel abroad, here are some ways to participate in the “Pilgrims of Hope” Jubilee Year: 1. Go on a local pilgrimage with your family or join a parish group. 2. The pope recommends that one read the documents of the Second Vatican Council. 3. Visit an adoration chapel for a Holy Hour. 4. Spend intentional time in nature (weather permitting) and use it for meditation or to pray the rosary. 

Making time for a pilgrimage whether local or abroad requires us to make time and slow down from normal routine to make it more meaningful. It requires commitment. 

It is my hope that all of us will benefit by being on a pilgrimage of some kind and encounter the Holy Spirit the Advocate, Counselor or Paraclete. Renewal will always be a work of the Holy Spirit, who also teaches us how to pray.  

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, let us be intentional about the choices we make. Let us consider ourselves now on pilgrimage by deepening our prayer so that we may experience the joy of the Gospel and life in the Spirit.  

“Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the Earth.”