Reaching Home

Novice Pilgrims were sometimes conscious of inscribing their journey into a larger narrative, that of their formation in the footsteps of Christ and his apostles, or St Ignatius and his companions, or even the Canadian Martyrs (beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1930).

“We are twelve. The twelve Apostles left the Cenacle, filled with the Holy Spirit. At the voice of the Lord: “Ite per universum mundum… praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae,” they divided the globe, and each took the road to the country he had to evangelize. Thus we are, but it must be said however that the comparison is a little bold. Whereas they were going to evangelize by word and by example, we will barely evangelize by example only. Whereas they had to fight in this battlefield against visible and invisible enemies, we only have to fight against invisible enemies.

Whereas their virtue is proofed against the fire of concupiscence, what can be said about ours… poor novices… novices, yes novices in virtue. And it is for that [reason], to fortify our virtue – or rather to make it grow – that we are sent on a pilgrimage.” (Champagne & Hudon, “Pélérinage à St Justin,” 1882 – translation)

Archives des Jésuites au Canada R-0010-31-3_1942_laperrière

The return home after the (successful) trial of the pilgrimage is sometimes the opportunity for reflection on home, and the journey that continues once the pilgrimage is completed.

Thursday June 20th 1872 – Last day of our pilgrimage. Got up with light hearts. What must be the joy of those who after a good life of labor and suffering find themselves at the end of their earthly pilgrimage. How trifling do the trials and misery of their past life seem. With what courage and energy do they undertake their last final step to eternity. Allthough [sic] the road from Toute-Grace to Saut au Recollet [sic] is a long and tedious one, yet it seemed to us short and pleasant. Our step was light & elastic when we saw the peaceful walls of the Novitiate. We were received with kindness and affection by our brothers whose cheerful faces made us forget our past miseries. We felt that although still pilgrims on the earth there was still a place we might call our home. (F. Murray, “Pélérinage à St Louis de Gonzague,” 1872)