The foster father of Our Lord, St. Joseph, famously doesn’t have a single word recorded in scripture. Yet, devotion to him is an ancient tradition within the Church. “Ite ad Joseph” goes the old saying. Go to Joseph.
In particular, we men should heed this advice. Go to Joseph in times of trial. Go to Joseph for guidance. Go to Joseph in humility. Go to Joseph in times of temptation. Go to Joseph to learn how to lead your family.
One of the best things to do is go to Joseph, literally, on a pilgrimage.
Your opportunity to do that is coming May 4-5, 2019, if you choose to join other men on the Joseph Challenge Pilgrimage in St. Louis, Missouri.
This pilgrimage is a 24-mile walking pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Joseph, one of the oldest church buildings in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and the site of a Vatican-authenticated miracle.
Going on pilgrimage is as old as the Church itself. In fact, it pre-dates the Roman Catholic Church when we consider that Old Testament events, such as the flight from Egypt were, in fact, pilgrimages.
Throughout the Church’s history, men and women have embarked upon long and arduous journeys to special locations to be closer to God. Jerusalem, as well as other sites in the Holy Land, are perhaps the most famous pilgrimage destinations. But in Europe especially, the tradition of pilgrimage to famous cathedrals and sites of miracles became commonplace. Chartes, Lourdes, and the Camino immediately come to mind. Some places of pilgrimage exist in the New World, but our young nation particularly does not have the centuries of pilgrimage tradition that other places around the world do.
Further hindering our attachment to pilgrimage is our nation’s growth which has paralleled the development of increasingly rapid transportation methods. Covered wagons, stagecoaches, railways, the automobile, and air travel have all followed in rapid succession right along with the ascent of the United States and its Catholic population. As such, an American pilgrimage today often involves a trip to a famous church or landmark in a car, bus, train, or even a plane. The trip may involve staying overnight in comfortable lodging, visiting the site as any other tourist might, and returning home just as easily. Even the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is often referred to as a “pilgrimage” in order to, rightly so, evoke a sense of sacredness of purpose. The trip undoubtedly involves discomfort and fatigue, and it serves a very worthy cause which no one should discount. But I have to think the early Christians who trekked to the Holy Land in the face of harsh weather conditions and dangerous marauders, risking life and treasure, would have a very different idea of pilgrimage.
The Joseph Challenge Pilgrimage was created because men need it. We need things which challenge us physically – and spiritually. A walking pilgrimage connects us more deeply to this most ancient tradition of the Church. Participants on the Joseph Challenge face the hardships of walking for miles outside in the elements God created, and sleeping on a hard basement floor. Our weariness will allow us to encounter Christ more deeply as we realize our physical limitations and weaknesses, thus coming to rely on Christ all the more.
But on our way to Christ, we go to Joseph. On this pilgrimage, we ask the silent, humble carpenter to show us how to adore Christ.
You can join us.
If you’ve done Exodus (or will finish Exodus this Easter), this would be a fitting next step. If you simply want to join other men for an experience you won’t soon forget, join us. If you want to grow closer to Christ through his earthly father, join us.
Visit josephchallenge.com for more information and to register.
Ite Ad Joseph!