(SNR) - Adding a spiritual dimension to a vacation with family or friends is always advisable, but in this Year of Faith it can be particularly helpful. Plenary indulgences can be gained by visiting designated pilgrimage sites, including the place of one’s baptism.
Pope Francis expressed his desire to continue Pope Benedict XVI’s purpose in launching the Year of Faith when he addressed representatives of churches, ecclesial communities and of other religions last March.
"With this initiative, which I wish to continue and which I hope serves as a stimulus for each of us in our journey of faith," the Holy Father said, "he wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, proposing a type of pilgrimage to what is essential for every Christian: a personal and transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for our salvation."
For many Nebraskans, it is as easy as planning an extra stop during a summer vacation or taking a fairly short excursion on a weekend.
Some parishes, such as Saint Leo Parish of Palmyra and Saint Martin Parish of Douglas—both under the care of pastor Father Christopher Barak—have planned pilgrimages throughout the year, open to everyone within the parish families.
"When people go on these journeys and pray, it really affects them," Father Barak said. "They bring a tremendous amount of grace in people’s lives."
During these planned pilgrimages, each individual or family travels to the designated pilgrimage site individually, meeting up at 1 p.m. for prayer, followed by a boxed lunch prepared by the Harrison family.
Greg Harrison said these pilgrimages have had a positive effect on the parish. "I think we’re just closer as a parish family," he said.
Father Barak added, "Going on pilgrimages helps us to realize that Jesus is with us in our daily lives. We are trusting Him to take care of things in the best possible way…. It just helps to do something concrete, by moving our bodies to a different place and taking the time to focus on prayer."
All Catholics in the Diocese of Lincoln are encouraged to follow their example and plan pilgrimages either alone, with family and friends or with their parishes before the Year of Faith closes Nov. 23.
To obtain a plenary indulgence at a pilgrimage site, one must be in the state of grace, one must have the interior disposition of complete detachment to sin, even venial sin, and have the intention of gaining the indulgence either for oneself or for a soul in Purgatory. The pilgrim then must take part in some sacred function at the place (such as participating in Mass or Eucharistic Adoration) or else pause for a few moments of prayer, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, a Profession of Faith (Apostles’ Creed) and a request for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin or the patron saint of the location. Finally, the pilgrim must say a prayer for the intentions of the pope and receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist within eight days before, during, or after the pilgrimage.
Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz designated several pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Lincoln late last year. Pilgrims can also gain an indulgence by renewing one’s baptismal vows at the place of one’s baptism.
Pilgrimage sites within the Diocese of Lincoln include:
XOur Lady of Fatima Shrine next to Saint Germanus Parish in Arapahoe – (308) 697-3722
XCor Mariae Schoenstatt Center in Crete – (402) 826-3346
XThe Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln - (402) 488-0948
XThe Eucharistic Shrine and Adoration Chapel of Christ the King (Pink Sisters’ Chapel) in Lincoln - (402) 489 - 0765
XSaint Luke Czech Catholic Shrine in Loma - (402) 483-2288
XThe Carmel Chapel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso (402) 784-0375
It is best to contact each of the sites to determine visiting hours. For example, the Cor Mariae Schoenstatt Shrine is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to welcome visitors. The Sisters there also host many events, and they offer assistance in planning pilgrimages.
For those traveling outside the diocese, there are also pilgrimage sites designated in neighboring dioceses. Information is generally available online or by calling the chancery of the diocese in question.
For more information about gaining plenary indulgences, please consult your pastor.