Becoming a Pilgrim People

Welcome everybody. Thank you for joining us for the second of four webinars. On the theme of pilgrimage, this series is uh, being sponsored by the medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame and this particular webinar titled becoming a pilgrim. People is co-sponsored by the center for spirituality here at St Mary’s College and the medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame as I mentioned. It is the second of four pilgrimage, webinars and I’ll say a bit more about the series at the end of our formal time together this afternoon, because we have a limited amount of time and there’s such a great material to be shared and discussed.

I’M going to go ahead and begin with the introductions and first mention that my name is Daniel haran, I’m a Franciscan Friar and professor of philosophy, religious studies and theology here at St Mary’s College, where I also direct the center for spirituality and it’s an honor and A delight to welcome you to this webinar and to have our two distinguished panelists with us, so let me in both of them and they will go ahead and offer their remarks before we open up the floor for conversation. At that point, I will facilitate the Q. A and the comments that are coming through and I encourage you throughout both of our presenters lectures their presentations to send your comments or questions in by means of either the chat function at the bottom of your Zoom screen or the Q. A button that you see as well at the bottom of the of the zoom screen. So without further Ado, let me introduce our guests: a Jesuit priest from Quebec, Canada, father Andre bruyet earned a graduate degree in earned graduate degrees.

Excuse me in philosophy, history and theology. In both France and North America, he taught in Portal Prince Haiti prior to joining The Faculty of the Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, where he is associate, professor of systematic and spiritual theology. He has been a visiting professor at the pontifical University in Madrid, Spain. The holder of the Anna and Donald Waite, endowed chair in Jesuit education at Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska, as well as a visiting professor at the Carmelite School of Theology, to receive Teresa teresiano. That shows my Franciscan bias.

There excuse me tripping over a Carmelite pontifical University in Rome. He is currently the general editor of the classics of Western spirituality, published by paulus press in his most recent books Embrace pilgrimage studies, including the monograph, the pilgrim, the pilgrim Paradigm, Faith In Motion published by paulist and pilgrimage as spiritual practice. A handbook for teachers guides and Wayfarers, which was published by Fortress press in 2022 and co-edited by his Boston College colleague, Dr Jeffrey bleck Hall. I’M also delighted to introduce Dr Leila karst, who is an assistant professor in the department of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University. In Los Angeles, where she teaches and writes at the intersection of liturgy and ecclesiology, she is working on a book manuscript on the Theology of Christian pilgrimage and the Pilgrim Church.

Her current research also explores the ways that racism, sexism and sexual abuse have impacted. Our liturgical celebrations and the function of lament in addressing these liturgical challenges. Her Publications include articles in the journals, liturgy and practical matters. She holds a PhD from Emory University and an mdiv from the University of Notre Dame so welcome back as it were to South Bend at least virtually so father. Andre will will begin with his remarks and the floor is yours.

Thank you. Well, thank you very much and thank you for this wonderful opportunity. Um to you know, be part of that webinar on the pilgrimage, and especially thinking through the lands of racial Justice and healing memory, so I’ll proceed in three moments. So, first to look at the foundational experience of pilgrimage that we find in the the Bible. Looking then, in the second time, at some resources from the pilgrimage tradition, to kind of Sparkle, spark our theological imagination and then finally, and with two examples of contemporary pilgrimages, that that address themes related to uh today’s discussions and so on that first element on.

So when we think of pilgrimage in uh in a judeo-christian tradition, a foundational event is clearly The Exodus story that very important moment of being led out of Egypt for the Hebrew people to be led them to the promised land so which is grounded in the call Of Abraham to be on the move, you know the promise of progeny the promise of a land and invitation to trust, also in the Lord, and so we’ve seen that story that movements certainly towards a destination uh. So there’s a strong physiological element to uh. To that. To that work, uh in a way that we can say is a pilgrimage in a certain way, which is also a migration, and I think that’s interesting to make the connection between those two realities. And so that’s a work that that frees that uh liberates the the people but uh as Michael Watson would say it’s not only uh.

You know that movement towards the the promised land, but the Covenant aspect is also extremely important in that regard, in a sense that the journey uh toward from Egypt out of slavery towards the the promised land is one that will constitute a people that will edify the People that will build a collective reality from a bunch of individuals, and so you know they are constituted Anew as as a collective and so that’s very important as we think of of pilgrimage, because our bias is to look at pilgrimage, mostly as an individual reality. First and foremost, and so here we have the collective element clearly emphasized and another element that is also interesting in that Exodus story, as we think about pilgrimage movement, migration uh is the ethical ethical commitment that comes from the experience of being a foreigner of being an Alien and then of being on the move and having to be welcome having to receive Hospitality. So there’s a light Motif that we find in the Old Testament in the Hebrew Bible that you should not molest or oppress an alien. Because you were once aliens in the land of Egypt, you were once pilgrims. You were once on the move and in need of being welcomed by others that connects also with the the very etymology of the word peregrinus um, which is in a way a non-citizen.

So a foreigner someone who is that was coming from from outside in a way and and needs to be needs to be welcomed, and so an experience of Liberation. Clearly, in that case of being on the move going towards a destination that creates a collective, a people. But that also uh produces an ethical commitment that would be repeated uh more than once throughout the the Hebrew Bible. So that’s a foundational experience um both for Liberation theologists, obviously, but but also when we think of of pilgrimage in general, and so looking more broadly at the Christian tradition of of pilgrimage. You know I’ve, I’m highlighting here some elements that are interesting uh to draw from.

As resources, even as we um think of pilgrimage for um, you know contemporary reality, so drawing from the tradition as a some kind of resource amount and for um, you know enriching our theological imagination. So a few elements. First of all, memory, a pilgrimage is always a return to, even if one goes to a place for the first time, there’s always a connection, a memorial connection with events or with people with individual. That kind of brings us in to the experience and so that’s important to attend to the memory uh. You know to potentially increase then the connection with what is memorialized and maybe even potentially heal.

So people going pilgrims going to Jerusalem one to kind of foster their connection with with Christ and the events in his life or Americans going to Ireland or Italy or other places where they’re coming from one to reconnect with their with their roots with their family. Uh. History by you know going to the place, and so – and this is the second element that is very important, so first memory then place because usually pilgrimage as a destination, we’re going somewhere, um and a place, you know, as Philip sheldrick would say, is kind of at The intersection of you know space and environment um, and you know what what a human narrative that brings meaning to that particular location. So it’s not simply any space, but that that is a space that has a special uh meaning brought about by memory and by that human narrative. Then that can be remembered and also that can be an avocation of what is most precious.

And so the place would usually crystallize uh a memory, so there’s some Monumental value in a way um. That’S that is celebrated in in a given location, so that can be a person that is commemorated or an event, and you know both of them being being localized. People going to Fatima while they want to see and pray at the place where the Virgin Mary appeared to uh the young shepherds going to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. One wants to see the burial place of Saint Peter, the relics, which is also very important theme for medieval pilgrimages, especially or a more contemporary way. A certain bridge in Selma Alabama is also you know, a place of of pilgrimage where people want to connect to a memory, or you know for us other difficult Memories.

The Concentration Camp of Auschwitz can also be a place that embodies uh the the memory that one wants to connect with and so embodiment is. You know a third uh element that is very important for programmers um. You know the r kit arcade title pilgrimage is certainly the The Walking pilgrimage where one experiences, the joy and weaknesses and limitations of the body um, but that’s embodiment in a genuine sense, is an invitation also to simply be present to the experience to be present to The place to be present to one’s body um, both in its in the ruggedness of the experience in the necessity to slow down um from Once regular rhythm in life, but to bring one’s own self. To that experience uh in a radical way, and it is not opposed and, on the contrary, can help uh the interior dimension of any pilgrimage experience, but embodiment is really important again walking pilgrimage. That would be kind of the archetype, but this other you know ways of doing pilgrimages.

That will also be very emboding, but that’s that’s a very important Dimension. Certainly, a fourth element that I want to highlight is the the importance of movement, the realization that one is on the way when the second Vatican Council decided to use the image of the Pilgrim Church to describe the reality of the church on Earth. There was that emphasis on recognizing that we are on the way uh, even in the title of this webinar becoming a pilgrim people. You know we see twice the idea of change of movement by becoming becoming what one is not yet uh and becoming a pilgrim people. So a people on the move, people that is that has not arrived – that is not arrived yet uh and so the pilgrim ethos uh really emphasizes that reaching even the destination is not the end of the process.

Um. So there’s always an invitation to to go further to go to go beyond to continue the journey so already in and on itself. It must be a journey even if it’s simply an inner pilgrimage um, but in a very physical pilgrimage, there’s still your sense of destination and movement, then another characteristic of pilgrimage is the reality of the many encounters that will happen along the way um so either within A group of pilgrims within pilgrims that are coming from different Horizons or with people along the way. Both you know uh literally along the way on the road or you know, at the destination, so anthropologists, Victor Turner and Eddie Turner identified some kind of anti-structural dimension of pilgrimage. So by a reconfiguration of the social group and a certain egalitarian quality of pilgrimage.

Where you know, social differences will be leveled out up to a certain point and people going on the Camino, for example, experience that rich diversity of encounters. You know a great variety of people whose path they would never have crossed other ones and then leading ideally to a certain transformation in through that whole process. So memory plays embodiment movement then encounters potential also encounter with the Divine. You know, especially Christian pilgrimages that certainly uh an important element that we want to take into consideration. So in for the the last minutes of uh this presentation, I just want to highlight two contemporary pilgrimage experiences that relate in a way to our theme of um.

You know racial Justice and healing of memories. One of them is from a colleague from the University of Flint Michigan, Mary, Jo kitzman, who wrote a very uh beautiful essay about an experience that she had actually a course that she built with her student of an urban pilgrimage. So to the city of Flint Michigan, and so we know that this is a city that is famous or inFAMOUS because of the the the problem with drinking water, but also the the ins, the destruction of you know many factories uh. So the industrial base that has left the city live in it very impoverished, and so she designed the course uh at you know a State University where students have to build a walking pilgrimage within the city. So this is an urban urban pilgrimage um to tour.

The cities see those places that add meaning so those large automobile plants that are being sometimes completely destroyed and where nothing is left but uh, But A Wasteland and Industrial Wasteland and then connecting the students with their own family history because they’re from the region, and so Sometimes they are parents, grandparents who had worked in those factories and then also connecting, though, with the people who are living there uh. You know now living in the city in sometimes difficult situations, and so, for example, she writes about you know one stop that they made to the Catholic parish there in flintwich uh commissioned the black Madonna or Lady of Flynn as a symbol of resilience and hope for The community – and so that’s that’s a very interesting. You know, example and experience of contemporary Urban pilgrimage. In the context of the course, then, the the last experience I want to highlight is that the Canadian canoe pilgrimage that was done in 2017 and organized by Young Jesuits in Canada, and so they traveled by canoe with other people. So from Saint Mary among the urines Midland Ontario, The Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs to kenawake near Montreal, which is the shrine of Saint and so following the route that native people had taken for centuries and then that the missionaries also took when they were invited by The natives for their missionary work, and so the timing was, was very specific uh.

It was the year of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, but it was also a few months years after the release of of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Canada that dealt with uh indigenous residential schools – and so this is a few years before the 2021 discovery of unmarked graves in Kamloops British Columbia in 2021. That sparked you know International uh interest uh, but already the report was making clear that the there had been a cultural genocide that was perpetrated by the Canadian government with the help of Christian churches and communities, and so that pilgrimage basically was a desire. An attempt to bring people together for a month and some of them for shorter periods of time, so indigenous and non-indigenous French speakers, English speakers, young and young people, were more mature. Some Elders even joined with under the theme of reconciliation, or certainly to promote dialogue.

So, by living together by sharing Meals by paddling, together by sharing traditions, certainly emphasizing that invitation to journey together. It’S very much at the heart of a pilgrimage and also to be in dialogue with communities that were encountered along the way. So communities that were receiving the the pilgrims or native communities, especially in the early part of the the journey, and then also French speaking and English-speaking communities as they move more towards Quebec. So these pilgrimages are not so are you know examples they’re, not necessarily models or they’re, not necessarily easily um reproducted, but they were opportunities for encounters to share in that challenging uh journey of dealing with uh memory dealing with the past, and you know, Building Bridges and Building a future together, and so I think that these elements kind of offer us some resources to think about pilgrimage as um as a potential Locus for theological reflection, certainly, but also for action and change in favor of racial Justice and healing of memory. So, thank you very much.

Thank you so much father Andre that was uh, really really a lot for us to think about in 15 minutes. So I look forward to our conversation, um and and Dr karst. The the floor is yours. We look forward to your remarks. Thank you.

So I came to the study of pilgrimage actually during my time as a master’s student at Notre Dame um and my own experiences with pilgrimage. While I was there and I came back from the holy land and I was trying to make sense, theologically of what had happened, what I had just done, uh and more broadly, this question of what Christians are really doing when they go on pilgrimage drove my intellectual Life for quite some time, it’s still driving it um, and I was really in search of a Theology of pilgrimage in part because I think the Contemporary theological Academy has been in love with this image of the pilgrim and pilgrimage, especially as a metaphor for the church. Um, at least since the second Vatican Council, when there was kind of a Resurgence of this language in the literature, but certainly that that predates the council significantly. But I really struggled to find many theological writers who were actually taking the practice of pilgrimage seriously. In and of itself, this has changed a bit in the last decade.

Thankfully, with books like Andre, is really filling the Gap in literature on this topic. What I’ve discovered in my own Quest towards the Theology of pilgrimage is that I it in fact might be asking the wrong question and in fact, I’m not really sure at this point, that there exists something which can adequately constitute a Theology of pilgrimage. As I began to study the phenomenon of pilgrimage, a more fundamental question emerged for me, which is: how is it can we take all of these disparate practices of Christians around the world and coherently label them with a single term, which is pilgrimage um? The reality is within the Christian tradition. Pilgrimage is an inherently plural phenomenon, so let me see if I can illustrate what I mean here.

Some pilgrimages can be described um, I think very commonly in some of the categories that Andre provided for us things like Journeys to Sacred places, so we might take for an example pilgrimages to Tepe act in Mexico City or to Lords or Fatima in Europe. Sometimes pilgrimage is better understood as a journey or a movement within a particular Sacred Space like pilgrims who travel around the Holy Land the modern day, ignatian Camino is a good example of this or the civil rights pilgrimages in the American South Andre’s story about this pilgrimage. In Flint, I think, are good examples of this kind of moving within these spaces. Other historical models of pilgrimage have thought about pilgrimage, primarily as in terms not a kind of movement through a place, but a time of journeying with the physical destination if it exists at all, and it didn’t always serving primarily to Mark the end of the time of Pilgrimaging, so I think the in modern days, the Camino pilgrimage in Spain often functions as a good example of this pilgrims. Talk about the journey being the point and the shrine of Saint James at the end is is important, but that’s it’s important because it marks the end of the pill of the period of pilgrimage and it’s less important than say it was in the medieval times as A Sacred Space in and of itself, we can also think of the Irish peregrations, for whom displacement this kind of Perpetual journeying, either by land or by sea, was adopted as a temporary or permanent way of life.

We can think of medieval pilgrimages assigned by confessors that were more akin to kind of earlier juridical practices of Exile where a sinner was assigned to pilgrimage for a set period of time, whether or not a destination was included in that kind of varied um. These penances, by the way, were oftentimes given for things like stealing something valuable for a church or doing very kind of weird sexual acts. That became public. It wasn’t a common Penance, but it existed. Finally, we might think of pilgrimages that have as their destination not a sacred place, but actually a sacred person.

So we can think about early Christian pilgrims who sought out the amazing Abbas in the Palestinian desert or Journey to the tombs of the martyrs or pilgrims today who are making their way to World youth day. Uh to to see the Pope. The pope is really the kind of object and the community of people there rather than any particular place, and these categories aren’t kind of siled categories right oftentimes these overlap, so we can think about there’s this great example of a American Canadian pilgrimage that happened in 1898 And the pilgrims went to Lords and to Rome, and it was billed as kind of a visit to a sacred site and then a visit to bring Comfort to the Pope um. I think uh Andre’s example of the canoe pilgrimage right. That was both kind of going to the shrine of Saint Terry and kind of had this.

This piece of of being in relationship and attending uh to the different indigenous communities in Canada is another nice example where you have a kind of a destination as a place, but also a destination as a person or a community. Even if we can kind of narrow down Within These categories, each pilgrimage route or tradition develops in very unique ways. It has its own set of rituals, its own destination, its own way that the pilgrim Community is ordered. You have something like the Camino in Spain. That is, has this kind of egalitarian ordering that the Turners describe, but you also have pilgrimages, for example, in Mexico that are very kind of still hierarchically, ordered um by the Bishops and the the leader, the ecclesial leaders.

In those communities um, so you have these communities that are ordered in all sorts of different ways, depending on the pilgrimage, the time the place, even within that who’s going and who’s organizing the pilgrimage um. But what’s really curious, is well. There have been periodic efforts by church leaders to kind of Norm Pilgrim practices in some way, either on local or Universal levels. Um, it’s really pretty impressive. How impotent most of these efforts have been um, because pilgrimage at the end of the day, belongs to the pilgrims who are making this pilgrimage and trying to Corral or herd or Norm or even kind of create a discourse that can contain these pilgrims is a bit Like uh herding cats, to use a very overused metaphor, or to suggest a more theological interpretation trying to kind of create this, this normative Theology of pilgrimage just like trying to tame the spirit which has a habit of blowing where it will so as a theologian.

I kept coming up against this wall, whatever I wanted to say about pilgrimage. Theologically always had to be qualified with the phrase except when it doesn’t um and now, when I think about it, this is probably become my Mantra as a liturgical scholar in general um, and it probably relates back to this project. So I really couldn’t find a theology or a system of kind of categorizing or speaking about all of these practices, that Christians label and understand is pilgrimage um. That really could account for the variety and the plurality of these practices, because pilgrimage is, is a practice which frequently escapes our kind of order and our systems and our theological discourses um for the nerds in the room, the Jesuit scholar, Michelle DeSoto, describes these sort of Practices that escape or can’t find a place within our systems of space or thought um, as as tactics or as these cries uh. It’S the remainder of things that are left over after our systems have been established that still exist in our our present, but but can’t really be uh captured or expressed within the categories that are available to us.

So let me give you an example of what I mean by this uh early in this project. I was at a conference and a woman came up to me during a break and asked me about my research. I told her. I was researching pilgrimage and she got very excited and she launched into this story that lasted most of the rest of the 20-minute break and she described her five-week pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain and she told the story in a fascinating way. It wasn’t linear right.

It didn’t kind of go from first to next to next. She kind of bounced around, as she was talking with this exuberance about these deeply meaningful experiences. She’D had as a pilgrim that stretched from blisters to encounters with people to nights Full of Stars to these kind of Quiet Moments spent with God in a little village, church or Chapel. And these stories are common among those pilgrims who walk the Camino and as she’s kind of rehearsing, this, this deeply religious spiritual journey um. I think she finally realized she’d been talking for a while and she pulled back and she directed a question my way and she asked me kind of what what about pilgrimage.

I was interested in or what about pilgrimage I was working on and I told her. I was trying to develop a Theology of pilgrimage and without missing a beach. He looked at me and she said: oh well, I’m Catholic, but I’m not practicing. I found on the wake of a 20-minute story about her pilgrimage. This comment that she wasn’t practicing um so curious and I wanted to probe a little further but of course the break ended and we had it back inside for the next session, and I never saw this woman again um, and so I was just left with this Comic kind of still ringing in my ears, I knew what she meant, or at least I’m pretty sure.

I knew what she meant by this comment: um, which is that when she said I’m Catholic, but I’m not practicing, she meant I don’t go to mass regularly. But the categories of Catholic practice seem to be incapable, at least for her, of including her pilgrimage practice. However Catholic, her practice appeared to me So within the confines of how we talk about the church as a pilgrim people. Her experience her practice of pilgrimage kind of erupted, almost as this kind of narrative cry that could find No Place Within kind of her categories or discourses about church and what it meant to be a practicing Christian, and yet it still kind of announced its existence. In this moment, it still existed Within These spaces um for the record, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in our day and time the popularity of pilgrimage seems to be increasing.

Well, the popularity in our pews or of our pews is decreasing uh. This is true in both Mainline and Catholic churches, and I think it expresses something of pilgrimages this cry in our church that somehow kind of escapes the categories that we’ve been able to establish for it and one of the responses, the response that I have kind of Initially pursued was to try to create a space for that um, but now I’m not convinced we can, or at least ought to try to create this theology of pilgrimage. In so much as we can speak of a Theology of pilgrimage, I find that the best we can do is to see pilgrimage, as this remainder, as is a cry that escapes our more systematic attempts at corralling it, whether we’re talking theologically or liturgically or ecclesially, and Instead, I’ve started to think about pilgrimage, not as a practice in need of a theology but as a practice of theologizing that is worthy of our attention. So we could ask what is the Theology of this pilgrimage or that pilgrimage that is being expressed and made present and lived out in the world? This isn’t a particularly novel way of thinking for a liturgical Theologian who locates herself within an intellectual tradition that understands liturgical celebration as one of the ways that our church does theology, and in fact my work on pilgrimage really rests on the plane that the church ought To recognize pilgrimage as part of its liturgical repertoire and part of its liturgical life, so taking that as our framework, one of the things that liturgical theologians attend to regularly is how our liturgies form us into communities form us into a people.

That is how they constitute Church in a specific time and place, as I think, about or read the kind of title for this webinar becoming a pilgrim people. It seems to me it’s really a question about how we become Church, how we become a pilgrim people and ecclesial people through the practice of pilgrimage. One of the things that I found particularly interesting as I’ve looked at these different pilgrimage Traditions is the formation of Pilgrim communities and Andre talked a bit about this um a few minutes ago. These communities differ oftentimes from our normative ecclesial communities, from our diocese and our parishes in many ways, and in other ways they differ not at all it again. It really depends um, but one of the ways that I think pilgrimage communities the Pilgrim Church differs is that these communities are typically temporary and they’re, always changing and in flux, because they’re constituted purely by the act of pilgrimaging together.

Sometimes this pilgrimaging together is constituted by the physical proximity of pilgrims to one another traveling on a bus walking together on a road staying together in hotels or hostels or semi-trailers parked along the side of the road but other times. Pilgrims travel alone and the proximate Community is more eschatological. They become part of the pilgrim Community throughout time who has made this journey or bathed in these Waters or somehow left their mark on this place. The pilgrim Community, then, whether we conceive of it either as imminent or eschatological in fact, becomes a sort of liturgical realization of the church in the world, something that we might, I think, appropriately call the Pilgrim Church and, unlike the church that is constituted in the celebration Of the Eucharist, the Pilgrim Church is a church whose rituals and orders are rarely written and instead passed on in practice from body to body from mouth to mouth, from Pilgrim to Pilgrim with much more flexibility to reimagine and recreate how we go as we go. So the Pilgrim Church doesn’t exist as this kind of separate or antithesis, apart from the more official or institutional or liturgical expressions of the church, but rather it exists in and among them, well, not entirely being a part of them.

The practice of pilgrimage and all of its plurality and chaos and messiness, then, is actually a practice of the church constituting itself in the kind of betwixt in between spaces of our church and of our world. I think this is evident in um. Some of the examples of pilgrimage that that Andre shared the example of pilgrimage that some of you in this community are preparing to make these pilgrimages for healing and Reconciliation and well there’s no lack of resources in the tradition and Andre did a beautiful job of highlighting A number of these there’s no lack of resources from which we can draw as we plan and organize and kind of execute these different pilgrimages there’s also no blueprint. There isn’t an order. There isn’t a set of rubrics that we must follow in order for our journey to somehow count as pilgrimage or count as good pilgrimage.

But while there is no one way to go, there is no kind of Ideal way to make a Christian pilgrimage. How we go matters deeply, so these pilgrimages for reconciliation and healing seem to me to be an ecclesial Faith response to the signs of the times, and this Faith response requires a certain kind of creativity when I first spoke with Dan about the event today, Dan posed, The question to me like this: how can pilgrimage support our conversation from White supremity towards solidarity as we work to create a more inclusive and welcoming Church? What a fascinating and wonderful question, but may I suggest to you today that pilgrimage is not a tool or a strategy to Aid Us in the work of creating a more inclusive Church. It has the potential to be a ritual liturgical instantiation, however temporary or fleeting, of that more inclusive Church or not. So in my last couple of minutes, I don’t want to give you a Theology of pilgrimage or a blueprint for building a better pilgrimage, but rather to provoke in those here today the creative task of imagining and then constituting a pilgrimage and thus a Pilgrim Church in The world, so I turned the question back to you: what kind of church would you like to be, and how can we in our pilgrimageing become that church?

The church has found an image of itself in Pilgrim practices for millennia in the letter to dianettis, which is actually an anonymous homily from the second century. The preacher describes the church as the pilgrim um kind of journeying in the world, but not of the world or existing in being and dwelling in the world, but not of the world. This is the the kind of Resident alien that Andre referred to earlier. The preacher was contemplating the Pilgrim Church um again as as people who are living in these spaces, but we’re not of the spaces that image of the Pilgrim Church didn’t make as much sense. After Constantine’s Edict of Toleration and the medieval Church developed a different kind of image of the church’s pilgrim, so in this medieval image of the Pilgrim Church, it imagined the church not as the pilgrim itself, but actually as the Institutes of hospitality for Willie weary pilgrims, making Their way through this very inhospitable world, this image comes directly from the systems of Pilgrim infrastructure that frequently sprung up around shrines and holy places, sometimes on common roots used by pilgrims to get to these places, these were oftentimes monasteries, other houses of hospitality that served pilgrims On their way, I was reading the rule of Saint Benedict with my students this past week and they were kind of marveling at the the hospitality that was recommended.

Uh really required of the monks living in these spaces. So institutions, like these monasteries or these hospices provided material care for pilgrims, as well as spiritual care guidance, all manner of help on their Journey. These were places of stability right in places of safety, uh that served those who had chosen to become unstable, uh and placeless and vulnerable for a Time. Those who had more offered to it those who had more offered it to those who had less and those in power and authority cared ideally in love for those who are vulnerable. This is a really beautiful ecclesiology.

That is not so different. I think from Francis the way that Francis talks today about the church as a field Hospital there’s also something deeply christological and Eucharistic about this vision of the church’s host. Welcoming the pilgrim as Christ welcomes us to the wedding Feast of the Lamb. But I do want to call your attention and ask you to notice that in this vision, uh who the church is and who the church is for are not the same. This is a church, four pilgrims, not a church of pilgrims, so the church then becomes constituted in this way and understands itself through their welcome and their care for The Stranger in Pilgrim, but not in the stranger and Pilgrim themselves.

So what are we to make of this um? Because I have a critical bent to me. I look at people like um, Jacques derida and derida. Has this fascinating little essay where he reflects on the limits of hospitality as a social construction and he’s titled? This essay hosta fatality, so he observes this kind of relationship of host guest is predicated on an imbalance of power between two parties.

The host has the power to welcome or not to offer material Comfort to the guests, food or restroom a place for the night or not even within these actions um, it’s the host, not the guest, that determines what is offered and how much and the guest on The other hand is in a position of vulnerability, empowers powerlessness and when this power Dynamic change changes, so does the relationship. The use of the image of the Pilgrim Church at Vatican II represents an intentional reversal of this model. The council extended the invitation for the church to recognize itself, as that which is constituted not in the host, the pilgrim host and the stability and Authority in institutions and texts and structures, but also in the vulnerable, stranger and the traveler. In the unpredictable kind of messy chaos of those who Christ redeemed, while they were and are still sinners, so in seeing the church itself as Pilgrim, this other image invites the church to become a guest of the world. Sanctifying it not by controlling it.

But by bringing a message of hope within it, these offer kind of two examples I think of how we might make sense of and think about, the pilgrim church. But ultimately the work, I think, is a creative work of the pilgrims themselves and so I’ll leave. You simply with this question: liturgical life is the revelation of Christ and the church in our time. If pilgrimage is part of that liturgical life, which Christ, which church is most needed in our time and place today, and what kind of Pilgrim Church will you be? Thank you.

Thank you so much uh, Dr karst, that was uh, wonderful and and father Andre as well. If I invite you to join us again here, you are great um, so much to reflect on so much to to consider um in so little time in which to do it. So speaking of time and place as pilgrimage uh locations, um there’s there’s a lot to to engage with here. Um we have questions coming in. I want to remind those who are with us live to.

Please submit your questions and comments with the Q a button at the bottom of your screen or in the chat function, but maybe we can start off with something that I hope in light of uh Layla, your your presentation. It doesn’t become a question of too much normalization or or control, but to both of you um one of the things you know with with Andre you’re, highlighting from the tradition these these characteristics of memory and place, embodiment movement encounter and um and Layla talking about you Know the the way that pilgrimage functions not only Geographic, clean spatially, but also temporally as well. It opens up a whole Horizon of understanding what pilgrimage may or may not mean. So this is an incredibly basic question, but for those who might ask themselves well what constitutes a pilgrim or one on pilgrimage, as opposed to, for instance, a tourist like you know, the same person may be in the holy land or Rome or the Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama and it may be in just a few Reflections what what do? How would each of you respond to something like that, or is it too normalizing Andre?

You want to take this this one yeah I mean I can get started but um. No, I think that uh Layla made a very good point about the the complexity of the phenomena you know in the plural of of pilgrimage. So it’s it’s difficult to Simply pinpoint I mean a lot of people have strong opinions as to what constitute a real pilgrimage. Like if you ask people on the Camino, they said it’s only walking uh. That will be the real pilgrimage if you’re going by bus, that’s not a real pilgrimage.

You know anyway, so there’s a lot of things I mean for me in a way. I think that there’s a decision that one has to to make to say I am on a pilgrimage uh, because from the exterior, as you mentioned, you can visit Saint Peter’s Basilica as a tourist which is and there’s nothing wrong with that, just to be clear, uh Or you can visit that as a pilgrim from the outside. You won’t necessarily know who’s who’s who, and also that you know something can happen while on pilgrimage or while on a touristic visit where one becomes a pilgrim, and so I think that that element of certainly seeking an element of a journey that uh element of you Know an interior Journey as well, so these are kind of markers but they’re not norms, and you know, I think I really appreciate Linus caution on that that there’s something that escapes in the in the phenomenon and even if you want to pinpoint it uh, I mean Because we want to try to understand it uh, you know we never. We can never capture it completely. So I think that there’s there’s no decision for someone to make to say well, I am on on a pilgrimage or and been open even to the possibility of becoming uh a pilgrim, because one can be a program for for one day within one’s own City or You know can go for months, uh walking from Walsingham to to Rome so yeah, it’s not it’s not easy to to kind of pinpoint, and I do have some ideas on that.

I agree. Um yeah, I do I mean I’m impart I’m I’m always curious, because this is such a big question. I think that comes up frequently right um and what is the anxiety behind trying to distinguish between a pilgrim and a tourist um? And I think it has something to do with this kind of concern about the way that the commodification of our religious practice kind of continues to exist. This is not a new problem, that’s associated with the modern world um.

I mean souvenirs developed in the Holy Land, because people were biting off pieces of the True Cross when it was brought out on Good Friday or breaking pieces off buildings, because they wanted a piece to take back with them, and people were like well, we’ll just sell Them things right, I mean there: are these whole economies, economies of places for pilgrims to stay and to support these to go all the way back to the beginning of the tradition, um Tony Alonso has this this beautiful book called commodified communion that kind of wrestles with The commodification of our different practices within the Eucharist and kind of helps us to see like even our kind of most deeply held religious practices, even when they’re practiced well have this element of commodification to them right. It’S part of like being incarnate as a church. In the world um, so this kind of need to separate tourists and pilgrims is, I think, as Andre said it gets complicated right like people could be, both people might be one or the other. I think, within the context of thinking about something like the Pilgrim Church. I would say, maybe one of the things that makes someone a pilgrim is their identification with the the larger Christian tradition or the community, as as part of the reason why they go right like how they kind of locate themselves as part of an ecclesial Community or Not but beyond that, I think pilgrimage is caught up in the tourist commodification and Industry, and it always has been right.

Part of the marble for me is that is the way that that God is still found in that space, rather than this effort of trying to kind of purify the space so that God can be found. That’S thank you both. I I’m tempted to to continue this. This line of conversation um because it’s fascinating and and just maybe to plant the seed and turn to some other questions of this question about. Can there be such a thing as a secular pilgrimage like there are some Scholars suggest secular liturgies?

Maybe that’s uh. You know a shiny object to tempt uh Layla at some point to develop further, but I don’t want to miss some of these other questions that have come in, including one that speaks right to the heart of this pilgrimage series, and this question is um as follows: Andre mentioned that reaching the end of your destination is not the end of the journey. Do you think that statement relates to racial Injustice in today’s culture? Hmm? Well, you know, I think, there’s.

First of all, we have to be to be on the way uh. That’S that’s the first thing and uh like you know, will there be? Will there be an end to all racial uh injustices? I mean one can hope uh for that, but uh. Certainly, what one can do, as you know, Collective on a collective pilgrimage or as as an individual Pilgrim, is to make sure that we’re we’re on the road, and you know it’s mostly also the the connection between, like discrete pilgrimages like to go to a place or To do uh to go on a journey either individually or with other people uh.

I think it feeds into a larger sense of journeying uh. You know that pilgrimage is for which pilgrimage is a useful metaphor uh, and I think you know with that sense of a pilgrimage of life and and all those kind of things, but to to keep that sense of journeying. I think, is very uh very important. So um yeah, so I mean that that’s how it will. I would approach that.

Hopefully, pilgrimage goes beyond being simply a moment or a parenthesis in in one’s life and kind of nurtures, uh. A fundamental attitude think that the Pilgrim Church you know uh. We know that we’ll be on the way until until we reach the Heavenly Jerusalem so um, so the the journey continues. Yeah yeah I went to the eschatological place as well. Right, I mean there’s really something eschatological to all of our liturgies and our practices right, and I am despite the necessity of us working in this world towards racial reconciliation and racial Justice.

I think there’s an eschatology to that project as well, right, um, and so these these destinations are also starting points for what’s next um in our pilgrimages and in our liturgies right, the mass has ended, go the pilgrimage, has ended, go um and that go is an Eschatological hope right, as well as an eschatological kind of patience of saying the work is never quite completed and it won’t be um without the intervention. Oh God. Thank you both for that um. I think we have time, for maybe one more and in this question, um begins with a statement uh. Our our questioner wrote first, this is an all-cast star, uh, an All-Star cast.

Excuse me of pilgrimage experts – and I couldn’t agree more with our with our viewer – that uh we’re very fortunate to have these two uh theological experts on pilgrimage, uh and and the question is as follows: what do we need to do to develop the Theology of embodiment In connection to pilgrimage, and – and I hear both resonances with both of your presentations – so maybe each of you can respond to that. What do we need to do to develop a Theology of embodiment – and I see here a contrast with that Theology of pilgrimage that Layla you talked about initially setting out to to develop? We allowed you want to go first sure, because I I hope you have an answer, Andre. What I actually immediately started. Thinking was something that that really kind of exploded over the the pandemic, uh, which is these virtual, pilgrimages right, um and the ways that those raise new questions about embodiment.

I do not think what we are doing now is disembodied right, but I think it. It presses that question further and kind of challenges us to create and to think about embodiment, as it relates to practices right um in some new ways, and I don’t quite I don’t quite know what that is, but I’m working on it image yeah. So uh I mean I like in uh in my last presentations, many things, but also the the emphasis on on the practice and to to see how you know. As you know, theologians were invited to to start by looking at the practices even of pilgrimage uh, because you know it’s a popular devotion. Uh very often pilgrimage originate by kind of popular reclaim uh, and then they live or die by being practiced by being done.

Um and so to to kind of start there to look at you know what are the rituals that are performed, what uh, what this signifies. So, what is the you know, the the the the the the the the life of the the Christians telling us uh? What is the the people of God telling us in their practice of of the Faith with regard to like, because rituals are embodied practices like you’re, doing something you’re, making something you’re putting rocks uh there you’re creating a little crust uh in there, and so there’s something Very tactile of our faith that sometimes, as you know, Theologian or church Authority, we prefer to stay at the distance of or we don’t see, and so I think that already to pay attention to that and to you know, encourage that sense of of creativity and and Recognize that I think, would be uh way simply to kind of um. You know faster that that Theology of embodiment – and it again the link with the covid-19 you know – has make us uh made us aware of that need to to to connect in uh in meaningful ways and in-person ways. Virtual things are wonderful, like this webinar.

You know that opens up a lot of possibilities, but we also must take into consideration our Incarnation because we’re a very embodied religion, uh, and so that’s really very much in line with the core of our of our faith. Any other closing remarks on that front: there Layla no okay! Well! Thank you! Thank you both I’m afraid.

Just for the sake of time, we’re gon na have to stop there and we had more questions that come. I think there’s great interest in what both of you shared and and his you’ve both have given us much food for reflection and further consideration. So thank you, uh for for taking the time to be with us at this webinar um, and I want to put into the uh the chat box there for folks a link to the medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame’s website, where you can find more Information about forthcoming uh programs – I’m also going to share here – you can see the the flyer um. I I want to highlight again that this particular webinar was co-sponsored by the medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame in the center for spirituality here at St Mary’s College and in Notre Dame with additional support from The Institute for scholarship in the liberal arts. College of arts and letters um, I would be remiss if I didn’t also give a shout out of things thanks to Dr Annie Killian, a Dominican sister in the public Humanities fellow at the medieval Institute for those who are with us and are interested in continuing this Conversation on pilgrimage, we invite you to the next webinar in our series, which will take place on Friday March 3rd at 12 noon.

Eastern time we are privileged to have joining us, the artist Kelly Latimore, who will speak with us about sacred art in the journey toward justice. Video recordings, of course, of previous webinars, including this one and links to the upcoming events, are all posted on pilgrimage or you can follow the link. That’S in the chat one more time.

Thank you both to Layla and Andre for joining us for giving us. So much to reflect on and to consider – and we hope to see you all in a future webinar and in our pilgrimage experience have a wonderful afternoon and weekend.