It is May, the month of Mary. A Marian pilgrimage can be a wonderful family event. We do not have to go on a journey to Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, or Loreto. The family can make a trip to a Marian shrine or church in the city. We can choose an outdoor shrine or an area in the church which has an image of our Lady.
A pilgrimage is done for different reasons: to show our love for the Blessed Mother, to ask for specific favor, to thank God or Mary for favor granted, or to do penance. A pilgrimage ultimately brings us closer to our Lord.
What does the family do in a pilgrimage? We drive or walk to the destination of our pilgrimage with prayer in mind. A common practice is to say the entire fifteen decades (3 Mysteries) of the Rosary. We “travel” with Jesus and Mary through the mysteries. We pray aloud one of the Mysteries on the way to the pilgrimage site, then pray the Mysteries of the day at the church or shrine. And on the return trip, we pray the other Mysteries. Children can take active roles in the prayers. We may place flowers and light candles at the shrine or in front of the image.
When the family takes a vacation to a different province or country, it will be a beautiful practice if parents make a small pilgrimage a part of the vacation. It teaches the children that love for Jesus and Mary takes priority in family life.
(Reference: “The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions” by Mike Aquilina and Regis Flaherty)