Why ‘pre-register’ – or register at all?

Because it is impossible to follow Christ without making a decision, and impossible to make a decision without being decisive.

If you wish to know the reasons for making the decision, and whether to make pilgrimage in New York this September — or from home — browse the other pages of the blog. Or, read on.

Consider Our Blessed Lady, Mary of Nazareth, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to her “The Word” of God. She trembled (in her humility, ‘smallness’) feeling like the little Girl she was before so great a messenger, message and the author of it. She considered the message then and there, wrestling with its meaning, even to the point of being ‘troubled’ by or ‘perplexed’ at it. And in her humbled condition, and in still humbler attention to the Angel’s ‘line of argument’, which was far above her, she did the sensible thing, since she did not know what it all meant.

She posed a decisive question — “How can this be?”.

The great Angel answered. And the little Maiden answered in turn. “God has spoken: let it be so.” “Amen.”

And that’s how the Church’s pilgrimage of return to God began.

Since man’s pilgrimage away from God began by a decision of a proud man, so was it reversed by a decision of an humble woman.

Decidedly not, however, with a ‘definite maybe’. Or, ‘I’d like to but …’. Or, ‘only if I don’t have to camp out on the way to Egypt’. Or, ‘let me ask if someone else from the synagogue will come, too.’ Or, ‘let me first send an e-mail to my cousin, Elizabeth, to see whether she knows about any of this yet’.

As Christ said, the one who steps back, instead of putting his hand forward to the plough of God’s vineyard — to cultivate one’s own heart, first of all — he does not deserve the One who calls in the first place, or the consequences of answering: eternal life. “Let the dead bury the dead”, he says instead to the one who decides not to follow him then & there, and excuses himself: “But first I must bury my father”.

Is not your Father in heaven waiting for you to come to Him? Is He not the same Father & Living God waiting for the ‘living-dead’ — in sin, ‘the Prodigal’ — to walk home to him already?

That is what pilgrimage can do to us: first, it ‘makes us make’ a decision. But it does not only confront us with a fundamental decision about the future. It makes us ask not only “will I follow Christ?”, but “am I following Christ already?”. What have I been doing all these years?

Yes, maybe you have followed Christ. But have you lost the way? Or have you stopped to ‘rest’, and now found he has ‘moved on’ without you?

In that sense the decision to register or not is a bit unnerving. It certainly jolts one out of the sleepiness of mundane experience. To put us back on track. It is the kind of jolt that even threatens to ‘make or break’, as the saying goes: to join us again, to ‘re-graft’ one to Christ, from whom by sin we distance ourselves — often without realizing it — or it ‘breaks’, divides us from Christ.

The decision whether to make pilgrimage makes us come to our senses. Like the prodigal sons & daughters we are.

Do I leave all behind, to follow Christ or not? (Regardless whether the answer takes you or anyone to Auriesville this autumun.)

Besides, undertaking anything important inevitably needs preparation. A period first of reflection, then of decision, then of action: taking the first step. The first step is registration.

It’s not just a matter of ‘putting your name down’, but of ‘putting your foot down’; and ‘forward’, too.

And standing up, by the grace received in answering God’s call to “follow me”, that we also hear Christ’s word to Satan, to “get thou behind me”, as well.

Be careful, therefore, because Satan also is ‘behind Christ’. Not as his disciple, to be sure, but as the one who would tempt the disciple, the real follower, to depart from Christ; to take other ‘nice(r)’ paths. Satan is the sower of dissension and confusion among Christ’s followers. And he has an easy time of it, no thanks to our love of evil, by sinning.

It is only by following Christ that we can expect to hear him, to learn his teaching. To really repent, believing decisively that ‘the reign [kingdom] of heaven is at hand’. If you hear a voice speaking over his, confusing you to distraction — beware! It is the enemy.

Take courage. Christ, Prince of Peace, has already overcome the world and its lying prince. It is Christ who is now calling you ‘to the standard’! ‘To reform’, with other Christians, under & around His ‘banner’: to conform to the likeness of Christ again by repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

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