Lenten pilgrimage an opportunity to step out of everyday life

There’s something about a road trip.

It doesn’t have to be long, or particularly well-planned or elaborate. It’s enough to pile into the car — preferably with people you love and maybe some snacks — and head off in a direction that isn’t part of your usual routine.

On a sunny Friday in March, maybe the only sunny Friday this March, my husband, Tony, my 4-year-old daughter Teresa and I did just that, heading south and east from Chicago to the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, Ind.

The shrine itself fronts a busy highway in the exurbs of Northwest Indiana. Approaching, we told Teresa to look for a big statue of Mary, the stainless steel Our Lady of the New Millennium who moved into her new home there last year. Sure enough, Teresa saw her as she towered above the nearby buildings, looking for all the world like she was standing guard over the pilgrims who were taking time out of their Lent to accompany Jesus as he walked to Calvary.

After brief introductions in the gift shop, Tony and Teresa set off to explore on their own while I got a more formal tour. The sounds of the highway faded as we moved away from the highway back along the Way of the Cross, stopping at each station to listen to Scripture and a reflection, to study the fine detail of the bronze statues. It really was an opportunity to step out of everyday life.

It was only a few hours later, fortified with ice cream, that we were headed back home. But pilgrimage need not be long to be effective.

Michelle Martin writes from Illinois. Read more about the Shrine of Christ's Passion in her article for OSV Newsweekly.