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Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for the key words
and terms below as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself or from the resource materials
cited throughout the Links for Learners. You
can also find a list of terms on the glossary
page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
Change of heart
This month's author shares
her pilgrimage through Ireland with us, a journey where we discover
historical sites that shed light on an ancient but still vital spirituality.
What is it?
"The thing that distinguishes a pilgrimage is what's in your heart."
Pilgrimage is a journey, one guided by the heart and the spirit. It
can be described as a faith journey, an inner journey, a change of heart,
a search for God. While we may associate the word pilgrimage
with specific religious events and travels, it is in the bigger picture
a life's journey back to God. A Christian's entire life is a pilgrimage.
In fact, we speak of our Church as a pilgrim Church. A pilgrimage is
but one more expression of our passage from birth through life and back
to our Father. It is what we celebrate in the Eucharist each time we
come together as a Christian community.
Every pilgrimage has signposts,
milestones. In Ireland they are round stone towers and cairns.
In every Catholic church the Stations of the Cross line the walls to
remind us of Jesus' passion and death. In our liturgical life, Advent
and Christmas, Lent and Easter, holy days such as All Saints Day, all
mark the Church's seasons. For baptismal candidates in an RCIA program,
Lenten Sundays lead the way to Easter initiation in Christ's life.
What is at the heart of
your own faith journey?
Tracing the steps
of the saints and missionaries may inspire you. In California, visit
the missions that dot the coast of southern and central California.
In inland states, visit the site of a special shrine dedicated to
an American saint or a well-respected local Christian leader.
Simply following the
Stations of the Cross in your parish church may remind you of your
own path to the Father. If you're a teacher or parent, bring your
children along and explain what the Stations of the Cross mean.
What is it?
In Celtic spirituality, God is present everywhere. The Celts mirror
what the inspired writers of the Scriptures proclaim. Psalm
29 sings of God's majesty in the heart of a storm. Psalm
147 is a hymn of all creation to the Creator. "Thin places" are
those sites where we feel most aware of God's presence.
Locate a "thin place" where the natural and the supernatural connect
for you. Go there, if only in your imagination. Open your heart to experience
For some who are homebound,
the Internet can offer "thin places" where we can feel side by side
both our world and God's presence. Try the NASA
Web site for an awe-inspiring picture of your favorite planet. Or
see the Webshots.com site
for thousands of photographs of mountains and beaches, fish and
forest creatures, lighthouses and the open sea. The pictures are
downloadable as screen savers for daily inspiration.
If you have lost a
loved one, a friend, a respected teacher to death, visit the cemetery.
In prayer, ask for them to watch over you. Use a sacramental (something
that reminds you of that person) to remind you of their presence:
a treasured memento, a photograph or videotape of the gravestone
and surroundings, perhaps a paper rubbing of the legend on the headstone.
Share your sacramental with other family members and friends.
If you live near the
ocean or a large lake, enjoy a walk on the shore. Don't hesitate
to go even in winter, when you can stroll alone. See the July
2000 Links for Learners for tips on how to enjoy the beach.
Even in the middle
of a busy work day, you can stop in front of your computer for 10
minutes of prayer at Sacred
What is it?
Christian community is a kinship we share with the angels, the saints
and all those who have gone ahead of us. It's a life shared together.
Celtic spirituality with its emphasis on hospitality can be a wonderful
expression of community.
Older Celtic settlements
often centered around monasteries, unlike the parish- and diocese-centered
European inhabitants. For information on monastic spirituality, read
about the Monastery of Christ
in the Desert, in New Mexico. Monastic spirituality is a way of
life, carried out over a lifetime, requiring discipline to approach
God through prayer, fasting, silence, vigils, reading and good works.
The Irish practice of hospitality is an offshoot of monastic custom.
Hospitality implies listening. In silence we learn to keep an inner
peace, a means of returning to God.
More information on the
monastic life is available from the Genesee
Abbey in Piffard, New York.
The author invites us to celebrate the communities of which we are a
Are you a college
student away from home? Gather old friends when you're home on break,
celebrate the Eucharist together, then go out for brunch. Celebrate
Are you a parent anxious
over the compulsive behaviors of your daughter or son? After prayer,
thought and research, intervene in your child's life. Celebrate
your love and concern. Pray together. Seek solutions within your
Are you hungry for
more information on your family background? The Public Broadcasting
Service (PBS) produced The
Irish in America, a documentary series on the Irish immigrations
in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Web site features genealogy
resources for tracking family histories, Irish or not.
Celebrate the community
of young Christians by attending a rally. Something like World
Youth Day occurs infrequently and we can't all travel that far,
but there are local and regional events we can enjoy as a group.
What is it?
Art is a reminder of the holiness of our world. All things relate. All
things are holy. The Book
of Kells, a medieval Latin version of the four Gospels, survives
as testament to the artistic talent of Irish monks. At the Axis
Mundi studios, artists create liturgical art for churches as well
as for individual buyers. You can view designs for sanctuary crosses,
for example, or purchase a Cross of Kells.
- In small class work
groups or adult discussion groups, create a common collage picturing
liturgical art. Or an RCIA group may build a collage expressing what
is drawing each person to the faith.
- Storytelling is an
art. Children would enjoy creating their own multimedia
puppet show to share with family and friends. The show could center
on a favorite Gospel story or a family story unique to their own cultural
- Write a poem
that expresses how you feel about the nearness of God. You may
want to model the style of an Irish
lament describing the suffering during the Great Famine.
Is there suffering in your own life that only God can help you
through? Write about it. Or find a poem or poet to model at
the Academy of American Poets.
You'll even find audio poems there.
In the House of Memory:
Ancient Celtic Wisdom for Everyday Life, Steve Rabey, Plume Publishing.
How the Irish Saved
Civilization, Thomas Cahill, Doubleday.
In addition, an online
bookstore carries a wealth of books on Ireland and the Celtic
some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however,
that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained
within the site’s archives.