By Jessica Langrell (Pilgrim Leader)
Here we come Me-hi-co! Let’s face it, I’ll be honest, languages are not my forte, but there are definitely points for trying.
This morning we are Mexico-bound as we struggle to drag our weary bodies out of bed for the 5:30am group meeting in the hotel lobby for our flight. I’m not quite sure what’s more difficult; trying to sleep awkwardly and intermittedly for 20+ hours on a flight or finally putting your aching body to rest and only allowing it only a couple hours eye-shut! A stark reminder of the ways of the pilgrim; discomfort is reluctantly welcomed yet most always included! We are not made for comfort but greatness! (Try saying that to 18 young sleep deprived pilgrims at 5:30am…I’d strongly advise against it).
Today we spiritually deepened our pilgrimage as we began our daily prayer routine, although keeping in mind almost nothing goes to plan; we strive each day to achieve the ideal. Beginning with a morning prayer and blessing led by Bishop Comensoli, we then all as a group recite the renowned ‘Prayer for Life,’ by Bl John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae. Throughout the day we listen to and read when possible about the backgrounds and reflections of those wiser to comment on our religious places of visit. At some point discerning which moment sees it best, we pray the Rosary together for the intentions both private and those of our family and friends which each of us pilgrims carry close to our hearts on this pilgrimage. We have so fortunately access to Daily Communion in the Holy Mass and accompanying that; Bishop Comensoli is leading us each day through homilies and ongoing reflections on the charism of life and how we can live this out in our Christian vocation of daily life. God has not been outdone in generosity, the blessing of having a ‘Bishop On Call’ allows each one of us to approach the Bishop at any time of the day, at any place during the day for the oh so wonderful and merciful Sacrament of Confession and Spiritual Direction when needed. This alone would suffice a wonderful 13-day pilgrimage! On top of all of this – we have the magnificent Holy places which we set out feet on each day to engage, pray, reflect and admire upon.
After what seemed a ridiculously speedy flight and more awkward-sitting-up-dozing, we landed safe and sound in the wonderful Mexican land. We landed safely, but I didn’t say healthily. Boarding a somewhat much smaller airplane craft as we are now flying domestic trips – air pockets were much more appreciated. With the odd turbulence, nothing extraordinary but enough to upset your stomach, some of us struggled more than others, which did add to time spent getting our feet walking steady again. Alas, as good pilgrims do we pushed on and with a bit of water and food, all smiles were returned.
Soon after clearing security, we were warmly greeted by our new tour guide by the name Armando. Note the pronunciation “Arrrrr-man-dohhh,” the more the effort, the more the appreciation (and amusement) from the locals! This was an interesting contrast from our last US tour guide by the name of ‘Arnold,’ indeed we had crossed from one State!
Directly off to our hotel, which mind you has been so pleasantly and practically chosen (cheers to Inroads!). Just walking distance from the main City square & Cathedral, 3 blocks the city markets, 2 blocks from Zara (appreciation from the Chicas), 1 street from the frozen yogurt shop (that’s for Lauren J) and across the road from the bank! It honestly has made our ever so brief 3-day stay in Mexico all the more exciting & efficient, so most can be achieved in little time.
We all hurriedly dropped off our luggage, checked in & met promptly back in the lobby to get back on the streets before nightfall to see the intriguing city. Heading straight to the Catedral de Metropolitana (1563) so fittingly for Mass, we were welcomed into the city as we had in LA by the Lady of the Angels, now from the Perfect and Holy Virgin Mary of Guadalupe in her Catedral.
Having a quick chance to prayerfully explore the Catedral, we made our way to the Chapel of the Holy Angels for our own private Mass with the Cardinals MC, Fr Francisco.
This was another sacred blessing and honorable privilege to celebrate Mass in the Catedral of the City we reside in, with our own pilgrimage Bishop, alongside the local priest, in the Chapel of the most Holy Angels who light and guard, rule and guide us everyday, and in the City of Life!
At times this pilgrimage seems more like our fondest dreams than reality taking place before us, and sometimes the struggle is more to remain in the moment and appreciate everything as it takes place. Yet this too is impossible, sometimes these blessings and the hand of the Lord working in our lives doesn’t make sense or are even known to us till some time after them taking place. For this reason, especially on-pilgrimage we must remain open, prayerful and trusting so that He can do His marvelous ways in and through us, and pray we understand in His time.
Now, we truly feel at home.
Finishing the Mass and for the first time in the pilgrimage, all were granted ‘free time.’ Enough said & all were off. To the markets, to the shops, to the restaurants and holy sites, to chat, to rest, all having the freedom to settle into the City as wished. Regrouping for another great meal, it was wonderful to laugh and reminisce about the countless experiences in the last couple days and look forward to with joy and utter excitement about the unknown wonders lay ahead.
United in prayer & mission for life,
On behalf of the Guadalupe Expedition Group.