Yesterday my girlfriend Morgan and I joined the rest of my family on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Christ's Passion in St John, Indiana. Rather than take a bus, my family all crammed into one car and drove straight down ourselves. Two and a half hours in a car together doesn't always paint a pretty picture but we were all buzzing with excitement for what the day would hold!
The pilgrimage began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana, a close family friend and assisted by Father Anthony Jelenik at St. John the Evangelist. Recently built in 2008, St. John the Evangelist was absolutely gorgeous which may seem strange when we often consider modern churches. Connecting both the old churches of the parish with biblical symbolism, we all felt that this was the perfect worship space for the beginning of our celebration.
(The outside of St. John the Evangelist- St John, IN. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Blessed Virgin Mary statue outside of St. John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(The interior of St John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(The Altar of St. John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)
( The presider's chair of St. John's. copyright John Paul Bender)
(The tabernacle is two sided. It can be opened from the front and back. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Of course you can't miss a picture with our very much missed bishop: Copyright John Paul Bender)
Eloquently speaking as always, Bishop Hying talked about Pentecost and the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He noted that without the Holy Spirit, the apostles would have stayed in the upper room, Peter probably would have gone back to fishing; the only thing he had ever known, and we would never have existed beyond that point as a universal church.
Despite all of the fear and negativity in the upper room though, the Holy Spirit breathed in the apostles a renewed love and zeal for the Lord, courage to be able to share all of the teachings of the Messiah, and to make disciples of all nations. It was precisely why pilgrimages are essential to our faith journey. Pilgrimages help us to be reinvigorated in the truth and awe of the Gospel, to be reminded that we can not shy away from evangelizing to others, and to dive deeper into our own individual relationship with Christ.
Right behind the majestic parish is the Shrine of Christ's Passion. The shrine is full of life size stations of the cross set on a vast piece of farm land. Each station was complete with perfectly hand- crafted statues of Christ, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, Veronica, Mary and Simon of Cyrene with music from local artists and narrations by NBC news anchor Bill Curtis. Fr. Anthony joined our pilgrimage and inspired our group with powerful and emotion-filled reflections. Below are pictures that I took of each station of the shrine and the surrounding scenery.
(Gathered around the table at the Last Supper:Copyright John Paul Bender)
(In the Garden of Gethsemane: Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Jesus being judged by Pontius Pilate: Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Christ carries His cross: Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Copyright: John Paul Bender)
(Jesus looks with gratitude upon Simon: Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Veronica wiping the face of Jesus: Copyright John Paul Bender)
( Jesus consoles the women. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Copyright John Paul Bender)
( Jesus nailed to the cross. Copyright John Paul Bender)
( The Crucifixion of Jesus. Copyright John Paul Bender )
( Fr. Anthony prostrating in front of Jesus. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Pieta- Christ in His Mother's arms. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Christ being laid into the tomb. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Entering the tomb. Copyright John Paul Bender)
(Christ appears to Mary Magdalene. Copyright John Paul Bender)
( Christ ascends to heaven. Copyright John Paul Bender)
After walking through the beautiful grounds of the Shrine of Christ's Passion, we decided to pay a visit to original St. John the Evangelist church in Lake Country. Built in the form of a log cabin, the church was converted into a 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration chapel. Hands down, it was the most beautiful Eucharistic chapel I have ever set foot in.
(St John the Evangelist Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Copyright John Paul Bender)
( St John the Evangelist Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Copyright John Paul Bender)
After all was said and done I believe this was easily the best pilgrimage I have ever been on! As a family we got to say hello to an old friend in Bishop Donald Hying, we got to attend Mass in a beautiful church at St. John the Evangelist which puts some of our churches in Milwaukee to shame, and we had the opportunity to walk with Jesus Christ as he carried our sins on a cross for us.
I strongly encourage you to attend the Shrine of Christ's Passion, and the city of St. John, Indiana. You will never forget the experience that you will have and you will see God's love for you in a totally different and overwhelming way.
Blessings to you on this Solemnity of Pentecost!