VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Anyone who has taken the wrong road in life can “turn back” and experience the mercy of Jesus, Pope Francis told tens of thousands of mostly young pilgrims about to set off on an overnight walk.
Everyone has fallen and made mistakes, but is it important to “get up right away and keep walking,” the pope said in an audio message played June 6 as the pilgrims prepared for Mass.
“This can happen to every one of us,” he said. “If you take the wrong road, turn back. Turn back because there is the mercy of Jesus.”
“The mercy of Jesus forgives everything, always waits for you, always loves you,” the pope told those participating in the 17-mile walking pilgrimage from Macerata in central Italy to the Marian shrine in Loreto.
About 100,000 people took part in the pilgrimage June 6-7. Recovering an ancient tradition, a Macerata priest organized a pilgrimage in 1978 for students about to end their school year. The pilgrimage has grown with the support of the dioceses of Macerata and Loreto, the Communion and Liberation movement and local Catholic organizations.
In his message, the pope said “pilgrimage is a symbol of life.”
“Life is walking, it is a journey,” he said. He compared life’s journey with a river: When a river stops flowing, it gets corrupted.
“A soul that does not journey in life,” doing good for others and seeking God, “is a soul that ends up in mediocrity, in spiritual poverty,” he said.
Citing St. Augustine, the pope urged people to “sing and walk,” even when “the heart is sad.”
He urged the pilgrims to reflect on their lives and on what Jesus is calling them to do. And, if they were without joy in their hearts, he urged them to turn to Jesus “who will give it to you with his mercy.”
At the general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 3, the pope had blessed the torch that was to serve as the guiding light on the pilgrim route.
The annual overnight pilgrimage begins after Mass in Macerata at 10:30 p.m. and ends in Loreto at about 6:30 a.m. the next morning. The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was “Caressed by Mercy,” and pilgrims prayed especially for persecuted Christians.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103