GERMANY, Klemens M. Holländer •
During this Holy Year of Mercy and as a Schoenstatt Brother of Mary, I decided to get on the road to Rome. What made me undertake this project? Firstly, gratitude for everything accomplished in life and for my recuperation. What urged me to undertake this project? Firstly, gratitude for everything I accomplished in life and my recuperation. In addition to this, I add a change in my professional life. These were the reasons to begin this pilgrimage and to follow Pope Francis’ call. Then, there were other reasons, such as the petition for new vocations for our community, for the Boys’ Youth of Espira and for a young mother who is gravely ill.
Since I was not in condition to carry out a pilgrimage of this length, the physical preparation was very important. So, I began walking longer distances and outlining a route. The great day arrived in May: I began the first stage, with a final destination of Lausanne in Switzerland. I departed after the pilgrim’s blessing in the Original Shrine.
The road, like life, is not a competition.
Never overdo it, your body will soon take its toll.
Observe, contemplate, pause and enjoy.
This is what the road wants to teach you.
My first stop was at the Marienpfalz Schoenstatt Center, the place where I received the call to my vocation. Then I continued through the Black Forest throughout the western route for pilgrims, crossing Switzerland to the Ranft wayside shrine, where St. Nicholas de Flüe lived, and from there, through the Way of St. James until I reached my destination, Lausanne. Because of the high summer temperatures, I decided to pause until September.
But by 25 August, I opted to begin the second stage. From Lausanne I departed for the Via Francigena, passing Lake Geneva to the ”Great St. Bernard” pass at 2,400 m.; then I continued through Via Francigena to the Aosta Valley, passing through Padan Plain, then to Rome, after walking 2,000 kilometers. I ended my pilgrimage passing through the Holy Door of Mercy in St. Peter’s Basilica. During the last kilometers, it was hard to keep my emotions under control; I was too emotional.
To go on pilgrimage implies a risk
To set out on such a long road naturally implies a risk. I have to accept my physical weaknesses, to accept the many daily kilometers of travel with steep, rocky and asphalt roads; in addition to the weather conditions of which one has no control. Often, there is a lot of rain, sun, cold or heat in unhealthy amounts. Is my physical conditioning enough? Perhaps everything that I believed and experienced will be placed in doubt, or perhaps I might be overcome with immense joy. Will I always find the right road and an adequate place to sleep? Will I meet new people, good places, new thoughts and feelings? Perhaps I will experience events that will take me beyond what I imagined.
Moreover this was to be a pilgrimage with all these questions, walking with God and the Blessed Mother. During this time, I proposed to examine my life, in order to draw conclusions. In order to do this the following would be necessary: the long road, solitude and encounter, prayer and the hope of the goal of time for reflection and prayer that would get me close to heaven and offer me new courage to once again continue with my daily life. In the same way, I desired days of solitude and days of community that would teach me to accept others and myself just as they are. I also had a great desire to be in touch with nature. For this and much more, I can say that the trip, throughout this road, became a profound religious adventure.
With profound gratitude, I accomplished all this, and I took it through the Holy Door of Mercy in St. Peter’s and to the Original Shrine.
On the road always be yourself that is all.
The role you play in your community, your money, or you past are not important.
You are “alone” but “you are yourself” who enters in contact with others, in this way you can give and also receive.
In a world where we often live as prisoners of a role or of an image, it is a beautiful experience.
Original: German. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA: Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA