Our Rector Shares His Experiences of His Pilgrimage
In his own words, our Rector, Father Jacinto, FI, shares some of his experiences of his first trip to Mexico City, leading a pilgrimage group sponsored by the Diocese of La Crosse:
Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Our pilgrimage began on March 7, 2013. After arriving in Mexico City, we immediately traveled to Puebla, where we stayed for the first few days, visiting various churches and shrines, mostly Marian ones. It wasn’t until the latter part of our pilgrimage that we made our way back to Mexico City.
We spent some time at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 11th and the 12th. On the 11th, a Monday, we were able to celebrate Holy Mass in the Basilica, in one of the many chapels located in the rear-upper part of the church. There was another Mass being celebrated at the main altar and another one being celebrated in the chapel right next to ours. Unplanned and unexpected, it was noticed that each of the three Masses concluded at about the same exact time, although beginning at slightly different times. Also, it was noticed by one our pilgrims that when the time came during the celebration of our Mass for the elevation of the Body of Christ (“Behold the Lamb of God…”), that very same part of the Mass occurred at the Mass being celebrated at the main altar!
During the remainder of our time at the Basilica that day, we were basically shown where everything was, so that on the following day we could spend more time at those places at our own leisure.
On the following day, we were able to celebrate Mass in the convent of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns located near the Basilica. The pilgrims had an opportunity to interact with some of the nuns through the grille, who kindly provided some of the brown scapulars made by them so as to enroll in the brown scapular those pilgrims who hadn’t done so before. It was certainly an appropriate place to carry out the little ceremony (which took place after the Mass)!
Afterwards, there was plenty of free time to visit the various sacred spots. I, as you can imagine, headed straight to the new Basilica where Our Lady’s miraculous image is displayed behind the main altar for veneration. There is a passageway behind the sanctuary that enables pilgrims to pass by the sacred image on the tilma, doing so on the moving walkways (four in all: the three front ones closest to the image going to the right, and the back one going to the left). If it isn’t so busy with pilgrims coming through the passageway, one could go back and forth in front of the image, which I did many, many, many times! As I gazed upon Our Lady on the tilma (elevated some 15 feet or so from the ground), I prayed as best I could, knowing that this was a very special grace, and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me! This was certainly the culminating-moment of the pilgrimage!
Leaving Guadalupe and Mexico City was difficult for me! It was a short stay in those sacred places!
Returning to the States, and to our own Shrine here in La Crosse, dedicated to the same heavenly Mother, I am inspired, and hopeful, to learn more about the wonderful and beautiful event of Our Lady’s apparitions in 1531 as Our Lady of Guadalupe!
¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
Fr. Jacinto Mary Chapin, FI
Rector, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wisconsin