Last month, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was blessed to witness an exceptional visit. Newlyweds Justin and Noelle, before moving into their first home in New York City, made their honeymoon a pilgrimage to Marian shrines in Wisconsin.
Guided by the Holy Spirit
From the start, the couple’s relationship has been defined by their deep faith. Justin and Noelle met on Catholic Match, when he was living in Kansas and she in Illinois. “She was just talking about being led by the Holy Spirit and how important that was for her,” Justin recalls. “The way that she spoke, you could tell that she was devout and she was listening to what the Holy Spirit has to say to her.” In particular, the Blessed Mother was an essential guiding light: “Without her help,” says Justin, “we would not have met each other, been in the situation that we’re in.” One of their first shared activities was a 33-day consecration to Mary.
Why Marian Shrines?
The newlyweds’ decision, then, to spend their honeymoon at Marian shrines was the natural culmination of the path they had been traveling. “I asked Justin if we could do a little pilgrimage and thank Our Lady and Our Lord for all that they’ve done for us,” Noelle comments. She elaborates on devotion to Mary: “I just want to give her everything … When you’re under the mantle of Our Lady, she is always the closest to Our Lord, and she always makes our heart more like His.”
After attending the inaugural Solemnity of Our Lady of Champion, the couple visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Some aspects of the Shrine especially resonate with their spirituality. Both cherish a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of the Americas. Both were happy to be present for the feast of Bl. Carlo Acutis and venerate his relic; almost exactly a year earlier, when Justin traveled to visit Noelle at a Marian Eucharistic Congress, the two had a powerful experience of venerating a first-class relic of Bl. Carlo. Veneration Schedule
Memorial to the Unborn
In addition, the Memorial to the Unborn is a particularly moving site for Noelle, a longtime volunteer for the Women’s Care Center in Peoria. Having served so many with crisis pregnancies or post-abortion trauma, she now brought them in her prayers to Our Lady’s Shrine. “There’s just so much hurt and so much brokenness in those parents’ hearts,” she shares. “If we don’t really understand God’s love, that we are loved, it’s hard for us to understand the gift of life that we can carry.” See the Memorial
The world is certainly in need of the witness of God’s love that Justin and Noelle offer, not least through their life together. A marriage rooted in Christ and thriving under Our Lady’s care manifests the love of God, which gives life to all human love. It also demonstrates how His Mother, who knows His love so well, can guide us and keep us in it, as she is ever eager to do for her children.
Purposes for Pilgrimage...
Pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place for the purpose of veneration, in gratitude, in supplication, to fulfill a promise, or as a penance. It is an ancient devotion, first commanded by God to our Hebrew forebears to journey to the Temple three times a year. As inheritors of the Faith, we maintain sacred spaces for pilgrimage, but are not bound to journey. Instead, we go on pilgrimage willingly in the spirit of the Gospel: as a reminder to deny ourselves, taking up our crosses, and leaving behind our daily lives to follow Him (cf. Matthew 16:24-25). Leaving one’s comfort and journeying to a strange place is a proven way to encounter spiritual renewal and healing. Pilgrimage is a way to “lose” our lives for His sake and find them anew.