Through wisdom and love, God has created all that is. The prophet Isaiah reflected on the mystery of creation asking, “Who has measured with his palm the waters, marked off the heavens with a span, held in his fingers the dust of the earth, weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (Is. 40:12). In His providential love, God continually guides and shapes creation such that the magnificence of His majesty is revealed to us. We experience this whenever we take in sweeping vistas, examine the wonders of the microscopic world, or simply reflect on the beauty of everyday life.
Summertime travel is an opportunity to explore new places and revisit favorite destinations. Seeing God’s handiwork in the natural world helps us to marvel at the order with which He created, transforming chaos into a home for us that is very good (cf. Genesis 1). The beauty of nature itself speaks to God’s glory and majesty. Additionally, when we travel and attend Mass at a different parish, we witness how Catholics live out their faith in another community. It is an experience of the universality of the Catholic Church.
Vacations aren’t the only things for which we travel, though. Deep in our faith’s tradition is the spiritual value of making pilgrimage to holy sites. For centuries, Catholics have traveled to places made holy by events which took place there or by the people whose lives brought God’s presence in a special way to that town or village. Pilgrimages are also made to implore God’s grace for a particular intention or to seek a more profound conversion of heart.
Fortunately, one is not limited to traveling to Europe or the Holy Land to make a pilgrimage. We are blessed to have the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics right here in our archdiocese, and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation is located in Carey, OH, in the southern part of the Diocese of Toledo. Both are sacred places where one can experience the love and power of God in a unique way. It is likely that there are churches or places significant to our Catholic faith near a destination to which you might be headed this summer. Taking the time to visit such sites could serve to deepen one’s understanding and appreciation of the history and meaning of our faith.
Before ascending into heaven, our Lord instructed the Apostles to go and “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). Since then, Christians have spread the Good News of salvation throughout the world, and we are able to view the natural world through the lens of the Gospel. Many places still bear witness to the lived faith of those in times past, as well as to the continued efforts of Christians to follow the Lord’s command to bring the Gospel to all peoples.
Wherever our summer travel may take us, it is an opportunity to know God more fully and encounter Him in every corner of His magnificent creation. Let’s be sure not to miss it!