"I have awaited you day and night"

The pilgrimage is a great opportunity to learn to wait for the Lord day and night and to be able to recognize Christ who, coming towards us, stirs up in us the need to be forgiven, tears us away from our distraction, and draws us back to Himself, as he did with the disciples of Emmaus.

Message by Julián Carrón for the 38th pilgrimage Macerata-Loreto (2016)

Dear friends, on your journey towards Loreto, you will more easily discover the boundless depth of your need if you keep before your eyes the witness that the Lord has given us to make a human journey today: Pope Francis.  Who could have imagined his response to the world's problems and to the pressing needs of life?  A Holy Year of Mercy.  "Yes, humanly speaking it's foolish, but 'the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men' (1 Cor 1:25)."  Let's learn this gaze from the Pope: "What enchants and attracts, what bends and wins over, what opens and loosens the chains is not the strength of the tools or the hardness of the law, but rather the all-powerful weakness of divine love, which is the irresistible force of His sweetness and the irreversible promise of His mercy.”

The pilgrimage is a great opportunity to learn to wait for the Lord day and night and to be able to recognize Christ who, coming towards us, stirs up in us the need to be forgiven, tears us away from our distraction, and draws us back to Himself, as he did with the disciples of Emmaus.

My wish for you is to relive the experience of the prodigal son on his journey towards home filled with nostalgia for the father, as the Pope said recently, feeling “How intensely our Father’s heart was beating.  It was a heart beating with anxiety, when every day he stepped on the terrace to look out.  What was he looking for?  If the son would come back…  Mercy makes us experience our freedom."  Indeed, nothing is automatic, like each step that you will have to take -- your freedom will always have to decide what position to take: whether the boundless gratitude of the prodigal son, or the scandal of the son who stayed home. Gratitude makes us advance, scandal blocks us.

May silence and prayer fill you with wonder for the intense beating of the heart of God for each one: it will be like reliving the long journey of Israel to reach Christ, dominated by an embrace that is more faithful than our unfaithfulness, "the embrace of the God who creates us, who created us and has allowed this mystery of original sin: he allowed this disintegrating insanity, this impossibility of unity and perfection -- he allowed it in order to fill everything with his Godly nature, that is, with his mercy.” (Father Giussani)

This is why we are not afraid, we don't lose heart, and do not allow ourselves to drop our arms, rather we advance in hope: “A total positivity in life must guide the soul of the Christian, in whatever situation it is, whatever remorse it might feel, whatever injustice it may feel weighing upon it, whatever darkness or enmity surrounds it, whatever death assails it, because God, who made all beings, is for the good. God is the positive hypothesis on all that man lives, even though this positivity seems at times to be overcome in us by the storms of life.” (Father Giussani, Generating Traces, p. 140)

I thank you for the testimony which you will give, sustained, like Mary, by your "yes" to Christ and nothing else.  May an otherwise impossible diversity show through in your faces as you return to your homes, a sign of how great is the attractiveness of the gaze of Christ, because "mercy is being moved to the point of touching the depths.” (Pope Francis).

Please add to your prayer intentions a special one for Pope Francis and also for myself, for the renewing of my "Yes, Lord, You know that I love you" to the benefit of your life.

United with you in faith,

Fr. Julián Carrón

Pope’s Message to Macerata-Loreto Pilgrims, 2015

“A pilgrimage is a symbol of life; it makes us think that life is to walk … Walk with joy and walk also when the heart is sad, but always walk”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good evening!

It is a pleasure for me to address you in this 37th Macerata-Loreto pilgrimage on foot. I did so in the past two years and I was happy because of your strength, your faith, and your love of Jesus Christ. In the General Audience the other day, I blessed the torch; there were some of you that brought it.

I wish to tell you that I am close to you, that I am close to this pilgrimage!

A pilgrimage is a symbol of life; it makes us think that life is to walk, it is a path. If a person does not walk and stays still, it’s no good, he does nothing. Think of water, when water is not in the river, it doesn’t go forward but stops and is corrupted. A soul that does not walk in life doing good, doing the many things that must be done for society, to help others and who also does not walk through life seeking God moved by the Holy Spirit from within, is a soul that ends in mediocrity and spiritual misery. Please: do not stop in life!

It can happen: we have all had falls in life, mistakes; however, if you have made a mistake rise immediately and continue to walk. “Sing and walk,” said Saint Augustine to his faithful. Walk with joy and walk also when the heart is sad, but always walk. And if you need to stop, may it be to rest a while and get some breath to go forward afterwards. Sing and walk! Always sing and walk! There is also the danger of mistaking the road. One who walks can err on the road. This can happen to any one of us, and how many times we have done this. If you err on the road, return. Return, because there is Jesus’ mercy.

You are doing this pilgrimage ”Caressed by Mercy.” Jesus’ mercy forgives everything; he always awaits you, he always loves you so much. Each one of you knows his own history. We all know our own. “O Father, I have fallen so often.” There comes to mind that beautiful song of mountain climbers: the art of climbing isn’t not to fall, but not to remain fallen. Sing and walk and if you fall, rise: there is the caress of Jesus’ mercy that forgives everything and there is joy there, the joy of that encounter with Jesus.

In this long nocturnal evening, in this night of walking, think of your life. What must I do with my life? What does Jesus say I must do with my life? What does the Lord think for me? Is there is joy in my heart to sing while I walk? If there is no joy, look for it! The Lord will give it to you, he will give it to you with his mercy.

Dear brothers and sisters, undertake this path; I am thinking of you. This evening I will pray for you, I will accompany you spiritually from Sarajevo to Rome, because I will return to Rome this evening. I will be with you and you, please, pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you. And may each one’s Guardian Angel say in your ear: “Sing and walk!”

We’ll talk again!

Message by Julian Carron for the 37th pilgrimage Macerata-Loreto

“My Grace is sufficient for you”

Dearest friends, Christ is a presence that is so present as to fill us with gladness, allowing us to live through any situation whatsoever. Every day our persecuted brethren witness this to us, and we see fulfilled in them the words of Jesus to St. Paul: “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you; for power is made perfect in weakness.’ […] Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9,10). We are little and aware of our limits, of our everyday betrayals and of the frailty of all of our attempts; but above all we are certain that the Father has chosen us just as we are, so that it be even more evident that the power is only His power.

In the boundless love that he had for our life, Fr. Giussani reminds us that “without Christ’s Resurrection there is only one alternative: nothingness,” but also that “we never think about this. And so we spend our days with a cowardice, pettiness, daze, dull instinctive attitude, with a repugnant distraction in which the ‘I’ is scattered.” It is not a reproach, so much so that once again Fr. Giussani offers us some help: “Let us not be surprised if for some minutes we find ourselves distracted, but rather let us regain
attention as soon as we realize that.”

Nothing is excluded from the victory that Christ’s Resurrection has brought into history: therefore no limit, no fear or uncertainty, no harm, no evil deed is so strong as to erase that Presence from our gaze. At least for one night, while walking towards
Mary’s house, may the supplication to Christ be predominant in each one of us: that He be the center of our life, that He sustain each step, by making us experience the liberation, whatever harm we may be carrying on our shoulders. As long as each one of you remains simple of heart, the walk will help to not “petrify” the faith that leads you all to Loreto. Indeed, each step is like a repeated question, especially when exhaustion comes to the fore: why is it worth to keep going? This is the same question that oozes from each fiber of our being every time we reawaken: why is it worth to keep living?

My wish for you is to walk with your eyes and hearts filled with the embrace of Christ’s mercy, that reaches us through Pope Francis as he constantly puts us back on the journey towards destiny, “and when we arrive, He was already waiting for us.” This is why we follow him: so that what happened to us when we encountered Jesus may become more and more our own. Gratuitousness flourishes out of gratitude for the Lord who is alive and present, whereby each one would give one’s life for the fellow man walking besides him. If you give in to His attractiveness and let yourself be seized by Christ, you become part of the people born of the Resurrection, the witness of a surprising way of living the usual things. You become “arms, hands, feet, mind and heart of a Church ‘which goes forth’” (Pope Francis).