What is involved in pilgrimage

What is involved in pilgrimage? Illustrate the differing approaches to pilgrimage by referring to 2 or more places of pilgrimage.The word Pilgrimage means the journey to a holy place. Pilgrimages are found in all of the religions in the world. Islam’s go to Makkah, Hindus go to Benares on the River Gange, Buddha’s go to Bodhgaya, Sikhs go to Amritsar and Jews and Christians go to Jerusalem. There are many different reasons people go on Pilgrimage. Some people go to feel the holiness of a place. Some go to come closer to God or to seek his forgiveness. Others go to show their devotion to God, it is a commitment in their Religion. Another reason they go is to seek Gods help. This could be in a physical way, a healing or cure from a disease, or in a more spiritual way.Pilgrimage is not a new idea. In Genesis 47:9 it says”And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.”One of the main places of Christian pilgrimage is Lourdes. In February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, the sickly daughter of a poor miller was collecting fire wood with her sister and a friend near a cave called Massabielle, on the outskirts Lourdes, which was then a small unknown French Pyrenean town.Bernadette’s sister and her friend crossed the nearby stream to pick up more wood, but Bernadette stayed on the side of the grotto, afraid she may catch a chill from crossing through the cold water. While the others were gone, Bernadette prayed the Rosary and saw the first of 18 apparitions of Mary, Christ’s mother. In one of these visions she told Bernadette to ‘drink at the spring’ – Bernadette scrapped at the ground where the lady pointed and unearthed the spring which people the world over now come to bathe in, in the hope that their faith in God will bring them healing from the ailments which afflict them.Lourdes is a huge Pilgrimage base. Over 2 million people visit it a year. During the pilgrimage many different events take place. There are special masses, candlelight processions in the dark and many different youth activities. There is a special Lourdes hymn that is sung during all of these. The main attraction to Lourdes is the healing springs. Millions of people bathe in these springs each year. These waters have special healing powers and thousands of healings have taken place. These can range from physical healings, healing broken bones and disabilities, to spiritual healings, strengthening people’s faith in God. Lots of people bottle the water and take it home for those who couldn’t make the pilgrimage. Pilgrims can also visit the Grotto. This is where Bernadette had her visions. Here people experience a feeling of peacefulness and calm. God’s presence is very strong here. Another special event at Lourdes is the Baths. Here pilgrims where special robes and bathe in holy water. When they are finished they get out and without drying they get into their clothes.Another place for Roman Catholic pilgrimage is Rome. Rome is the centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Millions of Catholics visit here each year. There were 7 pilgrim churches founded when the Roman Empire became Christian and there is a pilgrimage travelling the route to these churches. The Emperor Constantine built St Peters church which contains the tomb of St Peter and the church of St Paul over St Paul’s tomb. There are pilgrimages to these as well. Many Catholics also visit Rome because it is where the Pope LIVES. The current Pope gives a mass every Easter and Christmas. This is extremely popular and lots of Catholics attend.AO2Explain the part pilgrimage plays in the religious life of Christians. In your answer include reference to the pilgrimages you have mentioned above.The idea of a special journey is not a new idea. The first pilgrimages would have been people climbing to the top of hills to be closer to God, or their Gods back then. In Judaism one of the great spiritual discoveries is that we are all pilgrims, strangers seeking God. The idea of Pilgrimage goes back to the beginning of Christianity as well. The Disciples all followed Jesus to get closer to him and God.There are many different reasons why people go on pilgrimages. One reason is that they fell a requirement to because of their Religion. All Muslims must travel to Mecca once in their life. Sometimes people save up for decades so that they can afford to go. For these Pilgrims their Pilgrimage is a religious accomplishment. It is one of the five pillars of Islam; it is something they have to do in their life.Another reason some people go on Pilgrimage is to learn more about their faith or to visit places in the bible. A visit to Rome or to the Holy Land gives a person greater awareness of their faith and its history which in turn helps their faith and understanding. They can do it to see places in Jesus’ life, helping them understand his life better. Seeing the places where certain bible events happened may help them understand it better.Some people go on pilgrimage for a healing. This can be physical or spiritual. The main place they would go for this is Lourdes due to the huge amount of recorded healings. People would go on this Pilgrimage so they could bathe in the special waters Bernadette uncovered.Other people go on Pilgrimages to get closer to God. They may have a damaged or inexistent religious life and they feel a need to mend it. They would go to try to ‘discover’ God for themselves, get closer and deepen their relationship. People who have bathed in the waters at Lourdes have also experienced religious healings rather than physical ones. People have gone hoping for physical healings and haven’t got them, but have claimed they can accept their illness now. This is what deepening their relationship with God is.Some people go on Pilgrimages as a devotion to a religious person or a Saint. Some people feel a particular devotion to Mary if they feel she has helped them in their life. These people may travel to Lourdes as a devotion to her.A different reason why people go on Pilgrimage is as penance. If they feel they have been particularly bad or done a really awful sin they will go on Pilgrimage as a penance to God, begging for forgiveness. This happened a lot in ancient times, where people would go on long, treacherous journeys so that they would be forgiven of their sins.Praying for a certain person is another reason to go on Pilgrimage. If someone close to them is very ill or has a big life changing decision ahead of them then they may go on pilgrimage to pray for them.Some Christians believe that their whole life is a pilgrimage that is leading them towards God. They believe their experiences are teaching them about God and helping them to become closer to Him.AO3’Places of pilgrimage tend to be very commercialised these days. This is bound to reduce the value of the pilgrimage for Christians’. Do you agree? Give reasons showing you have considered more than one point of view.Nowadays places of Pilgrimage tend to be very commercialised. If you search for Lourdes on the internet then you get hundreds of hotels giving you the ‘best deal’. Shops are all offering to sell you ‘official Lourdes merchandise’. You can but ashtrays, pens, and lighters, anything inscribed with Lourdes. There are hundreds of different coaches offering to take you on wonderful tours of the place. There are shops, bars, and cafes all hoping to squeeze every last penny out of the Pilgrims. This isn’t just Lourdes though, this can be said for Jerusalem, Rome and any other Pilgrimage base. Does all this commercialisation take away the effect of the place for Christians?A lot of Christians would say that the commercialisation does take away the effect of the place. They would say that a lot of money is being made at the expense of religion, and this is wrong. Because these places are commercialised, they often attract tourists and noise is created. This noise distracts people and takes the emphasis of the place they are in away from them. It also takes the emphasis of religion away. This commercialisation has turned religious Pilgrimage bases into normal holiday resorts. A Pilgrim who went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land said this of bathing in the Dead Sea, ‘a unique experience indeed as was advertised on the notice, but spoiled a bit for me by the large numbers of tourists.’But some Christians would disagree with this. If it weren’t for commercialisation, pilgrimage would still be at its medieval stage and pilgrims would travel on horseback for months on end to cross the borders into far away cities. Nowadays, the ancient style of pilgrimage is just seen as inconvenient. Travelling and accommodation today is now all commercialised and this wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for it. In ancient times, the pilgrimage was a dangerous journey, but nowadays the biggest risk is the possibility of getting slight jet lag. To stay in a comfortable hotel and to fly to a pilgrimage site is a more luxurious experience, making you more relaxed, putting you in a happier state of mind. If you feel happier then this will bring you closer to God. Buying a souvenir of your pilgrimage is also something many people wish to do. They like to have something they can look at and it reminds them of the place and their journey. Surely this cannot be a bad thing.I believe that commercialisation is not a bad thing. It makes the whole process easier and more convenient for all Pilgrims. It is nice for them to be comfortable when they are at their pilgrimage in a nice hotel. It is good that they can relax in the restaurants and cafes. There is a point where commercialisation goes a bit too far though. When there are stalls set up along pilgrimage paths selling lighters and ashtrays inscribed with the name it is not good. It is nice to have a small souvenir but when the name is put on any cheap rubbish it is wrong.

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