• September 18, 2012

The Pilgrimage: in the Words of our Friends

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Katie I. – Former Heart’s Home Volunteer

"At the end of the Rosary, I stood just below the shrine to hand out a prayer card to each pil­grim who approached, so I was able to see their faces during this inti­mate moment. As I watched each of our friends come up to offer a white rose for our Blessed Mother, the moment was so full of her pres­ence! One woman in par­tic­ular touched my heart in a way that is hard to describe. It was as though enfolded in the petals of her rose laid every one of her long­ings, secrets, fears, suf­fer­­ings, desires, hopes, and prayers. She offered her whole self in this one moment. I could see in her eyes that she knew that this was too much to hold; she knew that her suf­fer­­ings were too deep, her hopes too high, her prayers too little; she knew that she was so loved and so unworthy all at the same time; but she knew in this moment, too, that her Blessed Mother of Compassion, this beloved Lady of Sorrows, only wanted to hold all of her sor­rows, take up in her arms all of her fears, crosses, and hopes, just as she held her beloved Son at the foot of the cross. This, truly, is our mis­­sion!

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Guilhem M. – A Friend from Manhattan "What struck me as the most beau­tiful moment of the day was when Cheryl sang Schubert’s Ave Maria right to the side of Our Lady of Compassion’s chapel. Seated atop a small hill in this beau­tiful scenery of the ICCC and underneath the bluest of skies, all of Heart’s Home friends lis­tened in the greatest silence, before thanking her warmly for sharing her gift. I was touched to be a wit­­ness to such a mar­velous per­­for­­mance that was vis­ibly inspired by the sur­round­ings but also by the gen­eral mood of prayer and friend­­ship that con­nected us all through Heart’s Home.
Later on after the pil­­grimage, each was invited to deposit a white rose by our Lady’s feet. These were all iden­tical yet as everyone kneeled, walked or was helped towards the chapel each flower was tran­s­­formed to embody a very spe­­cial and unique prayer of thanks, grace, mourning or sorrow. This moment struck me as being exactly to the image of Heart’s Home: a com­­mu­nity of indi­vid­uals, enriched by its diver­sity of origin, way of life, com­mit­­ment and per­­sonal his­­tory, brought together in friend­­ship to grow their faith.

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Rachel O. – Saint Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity Member "For me, each year’s Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Compassion casts new light on some aspect of the charism of Heart’s Home. I had been used to thinking of Mary at the foot of the cross as the model of Heart’s Home’s charism, but the homily during the mass that opened the day of pil­­grimage gave me a new insight: as sharers in this charism: we not only look toward Mary as model, but also to Jesus as he looks at Mary. Between those two posi­­tions, that of Jesus on the cross looking at Mary and that of Mary at the foot of the cross looking at Jesus, we shift per­pet­u­ally. I was reminded that what makes each of these posi­­tions bear­able, on the human level, is that nei­ther Jesus nor Mary was alone: they accom­­pa­nied one another to the end and there is human con­­so­la­­tion, even in that. Having been at a parent’s deathbed, I rec­og­nize how much love and com­­fort the simple pres­ence of another can bring, both to the suf­ferer and to the one who watches. Somehow this insight helps me to see the suf­fering Christ in a less depressing, and more fruitful way. To be on pil­­grimage with Heart’s Home is to taste this redem­p­­tive fruit: from all back­­­grounds we prayed, sang, ate, recited the rosary, laughed, and talked together. The beau­tiful con­cert and dancing were another shared gift: thank you for the oppor­­tu­nity to share in this day.

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James S. – a Jesuit Seminarian from Fordham University

"Thank you for inviting us to the Pilgrimage. We found it refreshing for the soul to honor Our Lady in so good a way. Please know that we pray for your com­mu­nity and a flour­ishing of the spring­time of com­pas­sion."

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Cheryl M.– Saint Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity Member

"The day of our pil­grimage to the Blessed Mother was mirac­u­lous, mean­ingful and oh, so mem­o­rable. Standing in front of her shrine preparing to sing Schubert’s “Ave Maria” during mass, I felt her pres­ence entering me from behind. My heart burst open and I felt my voice soar and fill the space in front of me. I looked out across the field, over the trees and into the moun­­tains of the Catskills and envi­­sioned the Holy Grace of Mary out­pouring onto the earth below. Honored to sing again in the after­noon pro­­gram, Our Blessed Mother’s pres­ence con­t­inued to be felt by all. I expe­ri­enced wave after wave of goose bumps and under­s­tood the lyrics of my songs; “No one is alone” and “Some­where” at new, much deeper level. As I have per­­formed these same songs this week, I am taken back again and again to last Sunday and the grace from our pil­­grimage is still most tan­gibly pre­sent.

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Amanda S. – A Young Artist Friend from Brooklyn

"The pil­grimage to Our Lady of Compassion was a real expe­ri­ence of faith and love for me. At the shrine, I felt the weight of the bur­dens that each pil­grim brought to our Mother. I felt deeply Mary’s pres­ence at the shrine, in the dance, and dwelling in every person who came on this journey."

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Maguelonne K.– A Friend from Manhattan

"This day was a real source of beauty: the hills with their won­derful view over the Hudson valley, the beau­tiful wooden houses built by Heart’s Home mem­bers and young vol­un­teers, the mag­nif­i­cent works of art in the house, and the graceful tal­ents of the two vol­un­­teers Renee and Marian. Our son, Theophile, was daz­­zled by their smooth and har­­mo­nious move­­ments! They were a touching tes­ti­­mony of the beauty of our Lord’s cre­a­tion.

The friend­­ship of the Heart’s Home mem­bers is very dear to us; and each one of them is always full of loving atten­­tion towards us, espe­­cially towards our chil­­dren. Also the friend­­ship among all the fam­i­lies and friends that we meet reg­u­larly, thanks to Heart’s Home, is touching: all of them are radiant and wel­­coming, far beyond all dif­fer­­ences of back­­­grounds.

This day of retreat at the ICCC is a kind of home­­­coming for us: it enables us to rest, away from our spin­ning urban life, and to become aware of the things that really matter for us as this year begins.

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Carmen H.– A Friend from Brooklyn

"My visit to the ICCC for the pil­grimage was relaxed and so serene and peaceful. My hus­band and I truly felt such a holy pres­ence of good­ness. Feeling the com­pas­sion of our Holy Mother and seeing the shrine was just beyond words or what we could ever imagine. The Mass was just so beau­tiful. We loved it all. I truly felt the love and grace on this pil­grimage. We loved it so much and hope to visit again soon."

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Alvin – A Friend from Brooklyn

"It was beau­tiful. I was struck by the peace and quiet."

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John H. – A Friend from Brooklyn

""You all remind me of the Virgin Mary: it is her ten­der­ness in your smiles, her love that I see radi­ating from your faces. What a beau­tiful charism!

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