One Day’s Pilgrimage

4 Oct
The Interior of Our Lady Queen of Angels

The Interior of Our Lady Queen of Angels

I just moved to Los Angeles, California. When I move to a new place, I try to get to know the place, let my roots start to grow. This means finding a local bar, a coffee shop, and a church to attend. I also make a special point to get to the cathedral. I figure the cathedral is the true heart of the city, its epicenter, the most important building. It is there that the diocese gathers, where the bishop has his seat. My architectural inclinations tell me that buildings matter. Just consider the difference between a house and a home. The cathedral is the central place for prayer; the home of the archdiocese. It is where two or three (or a few thousand) gather: bishops, priests, deacons, lay people, and me. So this past Saturday, I decided to go on a little pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown LA.

I figured out directions, and timing. It would be 12.2 miles in 1 hour and 23 minutes. I hopped on my Schwinn, which was recently shipped from St Paul by a friend. I headed down Florence, north on Hyde, through Inglewood, past bodegas, and run down houses. Then I took a right on Broadway. Not a left like I was supposed to. I did not realize my error until I saw signs for Watts. Watts? That didn’t sound right. So I biked around and around, and back and forth. Suddenly an hour and twenty minute bike ride was two hours. My legs were getting tired, my dress shirt damp, and my patience thin.

“Stupid LA! I should have stayed in St Paul!” Finally, I found a little pink Catholic Church. “Excuse me, which way to downtown LA?” Laughter. “Son, we aren’t near downtown. Ya head up Main St. that way.” So, a little humbled, I creaked up to and then through Downtown. I was an hour late for Mass, which by my normal math means I missed mass. But I went in anyhow. And there was a Church full of Catholics, an altar full of priests, and the Eucharist elevated by my Archbishop, Jose Gomez. I felt the words of the Psalmist “I rejoiced when they said ‘let us go onto the house of the Lord.’ And now our feet are within your gates Jerusalem.” I knelt down behind a Hispanic family, next to a Korean couple, and I cried, from exhaustion yes, but more truly, for rejoicing.

You see, sometimes, it takes a long time to get home, but I was there with my new pastor and my new flock. Through God’s grace, and on a vintage bike, I had finished my little pilgrimage within the bigger pilgrimage of life. It is a long road to the Kingdom, with a lot of wrong turns, but I’ll keep peddling on the way, and keep finding my cathedrals whether on Summit Ave, Hennepin Ave, or in downtown LA. At the end of mass, I joined a line of Catholics processing to a crucifix. Each of us embraced the statue’s feet. This is the end of all our pilgrimages. We, with sore feet, embrace His pierced feet, surrounded by the People of God, and He lifts us up to our true home.

– Terence Sweeney

One Response to “One Day’s Pilgrimage”

  1. Mary Hogan October 4, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Beautiful!!!! Thank you!

    Peace of Christ,

    Mary Hogan – Parish Secretary
    Our Lady of Grace
    5071 Eden Avenue
    Edina, MN 55436

    “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” ~ St. Gianna

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