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In general:

  • Pilgrimage is a universal activity, ranging from simple physical journeys to responding to calls from the religious and visiting places of historical or spiritual significance.

  • Pilgrimage plays a prominent role in both other religions besides Christianity, as well as in the secular world, with sites of various religious orientation being visited every year, by religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

  • Not only religious sites attract pilgrims

  • Personal pilgrimages don’t even need a physical journey , the journey is within themselves, for personal growth, reflection on the journey through life so far.


In A Bit More Detail:

  • The aim of social and secular pilgrimages can differ from that of faith based pilgrimages where the objective site is not of any particular religious orientation.

  • These seek to satisfy the personal desires of the pilgrim, bringing a sense of humbleness and instant reward to the pilgrim.

  • Examples of secular/social pilgrimages include sporting grounds, war memorials and others, eg. Graceland for Elvis, following bands, etc.


  • In Faith-based pilgrimages, sites are of religious orientation due to either historical or biblical events, and the journey to this site is either undertaken individually or in groups, eg. Catholics and WYD, up to 2 million pilgrims.

  • Upon reaching the site, special rituals, the landscape and the area are sometimes observed and performed.

  • The general aim of a faith-based pilgrimage is the reinvigoration of one’s faith, with their journey symbolising the strength of their faith, to feel the spiritual presence of a holy figure of historical significance in a religious context.


  • Is based on the inner spirituality, wellbeing and the progress of one’s life, where in the contemporary world, as well as in religions such as Buddhism, personal pilgrimages are recommended to followers in order to reinvigorate their faith to achieve, maintain and promote spiritual solidarity.

Christian Pilgrimage:

  • The journey to a sacred site is seen as leaving the comfort of their own home and daily routine, forcing them to learn to rely on God.

  • From teaching, to be Christian is to rely on Christ and allow Christ to be the only need in life. By giving up everything, pilgrims realize that Christ is the only thing they need, hence strengthening their faith.

  • Pilgrimage is an important part of Christian faith, due to its power as a religious structure and process, capable of strengthening and reinvigorating the faith of many followers of Jesus

  • WYD is a prime example of how contemporary Catholics undertake pilgrimages, through them journeyingto participate in activities and vigils with the Pope, with many other fellow Catholics.

  • Holy land pilgrimages are also popular in the contemporary world

  • All these journeys and locations provide the locations provide the pilgrim with the opportunity to deepen their faith in Jesus and hence become stronger in faith, making it a fundamental process of Catholicism.

  • The events in WYD reflect the quote from Hebrews 11:8-10;
    By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise”

Expression In The Past

  • Found expression in history through St Paul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostle), and his personal journey from the Jewish faith to becoming a Christian, through him encountering God and deciding to abandon his persecution of Christians.

  • Instead he helped them and entered into their faith, communityand way of life

  • His story is an example of how Christians in the past have experienced a pilgrimage and how this has encouraged new insight and perspective in his life
    Before Conversion

  • Co-operated in the stoning of St. Stephen, guarding witnesses whilst Stephen was stoned to death.

  • Travelled under instruction of the Jewish high priest to Damascus, in search of Simon Peter, intending to capture and execute him;
    Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-3)

  • He had a vision of the resurrected Jesus and was temporarily blinded
    Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”(Acts 9:3-7)

  • Healed by Ananius of Damascus, baptised by Barnabus, barely escapes Damascus.
    After Conversion

  • Three years after, Paul travelled to Jerusalem, changing his name to “Paul”, to coincide with his claims of being a new man. It was here he met James and Simon Peter, and planned on how he could live his life now.

  • Went with Barnabus from Antioch to Cyprus to spread the word of God, where they were appraised after healing a blind man.

  • Paul’s recorded visits to Jerusalem are five in total, helping the poor during tough times and famine on a number of occasions, as well as attending councils on whether Christian faith should be brought to the gentiles as well.

  • Paul’s pilgrimages, although differing in purpose and intent in some cases, all fostered nece harw insights in his life and allowed him tom reflect on his life.

  • Paul’s conversion demonstrates how pilgrimage can bring about a new perspective to a person, which the loss and restoration of his sight is extremely symbolic of.

  • Jesus revealed the intention of his Church would be for struggling Christians, as “He chose imperfect people to be leaders of his Church”(Student Resource Textbook).

  • It is through these sacrifices, decisions and journeys which Paul made that demonstrates how St Paul of Tarsus is an example of how Christian pilgrimage found expression in the past.

Expression of Pilgrimage in the Contemporary Church

  • Finds expression through certain structures and models of the Church; such as the Dulles Model

  • The Church as a servant focuses on the active participation of the lay, as well as striving for justice, the core value of the Church

  • Pilgrimage is supported by the Church acting as a community of disciples, encouraging us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and face hardships with courage.

  • The Church also acts as a Sacrament during Christian Pilgrimage, by providing the Grace of God to those who embark on a pilgrimage of faith-based intentions.

  • The Church acts as a Herald during Christian Pilgrimage, by proclaiming the good news of Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel

  • The Church acts as an institution during Christian pilgrimage by providing events for Pilgrims such as WYD, which has a structure developed and maintained by the Church.

  • The Church acts as a Community, through making visible the reality that the structure of the Church is a family of believers, bringing people together in peace, happiness and fellowship.

  • These aspects of certain models combine to form what’s known as the Pilgrim Church, which seeks to protect and provide assistance to those undertaking a Christian Pilgrimage.

  • Christians, on pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, should seek and think of these things which are above. This duty in no way decreases, rather it increases, the importance of their obligation to work with all men in the building of a more human world” (Gaudium Et Spes-57)

  • Pilgrim Church acts as a structure which helps Christians to realize and grow in their faith, which enables them to undergo a proper Christian pilgrimage, fostering personal growth and spiritual understanding

  • The Church, in the very fulfillment of her own function stimulates and advances human and civic culture; by her action, also by her liturgy, she leads men toward interior liberty” (Gaudium Et Spes-58) shows how the contemporary Church recognizes it’s role in supplying followers with ways of becoming closer to God, mainly through sacraments, vigils and masses, helping them to achieve deep faith in God through eventually leading them to realize that Christ is all that one person truly needs

  • The Church itself is a pilgrim, on a spiritual journey

  • Priests accompany groups on Christian pilgrimages, sacraments such as the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation help to strengthen the pilgrim’s relationship with God.


Consumerism In Relation to “Consuming Religion”
- Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever greater amounts.
- Developed after the rise of industrialisation, lead to alienation of workers from their work and the sense of worth which arose from them.
- Feeds corporations in the present day, with the ever present demand for wealth and instant happiness through material products outweighing the Catholic Church’s teachings on the matter of consumerism, with the cycle becoming dependent on the consumer’s constant seeking of meaning and happiness in material goods.
- Catholic perspective -> Freedom is achieved through:

  • Relating intimately with God

  • Accept the influence of God in daily life

  • Develop quality human relationships

  • Finding the meaning, purpose and direction of their lives

Consumerism is a threat to a person’s freedom
“It is a threat to the freedom of the human person to live accordingly to the higher demands of love rather than to the lower pull of material desires” (V.Miller)
Whose article “Consuming Religion”, focuses on this issue and the interplay which results between both society, consumer culture and the Catholic Church.
Paragraph 1
- Miller states that consumer culture reduces all things religious- beliefs, values and symbols- into mere objects for consumption, rather than value systems which can give direction and meaning. Meaning:
-that everything is turned into an object in consumerism,
-is linked to emotions and identities in order to invoke desire in the consumer,
-so that they purchase in the pursuit of false happiness or a sense of fulfilment which can only be satisfied with more purchases for short periods of time.
- As they are turned into objects, their true meaning and the direction they can give diminishes as they only give an image or part of what they originally were to the consumer.
- People in society are contempt to buy a product due to its promises of happiness and fulfilment,
- Certain products being related to certain emotions and identities, where people seek to become someone they are not,
-In the article, Social theorist’s are used; people are “reduced to passive spectators, consumers of illusions” (Guy DeBord)
- Which means they are not self aware or finding meaning, direction and purpose from God, meaning that their search for meaning leads them into consumption, which endangers their personal freedom resultingly.
-Miller discusses how consumerism diminished the small community structure of many areas to simply groups of individual families.
- “we are defined by the choices we make” (Tyler, FC)
Paragraph 2
-Consumer culture also reduces religious beliefs, values and symbols into objects for consumption, devoid of direction and meaning
- A valid example of this exhibited in the article is Christmas and how Western culture has manipulated it in the quest for consumerism.
- Religious aspects of the festival have been removed from their rich Traditional contexts and are consumed and applied to people’s lives in diverse ways.
- Jesus lived a life of simplicity, and died a criminal’s death
- Consumerism has transformed this into over-eating, drinking and pointless gift giving, under the illusion that these things will give them happiness and satisfy their desire for meaning.
- Consumerism causes people to be content with taking bits of religion which suit their needs, rather than adopting whole stories or philosophies and hence, their meanings.
- Examples such as the Christmas story;

  • People believe it and respond positively by being “nice” people, yet don’t live out its message of community, selflessness and sacrifice.

  • Individuals now engage with religion based on individual needs, rather than as part of a community, interested in religious “products” and “techniques” rather than the deeper meaning and truth of Christianity.

  • Examples of lack of community, are showed as a Christmas “with all the trimmings”, which focuses more on material goods than the relationships of the person with the others involved and present at the table during this time.

The root of both consumerism and religion are both cultivating, promoting and sustaining desire;
Christian desire is about emptiness which finds sustenance in God and others
Consumer desire is about the self, about reimagining and reinventing who one is, in an insatiable longing for more, where the seeking is more important than the having.
Without this connection to meaning, people can no longer relate intimately with God due to a loss of understanding, as well as not being able to develop quality human relationships, and can no longer find the meaning, purpose and direction of their lives. This all means that they cannot experience true freedom on a personal and societal level, meaning consumerism endangers this Catholic perspective of personal freedom.
Paragraph 3
- Consumerism competes with and subverts the Christian desire, it threatens the desire for justice, hope and the coming of the Kingdom of God, as well as try and convince us that little commitment, sacrifice or effort actually goes into doing something.
- The Church needs to respond to this issue and Miller in his article outlines ways in which it can and who is capable of it;

  • The lay can break class barriers, and adopt and apply doctrines and symbols to real life to give meaning, eg. By working towards civil rights.

  • Religious leaders, role is to bring Christian tradition to the masses, whilst Miller also suggests that this should also include developing creative responses to consumerism through their experience.

  • He claims this is due to Christianity no longer being about the institution, but about responding to a call, about moving and pushing the limits according to the contexts.

Due to this, Miller claims that Christians can respond in the following ways:

  • Leaders to emphasise the importance of the Traditions of faith (to counter weak commitment & engagement by the masses). This involves highlighting the significant historical background of the Traditions, and the ways they have survived and adapted. (Consumerism is all about the here & now)

  • Miller suggests that the Church should be opened up as the average person has unique experiences and beliefs to contribute, yet are slow to contribute this. Through leaders encouraging participation and embracing the unique agency of individuals, they can offer new insight into old Traditions, and therefore carry the robust Tradition forwards. In order for this to happen THE NATURE OF THE Church may have to be transformed as people require space in order to act & respond.

  • This space currently is given to the priest or minister, with them dominating the space. Space and freedom give people the opportunity to express themselves, which create a dialogue between the leaders and the lay. This could be strengthened by new communication between the leaders and the masses, allowing more input from the lay to allow more dialogue between leaders and lay.
    however mass media communication cannot be used due to the consumeristic nature of mass media being able to erode the Traditional foundations of the Church if this occurs.
    Freedom is endangered by consumerism
    however Miller says there is a way for the Church to combat this

Freedom In General

  • To be free is to express your opinion and beliefs towards a subject within society, without fear of being judged or persecuted on account of your personal ideals

  • Is integral to all human beings, in both historical and contemporary contexts
    Catholic perspective

  • Is the capacity to do what is right, which is susceptible to external and internal pressures
    Secular Perspectives

  • Includes consumerist, Determinist or Libertarian viewpoints

  • The Church expresses the importance of freedom through it’s teachings;
    “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes his own life”(CCC 1731)

  • Freedom from either perspective equates to happiness!

Catholic Perspective (Overview)

  • Freedom is when people are able to relate intimately with God, develop quality human relationships and discover the meaning, purpose and direction of their lives. This gives them the strength to overcome internal and external pressures impacting on their freedom:

Eg, through the sacraments, which help them to become spiritually free, through receiving the Grace of God.

  • This increases their capacity to do good, as highlighted by Gaudium Et Spes; “Only in freedom can man direct himself towards goodness”(Ch17)

Secular Perspective (Mainly Consumerist Overview)

  • Based on wealth and material goods, where wealth equates to freedom, which ignores the moral and spiritual aspects of freedom which are so heavily emphasised in the Catholic understanding.

  • Works on the understanding that to be free is to be able to do whatever you wish, through access to resources and power, dominant ideology in the consumerist world

Secular perspectives (In More Detail)

  • Occupy a large portion of contemporary secular attitudes towards freedom in society, where more wealth and material possessions equate to more freedom and hence more happiness

  • The hunt for more and more material goods however overlooks the process of being drawn into the consumption cycle of constant spending, trying to briefly satisfy long terms needs.

  • This is viewed as an act of being free, as the individual is doing what they please due to having enough money to do so.

  • This view is accentuated by the by tethering of lifestyles and emotions to material goods, so that it appears to the consumer that happiness is for sale, as well as freedom, provided they have the money.


  • Believe that people are never free, and their choices aren’t their own, but the influence of everything else in their life. This perspective means that a human person doesn’t have responsibility for their own actions as it is believed that they didn’t make the choice.

  • This differs from the Catholic perspective, which believes they have a choice, provided they are not in danger or extraordinary circumstances.


  • People are always free, no matter what happens to them and how much control they had over the situation, as they always have a choice.

  • This can create issues as they are always held accountable for all things that happen to them.

Political Freedom due to Wars

  • Political freedom due to wars as true freedom, which differs from the Catholic understanding, where freedom is the capacity to do good, through good means.

Catholic Perspective (In More Detail)

  • Comes from the teachings of Christ and those of the Church which have been adapted from Scripture of Biblical Freedom

  • Political freedom is distinguished from internal freedom in Exodus 3, where Moses frees the Israelites from Egypt; “And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites, out of Egypt”

  • Jesus’ teachings, such as in Matthew 5 on oaths and promises teaches that humans should avoid deceit and be honest at all times, because those who carry the burden of deceit are never believed and are not spiritually free;
    “Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows you have made”

  • These teachings from Scripture are echoed by the contemporary Church through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which helps to teach and provide its followers with a path to true freedom; “As long as freedom is not bound definitively to the greatest goodness which is Go, people have the capacity to do good or evil, to fail in sin or perform greatness” (CCC 1732)

  • This teaches of how humans have a choice of what they decide, contesting secular attitudes such as determinism.

  • The understanding that freedom is the capacity is to do what is right is reinforced by CCC 1733; “The more that one does that is good, the freer one becomes”

  • Reinforces notion that freedom is vulnerable to both internal and external pressures, contesting popular secular understanding that freedom arises from material possessions and “doing what you like”.

Definition: Secularism is the principle of separation of government institutions, and the persons mandated to represent the State, from religious institutions and religious dignitaries. In one sense, secularism may assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and the right to freedom from governmental imposition of religion upon the people within a state that is neutral on matters of belief. In another sense, it refers to the view that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be unbiased by religious influence.


  • The Eucharist is a sacrament, a daily/weekly gift of Grace which Catholics wish to receive.

  • It gives spiritual nourishment to the congregation, filling them with the presence of Christ and every grace and blessing from God.

  • It becomes the Body Of Christ via Transubstantiation

  • Supports people in their move to freedom by giving them the Grace of God.

  • This Grace then gives them the strength to overcome the internal and external pressures in their life which endanger their freedom.

  • As freedom in a Catholic context is a capacity to do what is right/just which is vulnerable to internal and external pressures, Eucharist consequently allows it’s recipients to overcome these pressures and hence strive towards true freedom.


  • Have been historically connected to the sanctity of Christians;

  • “God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world….to reduce to nothing those who are something” (St Paul)

  • “The beatitudes depict the countenance of Christ and portray his charity”(CCC 1717)

  • He was countercultural in his time, blessing those who were at the bottom of society, the Beatitudes clashed with many people’s lifestyles and values.
    Blessed are the:
    Poor in spirit Those who show mercy
    Sorrowing Single-Hearted
    Lowly Peacemakers
    Those who hunger and thirst for holiness Persecuted for holiness’sake


  • Great controversy arises in contemporary society over issues regarding the sanctity of life, which involves debate over what is and what isn’t unjust termination of life. Such topics for this issue include abortion and Euthanasia.

  • Euthanasia is defined as providing a gentle and easy death to someone suffering from a painful, terminal disease who has little quality of life.
    Euthanasia Includes Assisted Suicide, Voluntary and Involuntary Euthanasia.
    Why people think it should be Illegal:
    - Doubt as to what the person really wants
    - Questions if the disease is terminal, the patient may go into remission
    - The role of doctors is to save lives, not end them
    - Who has the right to decide if euthanasia should take place?
    Why people believe it should be legal:
    - It is claimed that doctors and relatives should have the right to give such patients a painless death, if their quality of life is very low
    - Life support machines should be switched off and used on those who have a higher chance of recovery (mostly to save money)
    - People believe it is a basic human right to have control over ending your life

Christian attitude

  • “The use of painkillers to alleiviate suffering of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed either as an end or means, but only forseen as inevitable” (CCC 2279)

  • Catholics believe that assisted suicide, voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia are ALL WRONG

  • However they accept that modern medicine has introduced new issues:
    - Switching off life-support machines is not euthanasia if braindeath has been established by medical experts, nor is it wrong to give dying people painkillers.

  • Catholics believe in the Sanctity Of Life, that life is created by God and it is only up to God to determine who lives and who dies

  • Consequently, any form of Euthanasia is murder (10 COMMANDMENTS)

  • It is up to medical experts to establish when death (eg, brain death) has occurred.

  • “If we live, we live to the Lord; If we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8)

Evangelium Vitae- Pope John Paul II – The “Culture of Death”

  • Euthanasia is one of the more alarming symptoms of the “culture of death”- particularly in prosperous societies where a culture of death is evident in excessive preoccupation with efficiency- according to which a significantly impaired life no longer has any value

  • Euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person- This doctrine is based upon the written word of God outlined in both the old and new testament

  • Evangelium Vitae debated Euthanasia and Abortion

  • “Life is sacred and inviable, it belongs to the Lord” (Genesis 1 & 2)

  • “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God” (E.V Ch63)

  • Evangelium Vitae presents the value of human life to the public sphere, and truth about the sanctity of life- this truth is found in Christ’s teachings.

  • Evangelium Vitae claimed that the new scientific practices in modern culture are desensitizing attitudes towards the termination of life in secular society. It also claims that the legislation of acts such as Euthanasia and Abortion causes a normalisation of death, which reduces how much humanity values and appreciates life.

The Church’s response:

  • The Gospel of Life is at the core of the Church, it’s teachings are present in many of the Church’s rituals and processes, such as the Sacraments.

  • Life was given as a gift from God, and through sending his only son, life became dignified and worthy of salvation. As a result, life becomes sacred and inviable. Thus, Euthansia and abortion are completely unacceptable.

Evangelium Vitae asked/promoted society:

  • Promotion of natural birth, classes on parenthood & childraising provided by the community

Asked Medically That:

  • Those who are terminally ill have the right to enjoy humane assistance & receive adequate response to their needs.

  • Hospitals should no longer be institutions for the sick and dying, but places where suffering and death are acknowledged specifically in the Christian meaning.

  • Health care professionals are often tempted to become manipulators of life, or even agents of death; instead they are called to be guardians and servants of life.

  • For Charity to be realistic and effective, the Gospel Of Life must be implemented in social activities and the political field, and the value of human life must be promoted in society.


  • From Passover to the Eucharist:
    Celebrated in an “upper room”, usually reserved for Rabinnic Scripture Discussions
    - Jesus opened the meal with a Psalm that praised God for his mighty deeds of salvation in the Exodus
    - He then took the, gave thanks for it and broke tradition saying; “Take and eat. This is my body which will be given up for you.” It would be given up on the cross
    - he then took the cup of wine and instead of making the usual toast he again broke tradition and said; “Take and drink….this is my blood…It will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”
    - As they ate and drank they experienced their unity in Christ
    - “Do this in memory of me” gives the disciples and their successors the power to celebrate the Eucharist
    - In this event Jesus gave us the Sacraments of the Eucharist and the Ordained Priesthood.

  • From Meal To Worship:
    - Apostles developed the Eucharist celebration into it’s modern day structure.
    - They first named it the “breaking of the bread” but soon they saw the need to separate the rite from a meal, due to abuses at meals and because they wanted a more prayerful setting in which this act of worship could take place.
    - It was moved to Sunday to remember Christ’s resurrection and a Liturgy of the Word was introduced.
    - By 150, the basic structure of mass was apparently in place

  • The Growing Body of Christ:
    - Constantine becomes Christian in 313, persecutions consequently end suddenly
    - Money was put into building many places of worship due to a mass conversion
    - Amount of Eucharistic celebrations taking place greatly increases
    - The growing size called for an authoritative figure to take charge, hence Church Fathers and Bishops became more prominent.

  • The Eucharist becomes Distant For Most:
    - Declines in active participation in the mass, yearly communion is consequently mandated and Transubstantiation theory is introduced.
    - Screens were erected, hiding the choir and the altar from the view of the congregation
    - The liturgy was conducted away from the assembly, out of view
    - The mass remained in Latin, leading to alienation and a lack of connection

Reformation and Tridentine Mass:
- Council of Trent in 1545 was opened, to deal with the reformation
- Council fathers called for a renewal of the Liturgy, then….
- Pope Pius V in 1570 creates a Standard book for the Western Church Mass
- Masses however were still said in Latin and in almost complete silence

Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Councillium and Lumen Gentium
- Changes were made in order to combat these issues which the Church faced through these two foundational constitutions.
- Priest was to face the congregation and the Mass was now said in vernacular language
- People were to now shake hands at the greeting of peace
- The congregation was now to actively participate in the mass, to sing and to pray at various times
- People were to receive the Holy Communion and Wine without the prescence of an altar rail separating them
- People could now become extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, as well as bring up the gifts as part of the offertory.

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