Towards Aparecida

Latin America: A companionship "on the road"

Only four of them were able to undertake the annual university students' pilgrimage to Aparecida. But with them, connected via video link, were dozens of friends from nine countries. "Following a "yes" that has made the Ideal that has reached us flesh."

On Saturday, July 18, four young Brazilian university students, Ricardo, Cecilia, Ana Luisa and Alanis, went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Aparecida on behalf of all Latin America. The gesture that was originally supposed to bring together - for the second time in Brazil – all the university students who were beginning and finishing their studies was deemed impossible because of this year's pandemic.

However, faced with the world’s cry and the desire for a great ideal, one cannot help but wonder how they can be useful to the world and what their life is for. The evidence that "our need is not in quarantine" was enough for the four university students to undertake their own path, taking with them the lives of those who could not be there: "This generated a much greater responsibility and beauty during our pilgrimage," Ana Luisa testified afterwards.

 The cross carried by the pilgrims next to the statue of Our Lady

Whilst the young people, accompanied by some friends, approached the Shrine, a video link was activated with people from nine different countries: some freshmen, others about to graduate, but also many other people who joined the journey that the others were undertaking in Brazil.

"Why have we come together? What is the point?", Fr. Lorenzo began to provoke us, online from Chile, addressing all those who were connected through their computer screens. And he immediately reminded us of Carrón's words: "Having to give up the usual format, can be an opportunity to better grasp the nature of the pilgrimage,” because “the Mystery has permitted this sacrifice as a step in our journey to our destiny, in that pilgrimage which is human life,” a fact that was evident that afternoon. The reality of confinement has touched everyone, but there was also a promise in it: that moment in which we sang and prayed the Rosary together made us perceive a destination, just like our friends in Aparecida.

What makes a journey possible? Why go on pilgrimage? "To understand that life is vocation, that is, an answer to Him who calls me through reality," Fr. Lorenzo reminded us. From home or walking, the pilgrimage was a call for each of us. A call that can be made concrete through the invitation of a friend, which you can trust because of what has happened to them; or a call as happened to a friend, who although her daughter turned down participating in the pilgrimage, was still there to join the companionship. Because this is what makes a journey possible: a companionship; a companionship that changes you, that changes the way you face circumstances, that also changes the lack of air and the steep ascent under the sun, that does not spare you confinement at home, nor the effort, nor the steps to get there faster, but helps you to accomplish them. A companionship that loves the path because it loves destiny. Who else could sing, "You need to fight, you need to look for where the fixed point is amongst the waves of the sea, and this island is there"? Only someone who already lives the certainty of this island, because they have discovered in themselves a heart that "has not ceased to desire, that aspires to the goal", that responds to its desire for happiness.

To find oneself among faces thus clinging to their own Destiny awakens the desire to follow them, to venture into life with them, following a "yes" that has made the Ideal that has reached us flesh.

It was around four o'clock in the afternoon in Brazil. We already had before us the images of the Shrine and of our friends arriving. "Our Lady of Aparecida, illuminate the dark mine and sustain my life’s journey", we all sang.

Read also - Carrón: "Life presses on"

There remains an image engraved in fire: a cross carved in front of the Virgin who renews these words: "Mother, behold your children". With Him and in Him we become one. This is the hope of our life and of the world.

Cecilia (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Pilar (Buenos Aires, Argentina)